According to diplomatic notes leaked last year by whistle-blower site Wikileaks, Invisible Children tipped off the Ugandan government about the location of Patrick Komakech, now under arrest for treason. Komakech had been involved in a rebel group (the PPF) seeking to overthrow the current President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni.
The June, 2009 cable, from the US Ambassador to Uganda (Steven Browning) to the Secretary of State, claims that Komakech (who had previously been featured in Invisible Children films) had been arrested by the Ugandan government for treason and extortion, thanks to a tip from Invisible Children regarding his location. The cable reads, in part:
“The latest plot was exposed when the Government received a tip from the U.S. non-governmental organization (NGO) Invisible Children regarding the location of Patrick Komekech.* […] Invisible Children reported that Komekech had been in Nairobi and had recently reappeared in Gulu, where he was staying with the NGO. Security organizations jumped on the tip and immediately arrested Komekech on March 5 [of 2009].”
Invisible Children has denied their involvement, with Uganda spokesperson Florence Ogola saying, “We are not involved in anything to do with security. We only deal with development.” A further spokeperson told Foreign Policy: “[W]e do not conduct intelligence efforts of any kind for a foreign government.”
This story hasn’t really been picked up by mainstream media yet, so I’m going to break with my rule of not asking for reblogs and ask you to please reblog this if you think it’s worthy of media attention.
*Spelling of Mr. Komakech’s name is currently unclear – Foreign Policy and the Daily Monitor both spell it as “Komakech”, while the original cables from Mr. Browning spell it “Komekech”
Didn’t See That Coming of the Day: Jason Russell, co-founder of the controversial nonprofit Invisible Children and the star of its ultra-viral fundraising campaign video KONY2012, was arrested last night in the San Diego neighborhood of Pacific Beach for masturbating in public while under the influence.
The San Diego Police Department says Russell, 33, was taken into custody after he was caught masturbating in public and vandalizing cars. Lt. Andra Brown also noted that he was under the influence, but did not identify the substance.
His overall behavior was said to have been “Very strange.”
35,000 people attended a screening of the Invisible Children film in Lira, Northern Uganda. The screening was organized by a great local organization called The African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET). Here is a video of the community response. HINT: they’re not happy.
The quote the video ends with speaks volumes: “Kony2012 may be the most watched video on youtube this year, but it clearly doesn’t resonate with many of the people it claims it’s meant to help”
(trigger for potentially graphic images of war wounds)
Respectfully, I don't think the article linking IC to the Christian Right organizations is relevant if one is using sound reasoning. While I support gay marriage and I am currently weighing IC as an organization (who I believe to be well-intention, but possibly more harmful than good), I do not think you can fault a non-profit for accepting money from an organization that is against gay marriage. They are not responsible for the views or actions of their donors, and to say so is a straw-man.
The National Christian Foundation is well known for their anti-gay agenda though and I guess people assume that IC are aware of it, but you bring up a good point. Personally I figured charities do background checks on larger organizations before accepting their donations to make sure they’re not associating themselves with anything that might hurt their cause, but perhaps that was naive of me. Anyone else know?
What does Invisible Children share in common with the Discovery Institute, the leading organization promoting “Intelligent Design”, a pseudo-scientific theory created to insinuate creationist ideas into public schools — or with The Call, whose leader Lou Engle claims homosexuals are possessed by demons, calls God an “avenger of blood” and a “terrorist”, and in May 2010 staged a rally in Kampala, Uganda, at which Engle warned of a gay menace to society and shared a stage with one of the authors of Uganda’s notorious Anti Homosexuality Bill ?
(I said stalking horse for the “kill all the queers” people two days ago. Right there, people. Right. Effing. THERE.)
OH LOOKY HERE
As always, these are just my personal opinions and observations, feel free to message me, tell me what you think.
The reason that so many people have jumped on this bandwagon is essentially due to a misguided at best and racist at worst mindframe. I feel like it’s like a movie for some people; that African warlord kidnapping children to make an army terrorizing everything in their path. And this is your feel-good moment to do something to “stop him” …and you get a trendy bracelet in the process. Do you see what I’m getting at? The video wasn’t even as bad as many I’ve seen say from Iraq or Palestine or recently Syria, but it got so many people mobilized because it requires no effort, they didn’t have to research anything; learn about the complex history or culture or even the specifics of this man and his crimes; “omg he kidnapped 30, 000 children, and the cute little 5 year old in the video says we have to stop him!!!” Well let me tell you about a few people who killed 500, 000 children -perhaps one million civilians all together, and condemned thousands of babies to a life with deformities (kinda like the way Kony got his soldiers to mutilate people’s faces)- and guess what? You won’t even have to go 8000 miles to get these guys. They’re in your country; they’re running your country. Getting Kony is a long shot, but you can actually get these guys! In fact Amnestly International even asked for one of them to be arrested. Multiple times.
Only I forgot, they’re not African warlords and it’s not as romantic arresting old white dudes in suits, is it?
“If you are showing me as voiceless, as hopeless, you have no space telling my story. You shouldn’t be telling my story if you don’t believe that I also have the power to change what is going on. And this video [KONY 2012] seems to say that the power lies in America and it does not lie with my government; it does not lie with local initiatives on the ground. … It is furthering that narrative that Africans are totally unable to help themselves and need outside help all of the time.”
Rosebell Kagumire, a blogger from Uganda, speaks on the Western condescension in the KONY 2012 campaign, and how the West thinking they it sweep into Africa with generalized, ignorant ideas of what actually goes on in Africa can “save” Africa and Africans like the “great Western heroes” they are.
I honestly was not expecting this sort of response when I wrote my letter. It has only been a day and my letter seems to have, somehow, “gone viral”. Thank you to everyone who has read it. I am grateful and humbled that so many people took the time to read my letter. (For those of you who have asked, I have not received an official response from Jason Russell or even a confirmation that he has read it).
All of this activity has also entailed receiving many messages. I appreciate them all and I apologize that I have not addressed them. The past day has been so overwhelming that I needed some time before I could properly respond and react.
The biggest question that I have been asked is:
As my professor, Mahmood Mamdani, once said, “Certain assumptions drive research efforts, solutions and so much effort is expended in solving the problem as opposed to defining the problem. Once you have defined the problem, 90% of the solution is already there. Most of the time the solution is in the problem’s definition itself” (Columbia University, 10/20/10).
I believe this is important advice because I think often times there are actually more problems within the “solution”. Therefore, I suggest that the next step is to further explore the problems and continue to ask questions.
**I would like to clarify, I am not saying that we should “simply sit back and let people die”. I am saying that we should make sure that we fully understand the situation and the consequences of our actions, so it is not our very actions (no matter how good the intentions) that are actually responsible for more deaths. This way we can be sure we are responding to problems, not causing problems. However, for those of you who are still antsy, I will reassure you somewhat by saying that we are currently working on something…
Anyways, as I said in my previous post, “We must act on knowledge, not emotions.” Therefore, for now, I have gathered a preliminary mini “informational kit”:
1. SCHOLARY RESPONSE TO KONY 2012:
2. CURRENT POLITICAL SITUATION IN UGANDA:
3. CITATIONS (For people who have questioned my sources, I apologize for not providing them in the letter):
Sverker, Finnström. Living With Bad Surroundings : War, History, and Everyday Moments in Northern Uganda. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008.
Branch, Adam. Displacing Human Rights : War and Intervention in Northern Uganda. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Nibbe, Ayesha Anne. “The Effects of a Narrative: Humanitarian Aid and Action in the Northern Uganda Conflict”. Diss. University of California, Davis, 2011. 3456852
My own research that I conducted in the summer of 2010 and 2011 in Northern Uganda that focused on the effectiveness and role of NGOs, especially Invisible Children (even though it is actually a corporation) in the area. I will provide the report upon its official completion.
Lastly, my mentors and close family and friends in Uganda.
Again, thank you again for your support. I really appreciate it. It has been exciting to be a part of this process of questioning, problematizing, debating, sharing, and learning. It really goes to prove that we are not only capable of, but also demand, a higher level of discourse than that of a toddler. (No matter how cute he is).