Campaign to Capture Fugitive Joseph Kony Goes Viral

Humanitarian group Invisible Children uses web and social media to call for the arrest of indicted war criminal

By Debra Pangestu
|  Wednesday, Mar 21, 2012  |  Updated 2:14 PM CDT
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The leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony, answering journalists' questions in Ri-Kwamba, southern Sudan, following a meeting with UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland.

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Joseph Kony isn't a household name, but humanitarian group Invisible Children hopes to change that through the use of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Kony, an indicted war criminal and leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, a guerrilla group with a history of human rights abuses, was plastered all over social media networks on Wednesday.

"Kony 2012" became a trending topic, while an accompanying 30-minute documentary by the same name was re-tweeted thousands of times, the Huffington Post reported. But instead of celebrating Kony, the media campaign has used the web and social media to call for his arrest.

Kony is wanted on 33 separate criminal charges and remains one of the world's most wanted fugitives, according to Metro UK. The International Criminal Court estimates that more than 30,000 children have been abducted and forced into combat by the LRA since 1987.

According to the Invisible Children website, the social media movement seeks to "set a precedent for international justice" by raising awareness about the alleged war crimes committed by Kony, who has been on the run for more than 26 years.

Invisible Children launched their viral campaign on March 5 through the release of an online documentary. The 30-minute film, which depicts a war-torn Uganda through the eyes of a former LRA child soldier named Jacob, aims to pressure policy makers and prominent figureheads to voice their support for the 100-person team of U.S. soldiers aiding the Ugandan military in their hunt for Kony, Global Post reported.

The film was an unexpected online hit. Metro UK reported the documentary was shared more than 4 million times on Facebook, and a deluge of traffic caused the group's website to crash.

Celebrities have also hopped on the Kony 2012 campaign bandwagon. Zooey Deschanel, Rihanna and Stephen Fry are just a few of many celebrities who have tweeted about the subject, using the hashtag #STOPKONY.

The campaign is set to expire at the end of this year. By that time, the campaign's founders hope the web can be instrumental in taking down one of the world's most wanted war criminals.

See the 30-minute Invisible Children documentary below.

 

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