A campaign to stop the nearly 30-year, brutal rule of African militia leader Joseph Kony became a viral sensation this week. “Kony 2012,” started by the group Invisible Children, aims to make Kony’s face so famous that authorities will finally be able to arrest him and try him for his crimes.
A 30-minute documentary released on Monday is one of the keys to the campaign, and as of Thursday it had gotten more than 26 million views. The video details the atrocities carried out by Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army. The campaign appears to be working, as at one point on Wednesday, Invisible Children and #stopkony were trending higher on Twitter than Peyton Manning or the new iPad.
Since 1987, human rights officials say Kony has forcefully abducted more than 60,000 children to be soldiers in his army and reportedly raped, mutilated and killed civilians in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan and displaced more than 2 million people. The leader is wanted for committing atrocities by the International Criminal Court and is being hunted down by 100 U.S. Special Forces advisers and local troops in four Central African nations, according to the Associated Press.
Kony 2012 is an effort to capture Kony and disarm the LRA before a reported window of opportunity closes. One way it plans to do that is by encouraging users to directly message a variety of stars to make use of their Twitter ubiquity to get the word out. Among those listed on the site are: Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Jay-Z, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Ryan Seacrest and Ellen DeGeneres, along with a number of major policymakers.
When users click on the celebs’ photos, a tweet pops up that reads: Help us end #LRA violence. Visit kony2012.com to find out why and how. @timtebow Join us for #KONY2012.