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Stop Being an Ostrich When it Comes to Rwanda's Role in the DRCJennifer Fierberg, MSW Salem-News.com
Over 5 million people have perished in the Congo wars. FIVE MILLION PEOPLE ...why?
(WASHINGTON DC) - The Sub Saharan region of Africa has been watched closely by the international community as of late. The news coming out of the region has many human rights activists and organizations asking a lot of questions about what is really going on between Rwanda and the DR Congo.
Last week President Kagame gave a very revealing press conference in Rwanda at the closing of the Gacaca Courts where he answered questions about the successes and imperfections of the process. The reporters in the room had many more questions about the UN, Rwanda and its role in the continued destabilization in the Congo.
It is no secret that President Kagame does not like being questioned by reporters and was evident in this press conference as he became increasingly angered by the journalists with the exception of a few staged questions by his regional media supporters.
Most analysts have stated that his display of outrage and impatience was surprising, even for President Kagame, and many stated he may need new advisors to better prepare him for such situations. President Kagame made his position on the Congo very clear, “Rwanda should not be held accountable for the problems in the Congo” and that “Rwanda has no responsibility in the Congo.”
During the 90 minute conference he continually denied any contact with the M23, the current rebel group that has been making noise in the Congo, as well as denying any role in the ongoing conflict on the ground.
Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs along with three top security officers made a trip to the UN in New York to continue the narrative that Kagame had begun weeks before. Her position on the DRC was clear in that, again, Rwanda is not to blame for the problems in the Congo nor is there any Rwandan presence in the Congo and insisted that government officials have urged the M23 to put down their weapons and take up talks with the Congolese government.
These back to back press conferences were ahead of the UN’s Group of Experts (GoE) report that has been released concerning the ongoing state of unrest in the Congo. There is a long history of conflict between Rwanda and the Congo under the current ruling regime in Rwanda from just after the end of the Rwandan Genocide when Rwanda invaded the Congo in 1996 and 1998 stating their reason for doing so was in order to protect the country from Interahamwe forces that had fled the country into neighboring DRC.
Over 5 million people have perished in the Congo between these wars. To comprehend the death of 5 million people should make one pause and ask...why?
Although, asking that question in Rwanda can get you arrested or cost you your life. Later today, June 29 2012, Victoire Ingabire will be sentenced to, what most believe, will be life imprisonment in Rwanda for challenging the RPF narrative of the 1994 Genocide. She has spent the last two years languishing in a Rwandan jail, enduring a trial where no socio-political, journalist or regional analyst has ever believed she would get a fair trial.
Mrs. Ingabire courageously attended every day her trial through all of the extra-judicial gymnastics that the legal system could throw at her until she finally gave up and realized that her trial was never about fairness or judicial impartiality and stopped going to court and advised her lawyers to do the same.
The international community has sadly remained silent on her plight with the exception of a few reporters and human rights groups who have protested her trial from the beginning. One has to wonder if reports her pending life sentence will get the attention of the international community regarding “justice” in Rwanda.
The UN released their report on the Congo earlier this week, but much to the surprise of the public there was no mention of Rwanda and the alleged RPF role in the continued destabilization in the region. The UN then announced that the Annex /Addendum regarding Rwanda would be released at a later date after Rwanda has had a chance to review it and respond to it.
This news sent a number of Congo Human rights activists and Friends of Congo to social media urging anyone concerned to contact the UN, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as President Barak Obama to release the report and allow the public to see what Rwanda’s role has been according to the UN’s GoE. The UN agreed to these terms and has released the report to the BBC and Reuters who have both reported on it.
A smaller portion of the report was leaked to the public and it turned out to be quite contradictory to the cyclical narrative that Rwanda’s government officials have been giving. The leaked portion can be found at http://turtlebay.
*Direct assistance in the creation of M23 through the transport of weapons and soldiers through Rwandan territory;
*Recruitment of Rwandan youth and demobilized ex-combatants as well as Congolese refugees for M23;
*Provision of weapons and ammunition to M23;
*Mobilization and lobbying of Congolese political and financial leaders for the benefit of M23;
*Direct Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) interventions into Congolese territory to reinforce M23;
*Support to several other armed groups as well as FARDC mutinies in the eastern Congo;
*Violation of the assets freeze and travel ban through supporting sanctioned individuals.
It seems quite obvious that Rwanda does not want this information released and the public is sure to see their ready defense in the days to come. So far the response from the Rwandan Government has been that it has been unprofessional for the UN to release this information before they have had a chance to review it and respond accordingly. Yet, that in not a denial of the information contained therein.
Just a few hours ago the Humanitarian Organization Friends of the Congo released a press release entitled “Great Lakes of Africa Coalition Calls for U.S. Action to End Instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo” in which they ask for President Obama and Sec. of State Hillary Clinton to fully enforce PL 109-456 Section 105 that gives power to the US Secretary of State to withhold aid from neighboring countered deemed to destabilize the Congo. Further Friends of the Congo states:
It is time for the International community to stop playing a game of Ostrich when it comes to what is happening in Central Africa. The mineral rich DRC has become a playground for companies to rape the land of its minerals for financial gain, for militia groups to rape the women and children in order to gain power to play to these international financial groups and for whole communities to stop being slaughtered in cold blood for the sake of money. It is a sick game and human cost has gone too far.
_________________________________Jennifer Fierberg is a social worker in the US working on peace and justice issues in Africa with an emphasis on the crisis in Rwanda and throughout the central region of Africa. Her articles have been published on many humanitarian sites that are also focused on changing the world through social, political and personal action.
Jennifer has extensive background working with victims of trauma and domestic violence, justice matters as well as individual and family therapy. Passionate and focused on bringing the many humanitarian issues that plague the African Continent to the awareness of the developed world in order to incite change. She is a correspondent, Assistant Editor, and Volunteer Coordinator for NGO News Africa through the volunteer project of the UN. Jennifer was also the media co-coordinator and senior funding executive for The Africa Global Village. You can write to Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jennifer comes to www.Salem-News.com with a great deal of experience and passion for working to stop human right violation in Africa.
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