SANTA ANA (CBS) — An Orange County lawmaker has thrown his support behind an effort to to put a bounty on the head of an East African warlord just as reaction to a now-viral video has been met with mixed reactions in his home country.
“Kony 2012”, a 30-minute documentary that calls attention to atrocities committed by Josephy Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda and neighboring countries, has amassed over 80 million hits since its debut on YouTube earlier this month.
The film by San Diego-based activist group Invisible Children has sparked such public outrage that Republican Congressman Ed Royce of Orange County told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO he introduced a bill last week calling for the federal government to offer a reward for Kony’s capture.
H.R. 4077 would allow the State Department to offer up a reward for information leading to the location of Kony and his top commanders.
“I would imagine it would be about half a million dollars, which would go a long way in Congo, but the reality is that if he’s removed from the field of battle, there’s no other way to get peace in that region,” said Royce.
Kony has been indicted by the international court in The Hague on charges of kidnapping or murdering thousands of children.
“The abductees are children who, if they’re boys, they’re made into child soldiers, if they’re girls, they’re used as concubines by Kony and his lieutenants,” Royce said.
But while “Kony 2012” has easily become the year’s most-watched video on YouTube, the reception in northern Uganda — Kony’s former stomping grounds — has been lukewarm at best.
Victims of the LRA — the vast majority of whom have no access to social networks like Facebook and YouTube through which Kony’s name has drawn worldwide notice — said the video was not entirely factually accurate, noting the film never clarifies that Kony was driven out of Uganda years ago.
Others found the notion of commercializing the brutal warlord offensive, with one woman even noting T-shirts and other merchandise bearing Kony’s image is as repulsive to Ugandans as wearing Osama bin Laden T-shirts after 9/11 would be to Americans.
One of Kony’s victims, Leo Odongo, who was maimed by the LRA, told Al-Jazeera that he supports the campaign to capture Kony, but said the promotional items associated with the video are not at all welcome.
“If people in those countries care about us, they will not wear T-shirts with pictures of Joseph Kony for any reason,” he said. “That would celebrate our suffering.”