MIAMI (CBS4) – Few had heard the name Joseph Kony until this week, when an Internet video went viral.
Kony is one of the most wanted men in the world and is said to be responsible for atrocities in Central Africa. Now filmmakers are calling for his arrest by the end of this year, that’s why the video is called Kony 2012.
For half an hour, viewers of the online video learn about a Ugandan boy named Jacob and his fight for survival.
“My brother tried to escape then they killed him using panga. They cut his neck,” Jacob says in the video.
The group behind the video, Invisible Children, says the mission is to make Kony’s name known worldwide. Kony is the rebel leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, or IRA, in Uganda. He’s accused of kidnapping as many as 30,000 children in the past 26 years.
“Turning the girls into sex slaves and the boys into child soldiers … and he forces them to kill their own parents,” the video’s narrator says.
“As soon as you see that video, you pause, and you stop, and you take it all in. Then you go, okay, I want to do something about it,” said Joaquin Ortiz, who volunteered to lead the effort in South Florida. He runs a separate non-profit, Conscious Acts of Kindness.
“We basically search out different causes all over the world,” he said.
And this cause now has a huge following: more than 40 million views just on YouTube.
One 12-year-old boy, Julian, told us his 6th grade class at Carver Middle School had been talking about it all day.
Even Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is tweeting about it.
There is some criticism. Invisible Children took in $13.8 million last year and spent $8.9 million. Just $3.3 million went to programs in Central Africa. The group says producing the videos is expensive.
Meanwhile, in South Florida, Ortiz hopes more people spread a message of freedom, for free, using social networks.
“If we can prove to ourselves that this is doable, what next?” asked Ortiz.
The video promotes a special overnight event on April 20th called “Cover the Night,” where people all over the world will post Kony 2012 posters anywhere possible.
You can watch the full video here.