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Joseph Kony and the 'Visible Children'

Update 2:

And now it’s Invisible Children’s turn to respond to the criticism against them, some of which is captured below. Read their full statement here.

Update: Grant Oyston, a sociology and political science student at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, has some pressing concerns about the leaders of Invisible Children, the nonprofit group that is trying to launch a global manhunt for Ugandan guerrilla chief Joseph Kony.

From Oyston’s blog, “Visible Children”:

Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. 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 is far from ideal for an issue which arguably needs action and aid, not awareness, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they lack an external audit committee. But it goes way deeper than that.

The group is in favour of direct military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces. Here’s a photo of the founders of Invisible Children posing with weapons and personnel of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them, arguing that the Ugandan army is “better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries”, although Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006 by their own admission. These books each refer to the rape and sexual assault that are perennial issues with the UPDF, the military group Invisible Children is defending.

***

Over the last two decades, Ugandan guerrilla leader Joseph Kony has forced more than 60,000 kidnapped children to kill for him and made some into sex slaves — crimes that have put him atop the International Criminal Court’s most-wanted list. This is the year nonprofit crusaders Invisible Children say they’ll stop him.

The campaign to bring Kony to justice gets a boost with the video below. Over the course of half an hour, we meet a boy who escaped from Kony’s army, the filmmaker and activist who helped the boy, and a number of officials involved in the hunt. We also learn of the grass-roots efforts made by thousands of people in recent years to build a mass movement capable of forcing governments to stop widespread murder.

While touchingly made and noble in its cause, the film falls short of explaining how U.S. and other nations’ policies help to create monsters like Kony. It is a well-intentioned propaganda piece that may well help catch a criminal, but will do little to help the public understand the conditions that enabled him to dominate and terrorize a region — conditions that will not disappear even if and when he is found. –ARK

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