'Kony 2012' screenings are halted in Uganda

Posted: March 17, 2012

KAMPALA, Uganda - Ugandan criticism of a viral video about a brutal central African warlord continued to grow since a public screening in a remote Ugandan town once terrorized by the Lord's Resistance Army.

The head of a Ugandan charity that showed "Kony 2012" said Thursday he would suspend further screenings after getting overwhelmingly negative reaction from viewers on Tuesday who did not understand why there were so many white faces in the video, or why Kony needed to be made famous.

The collective feedback amounted to a rejection of the video in a region that Kony once terrorized. The American advocacy group Invisible Children wants to raise global awareness of the fugitive rebel leader, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"There was a strong sense from the audience that the video was insensitive to African and Ugandan audiences, and that it did not accurately portray the conflict or the victims," Victor Ochen of the African Youth Initiative Network said in a statement. "In particular, viewers were outraged by the Kony 2012 campaign's strategy to make Kony famous and their marketing of items with his image."

The video, which has been watched nearly 80 million times on YouTube, has put Kony in the international spotlight, but some critics have said the video oversimplified the conflict. An international manhunt has sent Kony and his fighters deep into the remote bush. U.S. special forces are aiding the hunt in four Central African countries.

Kony is believed to be hiding in the Central African Republic, where he fled before an aerial assault on his forested base in eastern Congo in 2008. Ugandan officials say that he is no longer a threat to Uganda and that he has only a few hundred fighters across Central Africa, including in South Sudan and Congo.

The Ugandan government said last week it welcomed any effort that would help catch Kony but warned against misrepresenting the status of the LRA.

"Misinterpretations of media content may lead some people to believe that the LRA is currently active in Uganda," said Fred Opolot, a government spokesman. "They are a diminished and weakened group with numbers not exceeding 300."

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