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.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora