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Syria has long dominated international headlines while the big powers discuss the possibility of dividing it into smaller, more homogeneous states along ethnic or religious lines. The Democratic Republic of Congo is rarely if ever at the top of the Western headlines, but heads of state and so-called experts have long made similar proposals to carve out new, smaller, more homogeneous nations in Congo’s resource-rich eastern provinces. I spoke with Congolese scholar and activist Boniface Musavuli about the plans.
Genocost, a U.K.-based Congolese advocacy group, commemorated Congo Genocide this week on Aug. 2. Aug. 2 is the day that U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo, starting the Second Congo War in 1998. Though a peace treaty was signed in 2003, the violence, displacement and mass killing continue. Genocost asks that nations formally recognize Aug. 2 as Congo Genocide Commemoration Day. I spoke to Genocost spokesperson Sylvester Mido.
Now, as the San Francisco Bay View newspaper’s 40th birthday year comes to a close, is the time to bring up to date the historical sketch of our paper that I began with Part 1 in the January paper. Piles of old papers rest on my desk, waiting to be read once again – a banquet of stories and pictures of our lives, our hopes, our goals. Let me let you taste the flavor of the freedom we continue to fight for in the age of Trump.
On May 19, 2016, the Rwandan government ordered Dutch lawyer Caroline Buisman to leave Rwanda immediately, without even meeting her new client, political prisoner Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Buisman had arrived in the country’s capital Kigali on May 14, 2016, to consult with Ingabire regarding the appeal of her conviction for terrorism, inciting popular revolt and minimizing the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.
Burundi’s 1972 Hutu genocide, in which hundreds of thousands of Burundian Hutu people were massacred by the country’s Tutsi army, was commemorated in Burundi on April 30. Commemorations were also held in other parts of the world, including one on the state capitol grounds in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
The Rwandan Genocide is commemorated in Rwanda and at the United Nations as “the genocide against the Tutsi.” However, it was preceded by the assassination of three Hutu presidents and by the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Hutu civilians in Burundi. There is also ample evidence that hundreds of thousands of Hutus, as well as Tutsis, died in the Rwandan massacres.
U.S. U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the U.S. State Department, the E.U. and Belgium have fiercely advocated for the deployment of 5,000 African Union troops in Burundi, whether Burundi agrees or not. Senegalese diplomat Ibrahima Fall, the African Union’s special representative to the African Great Lakes Region, told Radio France International that deploying AU troops without Burundi’s consent was “unimaginable.”
The Block Report speaks with our correspondent Claude Gatebuke, also of the African Great Lakes Action Network, about the politics in the African Great Lakes region. We discuss Rwandan President Kagame attempting to extend his reign for a total of 40 years, Rwanda working for Western powers, tension between Burundi and Rwanda, political prisoner Victoire Ingabire, the role Tanzania has played as a stabilizing factor and more.
Dr. Léopold Munyakazi is in the custody of ICE, on the verge of being deported to Rwanda. The Rwandan government accused Professor Munyakazi of genocide crime after he made several speeches to university audiences in which he said that the Rwandan massacres were not genocide but class conflict. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Father Thomas Nahimana about the Munyakazi case.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power is on a mission to save Africans from African savagery. She wants you to call 1-800-GENOCIDE so she can send in the Marines or other U.S. Special Forces. Her entire career is based on a historically inaccurate, decontextualized and grossly oversimplified account of the 1994 Rwandan massacres, during which the U.S. stood by.
The Burundian army has been engaged by troops near its northern border with Rwanda and this week Aljazeera reported that young men in Rwandan refugee camps are being recruited to join a rebel force to fight in Burundi. Burundian Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe, speaking to The Voice of America, said that the Burundian government had asked the Rwandan government to prevent any action threatening Burundi’s security.
As Burundian voters went to the polls on Tuesday, the U.S. State Department warned that “elections held under the current conditions in Burundi will not be credible and will further discredit the government.” It also said it planned to suspend partnerships that it hasn’t already suspended with “anyone promoting instability in Burundi through violence.” Will those “promoting instability through violence” include the renegade Burundian military officers who staged a failed coup attempt in May, then fled to Rwanda and declared war on Burundi? Will it include Rwandan military and political support for a rebel force?
One may reasonably argue that Rwanda, Uganda and any of those poor African countries contributing U.N. peacekeepers have no interest in peace around the continent. Based on the current financing structure of U.N. peacekeeping operations, these poor countries have a lot of financial incentives to create instability within Africa so that they can send in their “peacekeeping” troops and make some much needed cash.
Over the last 16 years, more than 6 million lives have been lost in Congo – and the major perpetrators of those atrocities have been U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda. The majority of victims have been children under the age of 5. Subsequent U.S. administrations have provided aid to the Rwandan and Ugandan regimes. The U.S. remains one of the top two donors of aid to Rwanda today.
The lessons learned from the U.N. Mapping Exercise report show that even with Rwanda and Uganda’s invasion and occupation of Congo in the last 15 years, political issues have not been resolved by war. The international community should take heed and not engage in military solutions in Ivory Coast to resolve a political dispute.