If you wondered why #stopkony and #kony2012 were all of a sudden trending on Twitter, you can thank the U.S. charity Invisible Children. They’ve created a widespread campaign to educate the Western world about the horrific crimes of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony.
Even though the International Criminal Court indicted Kony for these “crimes against humanity” as the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, his deeds have gone largely unnoticed by the Western public, and he remains on the loose.
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The new 30-minute Kony 2012 video, created by Jason Russell for Invisible Children, had nearly two million views on YouTube in its first 48 hours of being posted and aims to “make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.”
Social media has helped spread the word about Russell’s video, and celebrities from Zooey Deschanel to Rihanna have lended their names to the cause.
Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army began its violent rise in 1986, and the group is believed to have abducted 66,000 children and displaced over two million people, turning young boys into child soldiers, younger girls into sex slaves and mutilating and killing untold thousands of innocent civilians along the way. In October, the U.S. sent 100 special-forces soldiers to Uganda in the hope of capturing Kony. Russell wants a public outcry to force the government to keep those soldiers there and to encourage others to help in the search.
According to CBC News, Russell plans to target 20 culture leaders (think Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg) to help spread the Kony word and then flood the world with information about him and his compatriots, starting on April 20.
Update: The Daily What has an interesting counterpoint to Invisible Children’s campaign.