This letter, signed by Diaspora Congolese women in the U.S., U.K., Belgium, France and South Africa, was delivered to Ambassador Carson on March 20. We are writing to you with regard to the current U.S. policy position on “Lasting Solution to Instability” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which you presented on Feb. 11, 2013, at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
The widows of the assassinated presidents of Rwanda and Burundi have petitioned the Supreme Court in Habyarimana v. Kagame to reject Obama administration claims of unreviewable executive power to strip federal courts of jurisdiction for money damages for “extra-judicial” murders and other violations of international law committed by Paul Kagame, the current president of Rwanda.
On Monday, Feb. 11, outgoing Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson presented an outline of the Obama administration’s policy position on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The purpose of Ambassador Carson’s presentation was twofold: discussing why efforts should be redoubled to bring stability to the Congo and laying out a framework for “moving forward.”
Ingabire returned to her native Rwanda from the Netherlands in January 2010 to stand for the presidency against incumbent President Paul Kagame, but she was not allowed to run and was imprisoned on charges of terrorism and genocide ideology. A court sentenced her to eight years, and her lawyers have filed an appeal with the Rwandan Supreme Court.
The Obama administration was on the defensive about the U.S. relationship with Rwanda and its U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice at the Dec. 11, 2012, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Two days after the hearing, Rice withdrew her name from consideration to become secretary of state. In President Obama’s statement on Susan Rice, issued the same day, he praised her work but did not mention Rwanda, Uganda or Congo.
The deadly conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo continues, as leaders of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Rwandan and Ugandan M23 militia fighting in Congo gather in Uganda’s capital for peace talks, which members of the Congolese political opposition are boycotting.
Congolese problems should have Congolese solutions. We ask that the United States of America and the United Kingdom immediately withdraw all forms of financial and military aid to Rwanda that is a state sponsor of terrorism in Africa. We must pledge to ourselves that we will never again betray our people and ourselves by staying quiet and passive.
Over the last 16 years, more than 6 million lives have been lost in Congo – and the major perpetrators of those atrocities have been U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda. The majority of victims have been children under the age of 5. Subsequent U.S. administrations have provided aid to the Rwandan and Ugandan regimes. The U.S. remains one of the top two donors of aid to Rwanda today.
Joseph Kabila was in Kampala Nov. 20 meeting with Rwanda’s Gen. Paul Kagame and Uganda’s Gen. Yoweri Museveni as the Congo city of Goma fell. Why would Kabila be in Uganda when the UN in a report by a group of experts found that M23, the army that seized Goma, was created, trained, financed and is sustained and commanded by Rwandan and Ugandan officers?
The sham treason trial of Rwanda’s top opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, has finally ended with her expected conviction. The U.S., which recently cut aid to Rwanda for its role in Congo atrocities, must call for Umuhoza’s release. She has been sentenced to eight years in prison by a kangaroo court. Her conviction by the kangaroo court must be set aside.
On Saturday, July 21, 2012, the United States officially announced that it was withholding $200,000 in military aid from the Rwandan government. Although a materially insignificant sum, the symbolism has serious implications for Rwanda’s image and reputation in the global community.
The State Department announced today that the U.S. “has cut this year’s planned military assistance to Rwanda amid concerns that the government in Kigali is supporting rebel movements in neighboring Congo,” according to the Washington Post. A three-year campaign by advocates for peace in the Congo and an end to the plundering of its mineral riches culminates successfully in today’s announcement. They have been pressing for implementation of the only law sponsored by then Sen. Obama allowing denial of aid to Congo's neighbors that destabilize the Congo.
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