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Friday, March 9, 2012

Invisible Children

There is a movement afoot on the Internet to do some good in regards to the children soldiers of Africa. In particular, the children soldiers abducted by The Lord's Resistance Army, which formerly operated in Uganda, but is now in the Congo area. 

A controversial publicity campaign has been launched to raise awareness to the plight of these children that involves films, speaking tours and a guerrilla marketing campaign designed to get the United States to intervene in the region in order to assist the Ugandans in bringing Joseph Kony to justice.

I am in favor of participating in this effort. Watch the film below to see if you are also inclined to get involved:

If you want to participate, visit KONY2012 to sign the pledge and receive more information and download an action kit (they were unavailable for purchase earlier this morning because of high demand).


What is The Lord's Resistance Army? 

The Lord's Resistance Army (also Lord's Resistance Movement or Lakwena Part Two) is a militant group with a syncretic Christianextreme religious ideology, known for the extreme atrocities they commit against civilians, including killings, mutilations, rape, and in some accounts even cannibalism.[4]. The group operates in northern UgandaSouth Sudanthe Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.[5]
The Lord's Resistance Army was formed in 1987 in the Acholi ethnic region of Northern Uganda. Initially, the LRA was an outgrowth and continuation of the larger armed resistance movement waged by some of the Acholi people against a central Ugandan government which they felt marginalized them at the expense of Southern Ugandan ethnic groups, such as the Baganda. Over 25 years, the LRA's political goals have become much harder to decipher.
In the past decade, the group has spent much of its energy attacking, killing and enslaving unarmed Acholis of its own tribe (including many women and children). It is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the "spokesperson" of God and a spirit medium, primarily of the Holy Spirit, which the group believes can represent itself in many manifestations.
The group is based on a number of different beliefs including traditional African religionAcholi nationalism, andChristianity,[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] and claims to be establishing a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments and local Acholitradition.[16][17][18] The LRA is accused of widespread human rights violations, including murderabductionmutilationsexual enslavement of women and children and forcing children to participate in hostilities.[19]

Source: Wikipedia

What are some of the criticisms of the effort?

But it has also attracted criticism: there are questions about the charity's funding, its targeting of US leaders instead of African leaders to instigate change, and accusations that it is failing to criticise the Ugandan government, with its poor human rights record.
This Tumblr page is collecting criticism of the project and this blog sums up a lot of the questions.
This morning, Invisible Children issued a detailed response to the criticism here.
We want, with your help, to investigate this further. Our principle approach is to attempt to gather views from Uganda about whether this film is the right way to go about campaigning on the issue. I'm going to be working with John Vidal, our environment editor, who has travelled extensively in the region and is on the phone now to his contacts there.

Source: UK Guardian

Jacob Acaye defends the film maker:

"Now that the situation in Gulu is stabilised and there is no longer war there, there is reconstruction of the place. Schools are being built. It is not the fault of the people there that they were abducted and used. They need to be helped," he said. "The organisation has fought really hard to rebuild my school. It is doing good work." Acaye was taken prisoner by the LRA militia when it attacked his home village of Koro, near Gulu, but he escaped after three weeks when one unit handed him over to another.
"I got lucky. I was taken by a second group which did not know much about me, and I was transferred to that group. They asked me how long I had been with the LRA and I said three months so they thought I had no intention of running away, so they did not watch me," Acaye said.
He found his way back to his village, but from then on joined the hundreds of children who walked into Gulu to sleep every night for safety. It was while he was sleeping on a verandah there that he was found by Invisible Children.
"They could not understand what was happening. They wanted a kid who was sleeping there and who spoke English. I could understand English and I could say what was happening, so that is how I was in their film," Acaye said.

Source: The Guardian

My thoughts are in favor of the effort because it will get people talking. It will make Joseph Kony famous. And, I believe it will help people become involved in helping the children who have been, until now, invisible. This is what the campaign is about, isn't it? Making the invisible, visible?

I'll see you on the night of April 20th

Hat Tip: Scrutiny Hooligans

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