Petition to Invisible Children
Attention: Ben Keesey
Invisible Children, Inc.
1620 5th Avenue #400
San Diego, CA 92101
***Full text below:
Dear Ben Keesey:
We write to urge the end of Invisible Children’s dangerous, single-sided story that demands the United States to further militarize Uganda and the surrounding region. We ask you to take these three steps: first, discontinue the commercialization of the Ugandan conflict and its people; second, acknowledge the atrocities committed by the Ugandan government under President Museveni; third, advocate for peace, not violence.
We ask you to stop creating videos, action kits, and movements that revolve around a single-sided story. Instead, we ask you to take the time to listen to the Acholi people who are deeply offended and frustrated with your commoditization and commercialization of the conflict and the people. These are real people with real concerns, not products and commodities. We ask you to treat them with the dignity and respect that they deserve. Invisible Children’s Annual Report in 2011 shows that it spent 37.14% on Central Africa Programs and 62.86% on advocacy. The majority of the expenses were spent on advertising rather than assisting. This suggests that Invisible Children is more of an advertising company than it is a human rights corporation.
The single-sided story that Invisible Children continues to propagate is that of the Ugandan conflict. It completely demonizes and de-historicizes Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and glorifies the Ugandan government. It fails to recognize that there are other violent actors in the conflict. We acknowledge the terrible violence committed by the LRA under Joseph Kony, however, we ask you to also acknowledge the atrocities committed by the Ugandan government under President Museveni. President Museveni came into power in 1986, and his army soon began to devastate northern Uganda through killing, looting, and displacing thousands of Acholi people. It is these actions that prompted the creation of over 27 rebel groups, among them the LRA. Therefore, the root of the present conflict starts with the Ugandan government, not the LRA. Not only this, but during the conflict against the LRA the Ugandan government has been implicated in grave and repeated war crimes against the Acholi people, both in the form of direct violence- killings, rapes, and torture- and indirect violence- most tragically, the long-term mass forced displacement and internment of the entire Acholi population of northern Uganda, leading to tens of thousands of deaths. We believe that, in order for there to be a solution, we must fully understand the problem, which cannot be achieved without taking into account the active role of the Ugandan government and United States in provoking and prolonging the conflict.
The United States has been providing open military assistance since it sent the U.S. marines in 2007 in Kitgum, Uganda. Since then, its support has increased dramatically as it has sent military assistance to the Ugandan government, especially through AFRICOM. We are concerned that this military support is only prolonging the conflict. In fact, much of the U.S. and Ugandan government’s military activities do not seem to be focused on the LRA, but rather on securing the country’s recent oil discoveries. The October 2011 deployment of 100 troops, five years after the conflict had ended in Uganda, raises further fears that the United States may be renewing violence, not responding to it. Invisible Children only helps create the environment in which the United States can continue to renew this violence with the support of your followers. Invisible Children’s single-sided story and its advocacy for a single-sided solution will not lead to peace because the conflict and solution is not single-sided.
In conclusion, we ask Invisible Children to be part of the solution, not the problem. Instead of disregarding and demeaning the prospect of peace talk efforts through your call for arms, we ask you to take the peace talks seriously. In 2006, the Juba Peace Talks between the Ugandan government and the LRA showed great promise. The LRA demanded that its international indictments be lifted and that the atrocities committed by the Ugandan government also be acknowledged. However, increasing U.S. involvement (encouraged by Invisible Children) enabled the Ugandan government’s intransigence, and finally the LRA backed out. Therefore, we believe that Invisible Children was and continues to be a hindrance to the peace process.
We represent a new generation of peace. We ask you to advocate peace, not violence: be part of the solution and not the problem.
(SIGN THE PETITION HERE)