News

    Kony Campaign Creates Blizzard of Commentary and Concerns

    Joseph Kony, Lord's Resistance Army leader and one of the world's most wanted rebel chiefs (2006 file photo)
    Joseph Kony, Lord's Resistance Army leader and one of the world's most wanted rebel chiefs (2006 file photo)
    Nico Colombant

    While a U.S.-made social media awareness campaign against a wanted Ugandan rebel leader has been hugely successful in terms of attention, it has also created a blizzard of commentary, some of which has become viral in its own way.  

    Commentary by government officials, human rights activists, scholars and ordinary citizens has been continuing at a rapid clip days after the U.S.-group Invisible Children released a 29-minute video which has been viewed tens of millions of times.

    One popular method has been to post a video response.

    Ugandan blogger Rosebell Kagumire has become a celebrity in her own right, fielding multiple media interviews, and receiving thousands of emails since posting her own video.

    Like others, she complains about how the widely watched video has an American narrator and central character, filmmaker Jason Russell, portraying himself as a video crusader for justice in Africa. “This is another video where I see an outsider trying to be a hero, rescuing African children. We have seen these stories a lot in Ethiopia. Celebrities coming in Somalia. It does not end the problem. I think we need to have sound intelligent campaigns that are geared towards real policy shifts rather than a very sensationalized story that is out to make just one person cry and at the end of the day, we forget about it," she said.

    Amid the mounting criticism, the filmmaker himself made a new video, thanking all the viewers and responding to some of the concerns.

    Russell has also defended the way he made his movie. It shows how he educates his own son about how other children, the LRA’s roving child soldiers and their victims, are being abused. “We just want to thank you. Thank you for believing in the story that we know is going to change the world. It is going to change the world. And we know there are a lot of questions out there. We see them online. We have been reading them and we have provided a new page on our website that answers a lot of those questions so just please go there and read for yourself our very clear answers because this is not our movement. It is a name. It is Invisible Children but it is your movement, you started this with your money and we are here to serve you," he said.

    The movie contains lots of images of U.S. high school students protesting, raising their fists in unison.

    The website also has several links to donate, where small amounts of contributions are suggested.

    It also sells tee-shirts, bracelets, stickers, buttons, posters, all of which can be bought in a so-called action kit.  

    The movie and website call on young Americans to lobby their lawmakers so the U.S. government can keep pushing in its fight against the LRA. The campaign also asks people to take part in a poster campaign April 20, plastering as many as possible to call for Kony’s capture this year.

    Last year, the Obama administration sent 100 military advisors to Central Africa to help Uganda’s military and other African security forces wipe out the LRA.

    The group, which now has an estimated several hundred members, continues to wage attacks, mostly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Experts believe the group’s leaders, including Kony, if he is still alive, are hiding in the remote and difficult to operate terrain of the Central African Republic.

    The group, which was originally based in northern Uganda, has been waging attacks on civilians, including mutilating their faces and abducting children, for over two decades.  

    For years, it has been a favorite target of U.S. activist groups and lawmakers interested in Africa.

    In 2005, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Kony to face charges of crimes against humanity, but he has eluded capture, including during a previous 2008 U.S.-aided military effort.

    Mark Drumbl, a law professor at Washington and Lee University, is also concerned about the scope of the movie’s stated goal, which is to obtain Kony’s capture.

    Drumbl is an expert on child soldiers who wrote a book called “Reimagining Child Soldiers in International Law and Policy.” “The end game of the video is the capture of Joseph Kony. However, the capture of Joseph Kony and his arrest and let us say his prosecution and conviction by the International Criminal Court is no panacea.  It is not necessarily going to stop LRA activity nor is that necessarily going to bring justice to the many victims.  Criminal law is a small slice of an overall justice conversation. And at the end of the day, we cannot substitute the western ideal of justice for what many local communities may most want which is peace, stability, reconciliation and moving on, and I think we need to tread carefully," he said.

    Other common criticism of the video has been that a focus on capturing Kony may militarize the situation even further, with more help for security forces also known for committing abuses, while taking away from other priorities such as pushing for better development and governance in the very marginalized affected areas.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.