Thomas Kwoyelo was born in Pabbo, northern Uganda. He was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) on his way to school in 1987. He remained in captivity and later became colonel.
The LRA is a paramilitary group under the leadership of Joseph Kony. It was formed in 1987.
Members of the LRA are alleged to have committed serious crimes such as murder, rape and torture directed against the civilian population of northern Uganda, southern Sudan and the northeastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
One of the worst attack of the LRA took place in Haute-Hele Province (DRC) in December 2008, the so called Christmas massacre. The rebels split up in groups to attack the villages Faradje, Batande, Duru, Bangadi and Burgi. They waited until people had gathered for Christmas festivities, then surrounded and killed them with axes, machetes and clubs. The estimated death toll ranges between 189 (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) and 620 (Human Rights Watch). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that 225 people, among them 160 children, were kidnapped and more than 80 women raped. At least 800 houses were burned. Witnesses stated that some people had their lips cut off as a warning.
In March 2009, Kwoyelo was injured during hostilities between the Ugandan army and the LRA in Ukwa, DRC. He was taken to Uganda for medical treatment and subsequently into custody.