A Brilliant Genocide / Another Fine Mess
Film Screening and Book Release Talk

Date:  October 4, 2017 – 6:00pm8:00pm
Location:  International Affairs Building 1501
In honor of the release of SIPA adjunct professor Helen Epstein’s new book, Another Fine Mess: America, Uganda and the War on Terror, the SIPA Economic and Political Development will be hosting a book talk combined with a screening of the 2016 documentary film A Brilliant Genocide, on the Ugandan government’s crimes against its own people in the northern region of the country.
Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs are screening the documentary which will be followed by a panel discussion featuring:
Helen C. Epstein, whose Another Fine Mess: America, Uganda and the War on Terror explores the US relationship with Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and his involvement in five violent conflicts that erupted shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in the Horn and Great Lakes regions of Africa. She teaches at Bard College and Columbia’s School of Public and International Affairs and writes frequently for the New York Review of Books and other publications.
Ogenga Otunnu, an Associate Professor of History at DePaul University whose two volume study, Crisis of Legitimacy and Political Violence in Uganda (Palgrave 2016,2017) is the only academic work covering Uganda’s entire history. He is an expert on the causes and consequences of forced migration, humanitarian emergencies and Africa and Black Diaspora studies.
Milton Allimadi, who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and is publisher of Black Star News. He comes from Uganda and appears in A Brilliant Genocide.
Date: 
October 4, 2017 – 6:00pm – 8:00pm
 
Location:
 

Columbia University
School of International and Public Affairs
Room 1501
420 W 118th St #1410
New York, NY 10027

 

A Brilliant Genocide director Ebony Butler and her London based collaborator Belinda Atim spoke with Joseph Ochieno on Talking Africa (Resonance 104.4fm) yesterday afternoon about our documentary, the conspiracy of silence around the war in Uganda and the largely untold story of state sponsored atrocities in the north and east of the country. Belinda starts off the interview discussing the recent news of Uganda and the U.S stopping the six year man hunt for rebel leader and supposed most wanted man in Africa, and top 10 most wanted in the world, Joseph Kony. The question of whether or not A Brilliant Genocide had anything to do with the decision did come up, as many people seem to believe our film was a cause for the unexpected change of heart regarding the massive man hunt for Joseph Kony which has to date cost close to if not over one billion US dollars. I bet the US taxpayers aren’t aware of that – nor that the money was largely looted and used for other purposes, oppression, invasions and to help build one of the strongest armies in East Africa…. to essentially help entrench the dictator in power for longer. (31 years years is a long time in power, but it seems Museveni can’t get enough)

One other thing that was stressed in the interview was the importance of the petition that is attached to our documentary, primarily calling for US to stop funding and military support to the Ugandan regime. You can help end the silence by signing and sharing the petition here: www.bit.ly/STOPM7  Thank you!

#EndTheSilence 

How to Tune in Next Time:

If you have the internet  you can tune in live from anywhere in the world on Resonance 104.4FM in London – but best to come back the same time next week (Thursday, pm-2pm GMT) for the Talking Africa program… I’m sure we will be back for a few more shows as there is so much to cover and we only scratched the very tip pf the iceberg yesterday!

‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ 

We are honoured to be a part of the 11th We The People’s Film Festival in London! Over the weekend we had another sell out event and hosted a great panel talk after the screening at Hackney Picturehouse. Unfortunately we were unable to respond to everyone who had questions but we will endeavour to get back to all as soon as possible! (Thanks Belinda!) But all in all it was a very successful screening, and not the last in London that’s for sure!

This morning we received a surprise call asking if we would allow A Brilliant Genocide to be screened again, this time for the awards ceremony which takes place tonight in London at the British Film Institute.

Of course we said yes! What an honour and great opportunity we were offered! We want as many people as possible seeing this film, signing our petition and learning about the tragic and silenced past of so many people from northern Uganda, at the hands of their own government.

Wish us luck ahead of this evenings event! Our amazing UK team and organisers have been incredible, working tirelessly and taking control over the marketing and promotion of our film and all other areas of organisation for the festival. Essentially it is their story and they want to be actively involved in getting out out there. I am so very proud! Seeing our documentary grow the way it is, especially having some key characters in the film itself helping to drive its success and build its audience, is an incredibly rewarding experience.

A special thanks to my brothers Joseph Ochien, Bosco Nyeko and my sister Belinda Atim! Wonderful people with huge hearts, and a long and untold story to tell. So please try and see it, listen to it, learn from it and help us demand justice and an end to the silence that has now gone on for some 30 years. The TV version of the film is screening on RT / Russia Today over the next 5 months – so please look out for it in your country or online at rt.com!

Your voice also counts and you can help make a difference. Please if you can spare a few minutes sign and share our petition on change.org: www.bit.ly/STOPM7 

Thank you so very much! We hope to be back with more news soon! #EndTheSilence

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We the People’s Film Festival is a United Nations Association Westminster Branch organized event.

To find out more visit their website: WWW.UNAWESTMINSTER.ORG.UK

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It is with pleasure and excitement that I announce the new title of our feature documentary… ‘A Brilliant Genocide.

ABG Logo 1
Pre-release teaser video from A Brilliant Genocide (scroll down) 

After 6 years filming, researching and editing this film, it has naturally evolved and transformed into a much different film that we set out to make in 2009 when it all began. 

We spent 3 years on the Joseph Kony / child soldier path – and the issue of children / child soldiers and other related  human rights abuses that are of much interest to us – we condemn the use of children in war, and the abuse of any child in any way, in any part of the world. 

However, the film is no longer 100% focused on the issue of children at war and Joseph Kony’s war in northern Uganda. The film remains very much connected with Kony and his use of child soldiers- but along our 6 year journey we found some completely untold ‘hidden’ stories that we felt were even more important to bring to light.

What we discovered and continue to discover, is that the world has been fooled, as I was 6 years ago, about Joseph Kony and his war in northern Uganda. There’s another side to this story that has never been told, and we have been on a journey for the past few years to find out the truth and the backstory that has received zero media attention – and even worse than that – the people responsible for these concealed human rights abuses, are those who have been supported by the west for 30 years, and who are still in office today. And the West is still today supporting the regime, while the regime continues to enjoy complete impunity for their crimes. 

We have discovered that Kony, although blamed for the war and the suffering, is just the tip of the ice-berg. We have found that Kony did have a reason, a very legitimate reason, for his rebellion, and although his acts of violence and child abductions are deplorable, and in no way justified – he has a reason for what he has done, and in his mind his actions are justified. The truth that no one who knows will admit – will bring many people – the bigger criminals and the puppeteers who have orchestrated this war and allowed it to continue – to account. The people we have spoken with call the situation in Uganda ‘a global conspiracy of silence’. And what we will be showing in our film is that indeed it has been, and sadly continues to be so today. 

(more…)

My second trip to Uganda was vastly different from the first, back in 2009.

In 2009, I was researching the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army), Joseph Kony and the topical issue of children in armed conflict. I spent most of my time with former child soldiers in Northern Uganda and also made a promise to a group of child soldiers that I had become close to. The promise was to send 2 bicycles, to help them in their lives and in their rehabilitation and re-integration into society.

In 2012, I returned with a container of 400 bicycles, a mission I had been on since my trip there in 2009. I also set up a bike workshop and vocational training centre at Friends of Orphans in Pader, to help victims of the conflict.

As as far as my research on the war in Northern Uganda goes, I had learnt a lot more in the three years since my first visit. During that period I also traveled to the United States, where I interviewed people at the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Black Star News, UNICEF, Resolve Uganda and many other organizations.

My knowledge of the conflict grew day by day, and when I returned to Uganda earlier this year, I had many new contacts to meet and learn from. These included notable and die-hard pro-democracy activists such as Barbara Allimadi, Shawn Mubiru, Anne Mugisha, opposition leaders Kizza Besigye, Nandala Mafabi and the honorable UPC President and former UN Under Secretary General for Children in Armed Conflict, Dr. Olara Otunnu. The experts and scholars I met with included Adam Branch from Makerere University, Leander Komakech, Okello Okello John Livingstone and Major General Pecas Kutesa – who all offered interesting and informative insights into the war and the state of democracy in Uganda. This really put a new spin on my take of the conflict, which had gradually been happening since the U.S trip in 2011. There were things that didn’t add up and it has taken a long time to work out the truth, as the media portrayal of the conflict is far from the facts I had uncovered. Uganda, I also discovered, was a democracy in disguise. On two occasions I was almost arrested, for no reason other than having a camera and having friends who are with the opposition. On my last day in Uganda, the day I was grabbed by the Police and threatened to be tear gassed, my friend Doreen was actually arrested and put into maximum security prison (Luzira), for voicing her opinion about the government and Museveni’s corrupt regime. I can tell you first hand, Uganda is not as free and democratic as it appears to be…

I still spend countless hours researching the conflict and the human rights situation in the country, as what has occurred in Northern Uganda has been so well concealed by the powers that be, and the international community at large, making it very difficult for the truth to be made visually transparent. The ‘Kony War‘, as it is often called, is not what it seems. That is not to say that Kony does not exist, nor that he has not committed the atrocities that are now well-known to the world, thanks to the viral video campaign from Invisible Children, Kony 2012. The perpetrator of this conflict is not Kony, as most would believe due to media and government deception and misinformation. Joseph Kony is sadly a product of the war, and should still however be made to face justice for his crimes. But, will that bring justice to the Acholi people of Northern Uganda, particularly if the other perpetrators are not also made to stand trial for their involvement in this human tragedy? How can justice prevail when impunity reigns?

This year I also spent much time in Uganda looking into how the conflict can be resolved and what is the best way forward. Is military intervention (which is what is currently happening) the correct road, or could truth and reconciliation through national dialogue and peace talks be a better and more effective option? There are many differing views on this subject, but on the ground, there seems to be only one. Invisible Children have called out loud and clear for U.S military intervention in the region, but where has that got them in the past, and for what reasons would they really be intervening? The fact of the matter is, why intervene now, when they really needed to intervene 10 years ago, when there was a serious humanitarian crisis going on. That’s when everyone was silent on what was going on. That’s when help was needed and voices needed to be heard. Now there is relative peace and the people in Uganda want to know, “WHY NOW?”.

‘Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.’
Albert Einstein