Conflicted by the Kony 2012 campaign [UPDATED]

I am conflicted by this video. On the one hand few people know of the atrocities committed by the Joseph Kony and LRA. On the other hand, the LRA has been mostly defeated. They haven’t been operated in Uganda since 2006, and Northern Uganda is now quite safe, though the scars of the conflict still remain.

More importantly there are many Ugandans, and even NGOs that feel the arrest warrants for Kony are making the prospect for a final lasting peace more difficult. It is hard to get Koney to show up to any peace talks if he feels he might be arrested.

So if this point of view is correct (and it is a complex situation so it is not clear what the best course of action is), then it boils down to what is more important. An end to the violence (which is mostly happening outside of Uganda, and is MUCH reduced from what it was just a few years ago) or proper justice for one of the most heinous people alive today. Not an enviable decision to have to make.

And even this is an oversimplification. There are other issues to consider.

On a more positive note, Uganda is really an amazing wonderful place to visit. I cannot recommend it enough. And yes I know I still have plenty of pictures from my travels there to post.

UPDATE: My brother, who spent time working in Gulu in Northern Uganda, has similar mixed feelings about Koney 2012:

Time for a rant.

Don’t know what to say about this whole Kony 2012 thing. On one hand, it has raised awareness of this largely ignored issue that has been going on for a long time (I would say 26 years, but in reality the issues go back way further than that). This is a good thing.

On the other hand, the video is grossly oversimplified, misrepresents many aspects of the conflict and misleads people. Sure, Kony is bad guy. But saying that capturing him is the solution to the conflict is like saying that capturing Saddam Hussein will fix the conflicts in Iraq. We all know how that worked out. The situation in Northern Uganda (and now South Sudan and DRC) is far more complicated than one crazy guy abducting children.

Invisible Children (the ones behind Kony 2012) is in favour of military intervention. This is an army that, according to some of the people I talked to, is not trusted by most northern Ugandans. And why should they trust this army? The same army that committed some of the same atrocities that they now condemn the LRA for committing. An army that is at the control of a president that used to brag about his use of child soldiers during the revolution and war that brought him into power. Some locals say that the main difference between Kony and Museveni (the president of Uganda for the last 26 years) is that Museveni succeeded. The war in northern Uganda has been in the best interest of Museveni and his friends that run the army.

The video also fails to mention a very important fact. It must be a huge coincidence that the US suddenly sends troops to a long standing conflict right as oil has been discovered and the rights to drilling are being discussed. The fact that the US did not seek regional allies to help in this situation speaks to the fact that they want something out of this deal.

What I hope is that this massive media coverage of Kony does not end with the message being delivered by Invisible Children. Let it spark some real discussion and get the real story out about this mostly ignored issue. The Acholi people deserve it.

-Ocira (my Acholi name)

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