by Kambale Musavuli
It is only a matter of time before the New York Times and other mainstream media get to the root of the matter that both French and Spanish courts have already broached regarding Paul Kagame and Rwanda’s destructive actions in the Central African region. Even the International Court of Justice has weighed in on Rwanda’s partner in crime in the Congo: Uganda and its leader Yoweri Museveni, another staunch British and U.S. ally.
In 2005, the court ruled that the Congo is entitled to $10 billion in reparations from Uganda because of the human rights abuses it committed in the Congo and the looting of Congo’s resources. There is very little doubt that the court would have issued a similar ruling against Rwanda, especially considering that Rwanda is even more implicated in the Congo, but the court lacked jurisdiction in the case brought to it by the Congo against Rwanda.
The New York Times and other media should consider asking people such as Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Rick Warren, Bill Gates, Howard Schultz, Andrew Young, Cindy McCain and others why they have been silent about the atrocities in the Congo, when they are known to have the ear of Rwanda’s leader Paul Kagame.
All of these individuals have an historic opportunity to use their notoriety, access and standing in the world to play a key role in ending what U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calls one of the worst tragedies of our time or what former U.N. official Jan Egeland calls “the killing fields of our generation.” Can they really continue to remain silent about the Congo and travel the world as paragons of morality and human decency when they have the ear of someone who unleashed what the United Nations says is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II?
Considering how vital Congo is to modern society and the world’s fight against climate change – Congo is a part of the second largest rainforest in the world – Congo’s issues are not just Congolese or African issues but are world issues and they demand frank and honest engagement and responses from world leaders.
The best way the West can contribute to bringing an end to the conflict is not an intervention force but rather real intervention diplomacy. Western nations can take their cue from the Economist when it notes: “Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is best placed to rein in Gen. Nkunda’s men, and must be pressed to do so, with the threat of aid withheld if he does not. In the long run, he must also make political space in Rwanda for the Hutu rebel forces who maraud through eastern Congo and give Gen. Nkunda a pretext for his depredations.”
The former Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, military student Paul Kagame is not destabilizing the Congo on his own. He certainly has the backing of the United States and British taxpayers, as Timothy Reid laid out while at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, when he published “Killing Them Softly: Has Foreign Aid to Rwanda and Uganda Contributed to the Humanitarian Tragedy in the DRC” in the Africa Policy Journal, Spring 2006, Vol. 1.
Maybe, just maybe, finally, we can have frank and honest talks about the Congo, put an end to the tremendous suffering and set my country on a path to peace and stability. We are hopeful that the Obama administration, if it will not listen to what Friends of Congo have been articulating for the longest, will at least in this case listen to the New York Times or the Economist and craft policies based on a sound assessment of the situation.
I have articulated our policy prescriptions in an article published by thedailyvoice.com and sfbayview.com entitled “Congo in crisis: What President Obama can do to right past wrongs in U.S. policy.”
Let the new administration know that Congo should be a top foreign policy priority.
Join the global campaign to Break the Silence on the situation in the Congo.
Rapper and spoken word artist Omekongo’s “Welcome to the Congo”
Powerpoint Primer on the History of the Congo (PPT)
Dan Rather All Mines Report on I-Tunes
FAIR on media coverage of Congo