BY SCOTT MACDONALD
Last month, the video “KONY 2012” turned the world’s attention to eastern Africa and the child-soldiers of the Ugandan guerrilla group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and its leader, Joseph Kony.
“He makes them mutilate people’s faces, and he forces them to kill their own parents.”
Now, WikiLeaks claims the San Diego-based nonprofit behind the ultra-viral film spied for the Ugandan government. The Daily Monitor has more.
“Leaked cables of secret diplomatic notes by American officials in Uganda to Washington reveal that Invisible Children, the makers of the controversial film, Kony 2012, shared intelligence information with Ugandan security operatives that led to the arrest of a number of suspected regime critics.”
Several of the leaked cables from the US former ambassador to Uganda, Steven Browning, mention the NGO. One particular cable describes the arrest of former LRA soldier Patrick Komakech in early 2009, which then set off a string of related arrests.
“Invisible Children reported that Komakech had been in Nairobi and had recently reappeared in Gulu, where he was staying with the NGO. Security organizations jumped on the tip and immediately arrested Komakech on March 5.”
Komakech was featured in several of the organization’s previous documentaries, and another group had even brought him to America to share his story. Invisible Children emailed a statement to Foreign Policy magazine explaining why they provided the Ugandan government with Komakech’s whereabouts.
"In 2009, Invisible Children was contacted by … the U.S. Embassy in Kampala regarding Patrick Komakech, a former LRA combatant who Invisible Children had been supporting ... It was brought to our attention that Mr. Komakech and a group of others were allegedly involved in activities that could be jeopardizing the lives of civilians and putting the organization and its staff at risk.”
These cables suggest Invisible Children got cozy with the Ugandan government, which has also been criticized for human rights violations against its citizens. Black Star News, an investigative newspaper based in New York which originally broke the story, explains.
“Kony2012 was viewed more than 100 million times; yet it now turns out that Invisible Children may have duped a global audience by hiding the fact that it's been working closely with the [current Ugandan President Yoweri] Museveni regime all along.”
As the Daily Monitor reports, the admission could negatively affect Invisible Children’s nonprofit status.