It’s very crucial that if you chose to watch this video, you watch it in its entirety.
(For those who watched the movie)
“The people who were trying to make this world worse are not taking the day off. Why should I?” – Bob Marley. Unfortunately most people are only familiar with that quote because of the Will Smith movie ‘I Am Legend’, but no matter where you heard it, or IF you’ve heard it, its a statement from one man that reflects an unyielding desire to make a positive difference. Jason Russel, the spear head of the “Kony 2012″ movement seems to have that same desire, and the same passion to make a positive difference, and the world is just starting to find that out. In the video, Russel makes the point that when someone is invisible, they’re crimes may go un-noticed, and that shedding light on Joseph Kony and his actions are the best first step in getting something done. So please do what you can to spread the word about this movement, share this link – http://wp.me/pHo18-5sB with anyone that you can, or any other link in reference to the video above, and lets help make a difference to someone.
(For those of you who chose not to watch the video.)
The man in the photo above is Joseph Kony. An African tyrant that is not a dictator, freedom fighter, or political menace. He is a man who simply will do whatever it takes to keep the power he has gained. One of my staff members was unable to finish watching the video because some of the images and emotions discussed can be quite intense, and I understand that not everyone has 30 minutes of their undivided attention to devote to the film above RIGHT this second. This hopefully however doesn’t mean that you’re not willing to help out.
KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice. Joseph Rao Kony, born 1961 in Odek, Uganda is a guerrilla group leader, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a group engaged in a violent campaign to establish theocratic government based on the Ten Commandments throughout Uganda. The LRA say that God has sent spirits to communicate this mission directly to Kony.
Directed by Kony, the LRA has earned a reputation for its actions against the people of several countries, including northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Sudan. It has abducted and forced an estimated 66,000 children to fight for them, and has also forced the internal displacement of over 2,000,000 people since its rebellion began in 1986. As a result, in 2005 Kony was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court at the Hague, but has succeeded in evading capture since.” If you have it in your power, ask someone if they know about the crimes of Joseph Kony, or if you’re already familiar with the issue, take the time and tell someone else.
The ‘Invisible Children’ organization is responsible for the Kony 2012 film, and the actions taken to get government officials to respond to the acts of crime in Uganda. Their project however is not without a bit of public backlash, especially in reference to what happens after Kony is removed from power. Steven Van Damme, the protection and policy adviser for the whole of eastern Congo is currently based in Goma. Van Damme said his organization is concerned about potentially violent consequences for the local Ugandan population from the Kony 2012 campaign.
“In general, we’re concerned [about] the catastrophic consequences for the local population,” Van Damme said. “We’ve seen in the past, over and over again, how there’s been a lot of retaliation by the LRA, the burning of villages, maiming people, a lot of killings, with little military success.”
According to Van Damme, military operations targeting Kony would present a host of risks. “They should take into account the protection of those people living in the areas where those military operations would take place, and at the same time [we're] concerned about the fact that Kony has surrounded himself with a lot of civilians around.
“The LRA is able to operate in that part of DRC because it is a remote area, because it’s cut off, because it’s isolated. There is very limited infrastructure, very limited amount of roads, schools, hospitals, very limited communications. The state authority is very weak and is absent. … There’s a lack of political acknowledgment of the presence of the LRA in the area.”
Van Damme said the challenge of helping people impacted by Joseph Kony and his LRA forces requires focus on issues that are bigger than one man.
“What we want to highlight is the lack of development in the area that we’re talking about, where people have a lot of concerns – including the lack of access to hospitals, roads and schools – with this impacting massively on these people,” Van Damme said. “And so, any solution has to look at wider development in the area, and that seems to be where there’s a lot less attention and a lot less funding and political support.
“The LRA problem goes way beyond a purely military solution and has to tackle all of these matters that basically boil down to a very underdeveloped region.”
Aside from the potential consequences of removing Kony from power, ‘Invisible Children’ has also come under fire about some of its techniques. There is no question that Joesph Kony is ruthless, brutal and quite possibly the embodiment of pure evil, but some of the ways ‘Invisible Children’ have gone about their campaign are under scrutiny. A blog on Tumblr titled, “Visible Children,” offers a critical review of the organization. There are several potential issues that would be backers and donors should be aware of prior to parting with hard earned funds or assisting in spreading their message.
Here are a couple of the allegations levied against Invisible Children:
- Last year the organization raised $8,676,614 and only 32% of these funds went to direct services. It appears that a large majority of their funding went to pay staff salaries, transportation expenses and film production. Charity Navigator rates their accountability and transparency 2 out of 4 stars. This is due to the fact that the organization has not undergone an external audit of their funds.
- Invisible Children supports direct military intervention, and their funding is said to support the Ugandan government and other military forces. The Ugandan army has been accused of rape and looting, but they are still defended by Invisible Children.
So weather you chose to take action in this digital war to find and stop Joseph Kony, or your opinions differ from the general consensus, just remember to do what you can to keep yourself as informed as possible about this issue and others.