“The effort to have KONY arrested and his henchmen stopped has the support of so many young and old, as many as 3.7 million. It means that we are not alone. It makes us sure that together we will stop Kony.” – Francisco Madeira, AU Special Envoy on the LRA issue
“Is there any other place on Earth where we would have tolerated for a quarter of a century this kind of movement to kidnap, maim, kill, terrorize and target children year in and year out?” -Jan Egeland, Deputy Director, Human Rights Watch
“We want to appreciate the work done by Invisible Children, which has been able to make the world know that there is a tyrant in Africa maiming, raping and destroying the lives of young Africans.” – Francisco Madeira
“Having over 3 million in support of what we are doing on a daily basis to put Kony out of reaching the population is a burden on us. We do appreciate this. While it’s a burden, it is also an encouragement, for us to be able to do more.” -Abou Moussa, UN Special Representative to Central Africa
“Never underestimate your power. You’re not old enough to vote in this country but you’ve already shown how much your voices can matter. You have changed the debate and you have raised awareness.” US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice
“Never stop contributing. Never stop being active. The worst thing you can do is be passive.” -Ambassador Rice
“Being young doesn’t mean that you can’t change anything. As adolescents you’re often told ‘you’re 15, you can’t do anything.’ Invisible Children really challenges that, and I really challenged that, being part of Invisible Children.” -Marcelo, young activist from New York City
“The only progress is action” -Jan Egeland
The UN Security Council is holding a press conference on the Lord’s Resistance Army on Tuesday, June 26 at 3pm EDT, and Invisible Children will be there representing you (watch it live online).
3,729,815 people from countries all over the globe signed this pledge:
Joseph Kony is one of the world’s worst war criminals, and I call on my leaders to support the international efforts now led by the United Nations and African Union to arrest him and his top commanders, bring the child soldiers home, and restore lasting peace.
On Tuesday we get to deliver those signatures. The UN Security Council is meeting this week and working on a strategy for stopping Joseph Kony and the LRA. That means figuring out which country can contribute what. It also means setting up a to-do list. We are excited to see this strategy and even more excited to hold the world’s leaders accountable to seeing it through.
Tuesday’s news conference and this week’s meetings are an opportunity to emphasize the urgency of this mission. And who better to do that than Father Benoit Kinalegu and Sister Angelique Namaika? They are community leaders from DR Congo and they are here on behalf of the communities that continue to be attacked by the LRA. Both of them work on the front lines. Father Benoit’s organization, CDJP, runs an early-warning radio network that warns communities of the LRA’s whereabouts. Sister Angelique‘s organization, Mama Bongisa, works with women who have been abducted by the LRA.
When Invisible Children first talked about this event, we imagined a large rally outside of the United Nations, but as June drew closer we realized that in this
particular case, more people didn’t translate to more influence. Rather, this event required that the right people be there. And that’s exactly what is going to happen: delegates from the region that is currently terrorized by the LRA will be connected with the people who have the power to do something about it, including the AU Special Envoy on the LRA issue, Francisca Madeira, and the UN Special Representative to Central Africa, Abou Moussa.
This is the dream. These are the conversations that need to happen if the LRA is ever going to be stopped. This press conference comes a week after Father Benoit and Sister Angelique spoke at a congressional hearing on the LRA, 11 days after the UN Secretary General released a report saying that the mission to stop the LRA is underfunded, and a day before the United Nations Security Council meets. June has been a momentous month, and it gets us excited for what is to come. After all, 2012 isn’t even half over.
Watch the press conference online at 3pm EDT.
Here’s one of the great photos, but we know you want to know and see more.
Click here to read and see pictures highlighting the congressional hearing.
(Sister Angelique, Abbe Benoit, Innocent, and Michael Poffenberger between DC meetings)
Today Abbe Benoit and Sister Angelique will have the opportunity to speak before Congress on “The continuing human rights crisis in LRA-affected areas.” The hearing, hosted by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, is meant to assess continuing atrocities and gauge the impact of currently-deployed U.S. advisers in protecting civilians and disarming Joseph Kony and the LRA.
I spoke to Abbe Benoit and Sister Angelique yesterday afternoon, and they are very eager to speak directly to the people who have the influence to improve the security of LRA-affected areas of Central Africa. They have a packed schedule these next few weeks, but the exhaustion is well worth the opportunity to advocate on behalf of the people they work to protect: the victims, the orphans, and the widows of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Sister Angelique plans to speak about the women she works with and the long term needs for the LRA-affected communities in terms of education, vocational training, psychosocial counseling, etc.
Abbe Benoit will speak to what the region needs most from the international community, i.e., communications infrastructure, human rights accountability for regional militaries, professionalization of regional militaries, etc.
(Debriefing with the delegation in Resolve’s DC offices)
Invisible Children will be posting updates via Twitter, Instagram, and the blog throughout the day, and soon Abbe Benoit and Sister Angelique’s testimonies will be available online. The hearing begins at 2:30 EDT, and should be streamed live. We’ll post the link once we get it. In the meantime, see below for the complete witness list for today hearing.
Our thanks to Reps. McGovern (D-MA) and Wolf (R-VA), for co-chairing this commission and making today’s testimony possible. We also appreciate Resolve and Crisis Action for bringing the delegates to the U.S. and coordinating their entire schedule.
• The Honorable Donald Yamamoto, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, U.S. Department of State
• The Honorable Earl Gast, Assistant Administrator for Africa, U.S. Agency for International Development
• Mr. Gregory Pollock, Director, South and East Africa, Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy, Department of Defense
• Mr. Michael Poffenberger, Co-founder and Executive Director, The Resolve
• Father Benoit Kinalegu, President, Dungu-Doruma Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo
• Sister Angelique Namaika, Coordinator, Mama Bongisa, Democratic Republic of Congo
• Mr. John Prendergast, Co-founder, The Enough Project
Photo credit: Lisa Dougan, Resolve
From DR Congo to Washington, DC, to the United Nations
The press conference at the United Nations Security Council is fast approaching, and we are so happy to say that two local leaders from northeastern DR Congo will be there. They arrived in DC yesterday, and over the next couple of weeks they will be speaking in front of some of the most influential governing bodies in the world on behalf of the remote communities in Central Africa that continue to be targeted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Father Benoit (whom you might recognize from KONY 2012: Part II – Beyond Famous or one of our videos about his Early Warning Radio Network) and Sister Angelique both do remarkable work in their communities, protecting civilians and helping rehabilitate those who have escaped from the LRA. I copied their bios below so that you could get a glimpse of the experience and knowledge they bring with them. Our advocacy partner, Resolve, and Crisis Action are hosting the two delegates on their three-week advocacy tour.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) they will testify at a Congressional hearing and next week they will deliver your 3.5 million pledge signatures to the United Nations Security Council. The week after that, they will head to Europe for a series of policy meetings.
They have quite the trip ahead of them, and we will be posting updates as we get them. This is a momentous week.
Read Sister Angelique and Father Benoit’s bios here.