Kony 2012: Spreading Awareness about the World’s Worst War Criminal
Today I am taking a break from our usual talk of travel to talk about something even more important. Do you know who Joseph Kony is? Since 2002, the International Criminal Court in the Hague has named him the number-one most wanted criminal in the world for his crimes against humanity as the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) (a group the African Union has declared a terrorist organization) that has been fighting in Sudan, Uganda and most recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This same list included the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi as number 24. Yet while Gaddafi appeared regularly in news coverage until his death in October, the man occupying the list’s number one slot is barely ever even mentioned in mainstream media.
In a nutshell, Kony is responsible for the kidnapping of tens of thousands of people in Central Africa, mainly children, who he then forces to become child soldiers or sex slaves and commit horrible atrocities. He is backed by no government, believes himself a prophet, and his mission is to preserve his own power. He has been doing this for over 20 years.
The organization Invisible Children was started to bring awareness to the plight of these kidnapped children, and has since grown into a movement to inspire activism. Their films and campaigns have played a role in rallying support for U.S. aid and involvement in Uganda for the purpose of helping the Ugandan army capture Joseph Kony and bring him to justice. The United Nations, African Union and the government’s of several Central African countries are also involved in efforts to halt the activities of the LRA, which you can read about in this press release from the African Union.
I’ve personally been a supporter of Invisible Children for many years, ever since they screened their first film at my university. This year, Invisible Children’s mission is to make Joseph Kony a household name. They want everyone to know who he is, what he has done, and why he needs to be stopped so that we can all do everything in our power to support our governments in this mission. Please note that I am not asking you to donate money. If you feel that the best way to show your support for this issue is to donate money to Invisible Children or another charity group that works in Central Africa, that is your own choice. What I think is more important at this time is to become aware of this issue so that you can make informed decisions about it as a voter and a citizen of this planet.
I have seen a lot of conversations happening in the social media world about this issue, and whatever your stance, the fact that we are having conversations about it is really important. I understand that bad things are happening all over the world at any given time, and some people scoff at the publicity this project is getting, asking “why this issue?” To me, it’s because this is a war primarily against children. We can’t turn our backs on the atrocities of the world, especially those that target our populations most vulnerable members. I think it is important for people to know this is happening in the world we live in. Awareness is important, no matter how much the critics of this project denounce it’s usefulness. For more information on the criticisms of Invisible Children’s work, see this NPR news article. Click here if you are interested in reading Invisible Children’s official response to the criticism of their projects.
If you’ve gotten this far, thank you for reading. Please take thirty minutes of your day, watch the video, and find out how you can help. Invisible Children’s advocates will be papering the streets with pamphlets and posters all over the world, spreading awareness about this cause. I’m doing my best to “paper” the internet, so if you watch the video, feel moved, and are so inclined, please repost the film and help get the message out. #stopkony