A Documentary and social media campaign to publicize the atrocities of Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony has been labelled “highly inappropriate” by members of the East African nation. In the town of Gulu, where Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was once focused, community health director Beatrice Mpora told the(London) Daily Telegraph Kony no longer reigned in the region.
“There has not been a single soul from the LRA here since 2006. Now we have peace, people are back in their homes, they are planting their fields, they are starting their businesses. That is what people should help us with.” Kony’s army fled Uganda six years ago and the strongman and his fighters are now spread throughout many neighbouring countries, it was reported.
Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire agreed with Mpora, saying, “This paints a picture of Uganda six or seven years ago, that is totally not how it is today. It’s highly irresponsible.”
A spokesman for Uganda’s defense and army, Felix Kulayigye, told The Wall Street Journal that Kony was already a spent force. “The world is just realizing the evil in this man, but these are the things we have pointed out countless times in the past,” Kulayigye said. “Good enough, we have decimated his capabilities now.”
Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder, sexual slavery and using children as combatants. Ugandan government spokesman Fred Opolot hit out at the charity behind the film, Invisible Children, saying, “They are doing it only to garner increasing financial resources for their own agenda.”
The film has generated almost 45 million views and over 170 related video clips on YouTube, according to online measurement firm Visible Measures Corp.
Twitter users mentioned Kony more than 950,000 times on Thursday, according to social media analytics firm PeopleBrowsr, with tweets by public figures including Rihanna, Alec Baldwin, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Ryan Seacrest and Bill Gates.
“While this is a very impressive example of viral marketing, it’s raising awareness for a cause that doesn’t need awareness,” said Scott Gilmore, chief executive of Peace Dividend Trust, a non-profit that focuses on streamlining inefficiencies in humanitarian operations. “Those 30,000 kids who were kidnapped, this isn’t going to un-kidnap them.”
In a statement, Invisible Children said Uganda had “a vested interest in seeing [Kony] stopped,” adding, “The LRA was active in Uganda for nearly 20 years, displacing 1.7 million people and abducting at least 30,000 children.”