A documentary film aimed at making Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony famous for his heinous acts, including the recruitment of child soldiers, has exploded online, drawing praise and contempt from millions of viewers.
Hunt for Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony video goes viral
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The half-hour film, made by the U.S. charity Invisible Children, was posted on YouTube and the charity’s website less than 48 hours ago and by Wednesday morning, had been viewed more than four million times.
The hashtag #StopKony was trending in the number one spot on Twitter in Canada and the U.S., as scores of users, including Justin Bieber, posted links to the film and encouraged others to get involved.
The film opens with a scene of filmmaker Jason Russell’s son’s birth, and then briefly documents the experience of a child soldier in Uganda named Jacob.
Justice will define 2012. #StopKony. — jenn duross (@jennduross) March 7, 2012
Honestly emotionally moved by the #stopkony video. Just watched again. — Brady Szuhaj (@bradyszuhaj) March 7, 2012
Mr. Kony is the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and once led a violent bid to establish a theocratic government in the country. It was a bid that saw Ugandan children kidnapped and forced to fight as soldiers.Mr. Kony’s actions spread to South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.
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Although he was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in 2005, Mr. Kony has yet to be captured.
The film then goes on to document the charity’s efforts to have the U.S. intervene to stop the LRA.
“We’ve come so far but Kony is still out there,” says the narrator Jason Russell. “He’s recently changed his tactics, making it even more difficult to capture him.”
In order for the Ugandan government to find Mr. Kony, it needs the technology and training to track him in the jungle, the film says, which American advisers could provide. President Barack Obama announced he would send 100 U.S. troops last October.
Online praise has been heaped on Invisible Children for their film, but critics are also questioning the effectiveness of the awareness campaign, and the charity that made it.
Some have pointed out that few members of the Ugandan government will read Twitter, and that few of the tweets supporting the initiative are even coming from within African countries.
This whole #StopKony thing is so bloody disappointing. Of course a totally unethical, untrustworthy group is behind it. — El (@TheTomasRios) March 7, 2012
Kony is a monster. But if you really want to help child soldiers, give to a real charity like @WarChild or @MSF_USA — Scott Gilmore (@Scott_Gilmore) March 7, 2012
This idea that Ugandans or Congolese are passive, helpless, and need our voices to solve their problems is insane. — Laura Seay (@texasinafrica) March 7, 2012
“But despite this, I’m strongly opposed to the KONY 2012 campaign.”
While Mr. Oyston admits Mr. Kona’s actions are heinous, he doesn’t trust Invisible Children’s motivations.
He cites a 2011 Foreign Affairs story that claims the charity has “manipulated facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil.”
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