April 25, 2009, an organization called Invisible Children is asking that you “abduct yourself.” People in more than 100 cities across the world have already signed up and agreed to do just that. The free 30 minute movie “The Rescue of Joseph Kony’s Child Soldiers” tells why this action is being taken.

The movie was put together by three friends: Bobby, Jason and Laren, who went to Africa in search of a story and an adventure. They ended up in Uganda, and while driving one day, witnessed local townspeople escaping to the next town to avoid rebels from the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). Hundreds of children were hiding together in abandoned buildings. The filmmakers talked to these children and could hardly believe what they heard. Children were being abducted while sleeping at night. They were being forced to be soldiers and to resist the rebels meant instant death.

The movie is broken into six parts that show different aspects of the violent problem. I will cut to the chase: One man, Joseph Kony, who at one time was protesting government leadership but lost local support, is now a man with guns and an army that is spreading violence like a devastating disease. He and his cult-like army have abducted an estimate of 30,000 children.

One wonders how a man like this gained so much power. To give an example of what this man is like, the filmmakers talk to Jacob. Jacob explains how he was abducted when he was 11 years old. His brother tried to protest and they took a machete and killed him in front of Jacob. As a child soldier, Jacob was forced to do and see horrific things. To hear him tell his story is very emotional. The bottom line is villagers have no way to defend themselves and their government did not bring to an end to the violence. These children disappear and forever lose their childhoods.

Betty Bigombe, an Ancholi peace negotiator, went to talk to Kony. She had personally signed 25,000 letters to give to soldiers that stated if they come out she would receive them and resettle them. Large numbers of LRA started defecting. The LRA reacted by mutilating people. There are very graphic pictures and videos of their victims in the film so adults will want to review the film before considering if mature children should watch it. The violence almost appears as if Kony wants international attention. Bigombe has tried to negotiate peace with him a number of times with no success.

The young filmmakers to do whatever they could to help these kids. In 2006 they motivated over 80,000 people to sleep outside to create awareness to the problem and talked to senators in Washington, D.C. Their efforts were noticed and rewarded when a senior level diplomat, Tim Shortley of the US State Department, was appointed to the issue in 2007.

On April 8, 2008 over 200 people, including Shortley, went to the Garamba National Park where Joseph Kony hides from the world to bring him a peace agreement he indicated he would sign. Delegates from the LRA, the Ugandan government and the Vice President of Sudan were in attendance as well as our filmmakers. Kony backed out. In the film, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, lead prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, reminds us that Kony is the first man wanted for trial on account of war crimes in this new court system. It seems obvious to me upon watching this film that hope for peace should not rest in the hands of Joseph Kony, a modern-day Hitler.

The Invisible Children organization currently has 30 employees in San Diego, 5 in London and 90 in Uganda. In addition to organizing world-wide rallies and getting people to watch their film raising awareness of the problem, they have become engaged in providing “Visible Child” scholarships. According to Chris Sarette, in business operations in the San Diego office, over 690 Ugandan students have received secondary school scholarships and over 4 million dollars has been raised to rebuild schools in Uganda.

The goal on April 25 is to “ask Government and International bodies to develop a strategy and support existing efforts to rescue Kony’s child soldiers.” Participants will stage abductions and rescues in solidarity with children taken by the LRA, lobbying for local leaders to pledge support. Will you abduct yourself?

Invisible Children

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