A rare 2006 on-camera interview with Ugandan guerrilla leader Joseph Kony has resurfaced online, following Invisible Children's viral web video Kony 2012 and its social media campaign to publicize his alleged war crimes in an effort to see him detained and put on trial.
The interview was recorded by freelance journalist Sam Farmar, who sat down with Kony in an undisclosed location within the jungles bordering Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the rebel leader had retreated from the Ugandan military.
Kony has been leading an armed insurrection against the Ugandan government for over two decades, and is accused of facilitating the mass murder, rape and mutilation of civilians at the hands of his Lord's Resistance Army, which is allegedly maintained by abducting young boys and forcing them to fight as child soldiers.
That is not true. That is propaganda which Museveni made, said Kony, referring to the President of Uganda, who has been in office since 1986.
Kony went on to say that Museveni sent the Ugandan army into villages to commit atrocities and blame them on the LRA. He also denied forcibly conscripting children into the LRA, though many of his soldiers have been with him since childhood, according to Farmar's interviews with them.
Continue Reading Below
While I was there I didn't see any children, said Farmar, narrating over the video. But some told me they were fifteen.
Kony said many civilians, without specifying age, volunteer to join up with the LRA, but that he did not have child soldiers.
Do you think that children can afford that condition of war? Kony asked Farmar. They will not. That is propaganda, which Musveni is playing. I don't have any children here.
Farmar later captures Museveni speaking in his native Acholi language and seeming to contrast with his professed opinion that children are not fit to fight.
'If I were president, all children would carry a gun,' said Farmar, translating Kony speaking to his soldiers. 'To me, fighting is as normal as ironing a shirt.'
Farmar went on to say in his narration that atrocities have been perpetrated by both sides of the conflict, Kony's LRA and the Ugandan military, but that responsibility is difficult to prove given the conflict's lack of coverage.
Invisible Children's campaign against Kony has received criticism for failing to address the Ugandan government's role in the violence and oversimplifying the longstanding conflict, which encompasses a complex history of colonialism under the British Empire and subsequent ethnic divisions that existed well before Kony's appearance.
It definitely oversimplifies the issue, said Invisible Children co-founder and filmmaker Jason Russell, Reuters reported. This video is not the answer, it's just the gateway into the conversation. And we made it quick and oversimplified on purpose. We are proud that it is simple. We like that. And we want you to keep investigating, we want you to read the history.
Farmar's interview provided a glimpse into Kony's world, and though it was limited, it sought to expand on the history of the conflict in a way that has not yet been addressed by Invisible Children. But as Russell states, he wants you to read the history.
Watch the interview below: