By: Jennifer Fierberg, MSW
One of the most profound and saddening statement I have read recently was made by Kambale Musuvuli, a Congolese activist and spokesperson for Friends of the Congo; he said, “Congo is a test for humanity. Future generations will ask why it took two decades to stop killing of Congolese reaching 6 million dead.”
The more one follows the developments in Central Africa the angrier one should become. Weeks ago a subcommittee hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives was held with guest speakers including Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson, John Prendergast, activist and co-founder of the Enough Project as well as Steven Hege, former leader of the Group of Experts to the UNSC and Congolese citizen Mvemba P. Dizolele, Visiting Fellow, at Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. While watching this hearing it was obvious that Assistant Secretary of State Jonnie Carson was struggling to articulate any understanding of the Rwandan government’s backing for the M23 rebel group currently terrorizing the Eastern DRC and it was apparent that he supports and works closely with this government.
Ambassador Susan Rice’s political relationship with President Kagame of Rwanda was exposed in numerous media reports including one by this writer . A simple Google search of Susan Rice’s political relationship with Paul Kagame will yield a days’ worth of reading on the topic. Shortly after this media frenzy Ambassador Rice announced that she was withdrawing her name from consideration for the position of Secretary of State. While the follow up reports of her withdrawal speculated that she did so because of her statements regarding the attack in Benghazi others believe she did so due to the connection with President Paul Kagame and how this situation would affect the Senate confirmation hearings required for her being appointed to the position of Secretary of State. Numerous human rights organizations have been taking to twitter, email and phone calls to her office calling for her to sanction high ranking Government of Rwanda Officials including President Paul Kagame, Minister of Defense James Kabarebe and Brigadier General Jack Nziza who is the current Directorate of Military Intelligence.
The blood on the hands of these three men is dripping with hypocrisy and yet, Ambassador Rice continues to remain silent on this option. Politics certainly makes for strange bed-fellows. All three of these men have committed murder, intent to commit murder or are guilty of planning and ordering the assassinations of numerous individuals both political and innocent civilians while the international community has turned a blind eye.
The assassinations of three Presidents in the Central African region are linked to President Paul Kagame which includes President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda, President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi and President Laurent Desire Kabila of DR Congo. How can three sitting presidents be killed in cold blood with no international outcry, investigation or justice for these murders? For a person to get away with murder they would have to have friends in very high political places who are covering up those crimes or are complicit in them.
The relationship of President Paul Kagame with his US and UKsupporters goes back to when the RPF was still a rebel group being formed in Uganda. Researcher and Human Rights Watch Researcher Alison Des Forges documented the many crimes of Paul Kagame and was one of the first to acknowledge that genocide was committed in 1994 in Rwanda when the rest of the world would not apply such a label because they would then have to intervene.
With the mountain of evidence against Paul Kagame and his continuous crimes in the DR Congo over the last 17 years, including the most recent reports by the UN Group of Experts it begs the question as to why the world is covering for Kagame. What secrets does he hold that they don’t want exposed?
The Eastern DR Congo is in absolute crisis with the population at risk on a daily basis of death, displacement and rape. The Rwandan backed M23 rebels are terrorizing the region in a strategic fight for minerals and power. The Rwandan Government vehemently denies any and all accusations made in UN Group of Experts report yet continues to remain silent when called upon to denounce the activities of the M23.
So, what poker hand is Kagame holding that the US is willing to basically remain silent on the atrocities being committed in the DR Congo?
Over 6 million lives have been lost and countless women have been raped but yet all the US has done is to sanction inconsequential members of the Rwandan backed M23. This move is laughable because it is a smoke screen of an attempt to show the world the US government is concerned about the innocent lives of the DRC. In an attempt to take a bolder step, last week President Obama made a phone call to President Kagame which in part stated, “President Obama underscored that any support to the rebel group M23 is inconsistent with Rwanda’s desire for stability and peace.” Obama also made this same call to President Kabila of the DR Congo.
None of these actions will stop Kagame. Sanctions must be placed on the top Government officials of the Rwandan Government named in the Group of Experts report to the UNSC in order to stop the atrocious acts continuously being committed in the Eastern Congo. President Obama needs to enforce his “Obama Law” or PL 109-456 which clearly states that “The Secretary of State is authorized to withhold assistance made available under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.), other than humanitarian, peacekeeping, and counterterrorism assistance, for a foreign country if the Secretary determines that the government of the foreign country is taking actions to destabilize the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” This has been documented time and time again in numerous reports yet the US government continues to give a free pass to President Kagame.
What more evidence does the US government need? If the US Government refuses to implement this bill and apply sanction to the Government of Rwanda officials including but not limited to President Kagame, then there is no question that, indeed, the US is in support of the destabilization of the DR Congo, as this option seems to serve more its strategic interests , and has turned its back on the Congolese innocent lives suffering every day.