Merry Christmas to Central Africa in 2008. The gift? Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army massacre 620 people and abduct 160 children who are forced into becoming child soldiers.
These children are only a small part of the Invisible Children, said Jason Russell, one of the stars of the film “The Rescue,” which was screened in the Library on Sept. 13. “They are invisible children because they simply vanish,” Russell said.
About forty students sat scattered in the theater, each focused on the traumatic story unfolding ahead of them. “The Rescue,” a 2009 documentary by Jason Russell, Laren Poole and Bobby Bailey, recorded attempts to rescue child soldiers captured by Joseph Kony and the LRA. According to The LRA Crisis Tracker, operated by Invisible Children, over 1,000 have been killed and over 2,500 children have been abducted in the last 26 years.
Volunteers of Invisible Children Patricia Akello, Sam Veatch and Randy Stone screened the film, answered questions and sold merchandise to benefit the group’s cause. The Invisible Children, founded in 2006, is made up of primarily volunteers who want Joseph Kony brought to justice. The group was invited to UVU by the Peace and Justice Studies Department.
After Stone introduced the film and images began to scroll across the screen, silence filled the room. Following the screening, Akello stood up on the stage and began to tell her story. As a native of Uganda, where the LRA has carried out many of their attacks, Akello spoke of her brother and his experiences.
She said that her brother, along with many other boys, was taken one night by the LRA. After two years, Akello received word from a boy that had escaped that her brother had died after being abandoned because of a shot wound.
“Worse things have ended in the past, so this can end too,” Akello said.
UVU students Tessa Edwards, Justin Humphreys and Tyler Nielsen said after the screening that this was their first time seeing the documentary and also the first time learning about the Invisible Children.
“When [Joseph Kony] is captured, how is he going to be judged and what’s going to happen to him?” Humphreys asked the volunteers.
“There’s a lot of talk about what the problem is, but not what the solution will be,” Edwards said.
Today, Kony continues to refuse peace negotiations. Since 2008, the United States government has had a representative in Central Africa for the sole purpose of helping with a resolution.
On Nov. 17, the Invisible Children group will head to Washington D.C. to thank the government for their efforts toward resolving the LRA conflict in Central Africa. The group will also plead for continued support in bringing Joseph Kony to justice.