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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora