Thursday, August 21, 2008

Living With Fear: A Survey of the People of Congo

The International Center for Transitional Justice, the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley and the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University conducted a survey of 2,620 Congolese between September and December 2007. The study focused North and South Kivu, Ituri, Kinshasa, and Kisangani. The results of the survey were predictable but shocking nonetheless. A summary of the survey revealed:

• 80 percent of respondents said they had been displaced at least three times in the last 15 years
• 75 percent said their cattle or livestock had been stolen
• 66 percent said their home had been destroyed or confiscated
• 61 percent of those polled in the east said they witnessed the violent death of a family member or friend
• 60 percent said one more of their household members had disappeared
• 34 percent said they themselves had been abducted for more than a week
• 53 percent reported being forced to work or being enslaved by armed groups
• 31 percent said they had been wounded in fighting
• 35 percent said they had been tortured
• 46 percent had been threatened with death
• 23 percent had witnessed sexual violence
• 16 percent had been sexually violated and 12 percent multiple times
• 85 percent of people polled believe "those responsible for the violence should be held accountable"

In North Kivu, at the epicenter of the violence, responses to the question "who protects you" were quite revealing. Respondents answered God (44 percent), the army (25 percent), the police (8 percent), nobody (7 percent), U.N. peacekeepers (6 percent).

Click here to read complete 60 page study.

Congo Student Organizes Global Movement

At the age of 17, I was sad to leave the Congo but happy to be alive. My family and I left a few days before the second invasion of the Congo began. With only four outfits in my luggage, I thought to myself "What is going to happen to my country?"
I lived in Kinshasa 1996 when the Rwanda invasion first happened and, I could only imagine how things would get worse.

I took peace from the fact my siblings and parents made the trip with me.

The purpose of the Break the Silence Congo Week is to raise awareness about the devastating situation in the Congo and mobilize support on behalf of the people of the Congo. It will take place from Sunday October 19 to Saturday October 25. The key organizers are students from North Carolina A&T, UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Greensboro, University of Maryland, Howard University, Bowie University, and Cornell University.

Why should Americans care about the Congo? As Senator Brownback stated "Almost every American owns at least one device in which coltan has been used." American corporations have been making billions off the people of the Congo.

Read more>>

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

DRC Health Crisis Examined by BBC

The BBC World Service is running a series on Congo's health infrastructure. Dr. mwamba made the most salient point when he noted "If we had people who were really patriotic it would be different.", He goes on to say "But until now we have just had people scrabbling for positions to make money."

The ultimate key to good health is good governance and Congolese patriots both of which are woefully lacking in the current leadership in the Congo. A new day will come however.

Read entire article and follow the BBC Series.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Kagame Lashes Out Against ICC

Rwandan president, Paul Kagame lashes out against the International Criminal Court (ICC). His critiques of the ICC -primarily that poor nations are disproportionately targeted- are on point. However, one cannot help but point out that Kagame has deep self-interest in lashing out against the ICC. The two cases against him in both French and Spanish courts for his role in the 1994 assassination of former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, which unleashed the orgy of Hutu-Tutsi killings in Rwanda remains of concern. In addition, his two invasions of Congo in 1996 and 1998 that triggered the deaths of nearly 6 million people must be hanging over his head. Rwanda should certainly be wary, considering that the International Court of Justice has already ruled that Congo is entitled to $10 billion in reparations from Uganda because of the human rights abuses and the looting of Congo's resources during its participation in the 1996 and 1998 invasions. Rwanda is even more culpable in the Congo than Uganda but because they are not party to the International Court of Justice, no ruling can be brought against Rwanda by the Congo.

Should Kagame's US patrons decide to let him loose at some point in the future, he will be left to the devices of the levers of international justice. Nonetheless, his stance against the ICC cannot sit well with those humanitarian and policy institutions in Washington that have defended his past and current actions in the Congo, especially seeing that many of these institutions and policy analysts would love nothing more than to have the scalp of Sudan's President Omar Bashir's.

Read entire article of Kagame's outburst against the ICC.

U.S. Backs U.N. Official in Darfur Indicted in Rwanda Deaths

Friday, August 01, 2008

Congo Issues

Peace Process in Danger:
1. Political dialogue increasingly seems the only way of resolving the problem of Rwandan militias in eastern Congo
2. Congo Advocacy Coalition Update
3. Update on Protection of Civilians in Eastern Congo’s Peace Process

Carter Center:
1. Mining Review Press Release
2. National Public Radio Report on Chinese Presence in the Congo
3. Bloomberg report on China in the Congo

Virunga Park and the So-called Charcoal Mafia:
1. Fox-Owned National Geographic Uses Gorillas as Cover for Exploitation of Congo

1. Conning the Congo Report
2. Carving Up the Congo (Video)

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