Most UN Security Council (UNSC) meetings are so stuffy that they’re hard to watch without wishing someone would open a window, turn on the ventilator or take the august ambassadors off life support. Norman Finkelstein couldn’t have been more apt than when he called Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a “comatose puppet of the United States.” I went through an entire pot of strong coffee just listening to last week’s three-hour UNSC meeting about the Dec. 30 election in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The ambassadors spoke in code, without naming key players and perpetrators.
During a recent campaign event, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson said: “That story of Rwanda is very instructive to us because when a place gets so tribal that the two tribes won’t have anything to do with each other, and that jealousy turns into hate – we saw what happened to the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda, it turned into a genocide. A million people hacked to death within a few months. And we have got to watch what’s happening here.”
On Feb. 12, 2018, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that there were 4.49 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 630,500 refugees in neighboring countries. The IDP population had nearly doubled in the previous year alone, mainly as a result of clashes and armed attacks. This week I spoke to Swiss Congolese historian and activist Bénédicte Kumbi Ndjoko about recent developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On July 22 this year, nearly two years after Trump’s election and the rise of “The Resistance,” I tuned in to KPFA-Berkeley’s Sunday Show and heard host Philip Maldari speaking to The Nation’s national affairs correspondent John Nichols. Philip Maldari: John, just last Monday we had this fabulous press conference in Helsinki, Finland, where these two heads of state [Trump and Putin] had a chance to speak to the world. Do you want to decode what happened there? John Nichols: Do I want to what? PM: Decode – explain.
He’s the president of Rwanda and the current president of the African Union, feted by the Brookings Institute, one of the most venerable ideological pillars of U.S. capital interests. So why is Paul Kagame manifesting more and more signs of paranoia? Let’s consider just a few possibilities: Assassination rumors, insurgency, political prisoner Victoire Ingabire, 7,000 Rwandan churches and mosques shut down.
Rosatom – Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation – has recently signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with a number of African nations to build nuclear power plants within their borders. I spoke to David Himbara, a professor of international development and African energy activist, about the likelihood of Rosatom actually building these nuclear plants. Currently, Sub-Saharan Africa faces an extraordinary level of energy poverty.
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.
April 6 was the 24th anniversary of the day that Gen. Paul Kagame shattered a ceasefire agreement and resumed the 1990-1994 war in Rwanda by assassinating Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira. His troops, acting on his orders, fired a rocket at Habyarimana’s plane when it appeared overhead in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, returning from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Coogler’s “Panther” has a terrible counter-revolutionary message. It's overall politic message tells you that since you cannot be the Black Panther character, king of Wakanda, you can be a CIA agent like T’Challa’s right hand man. But before I get into that, let me tell y’all what I think is great about this box office record breaking Disney-Marvel film. The cinematography is phenomenal. The costumes and the colors are on another level. The sets are beautiful.
Helen Epstein’s new book, “Another Fine Mess: America, Uganda, and the War on Terror,” is dense with detailed and fascinating accounts of events in Ugandan history and politics and those of neighboring nations. I’m familiar with much of it, but there’s also much I hadn’t known, some I disagree with, and elaborations or different interpretations of what I’ve previously read or been told.
A video calling for an Islamic State jihad in the Democratic Republic of the Congo appeared online and in a few news reports last week. It was purportedly made in Beni Territory, within Congo’s North Kivu Province, where a phantom so-called Islamist militia, the Allied Democratic Forces, has been blamed for massacres of the indigenous population that began in October 2014. I asked Boniface Musavuli, a native of Beni and author of “The Massacres of Beni: Kabila, Rwanda, and the Fake Islamists” to help contextualize the so-called news.
Last year the African Union resisted Western pressure to intervene militarily in Burundi. On Oct. 26, Burundi officially completed its withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) without being indicted. Western powers, NGOs and press have accused Burundi of human rights abuse within its own borders but not of invading another country. I asked Canadian lawyer David Paul Jacobs, an expert in international law, to contextualize this distinction.
Since seizing power in Rwanda in 1994, dictator and U.S. military partner Paul Kagame has ruled the tiny East African nation with an iron fist that includes a complex nationwide network of spies and surveillance technology. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, leader of the FDU-Inkingi Party, has been in prison since 2010, when she tried to run for president against Kagame. Now another woman, Diane Rwigara, who attempted to run against Kagame in this year’s election, has been arrested.
Starvation is the danger Victoire Ingabire is facing now in her seventh year in prison. Starvation! She requires a special diet which has been provided by our staff since her arrest. Two people have been authorized to see her, but they have both been arrested. No one else is allowed to see her. Kagame is facing growing dissent within his own party, his relations with neighbors are souring and his plan to oust Burundi’s leadership has failed. He fears retaliation.
I did a Google search for “Jeremy Corbyn” and “Rwanda” on the unlikely chance that Britain’s Labor Party leader had ever said anything about that tiny, tortured East African nation. The one and only result was unsurprising because, in the West, Rwanda is largely forgotten except as an excuse to go to war – to “stop the next Rwanda” – meaning the country’s 1994 bloodbath.
Twenty-two years ago, on April 22, 1995, Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Army massacred between 4,000 and 8,000 Hutu men, women and children at the Kibeho Camp for internal refugees in southern Rwanda. I spoke to Rene Mugenzi, a Rwandan refugee, British citizen and human rights activist, who continues to seek acknowledgment and indictment for the crimes against humanity and, arguably, genocide committed at Kibeho in 1995.
I had a hard time writing a KPFA-Berkeley Radio News report last Saturday. I was trying to report on the racist, Christian fundamentalism of NPR commentator Scott Simon and Canadian Gen. Romeo Dallaire, both of whom argue that God and the devil are manifest in Syria, as they were in Rwanda in 1994. Dallaire even adds that “the white man” – his words – has a moral obligation to intervene on God’s behalf.
One of the most devastating U.S. interventions was the overthrow of the democratically elected leader of the Congo, Prime Minister Patrice Emery Lumumba, in 1960. That overthrow has been devastating for the Congolese people, because not only did the U.S. overthrow and assassinate the democratically elected leader, but they also imposed a dictatorship on the Congolese people for over three decades, and it has crushed and destroyed the country and the people.
The end of the unipolar, U.S.-led global order is most dramatically signified by the U.S. loss of its proxy war with Russia in Syria. For the past year and a half, a much quieter struggle has been playing out in the tiny East African nation of Burundi. The U.S. and E.U. nations have repeatedly demanded that Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza step down, but Russia and China have stood up for Burundi, as for Syria, on the U.N. Security Council. Despite its small size, Burundi is, like Syria, very geostrategically situated.
The path forward for many Congolese youth is clear. They want to be free from tyranny more than the Kabila regime wants to repress them and deprive them of their God-given life pursuits. In the Congo, the youth are prepared for a sustained civil disobedience undertaking to cripple and ultimately remove an oppressive system that not only kills them but also squelches their aspirations and hopes for a dignified life.