Kony 2012 campaign falters as Invisible Children group leader is arrested
by Skylar Brown
Joseph Kony has quickly become one of the most infamous individuals in the world as a result of the viral video, entitled “Kony 2012,” released March 5 by the Invisible Children organization.
Joseph Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) that operates out of Uganda and aims to overthrow the country’s current government. In 1986, Yoweri Museveni gained the presidency of Uganda and was opposed by the Holy Spirit Movement, led by Alice Lakwena, which was eventually taken over by Kony and renamed the LRA. Kony was unable to maintain support of the group and was forced to abduct children to supplement the ranks of his army.
It is believed that Joseph Kony has abducted more than 30,000 children from their homes and forced them to enlist in the LRA or serve as sex slaves. It has been reported that some of these children were forced to kill their parents, each other and mutilate individuals. Experts believe that the LRA currently has about 250 troops but are still abducting children and are operating out of the Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
The Invisible Children’s video, “Kony 2012”, is aimed at raising awareness about the atrocities being committed by Kony and has garnered over 80 million views as of March 20. The video has gained national attention and led to increased activism to stop Kony and has increased pressure on the government to intervene in the region. Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court and is currently being hunted by 100 U.S. Special Forces advisers and local troops in Uganda and surrounding countries.
There has been criticism directed at Invisible Children about the efforts they have made. The non-profit’s financial statements show that of the $8.6 million raisedh, only 32 percent of those funds actually went to direct services. The organization has also been accused of “manipulat[ing] facts for strategic purposes” according to Foreign Affairs magazine. Charity Navigator gave Invisible Children a two out of four star rating in accountability.
Al Jazeera reported on March 14 that the Kony 2012 video was shown in Uganda to a group of those who have suffered at the hands of Kony and his LRA. The screening ended in anger and violence among those who attended. Ugandan critics of the video attacked alleged inaccuracies and the fact that the short film centered on an American child.
More recent problems have arisen for the Invisible Children as the organization’s co-founder and director of “Kony 2012” Jason Russell was arrested March 15 for allegedly masturbating in public and vandalizing cars. It has been reported that this outburst was the result of “extreme exhaustion and dehydration” according to Russell’s wife. Russell’s wife also stated that “because of how personal the film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal and Jason took them very hard.” It has been asserted that the emotional stress Russell experienced contributed to these recent incidents.