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Six million dead since 1996? It’s time to break the silence on the Congo War

December 9, 2012

by Pastor Serge Senga

After months of illegal occupation of the southern part of the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the subsequent creation of an atmosphere of total insecurity and impunity, marked by incredible human atrocities widely reported, we woke up last week with much trepidation as we got the news from that part of the country.

Congolese and their allies marched and rallied outside the White House protesting the M23takeover of Goma to allow ever greater plundering of the Congo’s mineral wealth and the accompanying violence that has taken over 6 million lives since 1996 – at the rate of 1,174 deaths a day – more than half of them children. – Photo: Joseph Mbangu
In fact, on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, a day that will live in infamy for us Congolese, the city of Goma fell in the hands of the M23, a rising terrorist group in the region, widely reported by the United Nations to be backed by Rwanda. As a result, an untold number of people died in the attack and an estimated 120,000 people have been displaced. During this assault, the national army fled and the United Nations peacekeepers of the MONUSCO offered no resistance, as we have been told.

It is important to underline that an estimated 6 million of people have already died – and the number keeps rising – in this part of the country since the outbreak of the war of 1998 and its immediate aftermath. The atrocities of the region of the Kivus has given the Congo unwelcome fame as the rape capital of the world and the deadliest place in the world with a staggering raw average of 1,174 people dying every day for the past 14 years.

While all of this is happening under the watchful eye of an exceptionally incompetent and complacent Congolese government and the international community at large, we wonder how and why we have as people fallen so low in our morals. It is sad to see us prone to adjust to injustice and to accept the unacceptable under the lame excuse of our morbid fear of being tagged as xenophobes and extremists. Dr. King’s words come back to haunt us with so much clarity and potency: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

This series of events and situations have grown to be unacceptable and are seen to us like that last drop that has made our bucket spill! In fact we should look upon these issues with righteous indignation and stop being complacent and cooperating in this situation by our silent frustration that is nothing else but disguised betrayal.

A child, one of the more than 120,000 people displaced by the M23, heats water in Mugunga camp outside Goma on Nov. 24. – Photo: Jerome Delay, AP
To quote Dr. King again: “Life is a book that records our vigilance and our neglect.” In fact there is such a thing as being too late or doing too little to help. The people who died are gone for eternity. We don’t get to do over history and there is no such thing as an eraser for the book called life.

After decades of colonization, oppression, exploitation, degradation, humiliation and discrimination, it is time for people all over the world to be aware of our God given right for recognition, respect, self-determination and real independence as real human beings.

The last elections in the DRC have been very eloquent in showing how far the illegitimate government of Kinshasa is willing to go to hold on to power and the willingness of the international community to turn a blind eye to the truth of the ballots. It was John Kennedy who once said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

It is our responsibility as people of the world to act now, to get involved now and not allow this also to pass us by! To that effect we have decided to speak to all people of interest: the international community, the Congolese government, the friends of the Congo and the Congolese people.

To the international community: Dear partners, the role that International community should play should go past one of supplying tents and food for refugees of wars and the displaced to one of helping the people avoid the very causes of war in the first place. True compassion is more than just giving Congolese people food and medication so they can go live in their ghettos and drink that same filthy water, but it comes to giving the people of the Congo a voice as they make their choices on who is better fit to lead their country out of this constant state of dependency from you. We are convinced that Congolese problems should have Congolese solutions and you can play a role in empowering us to do just that!

Congolese Pastor Serge Senga speaks to the crowd at the Nov. 28 rally in front of the White House organized by the Congolese community of Washington, D.C.
Also there should be no confusion in your rebuke of terrorist groups such as M23 and state sponsors of terrorism in Africa such us Rwanda and Uganda. We ask that the United States of America and the United Kingdom immediately withdraw all forms of financial and military aid to Rwanda that is a state sponsor of terrorism in Africa.

Congolese problems should have Congolese solutions. We ask that the United States of America and the United Kingdom immediately withdraw all forms of financial and military aid to Rwanda that is a state sponsor of terrorism in Africa.

Rwanda is using the same weapons provided by these countries and, through the M23, is killing our men, women and children. The international community should not put up with Rwanda when it makes them indirectly fund and equip terrorists in the Congo. The strongest sanctions should be imposed on Rwanda to stop backing the terrorists of M23, as underlined in the last United Nations report of experts identifying and condemning the direct implication of Rwanda.

To the Congolese government: The time is not for negotiating but for unambiguously declaring war on Rwanda for attacking the Congo through its proxy terrorist group of M23. The time has come to also investigate and pursue to the fullest extent of the law all people, at all levels of government, starting from President Kabila and down the echelons, to establish and prosecute those responsible for helping the terrorists of M23 and Rwanda’s sponsorship of terrorism.

How could anyone talk to us about negotiating and being reasonable in our approach to the situation in the North Kivu region of the Congo, when every day people are dying? These people don’t get to rehearse life or do it over. No, our people are dying and they have been for the past decade without their government taking any decisive action.

It is a tragedy: They are murdering our fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, grandparents and children in the most brutal way. They are forcing our children to enroll in their terrorist armies, raping our women while this Mr. Kabila’s administration, the MONUSCO and the international community at large are complacently watching.

Which one of them in the White House, the Elysée Palace, the Kremlin, on 10 Downing Street or in China would remain reasonable if 6 millions of their citizens were brutally murdered by terrorists? Which one of them would consider talks with those terrorists? What other options are they leaving us with, when they are terrorizing a man such as Dr. Mukwege, a man that has devoted his life in surgically repairing, protecting and overseeing women raped by these terrorist armies?

Dr. Mukwege is not part of the problem, but part of the solution, yet brutal force is the only language that these thugs speak fluently. Even a man like Dr. Mukwege is a target for them. French people say, “He who wants peace must prepare for war!” We must fight to preserve peace in our midst!

Youth protest as the headquarters of President Kabila’s party goes up in smoke in Kisangani on Nov. 20, the day that neighboring Goma was taken by the M23.
To the friends of the Congo: We want to tell you that we appreciate your support and efforts and you will go down in the history of the Congo as the quiet heroes of the Congo. When there has been some progress made, more needs to be done, and it is time now more than ever to organize and put pressure on your respective governments to get the terrorist group of the M23 to retreat from Eastern Congo and go to Rwanda, where they are apparently loved.

In this great country of the United States of America, taxpayers are contributing about a quarter of the budget of the United Nations Security Council, with a yearly budget of a staggering billion dollars for the MONUSCO alone. This gives you an unprecedented leverage on the United Nations.

We ask you to demand that Ambassador Susan Rice exert all the pressure possible to demand that the U.N. sanctions underlined in their last report of experts be immediately imposed on the terrorist group of M23 and Rwanda for being a state sponsor of terrorism. Also demand that the mission of the MONUSCO be terminated since their ability to protect the people of eastern Congo has grown weaker by the year, as proven in the last debacle of this past Tuesday.

Demand that the mission of the MONUSCO be terminated since their ability to protect the people of eastern Congo has grown weaker by the year, as proven in the last debacle.

To the Congolese people of the Diaspora and the motherland: The history of civilizations teaches us that all the people of the world have had at one point of their existence a chosen generation, assigned with a very particular challenge they had to overcome. God chose Moses, a man who had difficulty with speech to carry a clear message telling Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” So no matter how inadequate you may feel today to perform the task at hand and how big and sophisticated our enemy seems to be, just like at the hands of little David, this Goliath also is going down!

Since the Kabila administration has shown its utter incompetence, and since the international community has proven that they’re not going to do anything significant to this day about what is going on in the Congo, then it is our solemn duty, our responsibility to our people, not just as Congolese-Americans, but as human beings, to organize ourselves efficiently. The harsh reality is that nobody will do it for us, nobody really can do this for us and nobody should do it for us!

Women protest the M23 in front of U.N. offices in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on Friday. – Photo: John Bompeng, Radio Okapi
This battle is our battle, this challenge is our challenge and, as long as we hesitate and get distracted by our constant bickering, we are only giving the enemy more time to organize and more ammunition to use against us. We as a people will have to reach into the innermost part of our being and make a pledge to ourselves that we will never again betray our people and ourselves by staying quiet and passive.

We will oppose the enemy with everything within us and by any means necessary! We will be organizing and participating to marches and demonstrations without end, until the battle is won, and the challenge is overcome. No matter how long it may take us, and how much this may cost us, we have resolved to meet these challenges with unwavering determination.

Our enemies say that they know us. They have predicted and determined that Congolese people are incapable of caring for their own people, incapable of organizing and totally incapable of solving this problem they created. They say they have studied us for decades. They know what we think, what we believe, what we love, what moves us and what we fear. They say they know what they can tell us to get us to do anything they want!

We as a people will have to reach into the innermost part of our being and make a pledge to ourselves that we will never again betray our people and ourselves by staying quiet and passive.

Here really lies our challenge, my fellow Congolese. Are they right in their assessment of us? Do they really know us as they claim? Can we rise to this occasion and prove our enemies wrong? I want to tell them something: They may have studied our parents and grandparents, but they didn’t study us. They don’t know us.

They have awakened a sleeping giant. They had no clue that Congolese from all over the world would organize and demonstrate the way we have and for as long as we did after the rigged elections of November 2011. Join me in telling them that they haven’t seen anything yet, and our best is yet to come!

I don’t want anyone to fool themselves. It’s not going to be easy. Freedom is never free and has never been handed out. On the contrary it is always snatched by force!

We have had the examples of internationally recognized heroes such as Patrice Emery Lumumba, Kuame Nkrumah and Thomas Sankara, to name a few, who demonstrated to us that strong resolve and a deep sense of self and community can move mountains. This is our moment, this is the time, this is the place, this is that generation and you are the one! This is a solemn call from God to become and forever be all that God has called you to be.

May God, from whom all blessings flow, bless the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United States of Africa!

Serge Senga, vice president of Dignity Congo, is the pastor of the Ville de Refuge Church in the Baltimore area. Visit www.villederefuge.org.

 

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