This Friday, the United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) are expected to release a new joint strategy to end LRA violence. To help brief journalists about the strategy and the way forward on the LRA, Resolve joined a press event at UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday. Panelists at the press event included the two leaders of the joint mission — UN Special Representative for Africa Abou Mousso and AU Ambassador Francisco Madeira — as well as Human Rights Watch Deputy Director Jan Egeland, our Executive Director Michael Poffenberger, and two civil society delegates from Democratic Republic of Congo, Father Benoit Kinalegu and Sister Angelique Namaika.
Among the most notable points made by the panelists was an emphasis on the need for political cooperation between regional governments and significant new funding from donor countries in order to the LRA mission to succeed. Special Representative Moussa and Ambassador Madeira assured that they are in the process of reaching out to potential donor nations for needed support and they are in regular communication with regional governments in order to ensure cooperation and coordination. According to Ambassador Madeira, the expected results of the LRA mission are to “stop Kony, stop his atrocities, neutralize this man and make sure that the populations return to normalcy and experience development and stability”.
As mentioned earlier, the new UN-AU joint LRA strategy is scheduled to be released at the end of the week. You can count on us to bring you updates — and our analysis — as soon as that happens.
This week, we received some big news as the committees in Congress that set America’s foreign aid budget released their proposals for 2013. Thanks to the committed activism of young people across the U.S. and support from a few key champions in Congress, we’re now very close to securing $10 million for life-saving programs in communities targeted by LRA violence.
At a time when the U.S. foreign aid budget faces the constant threat of major cuts, it is a remarkable achievement to have both houses of Congress in agreement that the U.S. should be investing new funds to help stop LRA violence and support affected communities in their recovery. Our team has been working with activists across the country who have been calling, writing and meeting with their members of Congress as part of the KONY 2012 campaign that launched in March. This week’s news provides further evidence that their voices are making an impact here in Washington.
The Senate and House of Representatives released separate versions of the foreign aid bill, and later this year both houses of Congress will negotiate a final version before voting it into law. The version released by the House of Representatives, drafted by committee leaders Kay Granger (R-TX) and Nita Lowey (D-NY), includes language that would guarantee that the U.S. continues to make it a priority to fund programs that help protect civilians and rescue and rehabilitate LRA abductees. This very encouraging progress was pushed forward, in large part, by the hard work and lobbying efforts of young activists. In fact, Representative Granger recently wrote a letter to students she met with for a KONY 2012 lobby meeting, saying,
“I really enjoyed our discussion and was encouraged by your commitment to end these atrocities. It is refreshing to see how informed and engaged you are… Rest assured, I will continue to ensure that we provide funding to help protect the citizens in LRA-affected areas, assist them as they rebuild their lives, and finally bring Kony and his leaders to justice.”
Congrats to all of the students who have been lobbying Representative Granger and many thanks to the Congresswoman for listening and responding to the voices of her constituents.
But wait, there’s more! In addition to that good news from the House side, the version of the foreign aid budget approved yesterday by the Senate committee, led by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), takes things a step further by allocating a firm $10 million for life-saving programs in LRA-affected communities. Here is the full language of the Senate budget bill.
Huge thanks are in order for Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Graham (R-SC) for their leadership, as well as for Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) who championed the allocation on the committee.
And of course, to all our advocates — particularly you lobby meeting leaders out there — we can’t thank you enough for the hard work you’ve done and we hope this news serves as an encouraging reminder that all of your efforts are working.
Our Resolve team will continue to work with activists this summer and into the fall to help ensure that the $10 million in the Senate budget is included in the final version of the foreign aid bill. Stay tuned with us if you want to help make that happen.
Yesterday, we told you about many of the actions Congress has taken to respond to the Kony 2012 campaign. This week, among the LRA-focused activity on Capitol Hill was an official hearing on Joseph Kony and the LRA before the Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs, chaired by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) who has been major champion on this issue.
Administration officials from the State Department, USAID, and the Department of Defense briefed Senators on the progress of US efforts to help stop LRA violence, bring top LRA commanders to justice, and support the recovery of affected communities. In addition, Invisible Children’s Regional Ambassador, Jolly Okot, and former LRA-abductee — and Kony 2012 film star — Jacob Acaye bravely shared, in detail, about how LRA violence has affected them personally and why they are committed to advocate for those in DR Congo, South Sudan, and Central African Republic who are currently suffering from LRA violence. You can watch the entire hearing, including Jolly and Jacob’s powerful testimonies, here.
In the mean time, we also want you to know about a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the LRA and other sources of instability in Africa that will be occurring tomorrow, Wednesday, at 10am. What makes this hearing extra special is that you get to participate, right from your own home.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee allows regular folks like you and me to post questions online that we would like to see asked — and answered — at the hearing. The committee will read through all of the questions and seek answers to as many as possible from the testifying witnesses.
Do you have any LRA-related questions for the Obama Administration? Submit them here.
The witnesses testifying at the hearing tomorrow will include:
Donald Y. Yamamoto, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of African Affairs;
Daniel Benjamin, Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State; and
Amanda J. Dory, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense.
Tomorrow’s hearing is a great opportunity to have your questions answered by some of President Obama’s top aides working on the LRA issue — and it’s a chance to show Congress and the Obama Administration that activists like you are serious about this issue and you are paying attention to what our leaders are doing about it.
Here are some questions you might consider asking:
1. What is the Obama Administration doing to help make sure that the regional governments in LRA-affected areas are working together to help apprehend Joseph Kony and stop LRA violence?
2. What is the U.S. government doing to help support the protection of civilians in LRA-affected areas at the same time that it is helping to apprehend top LRA commanders?
3. What is the U.S. doing to help ensure that Joseph Kony is not able to find a safe haven in areas like Darfur?
Those are just some example questions for you, but you may have a few of your own. Take a moment today to submit your questions here and make sure check in with us later this week for an update on how the hearing went — and if your questions got answered.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the Kony 2012 phenomenon has been the way in which young people across the globe are pushing adults to address the issue of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in central Africa. The Associated Press published a piece about this a couple of weeks ago, highlighting that several members of Congress increased their engagement on the issue after being confronted by their own children who asked them what they were doing to help bring Joseph Kony to justice and end LRA violence.
From politicians and parents to teachers and administrators, thousands of adults are now learning about LRA violence for the first time — or are being challenged to do something about it for the first time — because of their kids.
Right now, as young activists across the country continue to meet with their elected leaders, urging them to help bring Joseph Kony to justice and end LRA violence, our Resolve team has been receiving story after story from young activists – many of whom had never lobbied their members of Congress before – who are realizing the power they have to affect change in Washington. And along the way, it seems like many adults are realizing the same thing.
Which brings us to our next Kony 2012 story….
Meeting Brianne Blaisdell, a college student from Riverside, CA. Last week, Brianne led a lobby meeting with Congressman Ken Calvert (R-CA44), joined by a couple of special guests. As you’ll read below, she came away with some pretty fabulous reflections that made us smile. Check it out:
“The most awesome part of my lobby meeting was the fact that my dad took off an hour of work — on a really busy day — to come to the meeting. And not only did he come, he asked if he could speak to share his own personal reasons for caring about the issue . He took the floor for part of the meeting and was so eloquent and passionate, I couldn’t believe it. The staffer asked him some pretty tough questions and I expected him to re-direct them my way, but he answered them perfectly and with such confidence. It was so cool to see my dad step up like that. My mom also came to the meeting and started to tear up after we showed a video of testimonies from LRA-affected communities in central Africa to Representative Calvert. She kept bringing up those stories on the way home.
I’ve been a Resolve and Invisible Children supporter since I was a teenager. I always remember coming home and ranting to my family about what was going on with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in central Africa and what we can be doing about it. Now, it’s so amazing to see that this is no longer something that I believe in alone — it’s now something my whole family believes in.
I know lobby meetings sound scary. And I won’t lie and say I wasn’t nervous leading up to first meeting. I’ll admit, professionalism isn’t something that comes naturally to me as a 20-year-old college student with a casual style and ripped shoes. The idea was nerve-wracking. But once you’re in that meeting, you forget about the nervousness. It really becomes more of a conversation and the fear subsides. Trust me, if it’s possible for me, it’s possible for you too!
Lobby meetings really aren’t as frightening as they seem and the benefits are so unique and so rich. All I can say is that it’s worth it. I strongly recommend anyone who feels passionately about an issue to meet with their representative — or their representative’s staff — to discuss what’s important to them. No matter how afraid you are, the experience will leave you feeling confident, knowing you can take a stand for what is right, you can have your voice heard by Washington, and that you can accomplish difficult things.
Do it. So completely worth it.”
- Brianne Blaisdell (pictured above with her father in front of Rep. Calvert’s Riverside office)
We’re so thankful to Brianne, Mr. and Mrs. Blaisdell, and the thousands of other activists across the country who have given their voices and their time — and stepped out of their comfort zones — to move our leaders to help end LRA violence.
Inspired to take action yourself? Click here for 3 things you can do right now. Keep up the great work, advocates.
This Monday kicked off the second phase of the KONY 2012 campaign, during which activists across the U.S. are emailing, calling, and meeting with their members of Congress, urging them to take action to help arrest Joseph Kony, end LRA violence, and seek lasting peace for affected communities in central Africa. More specifically, they are asking representatives to cosponsor the Kony 2012 Congressional Resolution (H. Res. 583 / S. Res. 402) which was introduced in both the House and the Senate following the release of the Kony 2012 film.
So far, 91 members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats — have officially cosponsored the resolution and several more, as a result of local lobby meetings with activists, have verbally confirmed that they will be cosponsoring as soon as they return to Washington after the April recess.
Our team continues to receive a stream of wonderful stories from young activists across the country — many of whom have never lobbied their representatives until now — who are now filled with excitement about engaging politically to help end LRA violence. These high school and college students are not only making waves in Washington, they are proving to them themselves and their peers that their voices are powerful.
We’ve been humbled and inspired by the young people we get to work with, and we wanted you to share a few of their stories with you.
Josh Stegmeier, a high school junior from Longmont, CO, accidentally signed up with us to lead a Kony 2012 lobby meeting, thinking that he was simply signing up to attend one. Our lovely fellow, Becky, convinced Josh that he would do a great job leading — and that she would help him every step of the way — so he agreed! This week, Josh and 9 others met with Representative Cory Gardner (R-CO4) and despite being a lobby-meeting rookie, Josh did a fantastic job leading the group (no surprise there) and it went off without a hitch. Here were a few of his thoughts after the meeting:
“We were so happy with how it went, it was hard to put into words. Representative Gardner was really appreciative of us meeting with him (as we were of him). I’m really looking forward to seeing what Rep. Gardner will do. I think we’ve got his vote…… If there’s anything Resolve needs help with in the future, feel free to let me know! I had such a fun time; it was truly a memorable experience.”
College student Sarah Scinto and 9 other activists from Wilkes-Barre, PA, met with Representative Tom Marino (R-PA10) this week. Sarah is a veteran with Resolve but several in the group had never lobbied before. In the picture above, the activists are showing Representative Marino a video of testimonies from communities currently affected by LRA violence, made by our friends at Discovery the Journey. According to Sarah, the Representative was deeply moved by what the activists shared and he even committed on the spot to cosponsor the resolution! Here are some more reflections from Sarah:
“Representative Marino was overwhelmingly supportive of the resolution and spoke about his recent trip to parts of Africa. He said that he tries to be a champion for children all across the world, citing his background as a prosecutor, and assured us that he would fight for this issue to remain in the attention of Congress……I was unbelievably surprised by the Congressman’s amazing response. He actually thanked us for working on this issue, while we were sitting in shock at his display of passion towards bringing Kony to justice. I still can’t believe it went so well, and all of my fellow participants were amazed by the experience. We’re ready for whatever comes next!”
College student Rachel Marie Asaro and the Invisible Children East Coast roadie team met with Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA15) today. The group did a fantastic job sharing their personal stories, updating the Congressman on current LRA activity, and urging him to take action by cosponsoring the Kony 2012 resolution. The Congressman enthusiastically agreed at the meeting to become a cosponsor and went on to say that as a member of the House subcommittee that helps decides the U.S. Foreign aid budget, he would do all he could to help ensure funding for life-saving programs in areas currently affected by LRA violence. That is a major victory, folks! Here are some thoughts from Rachel:
“The successful meeting with Representative Charlie Dent was a huge milestone for our journey to bring this conflict to an end and our lobby team couldn’t have been more happy to be a part of it! It was an amazing experience for both myself and the East Coast roadies. To be in the room when Representative Dent confirmed that he would be a cosponsor on the House resolution and work with his subcommittee to help address LRA violence made all our hard work worth it. We are confident, passionate, and persistent. I believe that as long as we continue, we will see an end to this war.
More stories to come — this is only the beginning! Inspired to contact your representatives? Click here for 3 things you can do right now.
In the last 3 weeks, tens of millions of people around the world have become aware of Joseph Kony’s crimes against humanity and the need to bring him to justice.
We’ve been encouraging you to channel your demands for justice to Washington and we’re already seeing results. Last week, a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives introduced the Kony 2012 resolution into Congress and as of today, it already has 44 cosponsors in the House and 38 in the Senate. This is remarkable — a true sign that your voices are powerful — but we still have a long way to go.
83 members of Congress have signed onto the resolution, but that means 452 still haven’t. At least one of those 452 probably represents you. Make it your mission to get all three of your members of Congress (your two Senators and your Representative) to cosponsor the Kony 2012 resolution. Here’s how you can do that:
Step 1: Take 30 seconds to EMAIL your members of Congress.
Step 2: Take one minute to CALL your members of Congress.
Step 3: Sign up to MEET with your member of Congress in your home town.
Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3 until you achieve the desired results.
**Note: Here’s a list of ever member of Congress who has already cosponsored the resolution. If any of your representatives are on this list, make sure to call their office and thank them.
Our Resolve team constantly receives stories of young people who have convinced their policymakers to take action that can help end LRA violence. Here’s just one:
Last week, a group of 10 Resolve and Invisible Children activists in Agoura Hills, CA (pictured above) held a short, 20-minute lobby meeting with Rep. Henry Waxman (CA-30). They shared why addressing the LRA crisis was so important to them and asked the Congressman to join them in committing to help bring Joseph Kony to justice and end LRA violence. Just a few days later, Congressman Waxman cosponsored the Kony 2012 resolution. The activists, most of whom had never attended a lobby meeting before, are now excited to schedule meetings with their two California Senators.
A story like this can be your story, too. You have the ability move things in Washington and help see LRA violence ended once and for all — if you choose to use your voice. Here’s your chance.
This story was just too great to keep to ourselves.
In the past two weeks, we’ve received a flood of sign-ups from young people across the United States — and beyond — eager to meet with their policy-makers to urge them to help bring Joseph Kony to justice and end LRA violence. It’s been exciting and encouraging for us to hear from so many young people ready and willing to engage politically on this issue because they are serious about pursuing an end to LRA violence.
This morning, we received a lobby meeting sign-up from a 21-year-old citizen of Tunisia — the nation credited with catalyzing the Arab Spring. Under “lobbying experience,” he submitted the following information:
“We managed to kick out our previous president.”
Needless to say, we are humbled — and pretty darn pumped — by the advocates we get to work with.
We have a couple more gems to share with you today – further proof that your voices truly are making waves in Washington and moving our leader to take action to help end LRA atrocities.
This week, 2 of the 12 policymaker targets for the Kony 2012 campaign gave impassioned public statements, condemning Joseph Kony’s crimes against humanity and calling for increased U.S. support to help regional governments bring Kony to justice and end LRA violence.
The statements made by these two leaders in Congress — Republican Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL18), and Democratic Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry (D-MA) – further demonstrate that bringing Joseph Kony to justice is something we can all agree on. We are incredibly grateful to the Congresswoman and the Senator for their leadership on this issue and to the thousands of activists who have lobbied them over the years.
Take a few minutes to watch their statements below. If either of them happens to be your member of Congress, please take a moment to call his or her office today and say “thank you.” Otherwise, urge your members of Congress to take a stand against LRA violence by taking 30 seconds to send an email message to your representatives and by signing up to lead a local lobby meeting in your hometown.
P.S. In case you forgot, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), another target of the Kony 2012 campaign, also made a similar public statement of support last week
Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL18) speaks on the House floor about the need to bring Joseph Kony to justice. 3/21/2012.
Chairman John Kerry speaks at Gordon College about the need to bring Joseph Kony to justice. 3/19/2012. (start at 46 minutes)
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it 1,000 times: you voice is powerful. And when we come together and channel our voices into Washington, clearly and consistently, we can have a major impact on the priorities of our leaders.
Case in point: Yesterday, 33 Senators, led by Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK), introduced a bipartisan resolution, condemning the atrocities committed by Joseph Kony and calling for robust U.S. efforts to help bring Kony to justice and end LRA violence. (For a summary of the resolution click here or read the full text here).
The House version of the resolution, which was introduced last week by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Ed Royce (R-CA), has already gained 32 bipartisan cosponsors – further evidence that this is something we can all agree on.
33 Senators and 32 Representatives is a great start — but we’re capable of so much more. These numbers can keep climbing, but only if your members of Congress hear from you, again and again and again. So here’s your mission:
If you members of Congress have not cosponsored the resolution, it’s up to you to convince them that they should. Here’s how:
And of course, if any of your Representatives have already cosponsored the resolution, please take a minute to call their offices and say thank you. Elected leaders often hear a lot of complaints and requests, but rarely any thanks. We want them to know that we’re grateful when they represent our voices in Washington. Find a list of all the current cosponsors here.
Keep up the great work, advocates. Your efforts truly are moving things in Washington — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We’re incredibly grateful for all of you.
People from all across the United States – and indeed, around the world – have weighed in with their views on the Kony 2012 phenomenon and the historic attention Joseph Kony has received over the last 10 days. However, despite the more than 90 million views of the Kony 2012 film online, the dozens of articles and interviews by mainstream news outlets, and the hundreds of blogs that have been written on the subject, there remains a critically important aspect of this story that has been left untold by the mainstream: perspectives from those who currently living in the midst of LRA violence.
Voices from communities in regions of DR Congo, South Sudan, and Central African Republic where the LRA continues to kill, abduct, and displace thousands of innocent civilians are notably absent from the public conversation. While frustrating, this is no surprise. As Resolve has noted on many occasions, Kony chooses to prey on communities in the most remote and marginalized areas of central Africa, where news of LRA atrocities rarely reach the outside world. These areas lack basic communication infrastructure and technology.
For the past six years, many religious and civil society leaders in these communities have been calling for assistance from their own governments and from the international community to help protect civilians targeted by the LRA and apprehend Joseph Kony and his top commanders. Their input formed the basis of the policy recommendations for the KONY 2012 campaign. It would be tragic if – in a moment of such incredible attention to their plight – views from affected communities continue to go unheard.
Our team is working now to gather comments from religious and human rights leaders in these communities, but in the meantime, below is a compilation of a few of the testimonies from these leaders over the past few years.
As you saw in the first video, a woman from an LRA-affected area of South Sudan emphasizes, “We want people who will talk on our behalf,” — people who will share these stories with the rest of the world. You can help spread her story, and those of many others, by doing two things right now:
1. Tweet this blog and post it on Facebook so that the voices of currently affected communities are included in the public conversation about Joseph Kony and the LRA. Here’s a sample message:
Amplify the voices of people currently experiencing #LRA violence in central Africa http://bit.ly/wbaBRy @weareresolved #KONY2012
Two days ago, we joined our partners at Invisible Children for the launch of KONY 2012, a campaign to make Joseph Kony’s crimes known to the world. Since then, the campaign has gone viral, and millions of people are newly inspired to help. Our office has been flooded.
But the campaign will fail if we stop there. To see Joseph Kony arrested and the end of LRA atrocities, we have to harness this energy. We have to translate it into new momentum in order to move our leaders to take the steps needed to see Kony arrested and the LRA’s history of atrocities finally ended. For too long, communities across central Africa have endured LRA attacks without an adequate response from the rest of the world.
Now we can change that. Show your commitment to that goal by signing up — right now — to meet with your Member of Congress, right in your local community.
It’s been almost two years since Congress passed the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. Since then, real progress has been made, and we have a window of opportunity like never before to push our leaders to take action that could help finally end this conflict once and for all. But they need to hear from you personally.
Our Resolve team will work side-by-side with you to help you organize and prepare for your meeting. Your job is to urge your representative to join you – and million of other advocates — in your commitment to help end LRA violence before the year is out.
Resolve and Invisible Children today released our first-ever LRA Crisis Tracker Annual Security Brief (French version available here). Based on data collected throughout the year from NGO and UN reports, field research, and HF early-warning radio networks, the report reviews LRA activity during 2011 in the tri-border region between DR Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic (CAR).
It’s full of detailed analysis on LRA activity, but we’d like to point out a few highlights here. In 2011, there were 284 reported LRA attacks (that’s more than 5 per week), during which LRA forces reportedly killed 144 civilians and abducted 595 others. 426 people reportedly escaped from the LRA in 2011, and there were even net losses in LRA recruitment (more people escaped than were abducted) in July, November, and December of 2011.
Our data show several interesting trends in LRA activity. First, there were significant reductions in attacks, killings, and abductions in 2011 compared to 2010: LRA killings dropped by 75.8%, abductions by 47.3%, and attacks by 32.4%. Second, LRA violence decreased over the course of 2011 itself: the vast majority of the LRA’s attacks were in the first half of the year, and killings dropped by 83.9% in the second half of the year. Third, over 75% of LRA attacks in 2011occurred in Congo, far away from where LRA leader Joseph Kony and many of his top commanders were believed to be operating.
Though attacks levels have decreased, it’s clear that the LRA remains a dangerous threat to civilians across this region. Furthermore, we can’t assume the LRA is weakening or losing its capacity to commit atrocities. Reducing violence could be an intentional move by the LRA to evade international attention, a strategy they’ve employed before. Interestingly, reports indicate that between July and September of 2011 Kony summoned LRA commanders in Congo to a rendezvous in CAR, a period which roughly corresponds with when LRA attacks began to decrease in 2011.
Be sure to regularly check out the Crisis Tracker, our online crisis mapping platform and data collection system, for real-time updates about LRA attacks. The interactive map and site have lots more information about these and other LRA incidents, including media reports, statistics, and other briefings analyzing trends. You can also follow our tweets and download the free iPhone app to stay up-to-date on the latest LRA activity