LRA Victim Responds to Russell's Detainment

The LRA victim fears Invisible Children's well-intentioned work is now at fragile crossroad

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jason Russell appears in an interview before his "Kony 2012" video aired.

    Many people are criticizing the lack of response from Invisible Children after their founder and figurehead was admitted to a mental hospital last week.

    Jason Russell, one of the filmmakers responsible for the "Kony 2012" video, was discovered by police on March 15 walking around nude and acting irrationally in public.

    LRA Victim Responds to Russell's Detainment

    [DGO] LRA Victim Responds to Russell's Detainment
    Steven Luke spoke with one of the leading Ugandan voices in the decades old conflict involving the LRA, Victor Ochen, about how co-founder of Invisible Children Jason Russel's alleged meltdown may harm his cause. (Published Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012)

    According to co-workers at the San Diego-based organization Invisible Children, he is seeking treatment.

    In a statement through a New York public relations agency his wife and Invisible Children's CEO blamed the incident on dehydration and exhaustion caused by stress and criticism of the "Kony 2012" video.

    A victim of the decades-old Lord’s Revolution Army conflict, Victor Ochen, spoke to NBCSanDiego about his reaction. He said the country is well aware of Russell's break down, but he fears Invisible Children's well-intentioned work is now at fragile crossroad.

    Ochen started one of the largest Ugandan based organizations dedicated to the region's recovery. Days before Russell's breakdown, he says 35,000 people in Northern Uganda watched this film for the first time, but started throwing rocks at the screen before it ended.

    Russell Family Reacts to Alleged Meltdown

    [DGO] Russell Family Reacts to Alleged Meltdown
    The family of Jason Russell says he was under extreme pressure from the activist community, and the stress had a severe effect on his health. Tony Shin spoke with psychiatrist Clark Smith about what might have caused the alleged meltdown of the Kony 2012 filmmaker. (Published Sunday, Mar 18, 2012)

    "People were really unhappy about how things were misleading, misinforming, misrepresenting their entire community of northern Uganda,” Ochen said.

    He says the Ugandan Government felt its image was tarnished by the video. That criticism, followed by Russell's personal problems leaves many in the country wondering, “What's next?"

    "I think their silence brings a bit of question mark among the people,” Ochen said. “As media savvy as they are, now is not that time to sort of huddle down and not continue that conversation."

    Invisible Children needs to publicly refocus on what's best for Uganda, said University of San Diego human rights expert Dustin Sharp.

    "That may be a little hard thing to do given the fact the focus of the video was so much on Invisible Children and this charismatic leader, but now is the time to say it's not about us, it's not about our leader, it’s about the problem,” Sharp said. “It will be very important right now to break their silence and in a way that will guarantee, or in a way, that will facilitate their movement forward."
         
    The agency that handles press for Invisible Children said no one was available to discuss the matter.

    On Saturday, CEO of Invisible Children Ben Keesey released a video that reiterated the stress Russell had been under during the weeks the film "Kony 2012" infiltrated the airwaves.

    “Our team is strong,” Keesey said in the video. “We are not stopping, no way.”

    The group, known for its presence on social media, has tweeted seven times since Friday when NBCSanDiego initially reported about Russell’s behavior.

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