Analyst Kambale Musavuli talks about the latest developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where anger is mounting against the presence of foreign forces. He talks about the recent repression of those protesting the presence of UN forces and explains that the country needs a political situation. This calls for the US and UK to hold to account their allies Rwanda and Uganda who are backing rebel groups in the Congo. Kambale also talks about the recent actions of DRC President Felix Tshisekedi, the distance between his words and deeds, and his close collaboration with Israel.
Maurice, you and I have talked many times for Black Agenda Report about the wartorn northeastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), North and South Kivu and Ituri. We’ve talked about the Rwandan and Ugandan military aggressors, but in the southeastern provinces—which were once a single province called Katanga—there’s a different, equally horrific kind of violence going on in the vast cobalt mines that we haven’t talked about here. That’s the violence against hundreds of thousands of artisanal miners living in the most horrific conditions, the equivalent of slavery except that they can't be bought and sold.
Student activists are traveling thousands of miles across the Democratic Republic of Congo to mobilize communities against the expansion of Big Oil. Pétrole Non Merci, or Petrol No Thanks, is a national campaign to oppose the proposed sale of 27 oil blocks and three gas blocks, most of which overlap protected areas. Anglo-French oil company Perenco recently bid to buy the new blocks and would export the oil using the EACOP pipeline. The campaign has a two-pronged strategy. First, they are mobilizing communities where the new oil blocks are located to build local power and hold officials accountable.
On Friday, December 23, the M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) officially handed over its positions in Kibumba, in North Kivu province, to the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF), citing the recommendations of the summit held in Luanda, Angola, in November. However, days after M23 announced its withdrawal from its seized positions in Kibumba, displaced communities have still not been able to return amid reports that rebel fighters are still present in the area. Meanwhile, fighting between M23, Congolese troops (FARDC), and an anti-M23 ‘self-defense’ militia continued on Monday, December 26, in the settlements of Bishusha and Tongo in North Kivu’s Rutshuru territory.
The European Union has sanctioned five members of different armed groups operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), including the spokesman for the M23 militia. It did not, however, sanction Rwanda, Uganda or the Rwandan and Ugandan presidents, despite decades of UN Group of Experts reports that the militias operating in the eastern DRC are largely Rwandan and Ugandan, though they typically claim to be Congolese. I spoke to Nixon Katembo, Congolese journalist and executive producer with the South African Broadcasting Corporation, about the history of the conflict and the situation on the ground today.
On Monday, December 12, a meeting was held between the M23 rebel group, the Congolese armed forces (FARDC), the commander of the joint East African Community (EAC) force, the Joint Expanded Verification Mechanism (JMWE), the Ad-Hoc Verification Mechanism, and the UN peacekeeping force, MONUSCO, in Kibumba in the Nyiragongo territory in the North Kivu province located in the eastern part of the DRC. The meeting was held in the wake of reports of fighting between M23 and the FARDC, just days after the rebel group had pledged to “maintain a ceasefire” in the mineral-rich region. M23 is widely acknowledged to be a proxy force of neighboring Rwanda. On Tuesday, December 6, M23 announced that it was ready to “start disengagement and withdraw” from occupied territory, and that it supported “regional efforts to bring long-lasting peace to the DRC.”
On October 31st, thousands of Congolese in Goma, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu Province, protested the war of aggression waged by Rwanda and Uganda’s M23 militia, which has reportedly tightened its grip on surrounding countryside. One sign read “Rwanda and Ouganda Is Killing in DR Congo,” and Congolese activists are using the hashtag #RwandaIsKilling. Mambo Kawaya, a civil society representative, told AFP, “We denounce the hypocrisy of the international community in the face of Rwanda’s aggression.” Nowhere is this hypocrisy more vivid than in the contrast between the US/Canadian/EU engagement in the Ethiopian and Congolese conflicts. As Ethiopia nears victory in its war with the US-backed, insurrectionist Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), huge crowds of Ethiopians have taken to the streets to protest US intervention and demand respect for Ethiopian sovereignty.
After sixty-one years, the gold tooth of the assassinated Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba has been returned to his family and laid to rest. It is the only part of him that remains. After his brutal murder in 1961, Lumumba’s tooth was pocketed by a Belgian police officer and later held captive by the Belgian government. Its repatriation was preceded by a grotesque ‘colonial guilt’ show, in which Belgian King Phillipe expressed his ‘deepest regrets for those wounds of the past’. The King of the Belgians did not go so far as to formally apologize, nor did he offer reparations for the devastation inflicted upon Congo by Belgium. These two events so close in proximity illustrate clearly that despite supposed ‘decolonization’, Congo continues to be ensnared in the grasp of its colonial oppressors.
On its face, nothing seems more benign and positive than “wildlife conservation.” But the Wildlife Conservation Society and the German and US governments have now been implicated in supporting organized violence against Congolese villagers, using mortars, RPGs, indisciminate fire, murder and rape. This is the finding of award-winning investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker Robert Flummerfelt. Flummerfelt and his team uncovered a three-year campaign of violence by park authorities to expel Batwa people from their lands, using funding and trained by the West and conservation groups.
Its immeasurable mineral resources has made the Congo the victim of a long history of Western greed, plunder, and genocidal violence. AFRICOM’s recent arrival in the Congo -- ostensibly to fight ISIS -- will only extend this history; we can be sure these military forces will do more to support the US looting of the Congo’s wealth than stopping terrorism.
Judi, the story that most people know, the one that's in the Wikipedia and more or less told in the movie Hotel Rwanda, is that, in April, 1994, Rwandan Hutus were suddenly consumed by mass psychosis and ethnic bloodlust, and killed half a million to a million Rwandan Tutsis. And that they were egged on by La Radio des Milles Collines in Kigali. Then they were saved by General Paul Kagame, who appeared—in the movie—out of nowhere. And before going on, I think I should say that our friend Paul Rusesabagina, the real life hero of Hotel Rwanda, is now in prison in Rwanda because for one, he has a much more complex view of what actually happened than that portrayed in the movie. So tell us what really happened.
In April 2020, a month after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the pandemic, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) warned that the numbers of people who lived with acute hunger around the world would double due to COVID-19 by the end of 2020 ‘unless swift action is taken’. A report from the Global Network Against Food Crises – which is comprised by the WFP, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), and the European Union – said that the pandemic would ensure the highest level of food insecurity since 2017.
My first contribution to Black Agenda Report was “Madame President? No, Madame Prisoner,” a profile of Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza published in January 2014. Late Black Agenda Report Editor Bruce A. Dixon had asked me to write it after following my conversations with Victoire and other Rwandan dissidents for some years. Those conversations began in January 2010, when I looked into why no viable challengers to incumbent Rwandan President Paul Kagame were being allowed into that year’s presidential election.