The group called Invisible Children made a stop in Mount Airy on Monday night to show its new short film “MOVE” about the KONY 2012 movement.
“MOVE,” which was shown live for the first time in Mount Airy at the Earle Theatre, addressed controversy surrounding the Invisible Children organization and calls for support for the Nov. 17 march on Washington, D.C., to encourage leaders to take action to find and punish Joseph Kony.
KONY 2012 is a short film created by Invisible Children, Inc. to promote the charity’s “Stop Kony” movement to make Ugandan indicted war criminal and international criminal court fugitive, Joseph Kony, globally known in order to have him arrested by Dec. 31, 2012, the time when the campaign expires.
During the film, those in attendance learned that Joseph Kony allegedly abducted an estimated 66,000 children in Uganda and forced them to fight for his rebel army, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Kony allegedly is still ordering the abduction of children to become child-sex slaves and child soldiers.
An estimated two million people have been internally displaced since 1986 in Uganda, according to information provided by KONY 2012. Joseph Kony and the LRA have been allegedly abducting, killing and displacing civilians in East and central Africa since 1987, according to representatives with Kony 2012.
Val Mirelez, a spokeswoman and volunteer for KONY 2012, explained how the movement got started.
“We first encountered these atrocities in northern Uganda in 2003 when we met a boy named Jacob who feared for his life and a woman named Jolly who had a vision for a better future. Together, we promised Jacob that we would do whatever we could to stop Joseph Kony and the LRA. Invisible Children was founded in 2004 to fulfill that promise,” said Mirelez. “Our hope for this event is to bring awareness to our community and turn that awareness into action. We have the power to help the thousands of men, women, and children who still live in fear of LRA violence.”
The film focused on Millennials, those who were born after the millennium. The movie stated that the world views the Millennials as those who are only focused on themselves. It said they are more interested in getting videos posted on YouTube or keeping up with their Facebook statuses — and just being lazy.
The movie urges young people to join the movement to show that they, as a group, can accomplish something big, like getting the world to focus on the capture and prosecution of Kony.
Part of the film focused on a glitch Invisible Children faced when their first video went viral. Jason Russell, who is heading up the project, explained that the video they posted on YouTube got one million hits in the first 36 hours it was live. It was viewed as the “most viral video in history.” As a result of the enormous amount of views the group’s website had in such a short time, their computers couldn’t keep up, and their website kept crashing. With this, news media groups picked up on the story and started calling the movement a scam.
Russell had to face interview after interview telling broadcasters that the movement was indeed real and that they were simply experiencing computer problems, but the damage was already done. Russell took the constant barrage of negative media attention to heart and ended up having a nervous breakdown in which he was taken into custody after police found him wandering the streets naked.
Even though the group faced many setbacks, it continued to keep its eye on the goal of having the international community hear its voice of finding and prosecuting Kony. The group’s goal is to have 20,000 people march on Washington to fill the 10 blocks surrounding the White House.
After the film, a Ugandan speaker, Gabriel Pocotoo talked about growing up in fear of being attacked by the LRA, as so many people in Central Africa still do today. He said he had visited the United States one other time and was glad to take a year off this time from studying at a university to come speak for the movement. He said he especially missed American food.
“You all get to get out of bed in the morning and go to school. I don’t sleep in my own bed,” said Pocotoo of his childhood. “I woke up in the jungle with mosquitoes biting me. The government told everybody to leave. They sent us to prisonment camps — it was like hell.”
He said Uganda is dependent on agriculture. When the people had to leave and live in the camps, he said, they could no longer grow their crops.
He said Kony fled Uganda six years ago and is now believed to be living in the Congo.
He said when Kony started out, he was on a mission to bring equality to Northern Uganda where Pocotoo grew up. Pocotoo said Southern Uganda was wealthy and had the best schools, roads, hospitals and more, but the north was poor. But, he said, over the years, Kony started using children in his war efforts.
“This war has been going on for 26 years. How long shall we wait? No one has the right to abduct children and displace people. Invisible Children gave me back my life,” said Pocotoo.
After the presentation, Mount Airy High School seniors Emily Brim and Faith Easter said their goal is to not only join the movement, but to go to Washington, D.C., on Nov. 17 to march for the cause.
Brim said she wants to join the movement to do something bigger. She and Easter are going to try to get a program going at Mount Airy High School to support KONY 2012.
“I want to make a difference,” said Brim.
Easter said she thinks it is a good program.
“I want to get more involved with it because I think we, as youth, should get involved with this. I don’t think we do put forth enough effort into these types of movements. We want to show the world that we can do something bigger,” said Easter.
For more information on the KONY 2012 project, go to http://invisiblechildren.com/kony/.
Contact Mondee Tilley at email@example.com or at 719-1930.