A grassroots effort across social media platforms to return justice to a country terrorized by a war criminal is taking off like wildfire.
KONY 2012, is a new documentary and a social media campaign from the group Invisible Children, an organization hoping to end Joseph Kony's reign of terror and abduction of children for his army in Uganda. They are seeking to restore peace and prosperity to the affected communities in Central Africa.
On their website, Invisible Children explains they want to inspire young people to help end the longest-running conflict in Africa
Kony is a Ugandan guerrilla group leader and the head of the Lord's Resistance Army, which has terrorized parts of Africa for decades. It has recently launched new attacks in Democratic Republic of Congo this year, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.
Invisible Children's latest film exposing Kony and the LRA's alleged abuses has gone viral since its posting on YouTube just this week, attracting about 8 million views since March 5.
The film tells the story of a former child soldier called Jacob and how the filmmaker was inspired to get involved to lead a movement for change.
The video has gathered a lot of attention online through it's Facebook and Twitter campaigns at the hastags #stopkony and #kony2012.
It gained even more attention from Twitter followers after being tweeted by celebrities including Juliette Lewis and Zooey Deschanel.
Invisible Children wants to make Kony even more famous in the U.S. by having young people plaster their neighborhoods with posters featuring Kony's picture.
At sundown on Friday, April 20, the organization is urging young people to gather together and work all night putting up posters. They have printed hundreds of thousands of posters in preparation for the event.
The organization believes once people find out more about what Kony has done, then justice will prevail.
California musician Topher Daniels, 29, said he believes this could be the event that marks his generation.
"I've thought of my generation, including myself, as a pretty self-centered generation. This film helped to rekindle the fire I thought had gone out. People DO care and there IS a way we can fight injustice in the world. These are exciting times," he told CBN News.
"I hope that this particular campaign will be a tipping point with my generation. I pray that this is only the beginning, and that after Joseph Kony is arrested, we turn our attention on the next guy and do the same to him," he added.
Questions about Invisible Children
Some critics have raised questions about the group Invisible Children since the KONY 2012 effort went viral.
They contend that the non-profit organization, headquartered in San Diego, Calif., spends most of its money on its administration and filmmaking efforts. Charity Navigator rates the organization 2 out of 4 stars on accountability and transparency.
The KONY 2012 campaign to find and bring Kony to justice after 20 years of torture and murder of thousands of people has lit an intense fire among young people through social media.
However, some of those same young people are questioning the KONY 2012 campaign itself, saying efforts should be focused on Kony rather than on the campaign to find him.
Grant Oyston, a sociology and political science student at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada wrote in his blog:
"Is awareness good? Yes. But these problems are highly complex, not one-dimensional and, frankly, aren't of the nature that can be solved by postering, filmmaking and changing your Facebook profile picture, as hard as that is to swallow," he wrote.
"Do I have a better answer? No, I don't, but that doesn't mean that you should support KONY 2012 just because it's something," he added. "Something isn't always better than nothing. Sometimes it's worse."
Michael Wilkerson, an Oxford student, writing in a blog posted on Foreign Policy.com, noted, "What worries me more is that it's unclear what exactly Invisible Children wants to do, other than raise a lot of money and attention."
Still, others say raising the awareness and inspiring young people to address the issues of injustice is not a bad thing.
"It's good that we are continuing to raise awareness," CBN News Sr. International Reporter Gary Lane, who has covered Kony's atrocities and the LRA for years, said. "This is an important issue."
This is not the organization's first attempt to stop the violence in Africa. Their first film released in 2003 titled "Invisible Children: Rough Cut," exposed the tragic realities of northern Uganda's night commuters and child soldiers to millions of people around the world.
CBN News has reported in-depth on the Lord's Resistance Army and Joseph Kony's activities for years. For more information, check out the related CBN News stories below.
Watch the KONY 2012 documentary below.
- Originally published on March 7th, 2012