Entries in Invisible Children (3)


'Kony 2012' Activist Filmmaker Arrested

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire(SAN DIEGO) -- Invisible Children co-founder and director of the Kony 2012 viral video Jason Russell was arrested in San Diego Thursday night for intoxication, masturbating in public and vandalizing cars, according to reports.

Russell was allegedly dancing around an intersection wearing “speedo-like underwear.” He then removed the underwear and made sexual gestures, sources told TMZ.

Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children, said Russell had been dealing with health problems and was hospitalized on Thursday.

“Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better,” Keesey said in a statement. “The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday. ”

In the past two weeks, a 30-minute video produced and voiced by Russell has gone viral. Supporters, many of whom learned about alleged Ugandan war lord Joseph Kony for the first time through the video, purchased t-shirts and action kits to help fund Invisible Children’s quest to bring Kony to justice.

“Jason’s passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue,” Keesey said. “We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Kony 2012′ Escaped Child Soldier Supports Movie

Sam Farmar/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Jacob Acaye, the former child soldier featured in the “Kony 2012″ viral sensation, told ABC News Friday that although attention from the film was overwhelming, his life was good now and it was important for people to see the video.

“It’s a hard movie,” he said Friday in an exclusive interview. “It brought back some memories. … I still don’t know when will it end. The more time is ticking, the more people are dying. The more people are still suffering.  The more people [are] being abducted.”

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At the age of 11, Acaye was one of 41 youth taken from a Ugandan village by Joseph Kony, the leader of the rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army.

In the video, Acaye, who escaped from the LRA, was interviewed by videographer Jason Russell, a cofounder of the San Diego-based charity Invisible Children Inc.

“We worry. The rebels when they arrest us again, then they will kills us,” he says in the video. “My brother tried to escape. Then they killed him. … They cut his neck. … I saw.”

“Kony 2012″ has garnered nearly 58 million views since Monday. It is part of a campaign by Invisible Children to bring Kony to justice, although the group has faced its own critics for its religious affiliations and financial practices.

In “Kony 2012,” he tells Russell that even though he’s not with the LRA, he wants to die. Then, at least, he would be reunited with his brother.

“No one is taking care of us,” he says. “We are not going to school.”

Acaye is now 21 and studying to become a lawyer at Uganda’s Makerere University  -- it’s a wish he shared in the 30-minute film released by Invisible Children.

He said that when the video was shot -- he was 13 -- he did not think it would reach this level of success.

“By then, I was like really, really invisible -- like real meaning of invisible children,” he said. “We are like the children who are not seen. Children who are not even knowing that they are suffering.”

Acaye told ABC News Friday that while the video reminded him of horrible memories of his childhood, it made people aware of Kony.

“If they [people] know and they have seen and they could learn that Kony is still being the same in that movie, they can think about what to do,” he said. “And they can think about what they can do.”

Human rights groups say the LRA has terrorized Central Africa for more than 20 years, killing and maiming thousands of civilians and forcing children to become young soldiers. Kony and his commanders are wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Kony 2012' Charity Invisible Children Addresses Its Critics

Sam Farmar/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A 30-minute YouTube film critical of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony has logged close to 37 million views since Monday, but the charity behind the video is suddenly on the defensive, forced to explain its motives, financial practices and religious affiliations.

Invisible Children Inc. said its intention was to "create a cultural tipping point" even as critics took to the Internet to recount their concerns.

"We want to do some epic things because our time on Earth is so short," Jason Russell, an Invisible Children co-founder and filmmaker, told ABC News. "Why not do this? Start here with Kony. Use him as the example of what injustice looks like in the world and then we're going to move to the next one and the next one."

The San Diego-based nonprofit uploaded the video "Kony 2012" to bring attention to Kony and the rebel group Lord's Resistance Army, which human rights groups say has terrorized central Africa for years. The video is part of a campaign that includes an April 20 call for supporters to blanket their cities with Kony 2012 posters.

With the viral sensation, however, has come criticism. Several Internet sites have drawn attention to the group's evangelical roots, a 2008 photo of the charity's founders posing with guns and how it has disbursed its funds.

Invisible Children responded to most of the allegations in a statement on its website.

Russell said that although the group's concept -- "treat our children around the world the way we would treat our own children” -- was faith-based, Invisible Children didn't want to be defined that way.

"We are unorthodox and if you don't accept the unorthodoxy of what we do, then you won't get it," he said.

"We have supporters from all walks of life and all backgrounds and we're united under this umbrella," he said. "This umbrella of peace and exposing the story of the Invisible Children that Joseph Kony has had for this long."

But an image circulating the Internet has highlighted the group's uneasy relationship with its detractors. In the photo, Invisible Children's founders -- Russell, Bobby Bailey and Laren Poole -- posed with guns with members of the Sudan People's Liberation Army. Critic Grant Oyston of the student-run blog Visible Children said that the photograph showed that the group supported direct military intervention.

On the charity's website, Russell said the photo had been taken at the 2008 Juba Peace Talks during which Kony was supposed to sign a peace treaty. He called the snapshot a "joke photo" to take back to family and friends.

But Glenna Gordon, an Associated Press photographer who took a few pictures that day, including the one of the founders with the weapons, said on her blog that she felt uncomfortable taking the photo.

"It just contributes to the stereotypes of kids messing stuff up by showing the worst of the worst and showing it without context," she wrote. "It adds to the Invisible Children bad a-- mythology even while attempting to cast doubt on their practices. ... At the end of the day, I do hope that all of this can make us look at Invisible Children with a more critical glance."

The charity came about after the three Southern California filmmakers headed to Africa in 2003 and later released a documentary about the child soldiers.

According to Human Rights Watch, in the past 20 years, Kony's LRA has killed and mutilated thousands of civilians -- and forced children to become fighters -- in Uganda and neighboring countries. Kony and his top commanders are wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Solome Lemma, founder of HornLight, an online forum focused on countries in the horn of Africa discussed the problem with the video’s message.

"Simply, a long socioeconomic and political conflict that has lasted 25+ years and engaged multiple states and actors has been reduced to a story of the good vs bad guy," said Lemma. "This approach obviously denies realities on the ground, inflates fantasies abroad, and strips Ugandans of their agency, dignity and humanity- the complexity of their story and history. The work, consequence, and impact are all focused on Uganda, but the agency, accountability, and resources lie among young American students. Clearly a dangerous imbalance of power and influence; one that can have adverse lasting effects on how and what people know of Uganda. It reduces the story of Northern Uganda, and perhaps even all of Uganda, into the dreaded single narrative of need and war, followed by western resolve and rescue."

In 2010, President Obama signed into law a bill aimed at stopping the LRA and bringing stability to Uganda. And in October, he sent 100 troops to Uganda to help regional forces battle the LRA and capture or kill Kony.

Russell said the charity's programs in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan included the building of a rehabilitation center, an expanded and early-warning radio network connecting communities and an LRA crisis tracker, which is a mapping platform and data-collection system.

But Visible Children pointed out that although Invisible Children had spent more than $8.6 million last year, "only 32 percent went to direct services with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production."

Russell defended the group's spending, saying that Invisible Children needed to spend money on advocacy and awareness of young people, especially in the West.

"Let's be honest. They set the agenda. What they like matters," he said. "We need to educate and transform and reshape [their] paradigm to saying, 'This is what really matters. This is what we can really do.' ... So we do spend money on our films and on our advocacy and awareness. We are proud of that.

"When someone posts only 30 percent or 40 percent is going to the actual ground -- it's an old paradigm where every nonprofit was trying to get 98 percent of all funds to the region that's in conflict. That's an old model.

"We have strategically been putting all the puzzle pieces, all the dominoes in place, and everything is prepped for him to come to the Hague. ... This is never ever happened in 26 years of the conflict," he said. "We need to make sure everyone is aware who Kony is. By making him famous, we will bring his crimes to the light and bring the children who've been abducted back home. That's the goal."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio