Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Congo Removed from AGOA List

President Barack Obama removed the Democratic Republic of Congo from the list of African countries eligible for trade preferences under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

AGOA went into law in 2000 and will expire in 2015. The decision was taken during the annual review of AGOA. "Large-scale human rights abuses by the Congolese armed forces, especially rapes" and the lack of advances made in good governance were reasons for removing the Congo from the list.

FOTC is fascinated by the difference in treatment between Congo and Rwanda. Both countries have AGOA status. Rwanda has invaded Congo twice; supports proxy rebel groups inside Congo; has systematically looted Congo's resources; and according to the United Nations Mapping Exercise Report, the Rwandan military has committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide in the Congo. Yet, the United States has taken no action whatsoever against Rwanda in spite of millions of dead Congolese due in large part to Rwanda's destabilizing of the Congo.

The decision will take effect January 1, 2011. This decision is yet another sign of the conflicted relationship between the Obama administration and President Joseph Kabila's Congo. The IMF and World Bank has proceeded with debt relief and the funding of the Congolese government in spite of the lack of progress on governance on the part of President Kabila. With elections upcoming in 2011, look for more pressure on Kabila to assure a transparent and free elections.

Click here to view official statement from White House.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Letter to Dear Hillary Campaign

Democratic Republic of Congo
Senate Office
Kinshasa, December 6th, 2010
N / Réf. : 014/CPBME/12/2010
To American students, Organizers of the Dear Hillary Campaign

Dear Organizers,

On behalf of the people of the Congo that I represent as an elected official, I thank you for your support and action. Your actions are a true manifestation of Dr Martin Luther King’s famous words when he said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

Your mobilizing the American public to send Hillary Clinton a birthday card calling on her to implement the Obama Law (Public Law 109-456) was a stroke of brilliance and creativity. The enforcement of this law, especially sections 105 and 107 can certainly play a constructive role in helping to bring an end to the conflict.

I am glad that you were able to secure a meeting with Ambassador Melanne Verveer. I met with her at the United Nations in March of this year, right when she was nominated as the Ambassador at-large for Global Women's Issues. During our meeting, I shared with her how the United States can best help contribute to peace in the region by holding its allies accountable for their actions, getting more engaged diplomatically, supporting political solutions as opposed to military ones, and providing support to local institutions, especially as it relates to the greater involvement of women in the peace process.

Again, thank you for listening to the voice of Congolese people and taking our message to the highest levels of power in the United States. Thank you for being a voice for the voiceless. Opinions expressed outside of the country are often presented as solutions to our problems, but you listened to us and have taken our suggestions to your nation’s leaders. We are forever grateful for your action of support and respect. Listening to our voices is the first step towards recognizing our common humanity.

My constituents thank you for your solidarity. Together, we know that with your continued support, Congo will achieve peace and human dignity and take its rightful place among the great nations of the world.

Mrs. Bazaiba Masudi Eve

Click here to learn about the Dear Hillary Campaign!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Coalition to UN Security Council: Address UN Congo Mapping Report and Enforce Justice for Victims

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 – This month the US and the UN Security Council must choose: will they hold accountable major perpetrators of continued atrocities in the Congo or collaborate with them to put the blame on a few guilty but minor scapegoats and some innocent people who are guilty only of challenging the major offenders?

On December 8, several US-Congolese organizations and numerous individuals sent a letter to Congressman David Wu, asking Congress to seek justice for the victims of an ongoing holocaust in the Congo and specifically asking that the long-suppressed UN “Mapping Report” showing complicity of the current government of Rwanda seriously examined and addressed. [1]

Recently, the Dutch legislature and thousands of people in Brussels as well as some officials put Paul Kagame on notice: that he cannot escape the consequences of his acts. [2]

So far, Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda, has been successful in his efforts to bury reports of his atrocities in the Congo without serious examination. The Security Council agreed not to look further into the Mapping Exercise Report, and a few days ago, added several individuals and a small militia to its list of people or organizations to be sanctioned for use of child soldiers. However implicitly exempted were Uganda and Rwanda from sanctions for this or for any of the other crimes revealed in the Report and related abuses reported by others, which continue to this day. [3]

As this month's chair of the Security Council, the US has a moral obligation to take the Mapping Exercise Report off the table and deal with its contents seriously. The US also has a moral obligation to implement the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006, sponsored by then-Senator Barack Obama. [4]

The UN Mapping Exercise Report, released only after it had been leaked, makes it clear that the governments of Uganda and Rwanda are implicated in massive atrocities in the Congo continuing long after they invaded the Congo. Yet, Uganda has not been forced to pay the court-mandated financial penalty, and both invaders are given license to continue their incursions on the pretext of hunting down smaller offenders, such as the LRA, FDLR, and various "mai mai". [5] [6]

The president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, reacted to the report with threats and with diversions. He threatened to withdraw “peacekeeping” forces from Sudan if the UN report was not disavowed or modified.

The unsuitability of Rwanda as an instrument of peace and stability in the Great Lakes region of Africa is augmented by its president's efforts to divert attention from the Mapping Exercise Report by imprisoning political opponents absurdly charged with conspiring to renew genocide in Rwanda. Within days of the October “Mapping Report” release, he re-arrested Victoire Ingabire, who had been arrested for “genocide denial” last spring to prevent her standing as a 2010 presidential candidate challenging his re-election; now, to divert attention from his documented culpability, he jailed her in life-threatening conditions and introduced the more serious charge of conspiring to overthrow his government by force and perpetuate genocide, naming a bizarre set of co-conspirators. [7]

American lawyer Peter Erlinder went to Rwanda last spring to defend Victoire Ingabire, after her first arrest, and he too was arrested and imprisoned under life-threatening conditions that provoked an outcry from US citizens and legislatures, resulting in an official US request for his release on humanitarian grounds. He is home and safe, but Rwanda demands his return for trial or “dead or alive.” [8]

Bizarrely, Paul Rusesabagina, the hero of "Hotel Rwanda" (who rescued so many Tutsis who might otherwise have been killed in 1994) has been called a "genocider" conspiring with Victoire to attack Rwanda, overthrow the government and kill Tutsis; he would be in a Rwandan jail if he had not already in sought safety in exile. [9 ] [10]

Some call Victoire Ingabire the Aung San Suu Kyi of Africa or the female Mandela, but she is not just a symbol of resistance to oppression by a dictator; she is a real person, a wife and mother whose husband and children plead for people to intervene and free her from a squalid and dangerous prison in which she has been held (without trial) for two months. [11]

We join in their plea, seeking justice for courageous individuals wrongly imprisoned as well as for the millions who have died and the millions who continue to suffer in the Congo, and endorse the letter sent to congress on December 8 providing details, additional documentation, and precise steps the US and UN need to take to bring justice, healing, stability, and a better future for a long-abused people.


[1] “Seeking Justice for the Victims: The UN mapping report of October 1, 2010 on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” Letter sent to Congressman David Wu on December 8, 2010 by Africa Faith and Justice Network, Friends of the Congo, Neema Corporation, Chicago Congo Coalition, and others.

[2 ] “...'The president of Rwanda is a criminal', says Paul Rusesabagina. The famous manager of Hôtel des Mille Collines is one of the demonstrators who are gathered on Albertina square in Brussels... President Kagame didn’t hold his announced speech during the European congress. He left early to Rwanda for more pressing issues. His minister of Foreign Affairs replaces him and thanks Europe for all the support...Ms Mushikwabo says: 'We respect the decision of the Netherlands to stop direct aid for Rwanda. But our relationship with the European Union remains very friendly'...”

[3] Agreed 1 December 2010: "...three FDLR leaders and one individual responsible for targeting children in situations of armed conflict, to be added to the list of individuals and entities subject to a worldwide travel ban and asset freeze..."

[4] Despite the conclusion of a peace agreement and subsequent withdrawal of foreign forces in 2003, both the real and perceived presence of armed groups hostile to the Governments of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi continue to serve as a major source of regional instability and an apparent pretext for continued interference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by its neighbors."
Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006 (sponsored by Sen. Barack Obama [D-IL])


EXCERPT: "... the Republic of Uganda, by the conduct of its armed forces, which committed acts of killing, torture and other forms of inhumane treatment of the Congolese civilian population, destroyed villages and civilian buildings, failed to distinguish between civilian and military targets and to protect the civilian population in fighting with other combatants, trained child soldiers, incited ethnic conflict and failed to take measures to put an end to such conflict; as well as by its failure, as an occupying Power, to take measures to respect and ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law in Ituri district, violated its obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law..."

[6] Oil, African Genocide and the USA's LRA Excuse Dec 6, 2010 ... President Obama seemed either unaware or unconcerned about the UN Mapping Report, released on October 1st, which documents Ugandan President ...

[7] Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire arrested. “...Rwandan government security operatives surrounding her home in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, had been replaced by police with firearms, and that six of them were visible from inside. Others reported that there were Rwandan troops in her neighborhood and that shops had been ordered to close. ..”

Ingabire trial: Rwanda prosecution fails ‘evidence test’

[8] Kagame wants US law professor brought to Rwanda, 'dead or alive' “According to high-level Rwandan officials at a meeting in Kigali in mid-October, President Kagame ordered that IHLI Director and WMCL law professor Peter Erlinder be brought back to Rwanda “dead or alive.”

[9] Rwandan Prosecutor wants to bring “Hotel Rwanda” hero Rusesabagina to justice. "...exiled opposition politician Paul Rusesabagina and jailed Victoire Ingabire have been in constant contact and fundraising for the FDLR rebels, says the Prosecutor General..."

Kagame's Rwanda accuses real-life Hotel Rwanda hero of terrorism

[10] Kagame regime demands Professor Peter Erlinder return to Kigali to stand trial. "The Kagame regime continues on the offensive in the wake of the “U.N. Mapping Report on Human Rights Abuse in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1993-2003,” released on Oct. 1, which documents the Rwandan army’s war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocidal massacres of civilian Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese Hutus in Congo..."

KPFA News: Kagame wants Peter Erlinder back in Rwanda 'dead or alive'

[11] Meet the daughter of Victoire Ingabire "...Even though it is difficult for me, I would let her leave again, because my mother does what she thinks is just. To prevent her from being involved in politics and fighting for a more just Rwanda would be to destroy a part of my mother..."

KPFA Radio interview with Victoire Ingabire's daughter Raissa, December 12,

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cabot Makes Questionable Ten Year Claim

American coltan processing company, Cabot Corporation recently released a press statement declaring that they are conflict free. One supposes they could be conflict free by sourcing their minerals strictly from Australia. However, Cabot took their conflict free claim into questionable territory when they intimated that they had been conflict free for ten years. Cabot's press statement noted, "We are pleased that our customers now have independent confirmation that Cabot is a reliable supplier of ethically sourced tantalum products. Over the last decade, we have maintained a strict policy of purchasing raw materials only from ethical, non-conflict sources and this audit result is confirmation of our long-standing commitment in this area."

In spite, of Cabot’s claims, they were identified in the 2002 United Nations report on the illegal exploitation of Congo’s natural resources as one of the companies illegally exploiting Congo’s natural wealth. See list of companies named by the United Nations here! The March/April 2002 issues of Passive Component Industry page 8 reports "African ore sales are also made directly to Cabot Corporation, tracked via IM145 shipment data from Africa to Pennsylvania, where Cabot maintains its tantalum processing plant."

Based on this evidence, international NGOs, Friends of the Earth (FOE) and Rights and Accountability in International Development filed a complaint against Cabot and three other American companies (OM Group, Trinitech Holdings, Eagle Wings), calling on the State Department’s National Contact Point to investigate Cabot and the other companies for possibly violating OECD guidelines and fueling the conflict in the Congo.

The October 1, 2010 UN Mapping Exercise Report said that the victims of Congo’s conflict are entitled to reparations from the multi-national corporations implicated in the conflict in the Congo. Congolese are adamant about pursuing justice for the over six million lives lost in the scramble for Congo’s minerals.

Friday, December 10, 2010

UN Mapping Report: Just Another Report With No Consequences?

During the first week of December a number of events took place in Washington related to the Congo. FOTC research analyst, Saran Traore provides an overview and analysis of one of the events.

Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies' (SAIS) Great Lakes Policy Forum, along with several partners have yet again hosted in its 15years a groundbreaking forum to help shape the discourse of one of the most troubling crisis at the dawn of the 21st century. The forum on December 2nd 2010 focused on the report released on October 1st by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report contains a mapping of the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo between March 1993 and June 2003. The report is much celebrated amongst activists because of its truthful and fact based investigation and its implications for justice for the people of Congo. It implicates Congolese and foreign parties responsible for abuses, including state and non-state armed groups from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and Angola. The findings say the atrocities committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Forces, “if proven before a competent court, could be characterized as crimes of genocide.” In addition, the report also documents the pilfering of the Congo by multi-national corporations, and calls for reparations for the Congolese people.

The forum was broken into two panels, the first to address the next steps towards justice with the publication of the report, and the second panel to address implications for regional and US foreign policy. The first panel had Mvemba Dizolele, a SAIS visiting scholar and independent journalist, Carina Tertsakian, a Senior Research at Human Rights Watch's African Division, and Peter Rosenblum, the Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein Clinical Professorship of Human Rights Law at Columbia Law School. The second panel included Anthony Gambino, a former USAID Mission Director for the DRC and Independent Consultant and Laura Seay, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Morehouse College. Peter Lewis, the Director of the African Studies Program at SAIS, moderated the program.
The discussion was vibrant from the onset as the panelists gave their take on the report and its impact. It is important to note that the report does not necessarily convey new information. There have been previous reports by the UN and other organizations that have detailed these events in the course of the ten years that it covered. The unique and “big deal” about this report is that for the first time there is a comprehensive official UN report detailing over 617 incidents in the time covered. The policy prescriptions or possible course of actions suggested in the report was also discussed in the forum. The one prescription that seemed to be favored yet posed a source of problems to accomplish was the establishment of a Tribunal. This tribunal, mirrored after the one in Bosnia, would possibly consist of Congolese and international judges, governed by Congolese law. It was suggested that universal jurisdiction be established to prosecute higher ranked military perpetrators.

The very first consensus was that there needed to be an initiative to make sure that the campaign for justice was geared towards helping the Congolese people. From the concentration on Eastern Congo to the root causes of the conflict, there is a skewed sense of where the focus should be in order to help the country on a recovering path. The panel was in agreement that the humanitarian crisis of the Congo is a product of the political disasters that have taken place in the country as a whole for the past couple of decades. It is also important to account for the fact that Eastern Congo is not all of the DRC. The problems stem from throughout the country and should be given the same attention. These misdirected concepts of the Congo may have led to the negative reactions that came up as a result of the report along side the positives. The report was “held hostage” by alleged perpetrators in the report, when in actuality the focus should have stayed on the DRC. The DRC has become an “appendix” of its neighbors in the grand scheme of things. Policies intended for the DRC are made to appease its neighbors, instead of the reverse.

The second panel addressing regional and US foreign policy in response to the implications of the report was intense in that it called for accountability both internally and externally. The Congolese have been deemed as being qualified to do the tasks needed to address the issues if given the political space to do so by its neighbors and international powers. The Congolese would also need to address the role that its own national army has played in the violence and continues to play. Regionally, all the countries named in the report for their part in the incidents in the past and current crisis will need to be held accountable. The obvious issue is that no current state in the Great Lakes is ready to openly admit to their involvement in these reported incidents.

Although the US is gradually expressing any displeasure with countries in The Great Lakes that have been contributing to the destabilization of the DRC, it has yet to clearly express any actions it wishes to take in light of the UN report. The Friends of the Congo has posited several reasons for the silence and lack of action on the report. Many individuals serving in the current Obama administration, also served in either the State Department or in a diplomatic position when the incidents of 93-03 had taken place under the Clinton administration. US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice is a standing example, as she was the Assistant Secretary of State, Africa Division in 1996. Some believe that the lack of definite action or even comment from the diplomatic realm of the US could be guilt and shame for their lack of action during these incidents. No genocide intervention groups in Washington DC have engaged this issue since the release of the report. To have ignored these crimes against humanity so long ago, and to have the same issue come back so many years later for lack of action is a cause for embarrassment and explanation. One should hope, as we at FOTC do, that this report be viewed as a second chance for all involved parties to finally bring about justice against these heinous crimes that did occur on their watch.

Click here to join the global call for justice for the people of Congo.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Activists Successfully Demonstrate Against Paul Kagame in Europe

President Kagame did not attend the round table discussion he was supposed to participate in, nor did he show up for his keynote speech in Belgium on Monday, December 6th. The Belgian Prime Minster, the Foreign Minister, and the Development Minister all told Kagame that there schedules were too full to meet with him.

Activists demonstrated against Kagame's presence in Belgium and called on European leaders to hold him accountable for the atrocities committed in Congo and the repressive practices in Rwanda proper.

See below press release from the Paul Rusesabagina Foundation:

December 6, 2010
For Immediate Release
Contact: Kitty Kurth
Intl. number: +44 7587 063130
U.S. Mobile: 312-617-7288
U.S. Office: 312-464-0260

TODAY: Hotel Rwanda’s Paul Rusesabagina
to Appear at Demonstration in Brussels

Rusesabagina Asks International Community to Hold Rwanda Accountable;Responds to Rwandan Government Harassment

Brussels, Belgium -- Today Paul Rusesabagina, President and founder of the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (HRRF) will join peaceful demonstrators to protest the appearance of Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the European Development Days conference.

The demonstration will be held at 14:00 (2:00 p.m.) at Rue Mont des Arts 1000 in Brussels.

Demonstrators wish to call the attention of the international community to the killing and human rights violations being committed by the current Rwandan regime. Some of these actions are detailed in the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) “Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1993-2003, The Report of the Mapping Exercise.”

Today Rusesabagina is also releasing a copy of his letter to United States President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Yves Leterme (attached) asking Obama to prevent Kagame from doing even more harm to his own Rwandan people and to millions of others in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

The letter cites the violence and oppressive tactics used by Kagame’s government including well-documented assaults, arrests, suppression and assassination of political opponents and all independent media.

In the letter, Rusesabagina addresses charges that the Rwanda government has made against him in the press. “I have never given money to terrorists,” said Rusesabagina.

The most recents attacks on Rusesabagina came after the HRRF sent out a press release about the UN mapping report. Today he said: “The Rwandan government must be very afraid of the facts about their actions in Congo that are disclosed in this report. They are going to great lengths to discourage the international community from taking action on the crimes documented in the report.”

Rusesabagina will be available for interviews at the demonstration or by telephone. He can be reached directly by calling +32 4874 10774 or call Kitty Kurth at +44 7587 063130 to schedule an interview.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Letter to President of DRC From Wife of Floribert Chebeya

To: The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo

At Kinshasa Gombe

From: Annie Mangbenga Nzinga

Floribert Chebeya’s widow

Object: Open letter to Mr. Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Five months after the assassination of my husband Floribert Chebeya Bahizire and the disappearance of his companion Fidele Bazana Ededi, driver, and member of “la Voix des Sans Voix pour les droits de l’homme”, abbreviated as (VSV), I am writing this letter to remind you that after the announcement of the assassination of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, my late husband, assassinated by the services of the National Congolese Police, especially the General John Numbi Tambo and his juniors on june2, 2010, you sent me your Special Advisor on Security Mr. Pierre Lumbi, who asked me what I wanted you to do for me. Mr. President, my answer is this: “tell the Head of State that he has the power and he knows how to stop and punish the murderers of my husband.” I confirm that it is General John Numbi who killed him because he had an appointment with him; I spoke with him on the phone while he was waiting in front of his office door the night of his assassination.

The only thing I want is clarification and truth on the assassination of my husband and the disappearance of Fidele bazana. Mr. President, through your Advisor you reassured us at the funeral that you will use all your authority to stop all those guilty, judge and punish them. This trust and assurance is what my children and I are waiting for you. I share the message that you sent to me with journalists all over the world, with Congolese, with defenders of Humans Rights, with diplomatic missions, and with people all over the world. Nowadays, men, women, children, young and old, all have an eye on Chebeya’ case and are waiting for the truth because Floribert Chebeya was a citizen of the world. He wasn’t just our property, but he belonged to everyone because of the work that he did.

During the first appearance of the defendants which took place on Friday, November12, 2010 at Kinshasa, in front of a purpose-built military court, it was more than indignation and anger which killed us when we saw that Mr. John Numbi, whom I cite day and night as the murderer of both my husband and Fidele Bazana, was absent in the bench of the guilty to serve as a witness. For the credibility of our institutions in the world, I will please ask you Mr. President to personally make sure that this trial ends well and that Mr. John Numbi is arrested along with all the guilty so that we will have justice and transparency. We don’t need to be in favor of impunity, which was Floribert Chebeya’s fight during his life.

To end, Mr. President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, abbreviated as (RDC), please bans from speaking your minister of information Mr. Mende Omalango for his words which are able to injure the broken hearts of Congolese and to tell lies. My children and I left the country because we had the support of diplomatic missions, of Non Governmental Organizations of human rights, of partners of “la voix des sans voix.”, of good willed people that I sincerely thank and greet for helping us to move.

Triumph to truth!!!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Wikileaks Confirm Much of What We Suspected

The latest information distributed from Wikilieaks confirm much of what followers of Congo and the Great Lakes suspected. However, one key insight that Wikileaks provided was what seems to be a more aggressive and broader data collection effort of an established practice by the diplomatic corps. This quote from the NY Times report places it in context "While the State Department has long provided information about foreign officials’ duties to the Central Intelligence Agency to help build biographical profiles, the more intrusive personal information diplomats are now being asked to gather could be used by the National Security Agency for data mining and surveillance operations. "

Some excerpts from Wikileaks include:

"Reporting officers should include as much of the following information as possible when they have information relating to persons linked to African Great Lakes: office and organizational titles; names, position titles and other information on business cards; numbers of telephones, cell phones, pagers and faxes; compendia of contact information, such as telephone directories (in compact disc or electronic format if available) and e-mail listings; internet and intranet "handles", internet e-mail addresses, web site identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent flyer account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information."

A. Mineral Resources (ENVR)

-- Details on mining of diamonds, copper, cobalt, uranium, other minerals, and oil extraction: number and location of mines, production statistics and revenue generated, and extent of control given to China and other foreign governments, companies or consortiums; export statistics. -- Details on mineral, oil and other resource exploitation by rebel groups and foreign elements to include type and location of resources exploited, and revenue generated through sales, customs duties, taxation, and access control. -- Government ability/willingness to deal with environmental abuses.

Read entire leaks on Great Lakes here: