Sunday, December 19, 2004

On the new crisis in the Congo

Many things have been keeping me away from my blogging - that's life, right? However, I did not want to stay silent around the situation in my country. See, if it was Congo that invaded Rwanda, the whole International community would be blasting sanctions at Congo, as they have done before. It is important to note here that Congo is stilltechnically under arms embargo, and Rwanda is not. Now that Rwanda is attacking Congo for the 3rd time, the Imternational Community is using very evasive language to tell them to stop. It is even barely visible that they are condemning this violation of Congo's territorial integrity, and the potential incendiary consequences that can result from that action.

I lived in Rwanda during the genocide, and in hindsight, I lament the inaction of the International community then (because at the time I was too young to realize and express it). But the guilt of some Western powers over that genocide, does not justify a blind and reckless tacit support for the megalomaniac ambitions of a profiteering tyrant, namely General Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda. The borders of Africa everywhere were fairly arbitrarily established; but they are what they are. The very survival of states in Africa depend on the respect of these borders, as finite administrative entities, with rights and duties, and a government, and a people, and hopefully a nation. Congo is a purely artificial construct, I have to admit; but it is a construct that more and more Congolese people my generation are starting to see as their nation, regardless of tribe, ethinicity or language. And many of these young people are being taught these principles the hard way: in a Us v. Them dichotomy. It is my nation because it is where I live, and because it is attacked and I have to defend it. They are learning it very negatively.

Now, how does the West expect the youth in Africa to genuinely grasp and defend the concepts of national and international sovereignty, nationality, citizenship, and good and democratic governance, when those that claim to champion these concepts (USA, UK, France, etc) let (and often encourage) some of Africa's leaders to trample all over them with impunity? For financial gains, Kagame artificially maintained a level of insecurity in the East of Congo for the past 7 years. The excuse: the Interahamwe (fighters that participated in the genocide) that are using the Congo as a home-base. The truth: there is very lucrative coltan, gold and natural gas in Eastern Congo, that Rwandan backed tycoons have been benefiting from for the past 7 years.

The attitudes of people like Kagame in Africa, are the very attitudes that are preventing us from addressing other social issues that we badly need to address: taboos on sexuality, AIDS, questions about tolerance, education, women's rights, children rights, economic development, etc... These discussions - and the resulting actions - cannot take place in the current climate of mutual hatred that has been maintained by Mr Kagame and some of his Congolese allies in the East. Under the guise of bringing justice to the genocide victims (the peace of God be with them), Mr Kagame has actually succeeded in inciting increased anti-Tutsi sentiment in Congo, where it existed, but was never at the levels they have now reached!! Instead of continuing to allow him to blow on the fire, it is about time that the International Community start to condemn his reckless and interventionist actions in the East of Congo.

My government is not spotless either. But my government inherited a broken country, with a dismantled military, and was for the first year after liberation, virtually managed by... Mr Kagame!!!!! The liberation forces of Laurent Kabila, were largely composed of RPA (Rwandan Patriotic Army) soldiers. They have not explained what happened to the thousands of Hutus that disappeared in the forrests of the East of Congo, while they were marching towards Kinshasa. They virtually ran the country, and the current head of the military in Rwanda (James Kabarebe), was for one year, the head of the Congolese Armed Forces!!! So, it is very frustrating for the Congolese that I am, to see him being praised as a Democratic leader, a model in Africa, when my family has to live with the consequences of his recklessness, on a daily basis. Today we have a monumentous (and quite self-desructive in its design) government, that is the result of our conflicts with Rwanda. All these conflicts started in Rwanda; the rebels (which unfortunately included one of my uncles, who was killed when he realized that there was a Rwandan agenda) have residences in Kigali; Congo has never, in 44 years of independence, sent uninvited troops in Rwanda.

Yet, Congo is blamed; the very naturally wealthy Congo is suffering while buildings are built in Rwanda, with its money. And it's not the fault of the Rwandan people. They are simply pawns in the hands of their leaders. It is the result expansionist and opportunistic policies of the Kagame regime, and it needs to stop somehow!!! I feel like a Palestinian: Someone comes to steal what belongs to me, and then blames and kills me for wanting it back!!!

What a "Just" World!!!

For info on the genocide : Frontline

For info on the catastrophic conflict in Congo : Yahoo! News

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