Tag: Congolese people
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.
As I write this, on Jan. 8, Congolese are on edge, fearing fraudulent presidential election results and state violence to suppress mass protest. In nearby Gabon, U.S. combat troops are poised to cross borders and invade to protect U.S. citizens and interests as needed. Are they there to make sure that Joseph Kabila, the president they installed and kept in power for 18 years, cedes power to former Exxon-Mobil executive Martin Fayula, their new horse to ride? That’s just my best guess.
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.
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 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.
As Joseph Kabila enters the final year of his presidency, the pressure will increase on him to respect the Constitution and step down in December 2016. Congolese are united in the defense of the Constitution and the protection of the nascent democratic advances that have occurred during the post-war period of the country. If elections are in fact held in 2016, it will be due to the vigilance and pressure coming from the sons and daughters of the Congo.
Earlier this week, the ENOUGH Project to, quote, “end genocide and crimes against humanity,” posted an appeal to consumers titled, “What if Black Friday were conflict-free?” ENOUGH is an NGO operating under the umbrella of the Center for American Progress, a neoliberal Washington D.C.-based Democratic Party think tank. They did not include an appeal to the nation’s weapons manufacturers who require minerals on the U.S. Strategic Minerals list.
A widely feared and anticipated military attack by U.N. and Congolese troops on the FDLR has not materialized, despite U.N. Special Envoy Russ Feingold’s repeated urgings. Instead, this week, the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo rose up in the streets to demand that their Parliament not pass legislation allowing Congolese President Joseph Kabila to extend his stay in office beyond constitutional term limits. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has the story.
In January 2010, Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza returned from The Netherlands to Rwanda to attempt to run against sitting President Paul Kagame. She said she knew that she would be either assassinated or imprisoned, and she is now entering the fifth year of a 15-year prison sentence. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Marie Lyse Numuhoza, the founder of Friends of Victoire, a new organization created to fight for her freedom.
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.
In a blatant violation of the Congolese Constitution and of the rules and regulations governing the DRC health care system, Congolese President Joseph Kabila ordered the seizing of the bank account of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, the hospital founded and run by Dr. Denis Mukwege. Joseph Kabila is persecuting Panzi and Dr. Mukwege in a way that no legitimate president of the citizens of a country should.
The dominant challenge facing Congolese people is the lengths to which President Joseph Kabila will go to maintain a stranglehold on power. This unresolved question represents the greatest threat to peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It will continue to dominate the political landscape through 2016, when Kabila is Constitutionally mandated to leave office.
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.
As a coalition of Africa-focused human rights and peace organizations representing a broad range of individuals, we write to express our dismay at your decision to welcome President of Rwanda Paul Kagame to your universities. We regret to inform you that your invitation of Paul Kagame to your institution co-signs his repressive practices inside Rwanda and his aggressive interventions in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
This week’s mining and business headlines reported that Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler turned a nearly 30,000 percent profit by buying the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s oil rights in waters off its Atlantic Coast in 2006, then selling the same rights back to them six years later. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to anti-corruption and resource theft watchdog Global Witness and filed this report.
At the end of November, headlines around the world announced the Congolese Army’s defeat of the M23 militia, with the help of U.N. intervention forces. Since that time, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been under pressure from Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and his so-called mediators, and from US Envoy Russ Feingold and U.N. Envoy Mary Robinson, to sign an agreement with M23.
Twenty-six year-old Congolese American science student Alima Kasongo should inspire anyone facing enormous odds, most of all her own Congolese people, who have faced the most enormous odds thrown at any people in the world for so many years. For good reason, many have said that if there were peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), there would be peace on earth.
The 17-year quest for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo has taken a significant step in the right direction; however, many concerns remain. Last week the Congolese military routed the Rwanda- and Uganda-backed M23 and declared an end to its reign of terror against the Congolese people.
Rwanda’s M23 has finally been defeated in DR Congo, but what are we to make of DR Congo negotiating with M23, not Rwanda’s Kagame and Uganda’s Museveni? M23 was commanded by Rwanda’s top military officers and officials, but its collaboration with Uganda is clear to anyone who gives the Great Lakes Region any attention, as is Rwanda and Uganda’s collaboration with the Western powers.
Earlier this year, President Obama asked how one might weigh the “tens of thousands who’ve been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo.” But as tragic and devastating as the Congo conflict is, Congolese are not asking for the United States – or the international community – to militarily intervene.
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