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Anti-LRA Twitter Campaign Draws Criticism


Joseph Kony, Lord's Resistance Army leader and one of the world's most wanted rebel chiefs (2006 file photo)

Joseph Kony, Lord's Resistance Army leader and one of the world's most wanted rebel chiefs (2006 file photo)

A group trying to raise awareness about the rebel Lord's Resistance Army in Africa is drawing criticism, with some questioning its purpose and tactics.

KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

U.S.-based Invisible Children launched a campaign on Twitter this week to bring attention to a new film on the LRA and its leader Joseph Kony, who is wanted for war crimes. The messages were among the top trending topics on the social media site Wednesday.

But critics with the magazine Foreign Policy and several blogs say the non-profit exaggerates or misrepresents facts. In one often-cited example, the film says the LRA has 30,000 fighters, when the real number is believed to be in the hundreds.

Critics also say Invisible Children spends most of the money it raises on itself, is focused on self-promotion, and oversimplifies the LRA problem.

In a response posted on its website Thursday, Invisible Children said the critics are putting out false or misleading information.

The group also defended its mission, saying that in addition to advocacy work, it runs education programs in the LRA's former home of northern Uganda, and a program to warn villages of impending LRA attacks in Congo and the Central African Republic.
The critics acknowledge the atrocities committed by Kony and the LRA, which is accused of killing and mutilating tens of thousands of people across central Africa in the past 20 years. The group is notorious for kidnapping children to use as soldiers, porters and sex slaves.

Once a powerful force in Uganda, the group has splintered into bands of fighters that continue to attack villages in remote areas.

Last year, U.S. President Barack Obama sent 100 military personnel to the region to help Ugandan troops hunt down the remaining LRA fighters.

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