On Tuesday 20/4/10, Paul Rusesabagina, the author of the inspiration to the movie Hotel Rwanda, gave a talk at the Human Rights Action Centre in London. He is the patron of Save the Congo, a UK-based Congolese organization of young people, interested in making a difference to the lives of millions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.).
The focus of Rusesabagina’s talk was on the root causes of DRC ongoing tragedies. As he explained, if someone wanted to end Congolese misery caused by recurring wars, the solutions have to be found in Rwanda. D.R.C. appears weak in the face of ongoing situation. Several militias are fighting and control immense territories in Eastern Congo. They are illegally exploiting strategic minerals and selling to multinationals which produce mobiles, computers and other technological gadgets. It is noteworthy explaining that the existence of most of the militias and Congolese government’s weaknesses find their origin in external interferences which have interests in the country’s minerals.
Atrocities that have been repeatedly committed against civilian populations will not stop if only military solutions which are costing millions of lives are put forward, mainly by Rwanda, because they divert its responsibilities in ending the insecurity. Suggested solutions to bring peace and stability in the region include
- suspending temporarily bilateral and multilateral aid and putting military embargo to Rwanda and Uganda until they stop opposing fully inclusive inter-citizens dialogue involving pro and against their respective regimes and open up their political space for effective democracy and change; inter-citizens dialogues have been applied in South Africa, Burundi and D.R.C. successively; there is no reason they shouldn’t apply and succeed in Rwanda and Uganda
- making enough pressure to end in Rwanda its apartheid like system of governance camouflaged under a wall of laws and daily practices which only fool foreigners but not Rwandans, and which oppresses the Hutu majority of the population and deprives them of their past, present and future
Along the same line of solutions, on March 2, 2010, Senator Russ Feingold made the following call in his Statement to the American Congress on the fragile state of democracy in Africa. He said: ‘The international community should not shy away from pushing for greater democratic space in Rwanda, which is critical for the country’s lasting stability. We fail to be true friends to the Rwandan people if we do not stand with them in the fight against renewed abuse of civil and political rights. In the next few months in the run-up to the elections, it is a key time for international donors to raise these issues with Kigali.’
A worrying pattern worth highlighting has been the rolling out of the Ugandan model of development and governance where this country has now become a dictatorship sponsored heavily by US and UK with the backing of all the institutions where these two countries have influence (World Bank and others). The model has been exported to Rwanda since 1994 and also strengthened a dictatorship regime at the expense of the population. Presently the model is being promoted in the D.R.C., with millions of pounds from Britain, dollars and euros other institutions pledged to the Congolese government.
Uganda, Rwanda and DRC have currently proven to be oppressive regimes without much respect for human rights towards their citizens. But they are continuously being pampered. Isn’t possible for the sponsors to play their part in caring more about the populations? They don’t need aid but governments which let them free and support them to look after themselves. They need strong institutions but not dictators. One can have the former without the latter.
From the 80s until today, Conservatives and Labour governments have been behind dictatorships in Uganda and Rwanda. Millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money and dollars from institutions where UK have great influence have been pulling in these regimes’ coffers to support their policies. These have resulted in a bit of development but mainly in oppressive systems which deny to the populations their basic human rights, waging wars in neighboring countries, exploiting illegally minerals from these territories, killing millions of indigenous people. The tragedies and misery seem to have no end.
If there has to be peace in the Congo, the international community, starting from UK and US governments should start taking serious actions towards the troublemakers of the region: firstly Rwanda, then secondly Uganda.
Tim Whewell’s film, ‘What is the true price of Rwanda’s recovery’, which was shown on Newsnight on Wednesday 31/3/10 at 10.30 pm on BBC Two, explained that whoever between Labour and Tories British political parties will win the general elections, support to Paul Kagame’s regime would remain. What if the Liberal Democrats get a substantial fraction of Westminster power? Will the continuous waste of British taxpayers’ money go on strengthening criminal dictatorships in Rwanda and Uganda?
British Africans have here another radical reason to vote for change in UK elections on May 6th, 2010.