Kony 2012: a campaign “necessary” … but “teen”

According to Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, the campaign, certainly, “plays on emotions”, but “the most important thing is the result”

In recent weeks, the campaign “Kony 2012” ignites the web .Part of a video for nearly 100 million times, it seeks to stop the Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony, LRA leader, an extremist militia known for its violence and barbarism.

Wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity since 2006, Joseph Kony seems to have disappeared and are hiding somewhere in Central Africa. His men, however, face a military operation conducted by several countries in the region since 2008, and who has received military support from the United States.

Joseph Kony  2012 in Car

Joseph Kony 2012 in Car

All of which led to question the real purpose of the campaign “Kony 2012”. Many are concerned because of the appearance of the video and demagogic accuse its founders to play with the emotions of Internet users, without necessarily thinking about the consequences of mindless action in this conflict.

Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and specialist Joseph Kony’s militia, an update on the ongoing operation.

What is known about Joseph Kony and the LRA? This militia is still active?

– According to latest reports, Joseph Kony would be in the CAR with the other two wanted persons, numbers two and three of the LRA. For its part, the organization continues its attacks on time in the area where she took refuge and which includes three countries: Uganda, Central Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

These attacks have decreased in 2011 and the LRA, with only 150 to 300 members, is a group of smaller and smaller. But there remains a large potential threat, first because of its structure, composed of fighters but also adults and children hostage. It is estimated that it takes between six months and two years to transform a child soldier. Also, if you look at the past 25 years, we realize that the activity of the LRA is often serrated, with peaks and periods of calm. It therefore remains a major potential threat. We know for example that in the area where it is active, there are still over 400,000 people displaced.

Where’s operations to arrest Joseph Kony and end the activities of the LRA?

– Since 2008, a military operation against the LRA is led jointly by the countries of the region, led by the Ugandan army. There are currently discussions to reform the operation to place the responsibility of the African Union.

We can say that things went pretty well spent so far, despite some small problems. For example, during the recent election campaign in the DRC, Kabila had asked the Ugandan soldiers from leaving.But it is only qu’incidents spot.

Anyway, the most important event took place in November 2011, when Barack Obama announced the dispatch of special forces to advise the African forces on the research of Joseph Kony and improving the protection of populations civilians, including children hostage.

The Ugandan army has itself been accused of violence. Can he be trusted to act wisely in this operation?

– It is true that the Ugandan army may tend not to respect human rights. But in the actions it has taken against the LRA, we have not identified the flagrant violation of human rights. I must say, since I am on this issue, I have found over the years an improvement in the behavior of Ugandan soldiers.

That said, in a situation as complex as this, it is particularly insist on respect for human rights.

Since the launch of these operations, can one say that they were effective?

– No, first of all because there are not enough resources. We can not say that the Ugandan army has been effective in its 25 years of struggle against the LRA. Leaders have still not been arrested and the LRA still commits crimes

Especially since the goal is not only to arrest Kony, but also to protect local communities as well as hostages of the LRA. Hence the importance of international aid, United States, but also of France.


How do you campaign “Kony 2012” of Invisible Children?

– I think any attention is focused on Kony is welcome. How many times have I talked about his crimes to officials and political leaders who replied: “it’s not our problem”.

Admittedly, this is a film that is particularly aimed at teenagers and that simplifies things. But thanks to him, many young people are mobilized. It is something much needed. One can only hope that now this issue back on the agenda of those responsible.

Sure, HRW, we would not have done the same way. This is something that I think is typical of 21 thcentury, which plays on the emotions. I prefer not to judge their method as the most important thing is the result.

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