Angelina Jolie expresses support for a video which calls for the arrest of Joseph Kony, the fugitive leader of the Lord's Resistance Army militia group in Uganda. The video has swept across the Internet, attracting worldwide attention.
(INVISIBLE CHILDREN) - A video calling for the arrest of Joseph Kony, the fugitive leader of the Lord's Resistance Army militia group in Uganda, swept across the Internet this week, attracting a wave of support on Twitter and Facebook along with a skeptical backlash against a little-known team of filmmakers based in San Diego.
The 30-minute YouTube video was the centerpiece of a campaign that spread on Twitter beginning on Tuesday (March 6) via hashtags such as #Kony2012 and #stopkony. By Thursday (March 8), the YouTube video had been viewed almost 40 million times, while Tweets about Kony had become the No. 1 trending topic worldwide on Twitter.
A host of celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Oprah, joined the virtual chorus of support for the cause.
At a Womens' Day event on Thursday evening (March 8) in New York, Jolie said, "I don't know anyone who doesn't hate Kony."
"He's an extraordinarily horrible human being who, you know...his time has come and it's lovely to see that young people are raising up as well," she told Reuters.
The campaign was the work of Invisible Children, a San Diego-based non-profit headed by Jason Russell, a filmmaker who had traveled to northern Uganda. The group urged people to help make Kony "famous," and many high school and college students especially responded to the message focused on helping innocent children. The Lord's Resistance Army has been notorious for kidnapping children and forcing them to fight.
Russell narrates the video, which juxtaposes shots of his young son in Southern California with the plight of scarred Ugandan children. Over a stirring soundtrack, Russell urges viewers to call legislators and government officials to sustain the U.S. military presence in Uganda.
He also encourages viewers to purchase an Action Kit, which includes "Kony2012"-themed posters, stickers and bracelets fitted with "unique ID numbers" that buyers can distribute to their friends.
The campaign is supposed to culminate on April 20, when Russell urges supporters of the movement to "blanket every street, every city."
But the video has been heavily criticized for promoting a misunderstanding of the situation - beginning with the fact that Kony is believed to have long since fled Uganda for South Sudan
or the Central African Republic.
Though his army once numbered in the thousands and sowed fear across northern Uganda, he is now believed to have only a few hundred followers and much of the armed conflict in the area has subsided.
Critics of the Invisible Children campaign also said the video oversimplified the situation, created the illusion that posting messages on social media could have a meaningful impact on a long-standing human rights crisis and ignored the efforts of people on the ground who truly understood the situation.
A similar type of celebrity-driven campaign to "Save Darfur" fell short of its goal of ending genocide in a strife-torn region of Sudan and drew similar criticism.
Invisible Children also faced questions about its governance in light of financial statements that show a majority of its funds were used for travel and film production rather than charity work.