Invisible Children meets with McCaskill to promote peace in Uganda

The group wants to see recently-passed legislation acted upon.

Several members of MU’s chapter of Invisible Children gathered at Sen. Claire McCaskill’s office Thursday to advocate action on the recently signed LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act.

For several years, the Invisible Children movement has pushed for legislation to resolve the war in Uganda. On May 24, President Obama passed the LRA Disarmament Act and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, obligating government action by the United States in Uganda. Now Invisible Children feels it is its responsibility to ensure real changes are made.

Becky Dale, co-president and founder of MU’s Invisible Children, said she knew that to make sure the legislators follow through and act on the bill, the club would have to act on a local level.

“A truly viable strategy to end LRA violence will not occur unless the attention surrounding the bill’s passage is translated into sustained, high-level leadership from the president’s team,” Dale said.

She said the club hopes to see the removal of Joseph Kony, the leader of the guerrilla group responsible for most of the violence in Uganda, and also the return of 3 million displaced children back to their homes. Passing the Act was a big step in Uganda’s path to peace, Dale said.

“This is the first time we have legislation behind what we’re doing (regarding disarming the LRA),” she said.

Supporters went to McCaskill’s office to encourage her to rally other legislators toward making sure the bill is acted upon.

“McCaskill has supported us in the past," Dale said. "We’re hoping she will again. We ask that she publicly pledge to commit to read and review the president’s strategy.”

Sophomore Eden Slater said she went to McCaskill’s office to show her support for the cause.

“Everyone has a right to live, and we should be defenders of that right,” she said.

Slater said the Schools for Schools program, which paired MU with a school in Uganda last year, made her feel a connection to the conflict.

“It’s pretty cool to see the people you’re helping and to see that you are making a difference,” she said.

Slater said she feels people have a responsibility to inform others of the war in Uganda.

“Most people have no idea,” she said. “If you have a brain tumor, you can’t fix it unless you know it’s there -- people should know about this issue.”

Sophomore Emily Downing said the meeting was very important to the club’s campaign for peace.

“It was such a huge effort to get this bill into Congress,” she said. “We’ve gotten this far, and we don’t want it to go to waste.”

Downing said the group went to McCaskill’s office to ensure Obama’s administration follows through and takes action on the bill.

“It wasn’t meant to cause a lot of attention, just to encourage a local representative to help our cause,” she said.

Downing said their goal Thursday was to encourage McCaskill to push Obama to make things happen.

“If we know about a social justice issue going on in the world, it’s our responsibility to act with urgency because we are aware of it,” she said. “Because we know about it and we are involved, we won’t back down.”

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