Stop Kony: Invisible Children’s ‘Kony 2012’ Campaign Gains Criticism

on March 08 2012 6:57 AM
Joseph Kony, LRA leader
Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader Maj Gen Joseph Kony holds his son, Opiyo, to show a softer side that does not translate to what his rebels are doing in DR Congo Reuters

Kony 2012, a 29-minute documentary about Joseph Kony's atrocities in Uganda which went viral on social media, is now gaining criticism.

The video is created by a California-based non-profit organization, the Invisible Children, to draw attention to the Ugandan rebel group's atrocities.

The new video by the organization sheds light on the issue about how the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) uses child-soldiers from Uganda to fight for them.

Kony, head of the LRA group, has been terrorizing countries like northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Sudan for over 25 years. The LRA group has killed thousands and also kidnapped around 66,000 children to use them as soldiers.

For years Kony has forced boys to kill their parents and kidnapped girls to offer them as rewards to his commanders.

The Kony 2012 campaign aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.

The documentary has been viewed more than 15 million times since its launch March 5. Even the hashtag #stopkony and Invisible Children has become a trending topic on Twitter since Tuesday.

The organization hopes to gather support for Kony's arrest for crimes against humanity.

We are making Kony world news by redefining the propaganda we see all day every day that dictates who and what we pay attention to, director Jason Russell said in the film, before asking for donations for the campaign.

The video has received immense supports from people across the world. However, it has also gained a lot of criticism and questions have been asked about why the campaign is happening now after so many years.

In November last, Foreign Affairs challenged the strategy used by Invisible Children and other nonprofits organizations working against the LRA. Such organizations have 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, the magazine reported.

Visible Children, a Tumblr blog created to criticize the campaign has received much attention for questioning the efforts of Invisible Children. The blog, posted Wednesday after the Kony video went viral, states that those social media tactics aren't helping.

These problems are highly complex, not one-dimensional and, frankly, aren't of the nature that can be solved by postering, film-making and changing your Facebook profile picture, as hard as that is to swallow, the blog says.

Jack McDonald, a PhD student from King's college, London, also blamed Invisible Children of trying to crowd-source military intervention.

Joseph Kony deserves to be put in cuffs and dragged before the ICC. Raising the profile of the heinous nature of the guy's crimes is awesome. The idea that popular opinion can be leveraged with viral marketing to induce foreign military intervention is really, really dangerous. It is immoral to try and sell a sanitized vision of foreign intervention that neglects the fact that people will die as a result, he wrote.

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