Obama could end Congo’s human catastrophe

by Ann Garrison

“Obama,” in this headline on my June 4, 2012, KPFA Evening News Report, is shorthand for whatever moves U.S. foreign policy, although, at the same time, President Obama is, according to the Constitution, the U.S. commander-in-chief, with absolute executive authority over the U.S. military. And he knows the truth about the Democratic Republic of Congo. I explained that here in the SF Bay View, on Oct. 1, 2010, in “Obama’s Congo moment: Genocide, the U.N. report and Senate Bill 2125,” my analysis of the only legislation that will ever bear Sen. Obama’s name alone. The New York City-based Black Star News gave the same analysis a simpler headline on Oct. 7, 2010: “Congo Genocide: Obama Knows the Real Story.”

President Obama would need political consensus to back up a decision that the human catastrophe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo must end. He would need consensus to go against years of U.S. military and geostrategic alliance with Ugandan and Rwandan strongmen Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame and insist, instead, that the U.S. must stop collaborating with the military dictators and international criminal networks preying on the Congolese people, stealing their vast resources and leaving millions of war dead in their wake.

President Obama made no mention of his 2006 Congo legislation during his 2008 presidential run. Very few know that one of his own top trade advisors, Nigerian American billionaire Kase Lawal, was, in a 2011 U.N. investigative report, implicated in a gold smuggling deal with Bosco Ntaganda in Congo. Or that Kase Lawal’s name has since been removed from the list of members of the president’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

As president of the United States and commander-in-chief, Obama could begin to build consensus for peace and justice in Congo, the heart of Africa, simply by speaking the truth in his own legislation. It’s unlikely that he will because it would shock and alarm his handlers and funders, like so many things that Obama’s former or current supporters have imagined he could do. But the text of the legislation stands on its own, with Sen. Obama’s name on it. It includes essential elements of the truth in 11 years of U.N. investigations referred to in this KPFA Evening News report. – Ann Garrison

KPFA Evening News, broadcast June 2, 2012

The Congo conflict and human catastrophe has continued despite a peace treaty formally ending the Second Congo War in 2003. It entered a new phase with the Rwandan backed CNDP rebellion in the Kivu Provinces in April 2012. Ugandan reporter, television producer and broadcaster Paul Ndiho told KPFA that everyone knows who is doing what in Congo, but that regional and international powers are unwilling to stop it.

Transcript

KPFA Evening News Anchor Cameron Jones: Tens or some say hundreds of thousands of villagers continue to flee escalating military conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, as reported this week by the Associated Press, BBC, Aljazeera and other international outlets. The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees says this has caused a humanitarian crisis in overcrowded refugee camps within Congo and in camps on the other side of its eastern borders.

Who is responsible? Some, including Human Rights Watch and the International Criminal Court, have laid blame most of all on East African military commander Bosco Ntaganda. Others say that Ntaganda is just the latest fall guy for an international criminal network. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has the story.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Who is responsible for the new phase of Congo’s armed violence and ongoing human catastrophe? Is it Bosco Ntaganda, the East African military commander indicted by the International Criminal Court and accused by Human Rights Watch and the international press reproducing Human Rights Watch releases?

Serious Africa scholars, human rights investigators and journalists say that Ntaganda is no doubt a war criminal but, at the same time, no more than a midlevel warlord, a fall guy and an international bogeyman, much like Joseph Kony, the personification of evil compared to Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler in the viral video “KONY 2012.”

Wire services and outlets including the London Independent, Huffington Post, Yahoo News and Aljazeera have identified Bosco Ntaganda as a Congolese general, but the 2006 International Criminal Court indictment says that the court believes him to be a Rwandan national.

This week, Human Rights Watch said that Rwanda was supporting the armed uprising in Congo with recruits, arms and supplies. And dissident Congolese members of Parliament walked out when the chamber prepared to go into closed session to discuss Congo’s relationship with Rwanda.

At a May 22 U.N. press briefing, Roger Meece, head of the U.N. Peacekeeping Mission in Congo, dodged a question from Inner City Press, a New York City-based investigative outlet, as to Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s history and relationship with Bosco Ntaganda and the CNDP militia.

Roger Meece: Ah, regarding Bosco Ntaganda, I certainly have not seen or I’m not aware of any specific statements that President Kagame has made that Bosco should not be arrested. In terms of past connections, I think you’re fully aware of, of the history of the war, of the settlement, of the agreements reached. I don’t think we have time here to go into an extensive discussion of all of that.

KPFA: Ugandan broadcast journalist Paul Kato Ndiho, a producer and reporter for the Voice of America, told KPFA that Ntaganda is just one commander of the CNDP militia, backed by Rwanda and Uganda, but a minor player who can be replaced. He said that, to understand the root of the conflict, one would have to follow the money to whomever is introducing weapons into the region, because none of these weapons are manufactured there or even in Africa.

Paul Kato Ndiho: The U.N. had an embargo on Congo, for all these years, there’s been an embargo. But does it surprise you that these guys continue to get arms?

KPFA: KPFA asked Ndiho whether regional and international enforcement actors are aware of the past 11 years of U.N. reports documenting the existence of an international criminal network, including the governments of Uganda and Rwanda, multinational mining, oil and gas, and timber corporations, multinational banks, the World Bank, and bilateral Western donor nations, including the U.S., organized to militarize, destabilize, and plunder the Congo. Ndiho said that this is well known, that the reports have been read, but that there is no international law enforcement apparatus willing to act to stop it.

Paul Kato Ndiho: They know the key players. They know who is involved in doing what, but the only problem is that the people who are involved are Western allies, and nobody wants to touch those people. If the international community would, maybe, want to go after these people, it would only take a couple of statements by the U.N. Security Council, Mr. Ban Ki-moon saying something about it, even the U.S. president calling some of these guys out, and actions would be taken. But everybody knows who is involved, who is doing what in the Congo, but they can’t touch them. Somehow they are also getting away with murder.

KPFA: For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Star News, the Newsline EA (East Africa) and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, Weekend News on KPFA and her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at ann@afrobeatradio.com. This story first appeared on her website.

In this March 2, 2011, congressional briefing about the Oct. 1, 2010, U.N. report documenting atrocities committed by Congo’s neighbors in Congo, Bernadette Mafuta Nkoy, a senator from a minority opposition party in the Democratic Republic of Congo, told the audience that everybody knows who was responsible for killing 200,000 Hutu people in Tingi Tingi and Mbandaka, inside Congo’s borders, and that when they come to the West, they have V.I.P. privilege,” she says. “They always talk about the genocide in Rwanda, with 1 million people,” she said, “but in DRC, with 6 million people, people try to minimize the impact. The war became an economic war.”

She went on to say that her own Congolese government has been protecting the ICC indicted warlord Bosco Ntaganda.