Invisible Children's Kony 2012 video campaign questioned
By 3 News online staff
Kony 2012, a documentary posted online with the aim of taking down a Ugandan war criminal has gone viral.
Joseph Kony is a Ugandan guerrilla leader, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, which is attempting to establish a theocratic government in the country based on the Ten Commandments.
The documentary was posted online on in early March, and by Thursday morning had amassed over 15 million views. The Twitter hashtag #stopkony was also one of the top trending topics in New Zealand and worldwide.
Made by Jason Russell for peace campaign group Invisible Children, the 27-minute documentary details Kony's alleged crimes, which include kidnapping children to fight in his army, sexual enslavement and killing civilians.
In 2005 the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest, but he has since evaded capture.
Invisible Children hopes that Kony 2012 will make its namesake famous, and "raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice".
A website set up by Invisible Children for the documentary has struggled with the traffic. On it, supporters can watch the documentary and send tweets to celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Oprah Winfrey and Tim Tebow, or powerful international figures like Bill Clinton, Ban Ki-Moon and Mitt Romney.
Protests have been organised worldwide for April 20, including in Auckland and Wellington.
Last night the Auckland event listing on Facebook had approximately 5000 indicating they would attend –this morning there were over 13,000.
Participants are planning to cover the city in posters and stickers overnight.
Invisible Children has come under criticism from some however, being accused of manipulating facts, ignoring alleged abuses committed by the Ugandan People's Defence Force (which has been fighting Kony's group for over two decades) and refusing to have its accounts independently audited.
The group's financial statements show only 31 percent of the money it receives is actually spent on helping people in Uganda – the rest goes towards travel expenses, filmmaking costs and paying the salaries of the charity's three founders - Ben Keesey, Laren Poole and Kony 2012 director, Jason Russell.
Invisible Children's founders have also posed for photographs (whilst holding what appear to be AK-47 machine guns) with the Sudan People's Liberation Army, which along with the Ugandan People's Defence Force, has been accused of killing and raping civilians.
US President Barack Obama has also already sent US troops to Africa with the express purpose of capturing Kony, who hasn't been active in Uganda since 2006. The Lord's Resistance Army has been listed as a terrorist group by the US government since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
In 2011, Kony was listed as the ninth-most-wanted fugitive in the world by Forbes magazine.