With the powers of social media, news can spread to millions with a simple click of a mouse.
Many of you may have already seen this, but if not, please watch this video created by Invisible Children titled Kony 2012.
For those of you who don’t really know too much about this, I’ll try to explain what I know this in a simplified way, especially since the situation is well over my head and complex with politics, government systems and who knows what else.
Joseph Kony is the leader of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), which is a guerrilla group in Uganda, Africa. His rebellion began in 1986 and ever since then, he has estimated to have abducted over 66,000 children to use as child soldier and sex slaves; “Kony’s fighters have been accused of murder, rape, torture and sexual enslavement” and “reports say they have massacred civilians inside churches, forced them off cliffs, burned them alive and even made them eat dead bodies” (ABC Melbourne). To add to this, “Many of them are carried out by brutalised children recruited to serve as sex slaves, cannon fodder and killers”(ABC Melbourne).
On October 6, 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Kony on 21 counts of war crimes, including 12 of crimes against humanity. But…what does this mean? For those of you who don’t know, the ICC is a tribunal (institution with authority to judge/dispute/etc) to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.
So if he’s been indicted by the ICC, what’s the problem? Well, for one, the ICC have “no teeth,” basically, all bark, no bite. There are many shortcomings to the ICC, such as a lack of an institution to enforce international criminal law, instead, the effectiveness depends on unstable political will from world capitals. Well, “without the cooperation and support of individual states, international courts are doomed to impotence: for example, they have no power to arrest, to compel the production of evidence, nor to enforce judgments. For these reasons alone, a rigorous system for the rule of law cannot at present be established; justice cannot meaningfully be administered without regard to the volatile and complex world of international politics (Yale Law School).”
However, this is not to say that the ICC isn’t effective, it just needs the support. Raising public awareness is one of the biggest struggles of Kony’s indictment. Think about it, why would other, powerful-booming countries need to take part in Uganda’s issues? Many will ask, why is this America’s problems? What about the children in America getting kidnapped and raped? Why does everyone think America should be the peace keeper? There is no money to be made in Uganda, nor is there a financial lost or economic impact for the US, or in most other cases, any other country. As ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said, “Kony is difficult, he is not killing people in Paris or in New York. Kony is killing people in Central African Republic, no one cares about him,” he said. “These young people from California mobilizing this effort is incredible, exactly what we need (CBCnews).”
Next steps? Capture him and put him on trial…some other problems though, is that he is most likely out of Uganda…and two, rumor has it, he might already be dead or already defeated. Plus, even if he were put on trial and caught, would that stop this systemic problem? Has Invisible Children addressed the long term goals? or even the ICC? In the end, Africa NEEDS to become independent from foreign aid. But…that is another long rant to go on about…And finally, is the LRA STILL all that powerful? If you go around and do your research, you’ll find that Uganda is no longer experiencing violence from the LRA and have moved into Congo, and Uganda is in the middle of peace talks. To add to this, Kony has been inactive for the last 6 or so years, yet the LRA is still in motion. So if we assemble troops in Uganda or fund the Uganda military who cannot cross boarders, is this fixing long term problems? There are many questions to be asked…
Whether you choose to support Invisible Children, that is completely up to you, but at least now, you know a little more. If you think supporting Invisible Children is a scam, then that’s fine, do your research and get educated, it’s your money after all, heck, here are some links for you to look at below for more info! For me, it is about global awareness and spreading the knowledge about these atrocities that is the most important. There are several other programs out there, so look into them and find something that fits you! whether its locally or internationally! A good one to start off with is Amnesty International if you want to think internationally.
Skeptic about Invisible Children?
1) Charity Navigator
2) Invisible Children: Critiques
3) Visible problems of Invisible Children
4) Kony 2012 video misleading
Also, keep in mind that these attrocities are NOT just in Uganda, but also in other countries and within our own. Liberia for instance has horrifying numbers of killings and sexual violence. According to the World Health Organization a study found that “over 90% of women in some of the areas most afflicted by the war experienced some form of sexual violence, 75% were raped, many of them by gangs, and 49% were forced into sex work, many of them as “bush wives” to militias. Almost 14% of the victims were under the age of 15 (Guardian)”
So…be aware. There’s a lot going on in the world and a lot of ways to help out, but remember, keep informed, do your research, ask questions, and get educated.