U.S. and Rwanda to blame for Congo’s human catastrophe


by Ann Garrison

I know no honest, informed Congo watchers who doubt that Gen. Laurent Nkunda and his ruthless militia are tools of the U.S. and its African proxy, Rwanda, in the imperial resource war now raging in Eastern Congo.

U.S. military and national security interests are determined to control Eastern Congo, because its unparalleled mineral riches are even more geostrategically significant than petroleum. They are essential to the manufacture of defense products such as jet engines, missile components, electronic components, iron and steel.

Tantalum and cassiterite, a.k.a. tin, so abundant in Eastern Congo, are also “strategically significant” in that they are essential to the consumer electronics industry that now plays such a major role in the U.S. economy.

To control these resources, Gen. Laurent Nkunda and his militia terrorize the Congolese people of North Kivu Province, which borders Rwanda in Eastern Congo. They shatter and uproot communities and families, with systematic rape, castration, torture, looting and murder.

More Eastern Congolese than anyone is really sure of now face starvation and disease as a result. Many hide in the bush. As more than one relief worker has said, “Chaos broke out and everybody ran off into the bush.”

Or, if not kidnapped to fight in militias or forced into labor and sexual slavery in the militias, they shelter in pathetically inadequate refugee camps.

This is anything but a new story in Congo, especially mineral rich Eastern Congo, where what some call “the African World War” has raged since 1997, with little real peace achieved by the 2006 election of Joseph Kabila. However, the violence and pain now seem to grow worse daily, with more than one report warning that Congo is “on the brink” and that chaos could spread beyond its borders because “when Congo shakes, Africa trembles.”

The fragile ceasefire declared Oct. 28 has long since broken and on Nov. 2, the U.N. reported 1 million people displaced.

CNN reported Nov. 10 that refugees who haven’t eaten for days are increasingly desperate and that the only food being distributed is biscuits, and even these are being distributed only to children.

Imperial diplomacy

U.S., French and British diplomats continue to wrangle and rush from one African capitol to another with little effect and dubious motives, even as Laurent Nkunda threatens to take control of all Congo.

The French want to send troops, but the EU says no. The British want to send troops, but the French say no. The U.N. waffles and then sends more peacekeeping troops, whose mission is no doubt confused by conflicting imperial motives, and none seem guilt free in the international arms trafficking flooding Congo with AK-47s and similar foreign-made assault rifles, not one of which is manufactured in Congo.

Our own lead U.S. diplomat, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, now seems to stand alone – or alone with Rwanda – in insisting that Rwanda is not in Congo. Naturally enough, given that Paul Kagame, an English-speaking Ugandan who led the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) invasion of Rwanda in 1994 and then became the Rwanda’s president to this day, was in military training in the United States, in Leavenworth, Kansas, when he became commander-in-chief of the RPF.

Jendayi Frazer’s insistence that Rwanda is not in Congo becomes more and more difficult to maintain as Eastern Congolese refugees report that Rwandan Army soldiers are fighting with Nkunda in Congo, that Nkunda is from Rwanda, and that the Rwandan Army is bombing, shelling and shooting at them from across their Rwandan border near Goma, in support of Nkunda.

On Oct. 31, Friends of the Congo and the African Faith and Social Justice Network held a protest vigil outside the Rwandan Embassy in Washington D.C., where Congolese civil engineering student Kambale Musavuli took these photographs.

I asked Kambale whether anyone inside the Rwandan Embassy came out to speak to them. He said no, he was pretty sure the Rwandan Embassy called the police, who came out to make sure they had a permit, which they did, and then forced them to move across the street from the embassy anyway.

However, Kambale said, they made their point: Nkunda is Rwandan, Rwanda is in Congo and they will not be quiet about it.

Indeed. Does anyone think that the U.S. national security state would arm and offer military training to Ugandan Paul Kagame, now Rwandan President Paul Kagame, for no purpose of its own, out of the goodness of its heart, or for Africa’s sake?

Rwanda is in Congo, waging a proxy war for Congo’s “geostrategic” mineral wealth, in U.S. corporate and military-industrial interests.

Ann Garrison, a San Francisco writer, can be reached at anniegarrison@thepriceofuranium.com.

Acting on the Congo violence

by Ann Garrison

I had the pleasure and honor of speaking with Kambale Musavuli on Oct. 28, when I called Maurice Carney, executive director of Friends of the Congo, to tell him that the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper had posted a video I’d recommended on Congo and planned to post Kambale’s “What the World Owes Congo.”

“I know who you are,” I said, as soon as Kambale answered Maurice’s phone and told me that he was a civil engineering student at North Carolina Agriculture and Technical College. “I just read your piece in Pambazuka and asked another editor to post it to her website.”

Kambale said thanks and then riveted my attention with everything else he had to say about Congo, especially when he told me that he belonged to a tribe whose name is transliterated as Nandé, but that tribal membership is insignificant in Congo and that the Congolese identify nationally, as Congolese. He thus quickly dismissed the usual propaganda about ethnic conflict, rather than Congo’s vast mineral wealth, as cause of the horrific violence reported there.

However, even as Kambale and I spoke, renegade Gen. Laurent Nkunda’s was leading his highly disciplined, well-armed and ruthless militia towards Goma, the capitol city of Congo’s mineral rich North Kivu Province, causing the catastrophic displacement now growing worse hourly.

I had been writing a piece on what Barack Obama might mean to Africa and the Congo, from an American perspective, what former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, the U.S. Green Party’s dissident African-American presidential candidate, has meant, and about the terms in which both have addressed the Congo crisis.

However, by Oct. 29, all observers declared Laurent Nkunda and his militia firmly in control of North Kivu, with the help of the Rwandan Army bombing, shelling and firing across the Rwandan border, very near Goma. Nkunda then agreed to a cease fire and demanded talks with President Joseph Kabila.

Not only Eastern Congolese, but also the Congolese Army and U.N. peacekeepers had been fleeing Nkunda’s militia in every direction for several days.

So, I felt compelled to put the piece I was working on aside and write an account of the worsening catastrophe, as well as I could understand it, highlighting the U.S. role as provider of weapons and military training to Rwandan President Paul Kagame and thus to his ally, Laurent Nkunda, in Eastern Congo.

This evening I told Maurice Carney that I’d called the Rwandan Embassy, also in Washington, D.C., and quoted fleeing Congolese refugees saying, “The Rwandans are hitting us so hard that we have to run.” I also told the diplomat who answered how appalled I was, but he wanted to argue about how misinformed I was and kept insisting that Rwanda had not invaded Congo.

I told him that very mainstream press like AP, the BBC and Reuters had quoted fleeing Congolese, including children, saying exactly these words, but Rwanda’s diplomat wanted to argue indefinitely and accused me of spreading misinformation – passed to me, of course, by the insidious AP, the BBC and Reuters – so I signed off.

I asked Maurice Carney to send me a photograph of a vigil he and allies had organized outside the Rwandan Embassy in Washington, D.C., to go with my essay for the San Francisco Bay View. Maurice thanked me enthusiastically for calling the Rwandan Embassy and urged me to share the embassy numbers and the story with as many people as possible, so here they are:

• Rwandan Embassy in Washington, D.C., (202) 232-2882,
• Rwandan Embassy in London, 020 722 49 832,
• Rwandan Embassy in Toronto, (613) 569-5420/22/24.

Your calls will be greatly appreciated. Kambale wrote me this note: “I still don’t know where my grandparents are and I have no idea when this war will stop… You give me so much hope to know that people care and are working for my country to be sovereign and free.”

This story originally appeared in Pambazuka News.  Email Ann Garrison at anniegarrison@thepriceofuranium.com.


  1. Let this stupid Nkunda does whatever he is doing. There will be a time for him. It is Congolese CONSPIRACY to distract people, we know it. Keep it up my people, we will win no matter what. they must stop their torture, rape in Congo. we’re just tired!!!!

  2. It is weird that for a few thousands dead in Rwanda everybody talks…another few in the world trade center..a whole Afghanistan and Iraq have to pay the price.. Now what have these 5 million Congolese dead have to do with this??

  3. Well Skym, It was a million Tutsi killed in three months and almost all by machete, spears and blant instruments. Even the Nazis didn’t do it that fast. Most importantly, the people responsible for the said genicide are being sheltered and armed by the DRC government. The blame for this dreadful war should rest at the foot of Joseph Kabila (the President of DRC) for siding with the genocidal forces.
    Nkunda is protecting his people and their teritorial rights as his ancestors did for almost 600yrs in the same teritory.

  4. Anne Garrison’s piece just scratched the surface on the root cause of the war in the eastern DRC. If her anger and frastrations were chanelled into finding the root cause of the said war, she would have written a different piece alltogether.
    The main reason General Nkunda is fighting, is to protect his tutsi community against the FDLR(genocidal forces) who comitted genocide in Rwanda in 1994; whereupon a million tutsi were killed.
    Now, if only The president of DRC can disarm the said genocidal forces within his country then General Nkunda would have no reason to fight. Plain and simple.
    As for Rwandan involvement in this matter, i’m sure they sympathize with Nkunda as Tustsi bloodlines run across the border but Nkunda’s Army doesn’t need Rwandese or American help; they have been warriors since the day before forever.

  5. If Nkunda is fighting to protect his Tutsi community, then why is Rwanda a major exporter of coltan, even though no coltan is mined in Rwanda? The Congolese province bordering Rwanda is the world’s richest source of coltan, yet Congo, according to import export statistics, exports no coltan at all?

    If Nkunda is fighting to protect his Tutsi community, then why did he announce, on October 28, 2008, when the world agreed that he had seized control of North Kivu Province, that he wanted to negotiate with Congolese President Joseph Kabila about China’s contract to exchange $9 billion of infrastructure, in Congo, for mining leases in Katanga Province?

    If Nkunda is fighting to protect his Tutsi community, then why did the Congolese Tutsi community demand that Nkunda get back over the Rwandan border in 2004?

    If Nkunda is fighting to protect his Tutsi community, then why is he infamous, worldwide, for systemic rape, castration, torture, and murder?

    If Nkunda is fighting to protect his Tutsi community, then why have Human Rights Watch, and the International Criminal Court in the Hague, issued warrants for his immediate arrest for crimes against humanity?

  6. Dear Ann, i understand your frastration over the multinationals taking advantage of this war, as you have noticed in history there will always be people willing to profit on human musery and that is inexcusable. People fighting wars will always look for funding within their territory first and at the moment coltan is the key resource funding Nkuda’s side.
    That said, if you assert that Nkunda is just fighting for the coltan;it will be a very simplistic view of his raison d’etre.
    I’m currently resciding in Goma (the town surrounded by Nkunda’s forces),just a few weeks ago our NGO compound was attached and robbed by goverment forces; who wrecked havock by looting,killing and raping within the town. That night, the message that was being broadcasted on the radio was literally encouraging civilians to hunt down all tutsis in Goma. Needless to say this is a divided region.
    As a medical personell,my first posting was in the Ituri region where i seen what the dark part of a human mind is capable of. I had a chance to work in several zones of control; the government zone, mai mai zone, FDLR zone and the Nkunda’s CNDP zone. With my experience, i can ascertain the fact that the most horrendous crimes were committed by the FDLR supported by the government solders with their modus operadi of rape. In the ones patroled and controled by the CNDP, the solders were disciplined rape was almost nonexistent hence i was treating normal maladies.
    Further, in the recent Masisi fighting i was stopped at a roadblock by a joint FDLR and government forces. This unholly alliance has been Nkunda’s raison d’etre. If only the government of DRC can stop supporting the FDLR and have them returned to rwanda where their hyrachy would face justice over their participation in the Genocide of 1994, then Nkunda will have no reason to continue even if he wished.
    At the moment the Tutsis in the Kivu are all behind Nkunda since no one else can guarantee their safty MONUC included.
    I’m not excusing any crimes Nkunda committed but you have to look at the whole picture if you want to fully understand the maihem in the Kivu.
    Note: there is no International Criminal Court Warrant issued on Nkunda, there is only a warrant issued by the government of the DRC.

  7. It kind of surprises me ann, that you almost never answer wih different oppinions, but just keep op screaming your frustation. It would be maybe handful to undertake constructive discussion with your critics.

    Using unfounded allegations to make your point will not bring any support in finding a solution to this conflict.

  8. It´s the minerals. Sorry.
    This being said with full, absolute respect for the tutsi community due the unbearable, unspeakable, holocaust them and hutus of goodwill went through in one of the worst chapters mankind has seen.

    an humanitarian worker in Goma, DRC

  9. I agree with Michael’s statements regarding the role ethnicity plays in the conflict. Yes, the minerals in DRC are a driving force of the conflict. I don’t believe anyone will disupute this. However, the ethnic tension in the region is a driving force as well. This is a complex conflict and the history between Hutu and Tutsi is undeniably important. It is too simplistic to boil the conflict down to one issue (minerals) and ignore the others.

    I also echo Paul Reynders, in that I am somewhat troubled by Ann’s response to Michael’s comments. Responding in frustration and refusing to take a deeper look into all aspects of the conflict is not productive, and is especially harmful to those you are seeking to help.

  10. MIchael, you are somewhere right about ethnicity, but something you should not forget is that ethnicity is between Hutus and Tutsis. Before 1994 there was no ethnicity problem in DRC. So do not call that a DRC problem but a Rwanda problem in Congo. Besides, if Nkunda is there to protect the tutsis in DRC, lately the the Rwandese army conjointly with DRC went for the hunt of these FDLR, well I guess you know the results. First proclamed by the Rwandese goverment as a success. And not long ago, Paul Kagame was again ready to go again for the hunt! What hunt is that, is it still FDLR or minerals.
    The good thing is he is right, there was no FDLR captured instead, he decided to capture his Allie Nkunda all because there was pressure that Rwanda was helping him. And now you know all about Nkunda. Is the Rwandan government ready to give him up? And why? It is clear, he was an instrument.
    Now lately enough houses have been burned in the North Kivu, ladies raped, killed and burned by a group of armed forces speaking kinyarwanda in FARDC uniforms. We all know that after the capture of Nkunda, the CNDP joined the FARDC even though their commands still come from Rwanda (wich is all just a good masquerade of union). Weird about their mission, they do it calling themselves FDLR, which has never been done by real FDLR’s. When the real FDLR’s attack, they do not go proclaiming themselves and besides, who have the FARDC uniforms speaking kinyarwanda? CNDP ofcourse.
    Comming back to the ethnicity issue, the aggression war of Rwanda in DRC, had you ever heard of ethnicity? The sincere answer will be NO! Now where is this coming from? Definitely from Rwanda and among who? Rwandan of course. Now why bring it as a Congolese problem instead of saying it is a Rwandan problem in Congo? And why is it that they have to solve it in Congo and not in Rwanda? The Rwandan goverment was given a chance to come solve it, but you will agree with me that they did not come for FDLR, but for proper exploitation of minerals, that is why they want to come again!
    Let us not try to look for escape goats. Let’s be clear. We all know it is a political and mineral issue. If it was an FDLR problem it could have been solve a long time ago.
    Note: FDLR are not only found in DRC, then why is it that it is only in DRC that they are being hunted?

  11. Let’s also stop saying it’s only the Tutsi who have been genocide. They all have done the same to the Hutus, in Rwanda. Am not so sure about the dates but it is around 1997 and the same has been done in Congo. To be franc, FDLR’s are now instruments of the Tutsi, they have surrendered themselves and no one is chasing anyone, they work together. Maybe I should not say FDLR’s but the majority Hutu tribe.
    Now with their selfish desire of conquering the Congo. they lately wrote a letter to the president Joseph Kabila, conjointly saying that a certain tribe called “Banande” I believe in the Nord Kivu is trying to take their lands…In DR Congo!!!here is the link but it’s in french


    How incredible is that!!! And according to the letter, The Hutu and Tutsi are peaceful communities who always live in peace with their fellow neighbors!!! This is crazy!!
    We all know if there is war in Congo, it’s all about Hutu and Tutsi. Now how can anyone explain that? Now they are bringing their nonsense of Ethnicity from Rwanda to Congo.
    Why is it that now they are not satisfied with minerals, they even want full control of the land?
    Actually that explains the reason why houses have been on and on burned in that region.

    To be short, Rwanda’s greed has gone to far, and it is time to end the lies. Let’s not dramatize the situation, we all know the truth, it is all about minerals and to which the international community uses Rwanda and Uganda to illicitly exploit. So to make it simple, since the FDLR hypothesis is becoming to much of a lie, now they want to over rule the real owners of the land by burning their houses, chiefs and all those inhuman actions.
    Let’s stop being bias, lets be real!

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