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Filmmakers call attention to ongoing Kony atrocities

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 8th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a world full of seeming moral ambiguities, few things are truly black and white - with some major exceptions. "The core message is just to show that there are few times where problems are black and white. There's lots of complicated stuff in the world, but Joseph Kony and what he's doing is black and white," Ben Keesey, Invisible Children's 28-year-old chief executive officer says. Keesey and his group are trying to draw international attention to the atrocities perpetrated by the Ugandan rebel leader.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The online world is quickly being educated to the diabolical work of Kony and his cronies. Uganda and Invisible Children were among the top 10 trending terms on Twitter among both the worldwide and U.S. audience on this week, ranking higher than new iPad or Peyton Manning. This is significant as Twitter's top trends more commonly include celebrities than fugitive militants.

Keesey says the viral success shows their message resonates and that viewers feel empowered to force change. It was released on the Web site, www.kony2012.com.

 Keesey and his fellow filmmakers reported on wartime atrocities in Africa for a 50-minute work called "Invisible Children" and has since drawn more attention than they imagined when their project was released in 2005. A nonprofit organization to campaign against the brutality was founded shortly afterwards.

Kony's Ugandan rebel group is blamed for tens of thousands of mutilations and killings over the last 26 years. The militia abducts children, forces them to serve as soldiers or sex slaves -- and even to kill their parents or each other to survive.

The Invisible Children campaign has drawn criticism. For example, Musa Okwongo, a commentator for The Independent, says the film's overly simplistic approach fails to hold Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni accountable.

"'Invisible Children' asked viewers to seek the engagement of American policymakers and celebrities, but - and this is a major red flag - it didn't introduce them to the many Northern Ugandans already doing fantastic work both in their local communities and in the Diaspora. It didn't ask its viewers to seek diplomatic pressure on President Museveni's administration," Museveni writes.

Foreign Affairs also points out U.S.-based advocacy groups' exaggeration of Joseph Kony as a uniquely evil figure. "They rarely refer to the Ugandan atrocities or those of Sudan's People's Liberation Army, such as attacks against civilians or looting of civilian homes and businesses, or the complicated regional politics fueling the conflict," the magazine writes.

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