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Many Facebook users would have been invited by now to the Kony 2012 event on Facebook. But what is this “Kony thing” and why should you give it any attention?
Ugandan Joseph Kony is one of the world´s most wanted war criminals and the International criminal Court issued an Arrest Warrant for him in July 2005. Kony is the leader of the Lord´s Resistance Army, L.R.A, a guerilla army that has abducted children and killed thousands of people in at least four central African countries in the last 20 years, according to New York Times. Kony is now thought to be hiding somewhere in the forests of central Africa, still abducting children forcing the girls into sexual slavery and the boys to become child soldiers who sometimes are even forced to kill their own parents.
The Kony 2012 film was made by filmmaker & director Jason Russell has been working in Africa for years now. It was in Uganda where he came to know Jacob, a former child soldier of Kony´s L.R.A. With his filmmaker friends Laren Poole and Bobby Bailey they founded Invisible children a non-profit organisation with schools, mentoring, and education for the victims. In 2006 they made a documentary called Invisible Children: Rough Cut about the victims of L.R.A and Kony.
For years, Russell and his team have been trying to raise awareness about Kony and his atrocities among the public and politicians in America. The film Kony 2012 is the result of that, but with it the director wants to reach out to people all around the world to make Kony famous, in that sense to put pressure on politicians to do everything they can to stop Kony. Kony 2012 is therefore a campaign in itself promoted with the 30 minutes long Kony 2012 film. The big day will be coming April 20 when participants all over the world will put up posters and flyers in cities all over the world.
Although Invisible Children is a non-profit organisation it is fairly visible from the film that both the film and the event itself will bring huge profit to the organisation, both money wise and PR wise. This way of using social media to bring the public´s attention to Kony has been criticized for ‘dumbing down conflict’, even manipulating the facts regarding numbers of abducted children and victims.
Barack Obama sent troops to Uganda last year to search for Kony. Some say that decision was more of a victory for the young Americans lobbying Washington to take action, than it actually was or has been so far for Ugandans. But why has he not been arrested? Kony may be the leader of L.R.A but he is not on his own. With an army of people fighting by his side, is should be difficult to remain hidden for years without someone telling on you. Finding Kony might be the end of it all in theory, but maybe not in practice. Political challenges in the area will not be resolved only by finding Kony;
‘Beyond the ins and outs of dealing with Kony, the political challenges in the region are simply too massive for Obama’s new operation to yield much fruit. The violence in Uganda, Congo, and South Sudan has been the most devastating — anywhere in the world — since the mid-1990s. Even conservative estimates place the death toll in the millions. And the LRA is, in fact, a relatively small player in all of this — as much a symptom as a cause of the endemic violence. If Kony is removed, LRA fighters will join other groups or act independently,’ quote from Obama takes on the LRA from Foreign Affairs.
Kony 2012 is not a documentary so why is Docs & Film Festival giving this attention? Invisible children and Kony 2012 is in a sense an offspring of the documentary Invisible Children: Rough Cut Russel did 2006. And if you are not familiar with Kony and the serious effect L.R.A has had on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in central Africa, you should give roughly 30 minutes of your time to watch it. Wether you participate in any of the Kony 2012 happenings or not is up to you. But I think we can all agree Kony has to be brought to justice.
As of now, 11.9millions have watched the video on vimeo and that number will rise fast in the coming days and weeks. Following is the link to the film (it´s free). Kony poster from Birthplace Magazine.