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September 22nd, 2010

     
 
Uganda: Clinton Cites Attacks Against Opposition And Lack Of Election Commission Independence
"The government of Uganda took no action to further the independence of the Electoral Commission (EC)," Clinton writes, in her report. "On multiple occasions during the reporting period, U.S. Government officials encouraged President Museveni to strengthen the... Full Story

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BSN does not necessarily support or endorse view points expressed throughout this site.

Date: August 1st, 2010
Name: Ann Garrison
Subject: Leading people to believe that the war is still happening
Comment: “I agree with you that leading people to believe that the war is still happening in Uganda is not ethically right. Indeed. I can't confirm this, but another journalist told me that he believes the LRA is little more than 25 fighters somewhere in the Central African jungle now.
Thanks to Michael Kirkpatrick for stating this so well too:
The bill opens the door for the American military to legally militarize Uganda in the name of humanitarian efforts....
 
Date: July 12th, 2010
Name: Mary Wilson
Subject: your article
Comment: Thank you for posting this on the Bead For Life FB posting. My daughter did an entire unit in school last year based on Invisible Children, she's very gullible and I countered the program with Bead For Life. We ran a program for 150 Girl Scouts based on it and it was very successful. I am also one to follow the truth however inconvenient it may be, I'll have to keep an eye out for your future articles!
 
Date: June 8th, 2010
Name: Michael Kirkpatrick
Subject: Personal Attacks
Comment: Re: "If Mr. Kirkpatrick spent as much time actually doing valuable work as he does ranting about how other organizations aren't good enough for him, he might actually do some good. But that's not likely."

Anyone who would identify themselves as a "former friend" of mine would know the dedication and committment that I have for my friends in Uganda. I have spent my time and my personal finances to support many initiatives of wonderful people in Uganda.
I support several 501(c)3 tax-exempt charitable organizations that are bound to the laws and statutes of the Internal Revenue Service against lobbying and political activism. Allowing Invisible Children to break the law sets a dangerous precedence that could have a disasterous impact on how people and organizations gets what they want in Congress.
There would be outrage in this country if church leaders decided to use congregant tithes to fund lobbying and political activity. I have yet to have anyone explain that Invisible Children did not break the law.
 
Date: June 7th, 2010
Name: Former Friend of Michael Kirkpatrick
Subject: Someone is Angry
Comment: Mr. Kirkpatrick is angry, and misinformed. Invisible Children is doing excellent work in Uganda, and yes, I've seen it with my own eyes, in Gulu and in their offices in San Diego. And no I'm not in any way affiliated with their organization. I was checking them out to see if they were legit. If Mr. Kirkpatrick spent as much time actually doing valuable work as he does ranting about how other organizations aren't good enough for him, he might actually do some good. But that's not likely.

Editor's Note: Whether he's angry or not is irrelevant. Invisible Children either broke the law or did not. That's something that can be verified.
 
Date: June 6th, 2010
Name: Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg
Subject: Good Work! Get More Ugandans Involved in the Critique
Comment: Hello Michael,
Your critique of Invisible Children resonates with me completely!
My thinking, based on my experience leading the charge against Clitoraid, is that it is critical for you to network with Ugandans who share the concerns over IC. IC is much much more likely to pay attention to you when they realize that you are not a sole actor but rather part of a larger and growing international group. Further, really focusing on bringing Ugandan voices to the fore, and especially Ugandans from Gulu who can bear testimony will bring a level of authenticity to the critique that IC will eventually find they cannot ignore.
I also like the ways that you are deploying communication tech to build a network of concerned people. Just be sure that the network is also hyperlocal even as it is transnational. While I am not well located both in terms of geography and identity to be a loud voice in your growing network, you can remain assured that I am fully in support and will happily tweet out any messages within my network. And also consider mine an open invitation for a guest post on my blog. In appreciation and support of your activism,

Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg

http://savingafrica.wordpress.com
 
Date: June 5th, 2010
Name: Juliane Okot Bitek
Subject: IC, Rambo and the LRA Disarmament Act
Comment: We disagreed vehemently with the militaristic approach of the Act which has not proven effective considering the recent and sustained activity of LRA in Congo, CAR and Sudan. Having young people sleeping outside the Senator Coburn's home until he signed support was IC at its best -- coercing people into submission without presenting all the facts. Fact: thousands of Acholi people, Ugandans and others have been working for peace in northern Uganda long before IC's foray into the arena. Fact: thousands of people are still looking for a non militaristic approach to peace in northern Uganda. Fact: enough of us have died and suffered from being in the corssfire between the guns of the government of Uganda and the LRA. Fact: peace has come to northern Uganda and is sustainable, whether or not the IC continues to spread propaganda about the continuation fo the night commuters and abductions in northern Uganda. Thank you Otim Michael for putting the IC under the microscope. Presentation of our tragedy is not and has never been a game or opportunity to use theatrical tactics to get young people and politicians on board. It is real; it is delicate; it is human.
 
Date: June 4th, 2010
Name: Mallory Heida
Subject: Why Destroy An Organization Doing Great Work?
Comment: I found this article very interesting and Michael Kirkpatrick brought
up some very valid and interesting points. I would however like to
draw attention to somethings I think people should consider before
making a judgement on the issue.
I agree that Invisible Children's media is outdated and portrays
Northern Uganda differently than it is today. I was in Gulu in
February and the things that are happening there are amazing. There is so much hope and progress that radiates from Gulu district. However, as Andrew Morgan touched on, while Joseph Kony remains at large the work that is happening in Northern Uganda cannot be sustainable. This goes for not only the work that IC is doing in schools and with their microfinance programs, but also any work that Michael Kirkpatrick is doing and all the others various NGOs that are hard at work in the Northern part of Uganda. What is the point in rebuilding a school if the LRA returns tomorrow and abducts the students and burns down the school? This is why it is so important that the necessary aid and training is given to the UPDF to bring Joseph Kony to justice.
I myself support the passing of the LRA Disarmament and Northern
Uganda Recovery act but I am also weary of what its passage may mean for the child soldiers of the LRA and the innocent civilians in DR Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan and of course Northern Uganda. Invisible Children is the first to say that they are a young organization and they are still learning in their operations. However, they partner with many other organizations in the sponsorship of this newly signed law. Some of these organizations are Resolve Uganda, Enough Project, International Rescue Committee, and InterAction to name only a few. These organizations have great reputations and are all involved in helping ensure that the law is followed through with in the best regard for the people and countries involved.
I was unaware before reading this article of the clause against
lobbying and the possible revocation of a 501(c)3 status. Based on the clause I would have to agree that Invisible Children did lobby the government in regard to the bill in question. Being a supporter of Northern Uganda however I completely disagree with the suggestion from Mr. Kirkpatrick that Invisible Children should be audited and their 501(c)3 status should be revoked. IC supported the passage of this bill as a means of creating an environment that can foster sustainable programs in Northern Uganda. I am having a hard time reconciling how Mr. Kirkpatrick can support the re-growth and development of Northern Uganda and also support depriving the region of an organization that provides jobs to 80+ Ugandans, over 700 secondary school scholarships, mentors to every beneficiary, microfinance training to 1,200 people and is actively rebuilding 11 partner schools?
Yes, Invisible Children may be in violation of their non-profit status
requirements by lobbying. However, they give 86% of their funding
directly to their programs and are doing amazing work on the ground in Uganda. Why would you, Mr. Kirkpatrick, like to deprive a country you care so much about of such an organization?


Black Star News Editor's Note:
If I may interject my own point--I respect the points you made in your piece. However, to ignore the crimes of the UPDF in both Uganda and DRC --exceeding those of the vicious LRA several fold-- is to land in the same trap that Invisible Children did. Which is that, in order to oppose and combat the LRA, one has to automatically embrace the miltaristic regime of Yoweri Museveni and to embrace his brutal army; when in fact the LRA and Museveni's army could be seen as opposite sides of the same coin. It's no accident that finally there are calls for the ICC to investigate Museveni and his army (as the ICC wanted to before Ocampo blocked the probe--see Wall Street Journal front page June 8, 2006).
 
Date: June 4th, 2010
Name: Bono
Subject: (RED)
Comment: I agree with Kyle's point, all of them in fact. I do not believe we live in a perfect world and you have to take the good with the bad. I do encourage everyone, if invisible children is not right, then find another charity to support. There are plenty of outstanding charities in Africa, find one and start giving. (RED) is a great option as it helps reduce aids in Africa and you can buy something to furthur advertise and bring awareness to the charity. Buy (RED), save lives.
 
Date: June 3rd, 2010
Name: Kyle Engstrom
Subject: African Charities
Comment: Otim, It seems your aggression is misplaced. Not all charities are evil and a lot of them actually do many good things for people around the world. Sure they aren't set up perfectly, but what organization is perfect? I know visting Africa was a cutural shock, it isn't going to change overnight and fixing things does not start by tearing down charities. I am a big supporter of the (RED) campaign Michael and maybe you should look into it. Do the (RED) thing and start saving lives.
 
Date: June 3rd, 2010
Name: Camo
Subject: Get your resources and correct them...
Comment: Find what you know is right, and then post it scuba dive and dont just snorkel on top of the water. There is a reason why schools take a part in this, and they wouldnt if it wasnt a good thing...I am serious...Look at the organization...do some work and study, not just sit here and play around and write lots of bad stuff about this cause you know what...This is a good Organization, and people are people, they say things...Rumors...Dont let the Rumors Engulf and ruin things for others!
 
Date: June 3rd, 2010
Name: Brynne
Subject: Good to Have Varying Points of View, But Check Your Facts
Comment: While I appreciate vary points of view on this complicated issue, you fail to take many things in account. The first being Invisible Children is not the lobbyist group that was truly the success in getting the bill passed. Although Invisible Children sponsored rallies and two lobby days of their followers, the consistent lobbying for a year was done by a Lobbying group Resolve Uganda. Therefore the violations your bring against Invisible Children are invalid, and their financial are visible on
 
Date: June 3rd, 2010
Name: Ann Garrison
Subject: Senator Feingold
Comment: It's painful to see Senator Feingold backing such a disgraceful handout to an African despot responsible for so much slaughter and suffering, especially after the hope stirred, falsely it seems, by the Feingold Statement on the Fragility of Democracy in Africa.
 

 
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How Invisible Children Falsely Marketed The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act

By Michael Kirkpatrick

June 2nd, 2010

 
 
 
Michael Otim Kirkpatrick shown in one of the camps in the northern part of Uganda
     
   
 
4.5 / 5 (122 Votes)
 
 

[Op-Ed: Africa]

I have travelled frequently to Uganda since 1998. 

In 2007 I had the privilege of travelling extensively through the northern part of Uganda and visited the town of Gulu and several Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.

I am an independent global citizen that does not represent any charity, church, NGO, or government.  I have partnered with my Ugandan friends to help the underprivileged and vulnerable people in their villages and communities.

I appreciate the work that that many charities and non-governmental organizations are doing to raise awareness and advocate peace in the northern part of Uganda.  Through the efforts of many of these people, the world and its leaders are aware of the horrible 21-year war in the northern part of Uganda, The Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. 

Recently there has been increased focus on issues in the northern part of Uganda thanks to the grassroots efforts of Invisible Children. The organization has utilized its marketing prowess and creativity to capture the hearts and minds of thousands of students and young adults.  Invisible Children and its supporters have worked tirelessly to help create and lobby the recently passed "LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act". 

You may think that I would welcome the passage of this bill as a beacon of hope for my friends in northern Uganda. I am not supporter of this bill. The bill opens the door for the American military to legally militarize Uganda in the name of humanitarian efforts.  

It legitimizes the mission of AFRICOM on the continent and gives military forces a home base in Africa to continue the "global battle on terrorism," combat the growing presence of China, and defend American interests regarding natural resources.
To gain support for this bill, Invisible Children propagated misinformation to its idealistic followers. The battle cry to pass this bill was “to end the longest running war in Africa”.  

They conveniently combined multiple regional conflicts into one lump statement. The region of northern Uganda has been free of LRA rebel activity for over five years now.  There is now peace and rebuilding going on. When I confronted the administration of Invisible Children about this information, they stated in an email:

“I agree with you that leading people to believe that the war is still happening in Uganda is not ethically right. It's something we've been addressing internally, focusing on getting all staff and supporters on the same page in regards to the language they use in their communications.”

I have been aware of Invisible Children since its inception. I admire their ability to mobilize passionate people and raise awareness about injustices in the world.  I have often disagreed with their strategies but chose to focus on the work of my Ugandan friends inside Uganda. The recent passage of the "LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act" has forced me to speak up. 

I believe that Invisible Children as a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization has violated the standards set forth by the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when it comes to political activism and lobbying activity. The organization has been deeply involved with the recent passage of the "LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act". 

Their website proclaims "We Did It!" and is full of information about the organization's direct involvement in Congressional legislation. They have also posted many videos on YouTube proclaiming their personal mission the have Joseph Kony arrested.  www.InvisibleChildren.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn8D3zjVDA0

In an email from Andrew Morgan, Invisible Children's Communications Officer in Uganda, he stated:

"We needed the bill to pass (and spent donor money trying to ensure that it did) because Joseph Kony’s capture is crucial to the recovery of northern Uganda."

Federal law prohibits political lobbying and activity by organizations that have a tax-exempt 501(c)3 status. Invisible Children, Inc. should be audited by the IRS or voluntarily surrender their tax-exempt status. 

I am not anti-Invisible Children.  I am not pro-LRA. I am pro-truth. Propaganda and misinformation does not help develop solutions to global challenges. It only exacerbates the problems. Invisible Children needs to respect the law that they so valiantly expect others to follow.

Please see IRS Rules for 501(c)3 Charities and Non-Profits Regarding Lobbying Activity

http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=163392,00.html
 
"In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying).  A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.

Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure.  It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.

An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.

Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying.  For example, organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status."


The author is an American who has made frequent trips to Uganda. In Acholi he was given the adoptive name Otim Michael

Please post your comments about this article directly online. Sometimes longer postings are truncated so feel free to forward your postings to milton@blackstarnews.com to ensure that it appears in its entirety

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

 
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