What a week. On Tuesday we sent out one of our most urgent action alerts of all time. Sitting here at my desk on Friday, I am so proud of what we accomplished on such short notice.
On Tuesday we told you that big conversations were happening that could determine the fate of the mission to arrest Joseph Kony. Ten days prior a group of rebels called Seleka overthrew the government of Central African Republic. As a result, Uganda, the primary force pursuing Joseph Kony, decided to temporarily suspend the mission to protect civilians and stop the LRA. The United States did the same thing.
Both countries announced that the suspension was “temporary,” but we know that the slope from a temporary suspension to an indefinite one is slippery. Worst of all, we were afraid that the setback would go unnoticed by members of U.S. Congress, world leaders, and all of you who have been deeply invested in seeing the mission to arrest Kony succeed.
Our goal this week was to alert and remind via Twitter, and you knocked it out of the park. Seriously. Starting with Secretary of State John Kerry. Because of you, we can confidently say that the State Department was alerted and reminded–every 19 seconds, in fact.
On Wednesday, Secretary Kerry wrote an op-ed about his personal commitment to seeing warlords, like Joseph Kony, brought to justice. He mentioned your huge role in the KONY 2012 campaign, re-emphasized the importance of an international justice system, and made this announcement:
“Today…I announce the new steps the State Department is taking in order to tighten the screws on murderers like Kony — and you should know you helped to make it happen.
Today, I am announcing a new weapon in our fight. Through the expansion of the War Crimes Rewards Program, the Department of State is offering up to $5 million for information that leads to the arrest, transfer, and conviction of the top three leaders of the LRA: Joseph Kony, Okot Odhiambo, and Dominic Ongwen. All three are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
A few hours after the op-ed was published, Donald Yamamoto, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, said:
“The United States remains very committed to the counter-LRA program along with our partners. We have taken a pause because of the developments in Bangui [the capital of CAR] and how the situation there is unfolding. We remain committed and we’re going to use all facilities and all technology at our hands to try to find and locate Kony and his group.”
Once that happened, we asked you to transfer your attention and momentum to the African Union, another major player. Because right now it’s incredibly important that everyone involved is committed to finding a way to address the CAR overthrow in a way that allows the counter-LRA operation to continue.
This week you sprinted with us, and your voices were heard. Many important conversations have happened, but more will be happening in the coming days and weeks. We will be watching these conversations extremely closely and you will know at a moment’s notice when you are needed again.
As we begin promoting the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit, where students and educators will delve into the hows and whys of human rights and international justice, we know that you will be ready do whatever it takes to make sure that the quest to see Joseph Kony brought to justice will continue until it succeeds.
I strongly urge you to apply for the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit. It is a weekend full of epiphanies and purpose as we learn how to apply our talents and skills to making the world a better place. It is a life-changing experience for everyone involved. No exceptions.
CEO, Invisible Children