09 March 2012

KONY 2012

On last night's PBS Newshour there was a disturbing segment covering Kony 2012, a "film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice."  The film is 30 minutes long, and documents "atrocities committed by militant Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda and central Africa beginning in the 1980s.  For 26 years, Kony has been kidnapping children into his rebel group, the LRA, turning the girls into sex slaves and the boys into child soldiers (see above image, click to enlarge).  He makes them mutilate people's faces and he forces them to kill their own parents.  And this is not just a few children.  It's been over 30,000 of them."

The Kony 2012 video has gone viral online, despite its length ~ people are shocked, and they care.  The Newshour feature is 11 minutes long, with both video and a transcript.  It is an informative summary of the issues surrounding both Kony, and the controversy stirred up by Invisible Children's efforts to expose him to the world.  IC's aim is two-fold ~ to encourage humanitarian military intervention to support the Ugandan military in trying to capture Koni and bring him to trial, and also to take advantage of increasing access to online media in Africa to reach out to African young people to encourage mutual support, dialogue, and engagement.  

The model of the Arab Spring is fresh in the minds of the film's producers, as well as in the minds of viewers.  What may once have seemed an absurd impossibility, is now seen as attainable.  The kidnapping of young boys and girls by militants is not new.  The movie Body of Lies deals obliquely with the practice, and the autobiography A Long Way Home:  Memoirs of a Child Soldier by Ishmael Beah tells the harrowing story from the viewpoint of one kidnapped child.

The horrors and atrocities of war are barbaric enough when committed by adults.  For adults to initiate children into that gruesome theater is unconscionable.

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