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Invisible Children responds to critics

First, a brief housekeeping note: Yesterday’s guest post on the Kony 2012 campaign was written by Michael Wilkerson, not me. If you link to it from your blog, Facebook page, or Twitter, (thanks!) please give Michael full credit. Second, Invisible Children has posted a message on its website responding to critics of its latest campaign. ...

First, a brief housekeeping note: Yesterday’s guest post on the Kony 2012 campaign was written by Michael Wilkerson, not me. If you link to it from your blog, Facebook page, or Twitter, (thanks!) please give Michael full credit.

Second, Invisible Children has posted a message on its website responding to critics of its latest campaign. There’s a lengthy discussion of the group’s finances, which you can read for youself, but here’s the section most pertinent to the issues Michael raised yesterday:

Re: The strategy to secure Kony arrest

For more than two decades, Kony has refused opportunities to negotiate an end to the violence peacefully, and governments of countries where Kony has operated — including Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Central African Republic — have been unable to capture Kony or bring him to justice. This is because regional governments are often not adequately committed to the task, but also because they lack some of the specific capabilities that would help them do so. The KONY 2012 campaign is calling for U.S. leadership to address both problems. It supports the deployment of U.S. advisors and the provision of intelligence and other support that can help locate and bring Kony to justice, but also increased diplomacy to hold regional governments accountable to their basic responsibilities to protect civilians from this kind of brutal violence. Importantly, the campaign also advocates for broader measures to help communities being affected by LRA attacks, such as increased funding for programs to help Kony’s abductees escape and return to their homes and families. For a clear understanding of the KONY 2012 political goals, please see the letter to President Obama.

Re: Ugandan government human rights record

We do not defend any of the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Ugandan government or the Ugandan army (UPDF). None of the money donated through Invisible Children ever goes to the government of Uganda. Yet the only feasible and proper way to stop Kony and protect the civilians he targets is to coordinate efforts with regional governments.

Re: Stopping Kony

We are advocating for the arrest of Joseph Kony so that he can be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a precedent for future war criminals. The goal of Kony 2012 is for the world to unite to see him arrested and prosecuted for his crimes against humanity.

Re: Why work with the UPDF if the LRA is no longer in northern Uganda

The LRA left northern Uganda in 2006. The LRA is currently active in Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. Invisible Children’s mission is to stop Joseph Kony and the LRA wherever they are and help rehabilitate LRA-affected communities. The Ugandan government’s army, the UPDF, is more organized and better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries (DRC, South Sudan, CAR) to track down Joseph Kony. Part of the US strategy to stop Kony is to encourage cooperation between the governments and armies of the 4 LRA-affected countries. The LRA was active in Uganda for nearly 20 years, displacing 1.7 million people and abducting at least 30,000 children. The people and government of Uganda have a vested interested in seeing him stopped.

If you’re interested in this debate, please read the whole thing,  which also includes an explanation of the now-infamous gun-toting photo of the group’s founders.

(And by the way, if you use that photo online, please credit the photographer — FP contributor Glenna Gordon — and read her thoughts on it as well.

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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