During a recent campaign event, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson said: “That story of Rwanda is very instructive to us because when a place gets so tribal that the two tribes won’t have anything to do with each other, and that jealousy turns into hate – we saw what happened to the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda, it turned into a genocide. A million people hacked to death within a few months. And we have got to watch what’s happening here.”
On Feb. 12, 2018, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that there were 4.49 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 630,500 refugees in neighboring countries. The IDP population had nearly doubled in the previous year alone, mainly as a result of clashes and armed attacks. This week I spoke to Swiss Congolese historian and activist Bénédicte Kumbi Ndjoko about recent developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Syria has long dominated international headlines while the big powers discuss the possibility of dividing it into smaller, more homogeneous states along ethnic or religious lines. The Democratic Republic of Congo is rarely if ever at the top of the Western headlines, but heads of state and so-called experts have long made similar proposals to carve out new, smaller, more homogeneous nations in Congo’s resource-rich eastern provinces. I spoke with Congolese scholar and activist Boniface Musavuli about the plans.
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.
Last year the African Union resisted Western pressure to intervene militarily in Burundi. On Oct. 26, Burundi officially completed its withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) without being indicted. Western powers, NGOs and press have accused Burundi of human rights abuse within its own borders but not of invading another country. I asked Canadian lawyer David Paul Jacobs, an expert in international law, to contextualize this distinction.
In October 2016, the tiny East African nation of Burundi made history by raising an independent head against U.S. empire. Its legislature voted to withdraw from membership in the International Criminal Court, a tool that the U.S. and its Western allies use to discipline unruly African leaders – especially those who sign resource extraction contracts with Russia or China and/or those who try to do anything for their own people. The Burundian government fits both descriptions.
Venezuela Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez recently tweeted that the “U.S. State Department deployed its ambassadors in the region to attack Venezuela. We come with renewed vigor to defeat them at the OAS.” So said, so done. Last week, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana Perry Holloway spewed the U.S. false narrative regarding Venezuela in our local newspapers. U.S. ambassadors in a number of other Caribbean countries did the same. It was a coordinated attempt to mislead the people of Guyana and the region about what is really happening in Venezuela.
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.
Last week, Theodore A. Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT, released his analysis of the White House statement claiming intelligence findings that prove the Syrian government was responsible for the nerve agent attack on April 4, 2017, in Khan Shaykhun, Syria. “What it indicates is a willingness on the part of high-level people in the White House to distort, to use intelligence claims that are false to make political points and political arguments,” he said. But his statement has reached only a tiny audience.
I had a hard time writing a KPFA-Berkeley Radio News report last Saturday. I was trying to report on the racist, Christian fundamentalism of NPR commentator Scott Simon and Canadian Gen. Romeo Dallaire, both of whom argue that God and the devil are manifest in Syria, as they were in Rwanda in 1994. Dallaire even adds that “the white man” – his words – has a moral obligation to intervene on God’s behalf.
“A Brilliant Genocide” tells the story of the Acholi Genocide that President Yoweri Museveni and his army committed against the Acholi people during their 20-year war and occupation of the Acholi homeland in northern Uganda, from 1986 to 2006. Museveni waged that war in the name of fighting Kony and claimed to be protecting the Acholi, not destroying them. RT will air “A Brilliant Genocide” on Oct. 1.
Last week the U.S. helped its Saudi pals bomb another hospital and school in Yemen. Don’t imagine that its intentions are any more humanitarian in Burundi just because they’re not selling fighter bomber jets and guided bombs to their pal Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president for life. Kagame is intent on bringing down President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government in Burundi, as Saudi sheikhs are intent on bringing down the Houthi government in Yemen.
Republican Newt Gingrich, long known for his fascistic views, recently declared that “Western Civilization is in a war.” Truth be told, he is on solid ground. Indeed, Western Civilization is in a war, a war that has been raging since its inception. It has been at war with itself and with the entire non-European world for centuries. Long before anyone heard of Jihadists, Al-Qaeda and ISIL, Western Civilization was at war.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee questioned Marine Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, President Obama’s nominee to become the next four-star general commanding AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command. Most of the discussion focused on the conflict in Libya, where territory is now controlled by seven different forces. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.
Since March, Western press and policymakers have warned of a genocide in Burundi and suggested that Burundi’s minority Tutsi population is in danger. Supporters of President Pierre Nkurunziza say that the key social divide in Burundi is not Hutu and Tutsi, but urban and rural. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to William Ndizeye, a Burundian Canadian supporter of the Burundian government.
When the African world revolution lost Dedon Kamathi, we lost an organizer’s organizer, a void that will definitely be very hard to fill. I talked to one of Dedon’s close comrades in the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party, Munyiga Lumumba, so that he could give the people who didn’t know Dedon like we did a glimpse into the politics and the spirit that made Dedon Dedon.
Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney writes that this statement, found after Dedon Kamathi’s death earlier this month, is a “letter that Dedon wrote in the case of his demise during the trip that he and I took together to Syria while it was under attack from U.S. imperial forces. This letter, I believe, is critical to understand who Dedon was and how committed he was to his community. He was ready to give his life for his beliefs and for us.”
Dedon Kamathi, a former Black Panther and Central Committee member of the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party, passed away at the end of August after suffering a stroke. I first spoke with Dedon way back in the 1980s when I was arranging to bring Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) to speak in my then hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii. Dedon was one of the first revolutionary Black internationalists I was to get to know and work with, and his loss hit me hard.
In a time when true friendship is a lost art, I can truly say that Dedon Kamathi was my friend. How difficult it is for me to use the past tense. Dedon would say that he was my most loyal follower. But the truth of it was that he was my leader. His favorite saying was “Ready for the Revolution.” Dedon was ready for the revolution, but the community that he gave so much to continues in its state of unreadiness.
Loretta Lynch, Obama’s nominee for attorney general, has cited her service as special counsel to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda as a credential, unlike her controversial 2012 settlement with the HSBC bank after the bank admitted to facilitating money-laundering by Mexican drug cartels. Critics of the International Criminal Court and the dominant narrative about the Rwandan massacres dispute the account.