KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — The new 29-minute video by the American filmmakers who report on wartime atrocities in Africa is gaining more attention than they could have imagined, thanks to social media. At 112 million views, the wildly viral Kony 2012 video is the first to generate more than 100 million in less than a week.
Kony 2012 targets the Lord's Resistance Army and its leader, Joseph Kony, a Ugandan bush fighter wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. The campaign by the advocacy group Invisible Children, released on the website kony2012.com, and it has received enormous attention on YouTube and other Internet sites. Uganda, Invisible Children and #stopkony are among the top 10 trending terms on Twitter among both the worldwide and U.S. audience, ranking higher than New iPad or Peyton Manning.
Ben Keesey, Invisible Children's 28-year-old chief executive officer, said the viral success shows their message resonates and that viewers feel empowered to force change. Invisible Children said that in its quest to garner wide support of a complicated issue, it tried to explain the conflict in an easily understandable format. It said that many nuances of a 26-year conflict are admittedly lost or overlooked in a half-hour film.
Critics in Uganda say the video glosses over a complicated history, and does not inform viewers that Kony originally was waging war against Uganda's army, whose human rights record has been condemned by independent observers, and which has long been accused of committing genocide in northern Uganda as it pursued Kony. “There is no historical context. It's more like a fashion thing,” said Timothy Kalyegira, a well-known social critic in Uganda who once published a newsletter called The Uganda Record.
But the film successfully underscores the grisly killings, abductions, and rapes committed by the Lord's Resistance. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, where Kony is wanted for war crimes, said he thinks the attention Invisible Children has raised is “incredible, exactly what we need.”
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Photo: Joseph Kony