How to become famous: Joseph Kony 2012 video highlights brutal Ugandan conflict

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A documentary film about the little-known but devastating civil war in Uganda has gone viral, chiefly as a means to highlight the war crimes of Joseph Kony; controversy ensues.

The film, Kony 2012, produced by the non-profit humanitarian organization Invisible Children, aims to make Joseph Kony so infamous that the pressure to capture and arrest him won’t ease up until that goal is reached.

The documentary throws light on the brutal civil war in Uganda that has been going on since the 1980’s, and whose leaders round up and kidnap village children in order to force them into their militias. The most infamous and largest of these militias, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), is led by Kony. The film throws light on the Ugandan conflict through the eyes of a former LRA child soldier, Jacob, and the director Jason Russell’s American son, Gavin, who doesn’t know who Kony is.

The film chiefly deals with the inhumanity of abducting children and making them into soldiers. The LRA reportedly has up to 30,000 boys and girls who are used as soldiers and sex slaves. Kony himself has allegedly fathered more than 200 children in his 26 years on the lam from the Ugandan government.

Invisible Children, an activist group that campaigns to end genocide and crimes against humanity, said the goal of Kony 2012 was to raise awareness about one of the world’s most brutal warlords in an effort to expedite his arrest and to highlight the wider problem of child slavery around the world.

The film calls for supporters of the cause to set April 20, 2012 aside as a day during which Kony’s name will be made known in every neighborhood in the world. “This is the day when we will meet at sundown and blanket every street in every city until the sun comes up. The rest of the world will go to bed Friday night and wake up to hundreds of thousands of posters demanding justice," Jason Russell said.

Kony has been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court but has so far evaded capture. In October 2011, President Obama announced that he was sending 100 Special Forces soldiers to help the Ugandans hunt down Kony. Kony was thought to have moved up to the Central African Republic and southern Sudan to foil the operation. He wants to establish a theocratic government based on the Ten Commandments in Uganda.

Some controversy has ensued in the wake of the film; pundits are pointing out that the film gives Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni a free pass, whitewashing the atrocities the government’s forces are guilty of – including the abduction and conscription of child soldiers. They point out that taking sides and intervening by military means only leads to further violence in central Africa.

Invisible Children said that although it has focused on Kony, it doesn't defend human rights abuses perpetrated by the Ugandan government and isn't seeking war. However, "the only feasible and proper way to stop Kony and protect the civilians he targets is to coordinate efforts with regional governments," the organization wrote on its website.

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