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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.
America’s Declaration of Independence has served as a model for other nations. One hundred sixty-nine years after its ratification, on Sept. 2, 1945, the leader of the independence movement in Viet Nam, Ho Chi Minh, stood in Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi to deliver his Proclamation of the Birth of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, “Tuyen Ngon Doc Lap Viet Nam Dan Chu Cong Hoa.”
Excerpts from remarks by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova delivered April 19, 2018 – And now I am asking everyone to fasten their belts. During a briefing on the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) report held for the international diplomatic community on April 13, UK Ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow said that “the Russian state has a record in state-sponsored assassinations including in the UK.”
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.
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.
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.
Rwanda Day-San Francisco was a bad day for identity politics. Rwandan President Paul Kagame stepped to the podium and said that he was happy to be in San Francisco because it’s so diverse, seeming not to understand that his guest speaker, Rev. Rick Warren, champion of the 2008 Prop 8 ballot measure banning same sex marriage, wouldn’t appeal to San Francisco’s diverse population.
Since 1994, Rwanda and the international community invested tremendous resources in acknowledging, documenting, remembering and bringing to justice the perpetrators of the genocide against Tutsi. Sadly, though well documented by the international community and known by the victims, there has never been an acknowledgement that the crimes committed against the Rwandan Hutu fully satisfy the definition of genocide according to the Genocide Convention of 1948.
U.S. U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the U.S. State Department, the E.U. and Belgium have fiercely advocated for the deployment of 5,000 African Union troops in Burundi, whether Burundi agrees or not. Senegalese diplomat Ibrahima Fall, the African Union’s special representative to the African Great Lakes Region, told Radio France International that deploying AU troops without Burundi’s consent was “unimaginable.”
Rwandan intelligence chief Emmanuel Karenzi Karake was arrested last Saturday in London on a European arrest warrant. The warrant was based on a Spanish court’s 2008 indictment of Karake and 39 other top Rwandan officials for genocide – that is, the massacre of Rwandan Hutu civilians and refugees in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has the story.
On Oct. 1, 2014, BBC2 broadcast a documentary, “Rwanda’s Untold Story,” on the tragedies which have devastated the Great Lakes Region of Africa since 1990. The signatories of this appeal wish to congratulate and express their support to the BBC journalists and management who have significantly contributed to establishing the previously ignored historical truth.
The BBC documentary, “Rwanda: The Untold Story,” has become the subject of fierce argument including many open letters to the BBC both applauding and attacking it. Paul Kagame accused the BBC of “genocide denial” and his state newspaper, The New Times, even called on the International Criminal Court to indict the network and/or its producers. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to international criminal defense attorney Peter Erlinder.
“Kill Team” is a very well put together documentary about a number of U.S. soldiers based in Afghanistan who were caught being a part of a kill team that would routinely kill innocent civilians. This documentary is for anybody fascinated by the mentality and psychology promoted in the U.S. military to get their paid mercenary soldiers ready to steal resources and control populations on an international level.
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.
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.
Secretary of State John Kerry made headlines this week when he suggested, at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, that President Obama might soon be visiting Africa. Kerry gave no details about when or which countries. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney about the president’s relationship to the continent of his father’s birth.
Late last week, the Security Council approved the creation of what it called its first-ever “offensive” combat force, with a mandate to carry out targeted operations to “neutralize and disarm” the notorious March 23 or M23 militia, as well as other Congolese rebels and foreign armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Until now, U.N. peacekeeping forces’ only explicit mandate has been the protection of civilians.
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.
Congolese people are seeking peace and justice. Trying Bosco Ntaganda at the ICC may lead to some measure of justice for the crimes perpetrated at his behest; however, it appears that his backers in Rwanda may very well be let off the hook yet again and allowed to continue their military aggression against the DRC.
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.
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