Viral campaign seeks most wanted criminal (watch)

By Hayden Donnell

The video calls upon people to 'make Joseph Kony famous'  - and for his eventual arrest. Photo / YouTube
The video calls upon people to 'make Joseph Kony famous' - and for his eventual arrest. Photo / YouTube

A viral video sweeping the internet is making violent Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony one of the most infamous men on the planet.

The 30 minute Kony 2012 film by US charity Invisible Children is aimed at making Kony, the leader of the guerilla group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a household name in the hope he will be brought to justice.

It has been viewed about 10 million times on YouTube and shared throughout the world on Twitter and Facebook in less than two weeks.

Kony is not well known in the West, despite being named the International Criminal Court's most wanted war criminal.

He is indicted for decades of "crimes against humanity", including kidnapping thousands of Ugandan children and forcing them to become child soldiers.

The Invisible Children campaign proposes blanketing streets with "Kony 2012" posters on April 20 in the hope US political leaders will cede to public pressure and send military to speed the warlord's arrest.

It urges a rapidly growing cadre of supporters to pressure political leaders such as former US President George Bush and cultural figures including Oprah Winfrey to speak out against Kony's crimes.

But the backlash to the viral phenomenon has already begun.

Canadian student Grant Oyston's criticism of the campaign and Invisible Children has won international attention for his blog.

He points out the charity only use 32 per cent of their yearly spend for direct services, with much of the rest going into salaries, transport and travel.

Charity Navigator rates Invisible Children's accountability at 2/4 stars because they will not allow their accounts to be externally audited.

Oyston also opposes the group's support for Ugandan military intervention against Kony.

"Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People's Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them, arguing that the Ugandan army is 'better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries'."

The Daily What claimed supporting US military action to stop Kony was "dousing the flames with fuel".

It called for Kony 2012 supporters to give to other registered charities setting up medical and educational facilities in Uganda.

Under Kony, the LRA has committed a long list of atrocities - regularly entering towns to kill adults, take male children as soldiers and sexually abuse young girls.

US President Barack Obama committed 100 troops to abetting Kony's capture when he signed the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act into law in 2009.

It was co-sponsored by 65 US senators and supported by Invisible Children.

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