Genocide, Rwanda & DRC; UN & State Department by: V.Lyn
Most of us watched the movie Hotel Rwanda in stunned horror, unable to wrap our heads around mans ability for brutality. The scale of the carnage was devastating, the sheer cruelty of the act was appalling as was the sheer venom and brutality of the acts of taking the life of someone who was a neighbor, a friend, co- worker or family member. Even more appalling is when you understand the viciousness extended to the smallest of children, babies barely from their mothers womb. All to often evil has manifested itself in so many ways throughout the ages. In America we have seen 400 years of slavery and oppression, the virtual annihilation of the Native American “nits” is what the settlers and militias called Native American babies and children when they were killed, we have seen the atrocities that Hitler and his leadership inflicted on the Poles, homosexuals, gypsies, blacks and Jews.
In recent months we have laid witness to the murder of hundreds of ethnic Uzbeks inKyrgyzstan by ethnic Kyrgyz . What was their crime? After the ouster of the President they supported the new interim government, that fact along with the failing Kyrgyzstan economy was a recipe for ethnic cleansing. There have been instances of ethnic cleansing in Hungary and in Darfur as well as many other places across the globe. With ethnic cleansing death comes not only from the barbarity but from the disease that follows, the loss of crops and means of subsistence. And the death toll is staggering and shows mercy to know one. Not to the oldest of man or woman or to the youngest of babies, the sole purpose is to ERADICATE, EXTERMINATE and ANNIHILATE the last of a people. It is the devastating knowledge that I think shakes us…the observer… that your death can come from your neighbor, your friend, co-worker and even relative for no other reason than that your ethnicity, religion, faith, politics, race is different than those in control. The one word spoken in the movie Hotel Rwanda that still echos in my ears is “Cockroach”. After the horrors of Rwanda one would think and hope that those who had endured the horror, who had first hand knowledge of the evil that such acts require would vow never to see it repeated.
And yet it is happening again in Rwanda by the army and its allied & rebel militias in retaliation for the crimes perpetrated by the Hutus in 1994 against the Tutsis.
As of november 25th the United States State Department has issued a travel warning against non-essential travel in the Congo. The continued violence in the region has left US citizens vulnerable to the ongoing and escalating violence in the region. The unrest in North and South Kivu provinces and the surrounding area is of great concern with the continued possibility of violence and the high rate of crime in Kinshasa, coupled with transportation and health concerns has caused the State Department to update it’s April 19th warnings.
The State Department also points out that Government soldiers as well as rebel soldiers are perpetrating horrific acts of rape, robbery, kidnapping and murder indiscriminately. They have also operated military exercises and have targeted civilians in the process. Secretary of State Clinton’s remarks at the UN Council on Sudan dated November 16th,2010. http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1705667530?bctid=677505148001
The State Department also suggest extreme health risk in traveling to this region as there have been a rise in deadly diseases and viruses.
Despite the peace treaty of 2008 and UN presence the region is a turbulent zone where armed conflict can be sparked at anytime even in the most peaceful environ. The State Department said in it’s travel warning “In two separate incidents in early April 2010, one in Equateur province in the western DRC and one in South Kivu province in the east, foreigners were kidnapped by armed militia groups. In South Kivu province, eight International Red Cross workers were kidnapped by a group called the Mai Mai Yakutumba, a group that controls its own territory in the region and was formed to resist Rwandan Hutu forces that fled into the DRC after the 1994 genocide. The region has been the scene of violent clashes that have resulted in the displacement of more than 1.9 million civilians since the start of the conflict”. and “You should avoid all public demonstrations and areas where crowds have gathered because even those that are peaceful can turn confrontational and become violent. You should exercise caution at all times, …”
The current conflict involves the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda and includes other countries in the region surrounding the great lakes which include Sudan, Angola as well as others. Of the 31 countries that were on the State Department watch list 15 of them are in mineral rich African countries.
The Congo had a “long period of peace” under the leadership of Totalitarian Dictator Mbutu who named the country Zaire. The Congo once was a refuge for those fleeing regional conflicts. These conflict stemmed from ethnic tensions, politics as in Uganda, the every present religious conflicts and conflicts over who controls valuable mineral rich land. After his overthrow in 1997 by Laurant it was renamed DRC.
An excerpt from World Wild Life org. findings states
[The Rwandan refugees flooded into a country nearing complete economic collapse. Zaïre’s economic decline had taken a vertiginous slide with Mobutu’s program of “Zaïrianization” in the mid-1970s. Soaring fuel costs and a collapse in the price of copper compounded the negative blow from this nationalization of foreign investment. According to some estimates, Zaïre’s national economic growth plummeted from 7 percent at the end of the 1960s to 2 percent at the end of the 1970s (Tshombe 1999). High level corruption and an obsession with personal empire rather than social and economic development led to national asphyxia by the mid-1990s: infrastructures crumbled, national inflation reached four digits, and what had been incipient industry was paralyzed.
It was into this national context that the massive numbers of Rwandan peasants, ex-Rwandan military, and anti-Tutsi guerrillas poured across the Rwanda/Zaïre border and established refugee camps in North and South Kivu. Tension between Hutus, Tutsis, local populations and Mobutu’s forces multiplied throughout the Kivu countryside. In 1996, the ethnic violence reached the Itombwe Mountains west of Lake Tanganyika where there is a significant population of Tutsi known as “Banyamulenge”. Some Banyamulenge had received military training in Rwanda since 1994; they were joined in Zaïre by remnant guerrilla groups (from the muleliste rebellion) and locally formed militias. In late 1996, this coalition swept through the Zaïrian refugee camps on the Rwandan border dislodging massive numbers of Rwandan peasants along with Interahamwe and ex-FAR. Close to 1 million Hutu refugees fled “home” to Rwanda, but still tens of thousands of other refugees fled west into the vast Congolese forests.
Less than a year later, with support from Rwanda, Uganda, and Angola, the disparate rebels that had emptied the refugee camps, a group known as the new Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaïre (ADFL), had marched across the country. They overthrew Mobutu and established a new regime.]
The devastation in the region of the Great Lakes has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives wiping out entire families indiscriminately. It has also devastated the biodiversity of the region as well; deforestation, loss of potential valuable and critical plant life, animals, illegal poaching of hippos, elephants, and of bushmeat which has reached alarming proportions, as well as illegal mining from coltran to gold.
While investment from foreign governments are critical to Africa which has seen support from the U.S., Japan, the EU with pledge dollars, Africa also is being exploited from within and from out. In it’s vigorious campaign to achieve foreign investors to mine their oil, gold , colbolt, coltran, coffee, lumber, etc they have often been lax in regulating harmful practices as observed by UN’s Cheick Sidi Diarra.
The resources pulled out of the region are being used to purchase weapons fueling the continuing violent conflicts. In an attempt to quell the turmoil inAfrica the UN has 70% of its peace keeping forces throughout Africa. Recently the African Union has begun to respond to the internal and external pressures to resolve conflicts.