Monday, October 10, 2011

Congo Week IV, October 16 - 22, Join The Global Movement

Dear Friends,

I greet you in the name of the Congolese youth who feel the wind of change in Africa that blew from the youth revolution in Soweto in 1976 in the South to the streets of Cairo this year in the North of the African continent.

As we embark upon the fourth annual Breaking The Silence: Congo Week, October 16 – 22, 2011, I wanted bring you up-to-date on the global movement in support of the Congo.

Congo Week continues to grow both inside and outside of the Congo as people throughout the globe utilize Congo Week to articulate the challenges and potential that exist in the heart of Africa. Since we launched Congo Week in October 2008, over 60 countries and 300 university campuses and communities have joined us in the global call for justice for the people of Congo. Over 200 Congolese organizations reiterated the global appeal for justice, accountability and an end to the impunity by calling for international action on the recommendations of the United Nations Mapping Exercise Report.

Your role in Breaking the Silence by demanding justice for the people is making a difference. More people are becoming informed, educated and engaged. Your actions, no matter how small, are strengthening the resolve of the youth and others inside the Congo who are waging a courageous fight, day and night to bring about peace, stability and human dignity. Knowing that they have the support of people of goodwill throughout the globe makes a tremendous difference.

The key teaching tool for Congo Week IV is Friends of the Congo's short documentary, "Crisis in the Congo: Uncovering the Truth." Since its launch over 100,000 people have viewed the film on YouTube and over 1,000 people have downloaded it to view or screen in their homes and communities. Youth throughout the Congo are using the film as a teaching tool during Congo Week; we encourage you to do the same by downloading the film here:

The youth of the Congo who represent the majority of the people are encouraging you to continue to support our fight for justice and human dignity. In the past year, youth groups we support have made great strides in strengthening their capacity in their quest to bring about peace and stability in the Congo. We encourage you to participate in our special contest to support the youth of the Congo and their pursuit for social change.

Key Organizers in Japan, Australia, France, Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, United Kingdom, Canada, The United States and many other countries are joining with our partners inside the Congo to call for justice for the people. Organize or participate in an event or activity for Congo Week on your university campus, in your home, religious institution, community center or any other venue in your community. Should you be in New York during Congo Week, join us for Congo in Harlem – a week of film screenings, performances, panel discussions, exhibitions, tributes and special events highlighting Congolese cultures and its people’s contribution to the global community.

This is an historic opportunity for you to be a part of the global movement to bring an end to what is the greatest humanitarian crisis at the dawn of the 21st century and the deadliest conflict since World War Two. Seize the moment and become a part of a noble pursuit for justice and human dignity in the heart of Africa, my home, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kambale Musavuli
Student Coordinator
Friends of the Congo

Remember to post your event on the events calendar:

Share the Congo Week promotional video:

Sign-up for Congo Week!

Download Congo Week Organizers Tool Kit and Materials:

Support the Congo Week Benefit Concert:

Participate in the CELL-OUT, on October 21, 2011. The CELL-OUT is a digital moment of silence for the people of the Congo and the usage of our cell phones to mobilize support for the people in their pursuit for social change.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Advocacy in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Stakeholders Conference

October 5th and 6th, 2011
9:30-11:30 am

Day one: How the Story of Congo Gets Told
Rome Auditorium, Rome Building 1619 Massachusetts Ave
Panel Discussion: 9:30-11:30am

In the past several years, voices from the United States have dominated the conversation on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), creating a tension between the complex situations on the ground in the DRC and the simple messaging that works for advocacy movements in support of the DRC in the US. Additionally, there are questions about who is a legitimate voice in Washington, DC on the behalf of the Congolese. Financial and language barriers often prevent Congolese citizens from speaking on their own behalf in Washington, although members of the Diaspora, US based advocacy organizations, academics, and NGOs attempt to fill this void with their own expertise and opinions. Often these opinions do not fully convey the divergent and complicated feelings of the large and multifaceted population of the DRC. As the DRC is discussed in sound bites, a few dominant narratives emerge. How does the narrative of the Congo get told in Washington? Who gets to speak for Congo?

Laura Seay, Morehouse University and Texasinafrica
Mvemba Dizolele, Stanford University
John Prendergast, The Enough Project (invited)
Kambale Musavuli, Friends of Congo

Register here:

Day two: Advocacy and the Way Forward
Kenny Auditorium, Nitze Building, 1740 Massachusetts Ave
Panel Discussion: 9:30-11:30am

The DRC presents a complex situation with as many angles as there are stakeholders. In the absence of Congolese voices, stories of the DRC are told by advocacy organizations, NGOs, academics, and the Diaspora. These stories cannot represent the whole, multifaceted reality on the ground, yet they are the basis on which policy makers must rely when deciding on priorities and legislation. Perspectives on the DRC, as they are seen in Washington have had numerous effects in the DRC, both good and bad. Controversial legislation on conflict minerals in Eastern Congo has been said to make living conditions for many people worse while others insist that it has improved the situation for most. The constant focus on rape as a weapon of war in Eastern Congo has dramatically increased services available to survivors but has perverted incentives and prevented women from receiving holistic care. The overall focus on the East has done a great deal to make the DRC into a policy priority, but ignored the failures of Congolese governance that are the root of many of the DRC’s problems. What is the way forward? How can advocacy organizations and all stakeholders work for the best outcomes and avoid unintended negative consequences? Should there be a “Do no harm” policy for advocates on behalf of the DRC?

Adotei Akwei, Amnesty International
Rick Goss, Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC)
Eric Kajemba, Observatoire Gouvernance et Paix (OGP)
Claudine Tsongo, Dynamique de Femmes Juristes

Sunday, October 02, 2011


By Theogene Rudasingwa

On August 4, 1993, in Arusha, Tanzania, the Government of Rwanda and the Rwandese Patriotic Front signed the Arusha Peace Agreement. The provisions of the agreement included a commitment to principles of the rule of law, democracy, national unity, pluralism, the respect of fundamental freedoms and the rights of the individual. The agreement further had provisions on power-sharing, formation of one and singles National Army and a new National Gendarmerie from forces of the two warring parties; and a definitive solution to the problem of Rwandan refugees.

On April 6, 1994, at 8:25 p.m., the Falcon 50 jet of the President of the Republic of Rwanda, registration number “9XR-NN”, on its return from a summit meeting in DAR-ES-SALAAM,Tanzania, as it was on approach to Kanombe International Airport in KIGALI, Rwanda, was shot down. All on board, including President Juvenal Habyarimana , President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi, their entire entourage and flight crew died.

The death of President Juvenal Habyarimana triggered the start of genocide that targeted Tutsi and Hutu moderates, and the resumption of civil war between RPF and the Government of Rwanda. The RPF’s sad and false narrative from that time on has been that Hutu extremists within President Habyarimana’s camp shot down the plane to derail the implementation of the Arusha Peace Agreement and to find a pretext to start the genocide in which over 800,000 Rwandans died in just 100 days. This narrative has become a predominant one in some international circles, among scholars, and in some human rights organizations.

The truth must now be told. Paul Kagame, then overall commander of the Rwandese Patriotic Army, the armed wing of the Rwandese Patriotic Front, was personally responsible for the shooting down of the plane. In July, 1994, Paul Kagame himself, with characteristic callousness and much glee, told me that he was responsible for shooting down the plane. Despite public denials, the fact of Kagame’s culpability in this crime is also a public “secret” within RPF and RDF circles. Like many others in the RPF leadership, I enthusiastically sold this deceptive story line, especially to foreigners who by and large came to believe it, even when I knew that Kagame was the culprit in this crime.

The political and social atmosphere during the period from the signing of the Arusha Accords in August 1993 was highly explosive, and the nation was on edge. By killing President Habyarimana, Paul Kagame introduced a wild card in an already fragile ceasefire and dangerous situation. This created a powerful trigger, escalating to a tipping point towards resumption of the civil war, genocide, and the region-wide destabilization that has devastated the Great Lakes region since then.

Paul Kagame has to be immediately brought to account for this crime and its consequences. First, there is absolutely nothing honorable or heroic in reaching an agreement for peace with a partner, and then stabbing him in the back. Kagame and Habyarimana did not meet on the battlefield on April 6, 1994. If they had, and one of them or both had died, it would have been tragic, but understandable, as a product of the logic of war. President Habyarimana was returning from a peace summit, and by killing him, Kagame demonstrated the highest form of treachery. Second, Kagame, a Tutsi himself, callously gambled away the lives of innocent Tutsi and moderate Hutu who perished in the genocide. While the killing of President Habyarimana, a Hutu, was not a direct cause of the genocide, it provided a powerful motivation and trigger to those who organized, mobilized and executed the genocide against Tutsi and Hutu moderates. Third, by killing President Habyarimana, Kagame permanently derailed the already fragile Arusha peace process in a dangerous pursuit of absolute power in Rwanda. Kagame feared the letter and spirit of the Arusha Peace Agreement. As the subsequent turn of events has now shown, Kagame does not believe in the unity of Rwandans, democracy, respect of human rights and other fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, power sharing, integrated and accountable security institutions with a national character, and resolving the problem of refugees once and for all. This is what the Arusha Peace Agreement was all about. That is what is lacking in Rwanda today. Last, but not least, Kagame’s and RPF’s false narrative, denials, and deceptions have led to partial justice in Rwanda and at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, thereby undermining prospects for justice for all Rwandan people, reconciliation and healing. The international community has, knowingly or unknowingly, become an accomplice in Kagame’s systematic and shameful game of deception.

I was never party to the conspiracy to commit this heinous crime. In fact, I first heard about it on BBC around 1:00 am on April 7, 1994, while I was in Kampala where I had been attending the Pan African Movement conference.

I believe the majority of members of RPF and RPA civilians and combatants, like me, were not party to this murderous conspiracy that was hatched and organized by Paul Kagame and executed on his orders. Nevertheless, I was a Secretary General of the RPF, and a Major in the rebel army, RPA. It is in this regard, within the context of collective responsibility, and a spirit of truth-telling in search of forgiveness and healing, that I would like to say I am deeply sorry about this loss of life, and to ask for forgiveness from the families of Juvenal Habyarimana, Cyprien Ntaryamira, Deogratias Nsabimana, Elie Sagatwa, Thaddee Bagaragaza, Emmanuel Akingeneye, Bernard Ciza, Cyriaque Simbizi, Jacky Heraud, Jean-Pierre Minaberry, and Jean-Michel Perrine. I also ask for forgiveness from all Rwandan people, in the hope that we must unanimously and categorically reject murder, treachery, lies and conspiracy as political weapons, eradicate impunity once and for all, and work together to build a culture of truth-telling, forgiveness, healing, and the rule of law. I ask for forgiveness from the people of Burundi and France whose leaders and citizens were killed in this crime. Above all, I ask for forgiveness from God for having lied and concealed evil for too long.

In freely telling the truth before God and the Rwandan people, I fully understand the risk I have undertaken, given Paul Kagame’s legendary vindictiveness and unquenchable thirst for spilling the blood of Rwandans. It is a shared risk that Rwandans bear daily in their quest for freedom and justice for all. Neither power and fame, nor gold and silver, are the motivation for me in these matters of death that have defined our nation for too long. Truth cannot wait for tomorrow, because the Rwandan nation is very sick and divided, and cannot rebuild and heal on lies. All Rwandans urgently need truth today. Our individual and collective search for truth will set us free. When we are free, we can freely forgive each other and begin to live fully and heal at last.

Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa Is a former RPF Secretary General, Ambassador of Rwanda to the United States, and Chief of Staff for President Paul Kagame.