‘Invisible Children’ Exposes War-torn Country to Mason Students

Posted: February 21, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nicholas Zinzer

“In America, it’s so easy to become a lawyer, doctor or teacher…in Uganda, it’s impossible,” said Kathleen Mackin, a government and international politics major. Mackin was commenting on “Invisible Children,” a documentary film shown at the School of Law on Feb. 8.

Presented by the Global Humanitarian Action Program of the Center for Global Education at Mason, “Invisible Children” highlights the plight of child soldiers – children often under 15 years of age – in rebel-controlled northern Uganda.

After the screening of the movie, several students commented on the economic disparity between American citizens and individuals in Uganda. “People in America [pave] their driveway with gold and buy worthless crap,” said Lauryn Ellisberg, also a government and international politics major. Ellisberg said that the economic dichotomy between the two countries is not only wrong, but an embarrassment to her as an American citizen.

Pauline Ginsberg, a senior visiting research fellow with Mason’s Center for Global Studies, explained in detail the tenuous political situation in northern Uganda where a rebel group is fighting the central government. During the discussion, Ginsberg said that the government of Uganda was considering sending troops to attempt to quell the rebellion in rebel-held territory.

“If the government marches into northern Uganda, they’ll be shooting kids,” Ginsberg said. She then discussed the psychological aspects of war – especially war involving children who are forced to fight. She pointed out that the “rates of psychiatric disability go up within troops [during war].”

The U.S. government would have to wait for the government of Uganda to ask for help before sending U.S. personnel if it decided to offer significant assistance to help alleviate the situation in northern Uganda, added Ginsberg.

“Depending on the situation, it can be the government or the insurgents who recruit child soldiers,” said Ginsberg. She went on to compare U.S. policy, which allows ROTC students to commit to military service at age 17, to the policy of the Uganda government, which recruits individuals under 18 years of age.

“Invisible Children” will be shown again on the Fairfax Campus in the Johnson Center Dewberry Hall on Tuesday, March 7, at 8 p.m. For more information, contact Kathleen Mackin at kmackin@gmu.edu.

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