While this story has all the same characters as the movie “Hotel Rwanda,” it is not about the movie. This is Ann Garrison’s report about the current lived experience of the movie’s real-life hero, Paul Rusesabagina, being detained last year and going to trial last week under the charge of terrorism. Notorious for assassinations, attempted assassinations and other brutal authoritarian acts, Rwanda’s President Kagame is now also accused of violating US deportation and extradition law.
The Congo crisis is now one of the greatest humanitarian emergencies in the world and the most underreported. An average of 5,500 people a day flee violence and insecurity, even more than in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Unlike Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, however, the Congo wars are undeclared and there’s no front line. There are instead many wars over many concentrations of resource wealth in this immensely resource-rich country, especially in the eastern provinces.
Instability and political repression are increasing in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, as the presidents of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda seek to remain in power beyond constitutional term limits. Rwandan and Ugandan troops crossed into the Democratic Republic of the Congo this week, sparking fears of another catastrophic regional war. Burundi is another pressure point further destabilizing the region.
Potentially catastrophic military operations, authorized by the U.N. Security Council, may lie ahead soon for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The U.N. Security Council has urged the Congolese army to join U.N. combat troops from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi in hunting down the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a Rwandan refugee militia commonly known as the FDLR.
Former Wisconsin senator, now U.S. special envoy to the Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo Russ Feingold held an online press conference with members of the African press in Africa earlier this week. He said that the FDLR had not surrendered enough of its troops to satisfy the U.N. Security Council’s requirement and that military action was therefore required.
FDLR are freedom fighters. Like many other armed and unarmed groups working hard to bring down Kagame’s oppressive, bloody junta, FDLR has my support and I encourage them to fight for their rights no matter what Kagame and his lobbyists say FDLR stands for. Whether any superpower country supports Kagame’s bloody junta is immaterial. Victory is coming, and very soon.
Rwanda and Uganda are threatening to send troops across their borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo yet again to, they say, eliminate the Hutu refugee militia known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR. Going after the Hutu refugee militia has been Rwanda and Uganda’s excuse for crossing into Congo for the past 18 years, since the outset of the First Congo War in 1996.
“Rwanda’s Untold Story,” a controversial BBC documentary first aired in the U.K. on Oct. 1, undermines the rationale for military action against the FDLR fighters in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North Kivu Provinces. The FDLR has been described as the militia that committed the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, but the documentary suggests that no one was more responsible than Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame himself.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution this week calling for a fair trial for Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire, whose case is now being heard by the Rwandan Supreme Court. Ingabire has been behind bars in Rwanda’s capital Kigali since 2010, the year she attempted to run for the presidency against Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
This month the U.S. and the U.N. Security Council must choose: Will they hold accountable major perpetrators of continued atrocities in the Congo or collaborate with them to put the blame on a few guilty but minor scapegoats and some innocent people who are guilty only of challenging the major offenders?
The leaked report from the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) mapping atrocities committed in D.R. Congo points to crimes which might be labeled genocide against Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese Hutus committed by Kagame’s Rwandan army between 1996 and 2003.
I am calling upon the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, to let me recover my full freedom and liberties, so that I can enjoy my political rights which are the reason I came back home from exile, hold the constitutional congress of my political party, register the party, compete during the elections and let the Rwandan people decide.
As global awareness grows around the Congo and the silence is finally being broken on the current and historic exploitation of Black people in the heart of Africa, a myriad of Western based “prescriptions” are being proffered. Most of these prescriptions are devoid of social, political, economic and historical context and are marked by remarkable omissions. The conflict mineral approach or efforts emanating from the United States and Europe are no exception to this symptomatic approach which serves more to perpetuate the root causes of Congo’s challenges than to resolve them.
The December 2008 United Nations report is the latest in a series of U.N. reports dating from 2001 that clearly documents the systematic looting and appropriation of Congolese resources by Rwanda and Uganda, two of Washington and London's staunchest allies in Africa.