Monday, March 02, 2009

Congo: One hundred years of colonialism, dictatorship and war (1908-2008) | San Francisco Bay View


by Kambale Musavuli and Maurice Carney
January 2, 2009

Congo's holocaust by Khalil Bendib
Congo's holocaust by Khalil Bendib
2008 marked the 100-year anniversary of the removal of the Congo from King Leopold II of Belgium as his own personal property. Global outrage at the King’s brutal rule resulted in his losing the Congo treasure trove on Nov. 15, 1908.
Leopold II accumulated spectacular wealth for himself and the Belgian state during his 23-year dominion (1885-1908) over the Congo. During this period, an estimated 10 million Congolese lost their lives while Leopold systematically looted the Congo of its rubber and ivory riches. Congo was then handed over to Belgium, which ruled as a colonial power from 1908 to 1960.

Congo finally got its independence on June 30, 1960, when Patrice Emery Lumumba, its first democratically elected prime minister took office. Unfortunately, the Western powers, primarily the United States and Belgium, could not allow a fiercely independent African to consolidate his power over such a geo-strategic prize as the Congo. Lumumba was removed from power in a Western-backed coup within weeks and assassinated on Jan. 17, 1961.

Belgium apologized for its role in Lumumba’s assassination in 2002, yet the U.S. still downplays its role in murdering this great young leader. The U.S. replaced Lumumba with the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and backed him until he was overthrown in 1997.

The overthrow of Mobutu unleashed an ongoing resource war that has caused deep strife and unbearable suffering for the Congolese people, particularly the women and the children. It is estimated that nearly 6 million Congolese have been killed since the 1996 invasion by Rwanda and Uganda with support from the United States and other Western nations.

A century later, Congo is at another crossroads. In spite of the advances in technology and the shrinking of the world, it is curious that there is such silence around the suffering of the Congolese people due to the exploitation of powerful corporate and foreign forces beyond its people’s immediate control. Unlike the early 1900s, remarkably, today there are few if any voices the likes of Mark Twain, who wrote “King Leopold’s Soliloquy,” Joseph Conrad, “The Heart of Darkness” (often misread as Congo or Africa being dark, but he was referring to the dark hearts of the exploiters of the Congo), and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame, who wrote “Crime in the Congo.”

The Congo Reform movement that drew from the work of African Americans such as William Sheppard and George Washington Williams and led by European figures such as Robert Casement and E.D. Morel gave birth to the modern international human rights movement.

One hundred years later we are again calling on the global community to be at the side of the Congolese. This time, there is one fundamental difference: The Congolese are agents in this narrative and the call this time is not for a handover to a colonial power or neo-colonial institutions but rather to the people of the Congo.

The clarion call is for combating the forces - local elites and rebels, foreign governments, foreign corporations and multi-lateral institutions - that have the Congolese people in a death trap. The charity prism of the humanitarian industry is not the answer. It only perpetuates dependency and dis-empowerment.

Should Congo be truly liberated, the Darfurizaton (emptying of agency from the afflicted people) of the global movement in support of the Congo must be avoided at all costs. Congolese must be agents rather than objects in the pursuit of the control of their land and their lives.

The sovereignty of the people and control and ownership of the riches of their land is the fundamental human right for which we must advocate. It is a call not only for the Congo but the entire African continent.

Become a part of the global movement to “Break the Silence” as the Congolese pursue true sovereignty and liberty.

Maurice Carney is executive director and Kambale Musavuli is student coordinator of Friends of the Congo, 1629 K St. NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20006, (202) 584-6512,,

Friends of the Congo is led by people of African ancestry and others of goodwill. With strong support from friends of the Congo throughout the globe, the vast human and natural resource potential of the Democratic Republic of Congo can serve as an instrument to meet the great needs of the people of Congo and Africa.


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MJPC Urges the ICC to Refer Congo to the UN (Security Council) on Ntaganda

"There are serious dangers in continuing to allow Congo defy the ICC arrest warrant against Ntaganda; its sends a wrong message and could have disastrous effects in other countries"

Citing the importance for the newly-created International Criminal Court (ICC) to remain an impeccably impartial institution, the MJPC reiterated its call on the ICC to refer the DR Congo to the Security Council for possible sanctions.

The MJPC (Mobilization for Justice and Peace in the Congo) warned that in the Congo as elsewhere, the ICC as a new international instrument to promote the rule of law and ensure that the gravest international crimes do not go unpunished could quickly lose its moral value if it does not take concrete steps to start enforcing its own issued arrest warrants.

"Frankly the ICC cannot put off forever bringing the DR Congo before the Security Council for its continuing refusal to execute the outstanding ICC arrest warrant against Ntaganda," said Makuba Sekombo, Director of Community Affairs of the MJPC, an organization that strongly denounces defying ICC arrest warrants in Congo. "There are serious dangers in continuing to allow Congo defy this arrest warrant, its sends a wrong message and could have disastrous effects in other countries," added Sekombo.

Ntaganda is accused of several war crimes and crimes against humanity including: the massacres of 150 people in the town of Kiwanja in 2008 in his duties as military chief of staff of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), torturing and killing of hundreds of civilians of Lendu and Ngiti ethnicity between August 2002 and March 2003 when he was chief of military operations of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), slaughtering of at least 800 civilians on ethnic grounds at Mongbwalu, including the first priest killed in the Ituri conflict, Abbe Boniface Bwanalonga, killing of a Kenyan UN peacekeeper in January 2004 and kidnapping a Moroccan peacekeeper later that year, and recruiting child soldiers in the eastern region of Ituri. The MJPC is strongly urging the Congolese Government and MONUC to execute the arrest warrant issued by the ICC against Ntaganda.

According to Mr. Sekombo, the failure in the arrest of Bosco Ntaganda to date highlights the lack of seriousness in enforcing arrest warrants issued by the ICC and strongly urges the ICC to refer the case of Ntaganda to the UN Security Council to find solutions in accordance with Article 87, paragraph 7 of the Treaty of Rome.

The MJPC is calling for Congo to be taken to the Security Council, as it claims Kinshasa is in clear violation of the ICC treaty which Congo ratified in 2002. The ICC cannot afford to ignore its statutory responsibility to report this matter" to the Security Council," he said, adding that the Security Council would have the authority to require Congo to take all necessary corrective measures to enforce all ICC arrest warrants immediately.

An online petition has been set up asking concerned citizens around the world to demand the UN Mission in Congo known as MONUC and the Congolese Government to act decisively to enforce the ICC outstanding arrest warrants against Ntaganda. The petition can be signed at

Click here to read a full article on referring Congo to the UN Security Council if it continues to defy the execution of the Arrest Warrant of the ICC Against Ntaganda by Makuba Sekombo

About MJPC
MJPC is a non-profit organization working to add a voice in advocating for justice and peace in the DRC particulary in the east of DRC where thousands innocent civilian including children and women continue to suffer massive human rights violations while armed groups responsible for these crimes go unpunished.

For more information about the MJPC and its activities, visit . or call Makuba Sekembo @ 1 408 806 3644 or e-mail: . The online petition calling on the Congolese Government and MONUC to act decisively in enforcing the outstanding ICC arrest warrant against Bosco Ntaganda can be signed at

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