The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the heart of Black Africa. Millions of Congolese have been murdered, massacred, enslaved, robbed of their resources and driven from their homes since the Berlin Conference gave the “Congo Free State” to Belgium’s King Leopold II as his personal property in 1885. I spoke to Jean-Claude Maswana about the latest waves of aggression under current Congolese President Joseph Kabila.
The Congo crisis is now one of the greatest humanitarian emergencies in the world and the most underreported. An average of 5,500 people a day flee violence and insecurity, even more than in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Unlike Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, however, the Congo wars are undeclared and there’s no front line. There are instead many wars over many concentrations of resource wealth in this immensely resource-rich country, especially in the eastern provinces.
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.
Former Wisconsin senator, now U.S. special envoy to the Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo Russ Feingold held an online press conference with members of the African press in Africa earlier this week. He said that the FDLR had not surrendered enough of its troops to satisfy the U.N. Security Council’s requirement and that military action was therefore required.
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.
One may reasonably argue that Rwanda, Uganda and any of those poor African countries contributing U.N. peacekeepers have no interest in peace around the continent. Based on the current financing structure of U.N. peacekeeping operations, these poor countries have a lot of financial incentives to create instability within Africa so that they can send in their “peacekeeping” troops and make some much needed cash.
On Monday, March 18, major news outlets all over the world reported East African warlord Gen. Bosco Ntaganda had crossed the border from DR Congo into Rwanda and “surrendered” at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali. Rwandan American law professor Charles Kambanda spoke to KPFA about Ntaganda and why the story of his surrender is thoroughly implausible.
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.”
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.
Knowing of the vast reservoir of strength of the Congolese people, more important than its mineral wealth, one can expect a uniquely Congolese solution to finally securing a government that is accountable to its own citizens. With 70 million people, half under the age of 18 and half women, the future of the Congo is in the hands of the Congolese.
On these days that mark the 2011 General Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we call on all Congolese leaders of political parties, members of political parties, members of the armed forces and the police to demonstrate their respect for human rights, freedom of expression and choices as well as respect for the right of Congolese to live in peace and human security.