Kony 2012: what’s the real story

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Since Monday, more than 21m people have viewed this film – made by an American charity called Invisible Children – about the plight of children in Uganda at the hands of the warlord Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) guerilla group. His group is said to have abducted 60,000 children.
With its slick Hollywood production values, the film has been an almost instant viral success, dominating Twitter worldwide and having one of the fastest ever take-offs on You Tube. The hashtag #stopkony has had hundreds of thousands of tweets, and millions of people now know something about Uganda and what is happening to children there. Support for the campaign to end the conflict in the country this year is spreading. Please click to read more…

Kony stands accused of overseeing the systematic kidnapping of countless African children, brainwashing the boys into fighting for him, turning the girls into sex slaves and killing those who don’t comply.
His forces are believed to have slaughtered tens of thousands of people and are known for hacking the lips off their victims. Kony has been wanted by the international criminal court since 2005 on charges that include crimes against humanity. He has been living in the bush outside Uganda since that time.
The US designated the LRA a terrorist group after September 11, and in 2008 began actively supporting the Ugandan military. In October, the president deployed 100 combat-equipped troops – mostly special operations forces – to Uganda to advise regional military units in capturing or killing Kony.
But it has also attracted criticism: there are questions about the charity’s funding, its targeting of US leaders instead of African leaders to instigate change, and accusations that it is failing to criticise the Ugandan government, with its poor human rights record.
This excellent post by Michael Wilkerson, a journalist who has worked extensively in Uganda, starts busting some of the myths around Kony and the situation in Uganda. He writes:
It would be great to get rid of Kony.  He and his forces have left abductions and mass murder in their wake for over 20 years.
But let’s get two things straight:
1) Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and hasn’t been for six years;
2) The LRA now numbers at most in the hundreds, and while it is still causing immense suffering, it is unclear how millions of well-meaning but misinformed people are going to help deal with the more complicated reality.
It makes the following points:
• The LRA is not in Uganda but now operates in the DRC, South Sudan and the Central African Republic
• In October last year, Obama authorised the deployment of 100 US army advisers to help the Ugandan military track down Kony, with no results disclosed to date.
• The LRA is much smaller than previously thought. It does not have have 30,000 or 60,000 child soldiers. The figure of 30,000 refers to the total number of children abducted by the LRA over nearly 30 years.
It also makes the point that there is currently no threat to remove the US advisers who are working with the Uganda government to track down the army – Invisible Children’s key aim is to force the US government to keep them there.
Guardian.co.uk

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