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Kony 2012: One year later, Invisible Children still focused on ending violence

This time last year the world first saw the Kony 2012 viral YouTube video. The producers say that although he is yet to be apprehended, they are still focused on ending LRA violence.

Joseph Kony with LRA
Joseph Kony with LRA
Image: Image via Invisible Children

THE KONY 2012 campaign exploded across social media one year ago this week. The charity behind the viral video has said that while the international response was massive, it has not been enough to bring an end to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Invisible Children, which produced the Kony 2012 documentary that called for the capture and arrest of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, released an anniversary film on Tuesday.

In a statement to mark the anniversary, Invisible Children said the aim of the Kony campaign was to make the alleged Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony “famous” in order to bring him to the International Criminal Court by the end of 2012. However, while they admit he is “the most wanted man in the world” he has not yet been apprehended.

It is believed Kony fled to Sudan for safe haven.

The organisation said they are still focused on bringing down the African warlord adding that the viral YouTube video had brought about significant achievements and progressions in the hunt for Joseph Kony, such as a drop in civilian killings by the LRA of 67 per cent from 2011 to 2012.

Invisible Children also welcome President Obama committing the American special forces to the effort to track down and arrest Kony, as well as the US Congress passing new legislation in January 2013 authorising a reward of up to $5 million for information that leads to Kony’s arrest.

Ugandan response

Speaking to about behind the scenes of the Ugandan government at that time, Kevin McPartlan, who was part of a team of Irish consultants advising the government of Uganda how to manage its international reputation, said that the Kony 2012 viral campaign was something the government had to address quickly. “It was just an explosion, it happened very very quickly. We did capture it before the likes of Oprah Winfrey getting involved, so we had a day or two head start before the international media picked it up. It was very clear that this was going to get very big, very quickly.”

Having looked at the film he said they believed that some aspects of the film were just untrue as far as they were concerned. He said:

The initial video impression was that Kony was operational in Uganda. The Ugandan government had turfed him out in 2006. There are plenty that the Ugandans aren’t blameless for, but on this they were exemplary. It was the current prime minister of Uganda who went to the International Criminal Court and asked that Kony be indicted, so we felt it was unfair.

Mr McPartlan said the Ugandan Government needed to respond to the video. “We went to the ministers and explained that this is a social media phenomenon and we need to respond through social media, that was a tough sale,” he said, adding that the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, who is relatively social media savvy, was reluctant. He later agreed to put out a statement via YouTube.

Over the past year, Invisible Children said their fight to ending the LRA conflict has continued. With increased funding the organisation have expanded their protection programmes, which encourage LRA fighters to safely surrender, established five safe reporting sites which give designated areas where LRA combatants can surrender and expanded their early warning radio network, which alerts communities of LRA activity in their area.

They state that in 2013 they will continue to focus on bringing an end to LRA violence.

(Via YouTube/invisiblechildreninc)

Read: Tánaiste is ‘greatly concerned’ that Joseph Kony remains at large>

Video: Invisible Children release sequel video to Kony 2012>

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