Make Kony famous: Campaign to expose despot

21:18, Mar 07 2012
Joseph Kony
JOSEPH KONY: Has allegedly gotten away with abducting children, raping little girls, and mutilating people's faces for 26 years.

A global social media campaign is underway to make a mass-murdering African military leader "famous" so he can be brought to justice.

Joseph Kony is not world-famous yet, but an American film-maker has set out to change that with a new documentary titled KONY 2012 that has been viewed more than four million times in the last two days on the internet.

The ruthless leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda, Africa, Kony and his killers have abducted more than 30,000 children from their families, forcing young boys to murder their parents and become child soldiers and the girls to work as sex slaves.

It's been happening for almost 30 years.

On Wednesday March 7, the video below, produced by the humanitarian group Invisible Children, began being passed around  internet users.

It is an incredible piece of movie-making, but the social media campaign that has run in tandem with the film is what has "changed the rules".

Its aim is to raise global awareness of Kony - to make him famous - "not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice".

As the filmmaker Jason Russell explains, less than one per cent of the world knows who Kony is, however, if people knew what he had done, they would demand action.

The dream would be for Kony to be captured, not killed, and brought to the International Criminal Court to face trial, says Russell, not surprising considering Kony is the most wanted man in the world according to the ICC.

"The world would know about his crimes and they would watch the trial play out on an international level, seeing a man face justice who got away with abducting children, raping little girls, and mutilating people's faces for 26 years," says Russell.

And this is the year to make it happen.

Thanks to the efforts of Russell and Invisible Children, the US government last year committed 100 military advisers to join the Ugandan army to help train and co-ordinate Kony's capture.

But that support could be withdrawn at any moment if public opinion does not keep decision-makers committed.

KONY 2012 may do the trick.

As of Wednesday night, #stopkony was one of the most tweeted topics globally.

Invisible Children's organisers have targeted April 20 as a day of global action, where supporters will paper their cities with "hundreds of thousands of posters demanding justice".

The organisation has faced some criticism though.

Numerous blog posts highlighting alternate points of view and listing the background of the charity are also gaining viral momentum. 

Grant Oyston, a sociology and political science student at Acadia University in Canada, has written a blog post which stated the bulk of Invisible Children’s spending “isn’t on supporting African militias, but on awareness and filmmaking.”

- Sydney Morning Herald