Tag Archives: Congo Genocide

Deadly Silence: Rwanda’s Never Again Is Once Again?

The following article from a Rwandan genocide Survivor was originally published in the Huffington Post. The international community continues to remain quiet while the region and especially Rwanda continues its downward spiral. This time, the international community cannot claim ignorance.

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People often say, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” As a Rwandan Genocide survivor, I would not be alive if not for good people who stood up, advocated for, and protected me, facilitating my ultimate survival amidst the deafening silence of the international community. I was nine-years-old when I found myself caught in a maelstrom of violence that threatened to destroy everything I knew and held dear. And in many ways, all of those things, including family, friends, neighbors, home, and communities were destroyed.

I remember having a group of men wrap me in a blanket and smuggling me to a safe house in a different neighborhood. Petrified, I watched as these men accosted and negotiated with my would-be killers on a daily basis to save my life. I watched in horror and helplessness as my mother and brother were taken from my sister, young cousin and I to be killed. My mother and brother were told they had reached the end of their lives, and were then given tools to dig their own graves. Through the intervention of old friends, strangers, and new allies, my mother and brother’s lives were spared, and our family was reunited.

I cannot imagine how my life would have been different had these individuals not intervened. They placed themselves and their families in danger by advocating for us. In our darkest moments I witnessed the zenith of human compassion. I saw the beauty and potential of the human spirit when good people unite for a good cause. Farmers, street kids, courageous women with children raised their voices against a group of evil doers. Through their acts of solidarity, lives were spared. My faith in humanity was reassured even in the midst of so much violence, death, and destruction. Sadly though, the international community remained silent about what was taking place in my country.

As I watch today the increasingly disturbing downward spiral in my country of birth, I am once again reminded of the international community’s complicity and silence in the destruction of an entire nation. In recent times, when the first woman ever to run for president in my country was attacked by a mob, there was silence. While local newspapers were shut down, their writers exiled, and others incarcerated, I witnessed nothing but shrugs from the international community. When Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reported on the growing repression and jailing of an increasing number of people based on vague laws applied to political opponents of the ruling regime, I saw nothing but rationalization from the international community.

Recently, Peter Erlinder, an American lawyer and professor who is representing a hopeful presidential candidate, was jailed in Rwanda. His arrest and subsequent charges were based on his work as a defense lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. He stands accused of genocide ideology and negationism, the same crimes of which his client is also accused. As a genocide survivor, I take genocide crimes very seriously and strongly believe that each and every perpetrator of these crimes should be brought to justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I also believe that each accused deserves and must be accorded a fair trial. The right to a fair trial and due process is a highly valued universal principle. Therefore I am perplexed by the silence around the professor’s arrest, and the length of time it took the international community to intervene.

Due to Rwanda’s economic progress, some of which is unfortunately derived from Congolese minerals and “supply side economics,” human rights abuses are mere inconveniences to those strictly focused on economic growth. While Rwanda has become one of the most praised and progressive economies in Africa, the international community has watched it ravage neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo with impunity. An estimated six million Congolese lives have been claimed, and tragically, half of those deaths are children under the age of five.

The Rwandan Genocide was catastrophic. I know… I was there. And I survived. However, it should not be used as a pretext for repressing freedom of others and destroying innocent lives. Although the international community still remains silent in the face of all these grotesque abuses and human rights violations within and outside of Rwanda, the potential positive impact the international community could have on the situation should not be underestimated.

I witnessed first hand the power of good people who cared for a frightened 9 year old girl and her family. Everyday people opened their mouths and raised their voices. My family, especially my mother and brother, was spared because of ordinary people’s courageous acts of generosity. I am eternally grateful to have lived to share my story. With all that is taking place in Rwanda today, especially the present-day eerie similarities to the pre-1994 genocide period, will the international community intervene now? One can only imagine the millions of lives that could be saved.

Alice Gatebuke is a Rwandan Genocide and war survivor, Cornell University graduate, and a human rights activist. She can be reached at gatebuke.alice@gmail.com.

A Great Loss to the World

Floribert Chebeya Bahizire of the Voix des Sans Voix (Voice of the Voiceless) was a great human rights activist based in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Abused, Jailed, and tortured by the subsequent governments over the last two decades but he persevered. To say that he will be missed in a major understatement. He was one of the people in the world that lived to ensure the well being of his fellow human beings.

Chebeya was found dead on June 2 in Kinshasa (DR Congo), in his car after he had been summoned for a meeting with Police Chief General John Numbi. Activists who saw Chebeya in the morgue say that he had blood in his face and was bruised.  General Numbi, well known for his human rights abuses, murder and for his association with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Rwandan General James Kabarebe was suspended from his duties with the Congolese police. It is unclear whether there will be an independent investigation into this, but the involvement of Numbi in his death would not be surprising given the general’s past and the multiple threats received by Chebeye from police and authorities over the years.

The Joseph Kabila clique in power cannot be trusted to carry out an impartial investigations as they are close to General Numbi. The government in Kinshasa will require enourmous amount of pressure to come close to carrying out a meaningful investigation. Surprisingly, there have been no demonstrations in Kinshasa demanding such investigation. Are Congolese people that terrified in Kinshasa. If this was in Eastern Congo where militias, and foreign governments troops and their proxy rebels continue to abuse the population, kill and rape women on a daily basis, it would be understandable. However, the lack of action from the masses in Kinshasa is surprising.

The human rights activist community and the world community at large has lost an excellent advocate at a young age of 47. In the activist community, there is hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice. However, Chebeye cannot be replaced by any procedure. This crime was indeed a crime against the world.

Rwanda Arrests American Lawyer For Representing A Rwandan Arrested by Kagame

On May 28, 2010, Rwandan security forces arrested American Lawyer Peter Erlinder. Mr. Erlinder is a law professor at William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota. He is also a former president for the National Lawyer’s Guild. The Rwandan government led by dictator Paul Kagame arrested Erlinder on charges of “Genocide Denial”. Amazingly enough, this is a crime that was committed outside of Rwanda. Apparently, Rwanda has jurisdiction over the whole world. It gets even better. The Rwandan government’s charges are based on professor Erlinder’s questioning the official Rwandan government’s narative on the genocide of 1994 while defending his clients at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Basically, professor Erlinder’s crime was defending his clients.

Unsurprisingly, Erlinder traveled to Rwanda to defend a female opposition leader Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, an aspiring presidential candidate in the upcoming elections in August.  Mr. Ingabire has been physically attacked by president Kagame’s security operatives. She has been charged among other things with the same charges levied against her lawyer. For those who are familiar with Rwanda and Kagame’s modus operandi, it is not surprising that these individuals who hold differing views from his government have been arrested. Critical journalists have been arrested, beaten, forced to flee, deported and in some cases killed.  Local independent media has been shut down until after the election. In recent months, top government officials have been forced to flee, army generals arrested, and a number of media personalities are on the run.

In addition, the Rwandan government has been attempting to force a million refugees from Uganda back to Rwanda. This also is not unusual. Recently, dictator Paul Kagame admitted to killing refugees and forcing others back into the country. The Rwandan president confirmed an allegation that has been long dismissed about his genocide of Rwanda refugees in the Congo. Amazingly, Rwanda is still one of the largest recipients of aid from the US government.

The US embassy in Kigali said that they were not doing anything about Mr. Erlinder’s case as he is liable to Rwandan law. Give me a break. When have Americans become liable to laws of tyrants and systems similar to North Korea? Bill Clinton should be taking a trip to Rwanda as soon as possible to seek the release of professor Erlinder. The US government should also withhold aid from Rwanda for not only its abuses of human rights in Rwanda, but also for its role in the killing of over Five million (5 000 000) innocent Congolese over the last fourteen years as well as the systematic stealing of Congo’s resources. The Obama administration would do well to enforce its laws and withhold taxpayer’s money from going to this despotic government that is using our taxes to arrest our fellow citizens. For a start, the embassy as well as the State Department should get engaged and demand the release of professor Erlinder’s immediate release.

In Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide

By Eric Brown

The Rwandan Genocide was a terrible event beyond human imagination. The world stood by and watched it happen as over a million people were killed. The hostilities leading up to the carnage should have been sign enough for the world to step in before things got out of hand. Over a million people!!! It is unbelievable.

To all who died the brainless acts, the genocide of 1994 and the killings that took place in Rwanda since 1990 and afterwards, MAY YOU REST IN PEACE. For all the survivors who lost their loved ones, be strong. Everyone Tutsis, Hutus, Twas and foreigners who lost your loved ones our thoughts and prayers are with you. You give us reason to hope and to continue to support you through our work. We will forever continue to seek justice for you.

For all of the perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes; we will forever seek to have you face justice for the sake of your victims. We want you to face justice that you denied your victims.

For the world that stood by and watched it happen, shame on us!!! Some of us have vowed to never again stand by and allow such atrocities to take place. Genocide is happening today in Congo, Darfur, Burma, and many other places. Let us not stand by and let this continue again. Let us give a meaning to the word “Never Again”.

To all my Rwandan friends, I salute you for your strength in spite of your country’s dark past.

Everyone, I wish you to remember and mourn your departed loved ones in peace, whatever ethnic group you hail from. YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.

Uganda’s Legalized Genocide

Although many governments around the world can be bold and in many cases delusional, the Ugandan government is taking audacity to a whole new level. The lawmakers in the East African country are drafting a law that according to Wikipedia:

If enacted, broaden the criminalisation of homosexuality by introducing the death penalty for people who have previous convictions, are HIV-positive, or engage in same sex acts with people under 18 years of age. The bill also includes provisions for Ugandans who engage in same-sex sexual relations outside of Uganda, asserting that they may be extradited for punishment back to Uganda, and includes penalties for individuals, companies, media organizations, or non-governmental organisations that support LGBT rights.

This law also has provisions that will produce a prison sentence for anyone found to have know about homosexual acts without reporting it. It will punish relatives and friends who are “accomplices” of homosexual activity.

While it is true that homosexuality is extremely unpopular in Uganda like the rest of the continent of Africa, lack of popularity has never been a reason for being subjected to the death penalty. If laws were made based on what is and what is not popular, the world would totally succumb to the elite, the crooks and the bully. There would be no room for cooler heads. You are wondering what does this have to do with genocide? Let us take a look at the definition of genocide:

Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The intent of this law can achieve any and everyone of the above except for D and E. Briefly, to be a genocide, one needs not have all of the above elements. In an inexplicable move, the Ugandan government is making strides to legalize of all things, genocide!

There is an estimated 500000 homosexuals in Uganda. Although much smaller than the number of people killed in the Congo genocide since the invasion of DR Congo by Uganda and Rwanda, it is still a large number. Even one homosexual killed for simply being homosexual is a crime of hate. When such crime is expanded to a whole group of people, it becomes genocide. While it is true that Ugandan governments have committed acts of genocide within Uganda, it has never been legalized. For much of president Museveni’s presidency, the Karamojong have been massacred and exterminated by government forces. However, this was done under cover of war and security.

President Museveni again with his student president Paul Kagame of Rwanda invaded Congo and committed genocide of at least five million (5 000 000) Congolese people and turned Congo into rape capital. Among the dead were over three million (3 000 000) children! In summary, president Museveni is accustomed to literally getting away with murder. He has gotten away with murder of thousands of Ugandans and millions of Congolese. It seems that it is now time to take it to the next level and legalize mass killings.

With Museveni’s history, political opponents will be accused of being homosexuals. This will make it legally easy to detain and kill homosexuals as well as political opponents. Therefore, such law should not be enacted. Thankfully, many people around the world have stood up and shown the folly of this law and will continue to protest its existence and application. This could also lead to raising the profile of the conflict in Congo and expose president Museveni along with his student Paul Kagame for who they really are, mass murderers.

Conflict Minerals: A Cover For US Allies and Western Mining Interests?

Below is article from the Huffington Post that provides a concise recommendation on the Congo conflict. Although it is a short article, it has all of the points that MUST be considered if the Congo conflict is to be resolved.

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As global awareness grows around the Congo and the silence is finally being broken on the current and historic exploitation of Black people in the heart of Africa, myriad Western based “prescriptions” are being proffered. Most of these prescriptions are devoid of social, political, economic and historical context and are marked by remarkable omissions. The conflict mineral approach or efforts emanating from the United States and Europe are no exception to this symptomatic approach which serves more to perpetuate the root causes of Congo’s challenges than to resolve them.

The conflict mineral approach has an obsessive focus on the FDLR and other rebel groups while scant attention is paid to Uganda (which has an International Court of Justice ruling against it for looting and crimes against humanity in the Congo) and Rwanda (whose role in the perpetuation of the conflict and looting of Congo is well documented by UN reports and international arrest warrants for its top officials). Rwanda is the main transit point for illicit minerals coming from the Congo irrespective of the rebel group (FDLR, CNDP or others) transporting the minerals. According to Dow Jones, Rwanda’s mining sector output grew 20% in 2008 from the year earlier due to increased export volumes of tungsten, cassiterite and coltan, the country’s three leading minerals with which Rwanda is not well endowed. In fact, should Rwanda continue to pilfer Congo’s minerals, its annual mineral export revenues are expected to reach $200 million by 2010. Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen says it best when he notes “having controlled the Kivu provinces for 12 years, Rwanda will not relinquish access to resources that constitute a significant percentage of its gross national product.” As long as the West continues to give the Kagame regime carte blanche, the conflict and instability will endure.

According to Global Witness’s 2009 report, Faced With A Gun What Can you Do, Congolese government statistics and reports by the Group of Experts and NGOs, Rwanda is one of the main conduits for illicit minerals leaving the Congo. It is amazing that the conflict mineral approach shout loudly about making sure that the trade in minerals does not benefit armed groups but the biggest armed beneficiary of Congo’s minerals is the Rwandan regime headed by Paul Kagame. Nonetheless, the conflict mineral approach is remarkably silent about Rwanda’s complicity in the fueling of the conflict in the Congo and the fleecing of Congo’s riches.

Advocates of the conflict mineral approach would be far more credible if they had ever called for any kind of pressure whatsoever on mining companies that are directly involved in either fueling the conflict or exploiting the Congolese people. The United Nations, The Congolese Parliament, Carter Center, Southern Africa Resource Watch and several other NGOs have documented corporations that have pilfered Congo’s wealth and contributed to the perpetuation of the conflict. Some of these companies include but are not limited to: Traxys, OM Group, Blattner Elwyn Group, Freeport McMoran, Eagle Wings/Trinitech, Lundin, Kemet, Banro, AngloGold Ashanti, Anvil Mining, and First Quantum.

The conflict mineral approach, like the Blood Diamond campaign from which it draws its inspiration, is silent on the question of resource sovereignty which has been a central question in the geo-strategic battle for Congo’s mineral wealth. It was over this question of resource sovereignty that the West assassinated Congo’s first democratically elected Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba and stifled the democratic aspirations of the Congolese people for over three decades by installing and backing the dictator Joseph Mobutu. In addition, the United States also backed the 1996 and 1998 invasions of Congo by Rwanda and Uganda instead of supporting the non-violent, pro-democracy forces inside the Congo. Unfortunately and to the chagrin of the Congolese people, some of the strongest advocates of the conflict mineral approach are former Clinton administration officials who supported the invasions of Congo by Rwanda and Uganda. This may in part explains the militaristic underbelly of the conflict mineral approach, which has as its so-called second step a comprehensive counterinsurgency.

The focus on the east of Congo falls in line with the long-held obsession by some advocates in Washington who incessantly push for the balkanization of the Congo. Their focus on “Eastern Congo” is inadequate and does not fully take into account the nature and scope of the dynamics in the entire country. Political decisions in Kinshasa, the capital in the West, have a direct impact on the events that unfold in the East of Congo and are central to any durable solutions.

The central claim of the conflict mineral approach is to bring an end to the conflict; however, the conflict can plausibly be brought to an end much quicker through diplomatic and political means. The so-called blood mineral route is not the quickest way to end the conflict. We have already seen how quickly world pressure can work with the sidelining of rebel leader Laurent Nkunda and the demobilization and/or rearranging of his CNDP rebel group in January 2009, as a result of global pressure placed on the CNDP’s sponsor Paul Kagame of Rwanda. More pressure needs to be placed on leaders such as Kagame and Museveni who have been at the root of the conflict since 1996. The FDLR can readily be pressured as well, especially with most of their political leadership residing in the West, however this should be done within a political framework, which brings all the players to the table as opposed to the current militaristic, dichotomous, good-guy bad-guy approach where the West sees Kagame and Museveni as the “good-guys” and everyone else as bad. The picture is far grayer than Black and White.

A robust political approach by the global community would entail the following prescriptions:

  1. Join Sweden and Netherlands in pressuring Rwanda to be a partner for peace and a stabilizing presence in the region. The United States and Great Britain in particular should apply more pressure on their allies Rwanda and Uganda to the point of withholding aid if necessary.
  2. Hold to account companies and individuals through sanctions trafficking in minerals whether with rebel groups or neighboring countries, particularly Rwanda and Uganda. Canada has chimed in as well but has been deadly silent on the exploitative practices of its mining companies in the Congo. Canada must do more to hold its mining companies accountable as is called for in Bill C-300.
  3. Encourage world leaders to be more engaged diplomatically and place a higher priority on what is the deadliest conflict in the World since World War Two.
  4. Reject the militarization of the Great Lakes region represented by AFRICOM, which has already resulted in the suffering of civilian population; the strengthening of authoritarian figures such as Uganda’s Museveni (in power since 1986) and Rwanda’s Kagame (won the 2003 “elections” with 95 percent of the vote); and the restriction of political space in their countries.
  5. Demand of the Obama administration to be engaged differently from its current military-laden approach and to take the lead in pursuing an aggressive diplomatic path with an emphasis on pursuing a regional political framework that can lead to lasting peace and stability.

To learn more about the current crisis in the Congo, visit www.conflictminerals.org.


Kambale Musavuli
is spokesperson and student coordinator for Friends of the Congo. Bodia Macharia is the President of Friends of the Congo/ Canada.

Uganda’s dictator wants to teach Obama “Democracy”

By Eric Brown

When American president Barack Obama visited Ghana in July this year, it was an excellent choice for an African country that should be a model for most African countries; particularly countries in the great lakes region of Africa that include Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. President Obama stressed the need for Africans to build strong institutions instead of strong men and urged Africans to embrace the democratic process that Ghana and only a handful others in Africa have successfully achieved. His speech brought hope to the downtrodden, victims of violence, and many more who suffer as a result of the so called African leaders who continue to pursue power at all cost and stop at nothing to take total power or to remain in power.

The speech however was not taken in the same light by a minority of Africans. This speech was in fact a major insult to most of Africa’s presidents and governments.  President Obama called out those who extend presidential terms to remain in power. This was right in the backyard of Uganda’s Museveni who has modified Uganda’s constitution to remain in power. It must have also hurt those who were unsuccessful at achieving this feat such as Zambia’s ex-president Chiluba. Obama also hit out at those who use violence as a means to achieve power. This also must have hurt virtually every president in the above mentioned countries of the Great Lakes of Africa except for the Burundian president.

Yoweri K. Museveni came to power through a violent war having lost elections in Uganda in1980. He won the war in 1986 and has now been the autocratic president of Uganda for the last 23 years. He then sponsored Paul Kagame of Rwanda to wage a 4 year deadly war that culminated in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and Rwanda has been under Kagame’s dictatorship for the last 15 years. At the end of the 4 year Rwandan war, over a million and a half people had been killed and 3 million people fled the country to then Zaire. It did not stop there. In 1996, the two friends Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame joined forces and invaded then Zaire and toppled Mobutu. Since the beginning of that war in 1996, there have been 6 million Congolese killed, thousands of women raped, and thousands of child soldiers recruited by factions supported by the two “presidents”. When Mobutu was toppled in 1997, Museveni and Kagame installed Laurent Kabila who was assassinated and replaced by his son; the current incompetent president of the DR Congo. When Obama talked about those who use violence to achieve power and maintain power, it definitely hit home in the countries that make up the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

After the speech, it was time for a response. Museveni, the mentor for Rwanda’s and DR Congo’s presidents chose to speak and prove his foolishness instead of remaining silent and keeping everyone guessing. However, this was no surprise as Museveni prides himself in self aggrandizing and inflammatory speeches. He offered to teach Obama democracy. This was a laughable proposition at its best. A president who forced himself onto the people and made Ugandans, Rwandans and Congolese hopeless for a true government thinks he can teach democracy to Obama who was democratically elected on the premise of hope and change. This is the same Museveni who had vans driven into crowds gathered in support of his opponents ahead of elections. It is the same Museveni who said there is no point organizing elections and losing them (hint hint). It is the same Museveni who runs a one party state similar to the communist countries who is proposing to teach Obama democracy. In contrast to Museveni who had vans driven into crowds, Obama asked his team security to allow hecklers during his speech to remain in the room.

The irony in Museveni’s claim that he will teach Obama democracy is that there has never been a time during Museveni’s rule that he allowed the process to determine the outcome when it comes to governance in Uganda while currently Obama is struggling to get a health care bill passed and is going through the full process. Had it been Museveni, the bill would have been passed and everyone coerced to sign it. Those who refused to sign would have ended up fired and jailed. Is this the democracy Museveni wants to teach Obama? Obama works through consensus and is trying to unite the American public along political lines, though he has not succeeded at this. Museveni on the other hand has spent 2 decades and more of his rule terrorizing the Karamojong and discriminating against the Luo’s as well as other northern Ugandan tribes including the Luos. Ironically, Obama’s father was a Luo from Kenya; the same Luo’s Museveni recently insulted when he tried to prevent them from fishing inside their own country of Kenya.

While it’s true that Obama inherited wars from the previous administration and has continued to command over these wars, he has not invaded any country. He is viewed around the world as a peacemaker rather than a warmonger. The same cannot be said of Museveni. Museveni has invaded every country bordering Uganda except for Tanzania during his rule. Museveni along with Kagame provoked what is known as Africa’s world war in the DR Congo that has claimed 6 million innocent lives. They are the definition of warmongers if there ever was a perfect definition of the word. Is this the person the world wants teaching the American president democracy? Does the world want a warmonger teaching a president of hope and peace the dictator’s version of democracy? As a citizen of the USA and a world citizen, I believe millions and possibly billions would agree with me and say to dictator Yoweri Museveni ”Thank you Mr. repressive Museveni for your cynical offer but NO THANK YOU.” The world is better of without Museveni and his ilk. To think that he wants to teach the leader of the modern world democracy is terrifying. His previous student running Rwanda right now is proof of what to expect from Museveni’s lessons and it is a total disaster for human beings. Museveni’s democracy means reign of terror.