CHICAGO, March 8, 2012—As the film Kony 2012 has gone viral, it is also generating quite a bit of controversy. The film, produced by the not for profit NGO Invisible Children, has, as of today, over 40 million views on YouTube. Vimeo reported eight million viewers. Over 400 thousand people liked the Kony 2012 Facebook page.
Invisible Children claims they are responsible for lobbying the legislature and the Bush and Obama administrations to put this issue on the front burner. They are taking credit for getting the United States government to send military advisers to provide technical and logistical assistance to Ugandan forces hunting down Kony.
They further claim pressure must be kept on the government. Invisible Children believes if Kony is not captured soon, the government will lose interest and pull its support. There is no indication that support is waning at this time.
The purpose of the film is to make Joseph Kony famous.
Make him famous enough to raise support for his arrest war on crimes violations and indictments, setting a precedent for international justice.
In effect, make Kony so famous he is infamous.
An international direct action event is planned for April 20th. Starting at midnight, activists will cover their cities with posters, banners, and various other media. The hope is that by dawn no one will be able to go anywhere without seeing Kony’s face.
The idea is to raise international awareness to generate anger and demands for more action.
But who is Joseph Kony?
That is exactly the point of the film. The International Criminal Court indicted Kony and four of his top commanders in 2006 for war crimes. One of the commanders was killed by Ugandan troops.
It is alleged Kony killed another over an internal dispute.
Kony, like many on the ICC list of most wanted people, is just another non-entity. There is a perception that no one is publicly pursuing these people or raising awareness of them.
As the infamous and notorious leader of the Ugandan Christian terrorist group, Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), founded around 1986, Kony’s stated goal is to establish Uganda as a state based upon the Ten Commandments.
The LRA is accused of kidnapping between 30 and 40 thousand children to use as soldiers and sex slaves. Those who resist are horribly mutilated or killed. The soldiers are sometimes forced to kill their parents. It has also been reported that the LRA is responsible for pushing over 400 thousand people from their homes.
Joseph Kony has been on the run from the Ugandan government for 26 years. He allegedly kept up his kidnapping efforts to grow his army. Attempts to capture him have been futile. It is rumored he left Uganda in 2006 and is operating out of one of its neighbors. It is also rumored his army has been dispersed through out the region and is reduced to pockets of several hundred each.
The film aims to show the power of people, large numbers of people, who can come together for a cause, create awareness, and get action out of governments.
The film and Invisible Children have come under criticism for oversimplifying the problem and distorting the facts. One fact is that while Uganda, with American aid, is hunting for Kony, he has not been in Uganda for several years.
The film also ignores the relative incompetence of the Ugandan military and the human rights violations of the current Ugandan government and military.
People concerned with Uganda, and those working and living there, fear the Kony issue may take away from many of the real problems facing that country. Uganda is not exactly a hot bed of human rights or democracy. It is also a cauldron of various serious health issues.
There is also criticism over the film appealing to slacktivism. It will create good feelings, generate donations, and have little or no practical effect.
Invisible Children has been criticized for its operations, fiscal reporting, and use of funds. This is debatable because the laws and regulations regarding non-profits are murky and confusing. They have addressed these issues in an open manner though the jury is still out whether they are convincing.
Joseph Kony has eluded capture for years. But, since he is now a marginalized figure, is he really that important?
Yes. It took decades to hunt down and capture those who participated in the Holocaust.
It took years to hunt down and capture those who participated in the ethnic cleansing during the Balkan war, even though many were hiding in plain sight.
It took ten years to hunt down Osama bin Laden. There are terrorists who have been on the FBI’s most wanted list since the mid 1990s.
It is time that human rights criminals and terrorists know they can run but they can’t hide. It is time to put faces to evil, keep those faces in the pubic eye, and ruthlessly pursue them to the four corners of the earth.
For too long the world has accommodated various human rights criminals. There may be publicity on their past or current activities, but there is little interest in pursuing them and bringing them to justice.
If, and it is a big if, Joseph Kony can be captured or killed, it will set the example for others. It will send a strong message that they are not forgotten or forgiven.
Peter V. Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance writer and photographer, cook, and raconteur. He likes to be the sharp stick that pokes, prods, and annoys. His opinions are his and his alone.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.