On the 5th of March, 2012, Invisible Children, an American NGO, released the Kony 2012 video. The short film was about Joseph Kony, a Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander, and the war crimes that his organisation committed since the 1980s in Uganda and surrounding countries (Cavanagh, 2012). The UN has found that within the last three years Kony and the LRA have kidnapped over 600 children and forced young girls to enter into becoming sex slaves and boys to take “magic potions” which would increase their strength and make them easier to trace if they ever escaped(Smith, 2012). In a report presented to the UN it claimed youth were being used as child soldiers, spies for the LRA and human shields (Smith, 2012). For over three decades Kony and the LRA has operated in Uganda committing these crimes, kidnapping thousands of children and terrorising local villages (Smith, 2012). This crime stems from the long standing divide between North and South Uganda. After the northern-dominated government was overthrown by the South in 1986, out of revenge, the Ugandan army massacred and killed populations in the North. these killings led to the rise of several rebel groups, the LRA was one of these (African Studies Association, 2012). Kony viewed himself as a messenger of God and a liberator of the Acholi people (an ethnic group of Northern Africa), however, Kony increasingly turned against the Acholi people and commenced campaigns focused on ‘cleansing’ the Acholi populations (African Studies Association, 2012). ‘The conflict in northern Uganda escalated,resulting in large scale killings and mutilations. By the end of 2005, more than 1.8 million people were displaced and moved into camps. To fill its ranks, the LRA abducted as many as 60,000 civilians, often children, to serve as porters, soldiers, or sexual and domestic servants’ (African Studies Association, 2012). However, it is important to note that the LRA were not the only group committing violent acts in the North: ‘ The Ugandan army has recruited children, committed torture and killings against civilians, and destroyed civilian targets. The government of Uganda also established a prolonged encampment policy, in effect moving much of the northern population into squalid camps that failed to provide adequate protection, food and sanitation services’ (African Studies Association, 2012). Below is an image of the Kony film-makers and leading members of Invisible Children posing with Ugandan Army members, which supports the claim the the Kony campaign advocates for military intervention.
Joseph Kony, in 2005, was the first person to be charged for crimes against humanity and war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Since that date he has fled Uganda and has been operating in the surrounding countries of DR Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan (African Studies Association, 2012). Currently he is still wanted by the ICC and forces from the UN, US and AFRICOM have been deployed to find him (African Studies Association, 2012).
African Studies Association, 2012 React and respond: The phenomenon of Kony 2012, http://concernedafricascholars.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Kony-React-Respond.pdf, 07/10/2012.
Cavanagh, C, J. 2012 Kony 2012 and the political economy of conflict representation, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, unpublished.
Goodman, J, D., Preston, J. 2012 How the Kony video went viral, http://www.anunconventionalwar.com/uploads/How_Kony_Video_Went_Viral.pdf, 06/10/2012.
Har-Even, B. 2012 Director of product management YouTube: “YouTube has become a global living room”, http://www.telecoms.com/48969/head-of-youtube-%E2%80%9Cyoutube-has-become-a-global-living-room%E2%80%9D/, 08/10/2012
Smith, D. 2012 Joseph Kony kidnapped 591 children in the past three years, UN report reveals, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/07/joseph-kony-united-nations-report, 07/10/2012.