Bono comments on Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign

***UPDATED AS OF 3:08 PM ET***

ONE co-founder Bono commented on Invisible Children’s “Kony 2012” film and campaign in Ireland’s edition of the Sunday Times yesterday. The campaign, which aims to raise global support for the arrest of Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony, has caught the attention of the world over the past few days, and the filmmakers have urged public figures to speak out in response. The Sunday Times reports that Bono and others have commended Invisible Children for putting a spotlight on Kony’s atrocities.

Bono’s full comment to the Sunday Times is below:

“Having just been in Gulu with Edun and Jolly, this is particularly pertinent for me … Spreading like wildfire, and sparking a heated, fascinating, much needed debate, this is brilliant campaigning. Not only does the public now know about Kony and his most despicable atrocities, they also know what a huge range of experts think about it, even if they all don’t agree. I salute a strategy that generates this much interest if it¹s targeted towards lasting meaningful solutions owned and directed by the people of the region on their journey from the trauma of these atrocities towards stability and development. Is there an Oscar for this kind of direction? Jason Russell deserves it.”

You can read the full Sunday Times article here:

Bono backs Kony video campaign
U2 singer says YouTube film on Ugandan militia seen by 80m deserves Oscar for highlighting atrocities, writes

Harry Leech: 11 March 2012

Bono, the lead singer of U2, has given his support to the Kony 2012 video campaign which has become an internet phenomenon in recent days. The video calls foraction against Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a violent rebel militia in Uganda accused of murder, child abduction and sexual enslavement.

Bono described the video, which has been seen by almost 80m people on YouTube, as “brilliant campaigning” and saluted its creator, Jason Russell.

“Is there an Oscar for this kind of direction? Jason Russell deserves it,” he told The Sunday Times this weekend. The campaign has drawn several celebrity endorsements, including backing from Angelina Jolie, Rihanna and Oprah Winfrey.

The rock star and human rights campaigner recently returned from Gulu in northern Uganda where he and his wife, Ali, spent time with Jolly Okot, a director of Invisible Children, the charity behind the YouTube hit. Okot features in the Kony 2012 video and is a survivor of LRA violence.

The couple’s Edun clothing brand purchases some of its cotton from a co-operative which is part-managed by Invisible Children.

“Having just been in Gulu with Edun and Jolly, this is particularly pertinent for me,” said Bono, adding that the video was “spreading like wildfire, and sparking a heated, fascinating, much needed debate”.

The video was uploaded to websites YouTube and Vimeo a little over a week ago by Invisible Children Inc, an aid organisation and advocacy group based in theUnited States.

While it garnered only four hits on its first day, by Saturday it had been viewedalmost 80m times and has been discussed extensively around the world in print and on television.

The 30-minute video highlights the alleged crimes of Kony, whose arrest the campaign has called for.

Kony has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 12 counts ofcrimes against humanity and 21 counts of war crimes.

He has survived repeated attempts to capture him. The ICC warrant states the LRA “has established a pattern of brutalisation of civilians by acts including murder, abduction, sexual enslavement, mutilation, as well as mass burnings of houses and looting of camp settlements” and that “abducted civilians, including children, have been forcibly recruited as fighters, porters and sex slaves and to take part in attacks”.

While reaction to the film has been broadly positive, the campaign has attracted criticism, including questions over the amount of money raised that is sent to Uganda, how much was spent on making the film, and whether or not capturingKony is achievable.

The movie has also been accused of attempting to over-simplify a brutal 25-yearconflict, with regional experts pointing out that Kony is no longer in Uganda and is thought to be hiding in the Central African Republic.

Some criticisms are more basic: one Ugandan journalist pointed out that while the country is described as being “in central Africa” in the video, it is actually in east Africa.

Responding to criticism of the campaign, Russell, who directed and starred in the video, said that Invisible Children is “committed to be 100% financially transparent and to communicate in plain language the mission of the organisation so that everyone can make an informed decision about whether they want to support our strategy”.

He asked the public to study the organisation’s website, which outlines its goals, describes its programmes in Uganda, and details where funds are spent.

Not all of the comment has been critical, however. Last week Maria Burnett of Human Rights Watch said: “What it leads to remains to be seen, but the goal to bring pressure on key leaders, to protect civilians and to apprehend LRA leadership is important.”

It’s a view that Bono agrees with. “Not only does the public now know about Kony and his most despicable atrocities, they also know what a huge range of experts think about it, even if they all don’t agree,” he said.

“I salute a strategy that generates this much interest if it’s targeted towards lasting, meaningful solutions owned and directed by the people of the region on their journey from the trauma of these atrocities towards stability and development.”