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'Kony 2012' Prompts Outrage In Uganda, Future Screenings Canceled (VIDEO)

Posted: 03/14/2012 9:38 pm Updated: 03/15/2012 2:32 pm

Everyone from actors to models to business leaders have weighed in on "Kony 2012," the 30-minute video about Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army that went viral last week.

However, little has been heard about what the Ugandans who were affected by Kony and the LRA think of the video.

Al Jazeera's Malcom Webb went to a public screening of the video in Lira in Northern Uganda, which, according to him, is "the area worst affected by Joseph Kony's Rebel Lord's Resistance Army."

Webb notes in the video above that the audience thought they'd see a film that reflected their experience, not a film that focused on an American father and his son, as "Kony 2012" largely does. He adds that the attendees didn't even get to see the entire video because people became so angry and frustrated with the depiction that they began throwing rocks.

"The event ended with the angrier members of the audience throwing rocks and shouting abusive criticism, as the rest fled for safety, leaving an abandoned projector, with organisers and the press running for cover until the dust settled," Webb reports for Al Jazeera.

"I cannot understand the intention of this video," said Emmy Okello, a journalist in Lira, according to The Guardian. "It is difficult to account to us if you are not including local people. What has angered people is that the video is about a white person, not about the victims. All of them came here hoping to see video that tells their story."

The Associated Press reported last week that some Ugandans in the country's capital have also criticized the video for oversimplifying a complicated issue.

"There is no historical context," Timothy Kalyegira, a prominent social critic and journalist in Uganda told the AP. "It's more like a fashion thing."

Victor Ochen, the director of The African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET), the group that organized the screening, said in a statement that it drew more than 35,000 people and was broadcast on five radio stations. The Guardian reports that other people estimated the film drew 5,000 attendees.

Due to the response, future AYINET public screenings of "Kony 2012" in Lira reportedly have been canceled.

"[T]he film produced such outrage, anger and hurt that AYINET has decided that in order not to further harm victims or provoke any violent response that it is better to halt any further screenings for now," Ochan said in the statement.

According to GlobalPost, Pius Bigirimana, a Ugandan official in charge of rebuilding LRA-torn areas of northern Uganda, has also been outspoken about the video, even though he hasn't seen it.

“Anybody portraying Uganda to still have insecurity is a sadist," he said, according to GlobalPost. "That person is a liar and is peddling falsehoods."

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Kony in 2005, but so far he has evaded capture. Human Rights Watch reports that Kony is suspected to be in Central African Republic.

From the Associated Press:

Kony's Ugandan rebel group is blamed for tens of thousands of mutilations and killings over the last 26 years. The militia abducts children, forcing them to serve as soldiers or sex slaves, and even to kill their parents or each other to survive.

Watch the video from Malcolm Webb above, and click over to his accompanying article to read more about the screening in Uganda.

This post has been updated with more information about what upset those watching the film. The 5,000 person estimate from The Guardian has also been added.

Below, see facts about Joseph Kony. Captions courtesy of Reuters:
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  • Self-proclaimed mystic Kony began one of a series of initially popular uprisings in northern Uganda after President Yoweri Museveni seized power in 1986. But tactics of abducting recruits and killing civilians alienated supporters.

  • The LRA is infamous for kidnapping children for use as soldiers, porters and "wives". Although there are no universally accepted figures, the children are believed to number many thousands. Some are freed after days, others never escape. <br> <em>Trauma counselor Florence Lakor, right, listens to 16-year-old Julius, as he tells of the two years he was forced by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) to live as a guerrilla fighter in Sudan and Uganda. (AP)</em>

  • Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the 21-year war. A landmark truce was signed in August 2006 and was later renewed. But negotiations brokered by south Sudanese mediators have frequently stalled.

  • The cessation of hostilities has been largely respected, but the guerrilla group has said it will never sign a final peace deal unless the International Criminal Court drops indictments against its leaders for atrocities. <br> <em>Uganda's Interior Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, right, and the head of the government peace talk delegation exchanges documents with the leader of the Lords Resistance Army peace talks delegation Martin Ojul, left, after signing a ceasefire agreement at State House in Kampala, Uganda, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007. (AP)</em>

  • Kony's force was once supported by the Khartoum government as a proxy militia, although Sudan says it has now cut ties with the LRA. Kony left his hideouts in south Sudan in 2005 for the Democratic Republic of Congo's remote Garamba forest. <br> <em>Map shows areas in Africa where the Lord's Resistance Army has had a known presence in the past year. (AP)</em>

  • Many northerners revile Kony for his group's atrocities, but also blame Museveni for setting up camps for nearly 2 million people as part of his counter-insurgency strategy, fuelling one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. <br> <em>Internally displaced people line up to receive food provided by the World Food Programe, Thursday, June 15, 2006 at the Pabbo camp outside Gulu, northern Uganda. (AP)</em>

  • Kony has said he is fighting to defend the Biblical Ten Commandments, although his group has also articulated a range of northern grievances, from the looting of cattle by Museveni's troops to demands for a greater share of political power. <br> <em>Joseph Kony, leader of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army, second right, and his deputy Vincent Otti, right, are seen during a meeting with a delegation of Ugandan officials and lawmakers and representatives from non-governmental organizations, Monday, July 31, 2006 in the Democratic Republic of Congo near the Sudanese border. (AP)</em>

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Filed by Timothy Stenovec  |