Literally everyone seems to be talking about it. If you haven’t heard about it yet, take a look:
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/37119711 w=400&h=225]
Reading around the blogsphere there has been a lot of criticism around Invisible Children, more specifically:
- The charities willingness to work with the Ugandan army who haven’t a good reputuation, just check out the horrendous story about the rape of DRC men in the guardian last year.
- As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services (page 6), with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production. This doesn’t make sense, surely action is needed, not more awareness.
A number of charities who have a long history of working in Africa have responded:
An official statement from the fantastic War Child
At the start of this week, few of us would have thought that Joseph Kony would be the most famous man on the internet.
Invisible Children’s ‘Kony 2012’ campaign has been a phenomenon. 25 million people have watched a 30 minute film about the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army – a rebel group that has left a trail of terror across central Africa for nearly a quarter of a century.
There’s much that other charities can and should learn about the way that Invisible Children have engaged and mobilised millions of young people to their cause. Since our own videos are lucky to get 1,000 YouTube views in a year, it would be churlish of us to criticise anyone else for theirs. The film and the organisation behind it have been placed under the microscope, and the scrutiny and debate of the issues is to be welcomed.
We differ in opinion to Invisible Children when it comes to some of the content of the film, and of the campaign’s aims:
- Whilst Joseph Kony is a good figurehead for a publicity campaign, capturing him is not a magic bullet that will solve the region’s problems. The root causes of the conflict lie in poverty and inequality. The solutions are complex and must come from Ugandan people themselves.
- We urge the Ugandan (and Congolese and Central African Republic) armies to observe and uphold human rights laws and conventions. In many of the areas where we work in these countries, local people are just as scared of the army as they are of the rebels. There have been many allegations of violence and rape committed against women and children by government armies in the region.
- The film is in some ways, five years too late. Kony and the LRA were driven out of Uganda and now move between Central African Republic (CAR), D.R. Congo and southern Sudan. They are thought to number only a few hundred fighters.
- The number of children being kidnapped and used as child soldiers is now relatively small. Much needs to be done to help the thousands of former child soldiers and abductees to reintegrate back into their communities. That’s a feature of our work in Acholi and south east Central African Republic.
- That’s not to downplay the terror still caused by the LRA. They’re still attacking towns and villages in CAR where we work and displacing thousands of people from their homes.
- Although the film supports the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in bringing Kony to justice, many would argue that the authority of the ICC would be greatly strengthened if the USA were to become members of it. That would seem to be an obvious campaigning or advocacy objective that the Kony 2012 campaign did not ask of its (primarily American) audience.
The fact that you’re reading this now and that you’ve heard of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army is because of Invisible Children’s film. They are to be commended for that. The issues and solutions are a lot more complex than can be captured in a film – even in a 30 minute one.
We’d urge you to look around our site to see how we’re providing direct, practical support to girls like Juliet and Agnes. If you’re passionate about supporting Kony’s victims and helping young Ugandans to rebuild their country then please considerdonating to our vital work.
And Stop the Traffik write Kony2012 – Thoughts
Kony2012 is clearly on everyone’s mind at the moment. The 30 minute video which has gone drastically viral is definitely stirring debate around its main message and goals. Many have asked STOP THE TRAFFIK to share their opinion so here is what we think.
We have long been aware of the issue of child soldiers as these children are recruited by the means of coercion (abducted from their homes by the LRA) for the use of exploitation (forced to become soldiers often fighting with machetes and subjected to constant psychological and physical abuse). These children are trafficked. What Kony2012 is achieving in terms of raising global awareness on this issue is great. It has done a fantastic job in promoting for the rights of Ugandan children, highlighting the conflict and providing noticeable benefits to survivors of LRA brutality.
It is difficult for STOP THE TRAFFIK to give a clear opinion on the video itself, its glossiness is a choice of style and when it comes to its message – well we just don’t have enough up to date information to judge whether what they’re saying is entirely truthful and that’s also not our role. What we do consider is that the LRA poses a stark dilemma to the people of northern Uganda as it is now composed primarily of child soldiers, most of whom were abducted and forced to commit atrocities. So one has to be careful when it comes to labeling them as ‘victims’ or ‘perpetrators’ because they are often both. What’s more the LRA is or has not only been active in Uganda but also in the DRC, the Central African Republic and South Sudan. Undeniably we all want Kony to be stopped but as any cases of human trafficking, we need to address this issue as a whole rather than focus on one single person. Kony2012 is useful and interesting – but please do not limit your understanding of the issue simply to the video itself. Check our case study activity related to child soldiers on our website under teacher’sresources and find out more about child soldiers on http://www.child-soldiers.org/home.