Uganda screenings of Kony film halted after protests
A Ugandan youth group said Thursday it would stop screening a hugely popular Internet video calling for the arrest of rebel chief Joseph Kony after local people reacted furiously at its first showing.
A screening in the northern town of Lira, attended by many people mutilated by Kony’s soldiers, was halted after some people started throwing stones, said Victor Ochen, the director of African Youth Initiative Network.
His group had now dropped plans to show the film around the region.
“We wanted to make our people part of the debate,” said Ochen.
“But in the end we had to stop it because people were having such a strong reaction to the film and were getting very angry.”
The video, “Kony 2012”, by US advocacy group Invisible Children, has been viewed by tens of million people worldwide, mainly online, since it was released last week.
But when the group held a public screening Tuesday in Lira, where few people had been able to watch the 30-minute film due to limited Internet access, it provoked an angry response.
“As soon as they saw the clip saying that people should make Kony famous, people got very upset and started to react,” said Ochen.
Many of the thousands attending, who included some mutilated by the soldiers of Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), objected to what they saw as the film’s insensitivity and its outdated view of northern Uganda, he added.
“People were asking why they were showing white children in America and not telling the truth about the situation of the local people in the area,” said Ochen.
“We realised that the reaction would be the same wherever we went,” he added.
Kony’s ruthless rebels were infamous for mutilating civilians and abducting children to use as soldiers and sex-slaves during their two-decade war in northern Uganda.
But they have been forced out of Uganda and since 2006 have been operating in neighbouring countries.
Kony, a semi-literate former altar boy, took charge in 1988 of a rebellion among northern Uganda’s ethnic Acholi minority, to fight the Kampala government it wanted to replace by a regime based on the bible’s Ten Commandments.
He is accused by the International Criminal Court of the rape, mutilation and murder of civilians as well as forcibly recruiting child soldiers.
Regional armies launched a hunt in 2008 to capture Kony after he repeatedly refused to sign a peace deal with Uganda. But he remains at large alongside a clutch of fighters.