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The Congolese woman in eastern Congo – the rape capital of the world – has gotten tired of being gang-raped, of being mutilated, of having 3-to-5-foot wooden sticks shoved through her genitals after being gang-raped, then being killed or buried alive. So she has taken up a weapon now in order to defend her baby, her own body, her humanity, her village, her community and her country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“Rwanda’s Untold Story,” a controversial BBC documentary first aired in the U.K. on Oct. 1, undermines the rationale for military action against the FDLR fighters in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North Kivu Provinces. The FDLR has been described as the militia that committed the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, but the documentary suggests that no one was more responsible than Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame himself.
As the Ebola outbreak rages and there are projections of more than 1.4 million persons infected in the next few months, the African Union and the regional bloc ECOWAS have taken a back seat as the international media uses this virus to stigmatize Africa and Africans. Pious statements have been made by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the World Bank warns that Ebola could have “catastrophic” economic costs on the region of Western Africa.
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.
Gen. Paul Kagame ordered the shooting down of the plane in which President Habyarimana and President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi, French citizens, and all others on board were killed on April 6, 1994. This assassination triggered the genocide. Since then President Kagame has imposed a reign of terror to keep himself and the ruling party in absolute power.
An international argument between French and Rwandan officials broke out this week after Rwandan President Gen. Paul Kagame accused the French of playing a direct role in the political preparation of genocide in an interview with Jeune Afrique. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira canceled her plan to attend the genocide commemoration in Kigali, but then the Rwandan government announced that they had canceled her invitation anyway.
On Dec. 21, 2011, St. Charles Borromeo School, the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Principal Dean, Superintendent Maureen Huntington and others were named as parties in a civil rights lawsuit filed in California’s Superior Court on behalf of Mildred Kayondo and her son, who is now 14, yet still suffers from the appalling, repeated abuse and indifference he experienced at St. Charles Borromeo. The jury trial – after nearly two years of litigation by attorneys Richard L. Richardson and Joel Siegal – is now set for July 14.
On Sept. 26, 2013, an article with the title “Disabled and riding a wheelbarrow: a father’s love” explained how Eunice Atim and Sarah Atiano of Uganda, Africa, lacked wheelchairs that could enable them to get around and go back to school. Though the article indicated that Eunice Atim greatly doubted that she’d receive a wheelchair, this happened opposite to what she thought.
The Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan all share borders. Each of these three countries is now engulfed in tribal or religious sectarian violence, and Uganda, a longtime U.S. military partner, has troops in both the Central African Republic and South Sudan. U.S. Special Forces have been on the ground with Ugandan troops in both countries since 2011.
The South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy is based in both Juba and Kampala, the capitals of South Sudan and Uganda. In a statement published in the New York City-based Black Star News, they called South Sudan’s President Kiir and Uganda’s President Museveni an unholy alliance and called on the international community not to let Museveni destroy South Sudan.
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.
Earlier this week, in the northeasternmost province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, which borders Central African Republic, South Sudan and Uganda, the U.N.’s special combat intervention brigade, which includes South African troops, used South African helicopter gunships to fire on the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) militia.
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.
The Congolese army, with the help of the UN Force Intervention Brigade, decisively defeated the M23 militia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern Kivu Provinces this week, but many Congolese, Rwandans, and Ugandans, are asking why the Democratic Republic of the Congo is now engaged in peace talks with the M23, and not with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
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.
This week the Congolese army, backed by the U.N. Force Intervention Brigade, was widely reported to be driving the last of Rwanda’s M23 militia from their positions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s most war ravaged province, North Kivu, on eastern Congo’s border with Rwanda. At the same time, Western elites stepped forward to tell the world what’s best for Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo now.
Gina M. Paige explained that the organization, African Ancestry, started with Dr. Rick Kittles, genetic researcher at Howard University who was interested in isolating the gene that caused prostate cancer, one of the leading causes of death in our community. He found this research methodology applicable in other genetic detective research and so in 2003 African Ancestry was founded with Ms. Paige.