Viral video targets Ugandan militia leader
KAMPALA, UGANDA | If Joseph Kony lived in relative anonymity before this week, he’s an Internet star now.
A video about the atrocities carried out by Mr. Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has gone viral, racking up millions more views seemingly by the hour.
The marketing campaign is an effort by the advocacy group Invisible Children to vastly increase awareness about a jungle militia leader who is wanted for atrocities by the International Criminal Court and is being hunted by 100 U.S. Special Forces advisers and local troops in four Central African countries.
The group’s 30-minute video, which was released Monday, had more than 26 million views on Youtube by Thursday. The movie is part of an effort called KONY 2012 that targets Mr. Kony and the LRA.
“Kony is a monster. He deserves to be prosecuted and hanged,” said Col. Felix Kulayigye, the spokesman for Uganda’s military.
But Col. Kulayigye said that Mr. Kony’s forces — once thousands strong — have been so degraded that he no longer considers Mr. Kony a threat to the region.
Because of the intensified hunt for Mr. Kony, his forces split into smaller groups that can travel the jungle more easily.
Experts estimate that the LRA now has only about 250 fighters.
Still, the militia abducts children, forcing them to serve as soldiers or sex slaves, and even to kill their parents or each other to survive. The LRA operates in Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
Uganda, Invisible Children and #stopkony were among the top 10 trending terms on Twitter among both the worldwide and U.S. audience Wednesday night, ranking higher than New ipad or Peyton Manning. Twitter’s top trends more commonly include celebrities than fugitive militants.