Monthly Archives: November 2010

An exemplary determination to end Paul Kagame’s oppression

Friday, November 26th, 2010, on an unusual cold day (0 degree Celsius), a group of supporters of democracy and justice from the Great Lakes region, particularly from Rwanda and their friends from other countries of Europe gathered in front of the Department for International Department (DfID) in London. Some came from Belgium to support their colleagues in UK to raise awareness on issues related to the ongoing repressive situation in Rwanda. I would call the Belgian group The Professionals because of the way they transformed the outlook and impact of the demonstration after their arrival. One of the protesters had travelled from the Republic of Ireland. Another potential participant from Manchester only arrived to London long after the event had ended because of problems of transport he encountered.

A participant to the protest was interviewed by BBC World Service in its Kinyarwanda language (Gahuzamiryango Programme). She explained the reason the group had gathered at DfID. The focus was on the lives of oppressed millions Rwandans and memory of those killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo as documented by the UN Mapping Report which was published on October 1st. Two of the protesters had their father imprisoned in Rwanda since 1994. Despite harsh conditions of life in prison, he had survived until today while tens of thousands had fallen victims of ill treatment, disappeared, been enslaved in mining fields of Eastern Congo, or died in the process of recycling the prison population where some have to give room to unstopping queues of waiting candidates to incarceration.

At the end of the demonstration an open letter of which a copy is reproduced below was signed by all participants then handed to a representative of DfID. The group of protesters  were highly looking forward to December 6th and 7th when Paul Kagame will be visiting Brussels. They expected to let him know their feelings about his oppressive regime. January 16th, 2011 was another milestone they were geared to as it would be the first anniversary of Ms Victoire Ingabire’s return to Rwanda. As she is,  among many in the exiled Rwandan community, considered as an icon of courage, hope for reconciliation and democracy in their home country, they were mobilising Rwandans around the world to come out in big number on that day to tell the international community how urgent was change needed in Rwanda.

Copy of open letter to DfID

November 26th, 2010

Open Letter to The Rt. Hon. Andrew Mitchell MP

Secretary of State for International Development
1 Palace Street
London
SW1E 5HE

Call for immediate release of Ms Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and other political prisoners, and a stop to impunity of Rwandan leaders for war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide

Honorable,

On this day of November 26th, 2010, we supporters of democracy and justice from the Great Lakes region, particularly from Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, living in the UK, and friends from different European countries are gathered in front of the Department for International Department in London, to call upon your government to use its financial leverage to put pressure on the Rwandan regime led by President Paul Kagame. We request an immediate and unconditional release of Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Chair of FDU-Inkingi opposition party, freedom for all other Rwandan political prisoners, and prosecution of perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and apparent acts of genocide committed in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza was arrested and immediately incarcerated on October 14th. She continues to be detained in inhuman and humiliating conditions, paraded handcuffed each time she is brought into court hearing. The alleged crimes are seemingly politically motivated charges of forming a terrorist organization (Coalition of Democratic Forces as an alleged military wing of FDU-Inkingi). Ms Victoire Ingabire denies the accusations and has pleaded all along not guilty explaining that she was only being imprisoned for her persistent differing views on Paul Kagame’s government policies.

The UN Mapping report on crimes committed in Democratic Republic of Congo between 1993 and 2003, which was released on October 1st, 2010, provides detailed evidence of atrocities including acts which could be qualified as genocide in front of a court, and of which Paul Kagame forces are responsible. The Rwandan government, conscious of the seriousness accusations in the UN report has been on the offensive to distract the international community and its partners by mounting monstrous allegations against Ms Victoire Ingabire which could not stand before an independent judiciary.

We consider that UK government has committed to support Rwanda at a high cost and without any value for money of what British citizens are giving away in terms of their taxes. This allocation has been so far distributed to Kagame’s government without questioning its records particularly on human rights grounds. At the time when Britain and British people are living under drastic budget cuts in different areas of their welfare, it should objectively be the moment to use the financial leverage the country has to put strict and new conditions on UK assistance to Rwanda.

Your government can help Rwandans take a commitment to make sure there is peaceful competition for and transfers of power between the political elites. Justice is needed for the country to achieve genuine reconciliation and sustainable development. To have long-lasting peace in Rwanda, there is a strong need of creating political space that enables a concerted and agreed transparent process of transfer and competition for power. In that line, we additionally call for a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission and a Rwandan National Dialogue.

Prevailing situation in Rwanda demands a complete change of UK policy towards Kigali. Not reviewing current approach, and particularly using existing leverage of the millions of pounds of aid committed to the Rwandan government for several years, would be considered as a breach of trust between the British government and its taxpayers. This would as well look as a sign of deplorable indifference with regrettable consequences for the millions of Rwandan victims of institutionalized injustices.

Yours sincerely

Signed

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Non-publicly denounced AND mainly Western companies in the ongoing crisis of DRC

Diamonds

Diamonds

They have been identified by UN experts and other sources as being involved in the tragedies of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). But mainstream media in the West, or advocacy agencies such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and others, don’t mention them or associate them even indirectly enough to persistent atrocities being committed in DRC. When serial rapes are denounced and rebel movements pointed at as main perpetrators, nobody makes the link between involved actors in the supply chain of minerals from that country. Different companies from many countries benefit from the statu quo.

Australia – Anvil Mining; BHP Billiton; Moto Goldmines Ltd; Tiger Resources Ltd

Belgium – Banque Belgolaise; Banque Bruxelles Lambert (since 2003 called ING Belgium SA/NV); Blattner Group (Groupe Blattner); George Forrest International S.A.; Umicore

Canada – Africo Resources Ltd; Anvil Mining; Banro Corporation; BRC Diamond Corporation; El Nino Ventures Inc; EnerGulf Resources Inc. (ENGFF); First Quantum Minerals Ltd; Gee-Ten Ventures Inc. (Gee-Ten, the Corporation); Harambee Mining; Heritage Oil; International Panorama Resources (since 2008 called Otish Energy Inc.); La Quinta Mining; Lundin Mining Corporation; Kinross Gold Corporation; Shamika Resources; Simberi Mining; Tenke Mining Corp.

China – COVEC (China Overseas Engineering Group Co., Ltd.)

Germany – Danzer Group; H.C. Starck

Israel – DGI Mining (DGI Group); Ludan Engineering

Russia – Nizhne-Lenskoye

Singapore – Ivanhoe Nickel and Platinum Ltd; Olam International

South Africa – Copper Resources Corporation, De Beers Group; Gold Fields; Kumba Iron Ore; Metorex; Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA); Ruashi Mining; Teal Exploration & Mining

Switzerland – Glencore International AG

United Kingdom – Afrimex; A.H. Knight; A & M Minerals and Metals; Alex Stewart (Assayers) Limited; Anglo American; Barclays Bank PLC; Brinkley Mining plc; Central African Mining & Exploration Co (CAMEC); De Beers Group; Gem Diamonds Limited; Katanga Mining Ltd.; Malabar Logistics; Nikanor (Merged with Katanga Mining January 2008)

United States – Blattner Group; Cabot Corporation; Eagle Wings Resources, LCC; EnerGulf Resources Inc. (ENGFF); Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.; H.C. Starck; Kemet; OM Group

Other companies in the Supply Chain

Sony, Microsoft, Panasonic, Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson, Intel, AVX, NEC, Alcatel, Compaq, Dell, AMD, Nintendo, IBM, Intel, Hitachi, Samsung, Pioneer, Kenwood
Some stocks on the financial market related to mining in Democratic Republic of Congo

Copper/ Cobalt – First Quantum, Nikanor, Metorex, Katanga Mining, Camec, Mwana Africa, Teal, Copper Resources, Africo Resources

Gold – Banro, Moto Gold

Diamonds – SouthernEra, BRC Diamonds

Uranium – Berkerley Resources

Ending illegal exploitation of Democratic Republic of Congo minerals and other resources

In August this year, the East African Business Week magazine reported that the US companies including IBM, Intel, Motorola, Apple and HP have to disclose whether they use minerals from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or neighboring countries within nine months. This news came along many others which previously highlighted the fact that DRC’s minerals and other resources were being illegally exploited and channeled through particularly Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi to supply multinationals in their need of raw materials.

Considered the scale of atrocities committed so far, 1) banning exploitation and exportations of minerals and other resources not controlled by a responsible and strong Congolese government, and 2) a world wide campaign to boycott end products (laptops, cell phones, jewels, etc) made from these minerals, can significantly reduce ongoing conflicts in the Great Lakes region, and particularly in Eastern Congo. There is plenty of evidence that at the very beginning, DRC wealth in raw material for strategic and technologic Western industries was the major target for all political/ judicial intricacies that the region has experienced in the last two decades.

For example, if hypothetically DRC with its enormous reserves of so many minerals, didn’t have existed, the extent of ongoing human and economic tragedies in that country and those that occurred in Rwanda would’ve been less dramatic, and their consequences less critical. But like at the time of slavery, pursuit of high-tech minerals has encouraged external forces to fight their proxy wars or search for human capital on African soil, without caring about casualties and suffering of the victims.

Amengeo Amengeo of The African Executive explains what is happening to the African continent, particularly in the Great Lakes region, ‘before our eyes in the 21st century, Africa is being re-colonised, subtly, but surely. (The process is ongoing). Only Africans can stop this and if the leaders will not, then the people must rise up and protect their very existence, because, in the final analysis, the African people, the world over stand alone.’

Prevailing situation – Since the end of Mobutu era in 1997, DRC has been the theatre of organised looting of a sovereign country not seen in any part of the world in recent times. Every type of wealth has been impacted upon by structures set up and imposed by the new masters of the land. Stockpile of extracted minerals were seized and taken away to Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. Coltan, cassiterite, gold, diamond, etc were some of the minerals subject to looting. Timber, money from banks’ coffers, machinery spare parts from dismantled factories, livestock, ivory, coffee beans, featured as well on the list.

Events which occurred in DRC were a culmination of a situation which had started much earlier with the invasion of Rwanda from Uganda by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in October 1990. The cumulative death toll was still increasing at the time. Four presidents have been killed in the process, with no serious public investigations into their death, and ordinary citizens lost their lives in the millions both in Rwanda and DRC. Survivors live under persistent abuse of their basic human rights. Repressive regimes have strengthened their powers in all structures of governance. An institutionalised oppression through all institutions exists. Permanent uncertainty and insecurity for the many not in position of leadership or who are from the wrong tribe are the rule.

For nearly two decades UN institutions and international justice system are being used or manipulated by Western powers, probably because of their financial leverage in paying the bill, to pursue their national and sometime selfish policies. Deep down this has been the case for MINUAR, the UN peacekeeping mission for Rwanda from 1993 to 1994, MONUC created in 1999 then transformed into MONUSCO in May 2010 and supposedly is peacekeeping in DRC, ICTR, the tribunal for Rwanda from 1994 until now established to prosecute perpetrators of genocide, and ICC, the International Criminal Court located in The Hague. All these structures have adopted biased attitudes in their dealing with the conflicts of the Great Lakes region in such away that instead of helping to solve them, they have become part of the problem.

It is surprising to find that perpetrators have been for many years well documented and should be prosecuted, but no action is taken against them. Several UN reports and other reliable sources, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have provided in their annual and periodical reports, evidence about who is who behind economic crimes and massive human rights violations in Rwanda and DRC. Only lack of willingness to prosecute perpetrators and master minders of past and current tragedies in the region on the part of the international community is the major obstacle to changing the ongoing situation.

One example out of many of documented evidence on perpetrators is reported in the UN report on ‘Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,’ which was published in 2001. It describes the structures used in looting DRC resources. ‘In the case of Uganda, individuals, mainly top army commanders, using their hold over their collaborators and some officials in rebel movements, are exploiting the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, this is known by the political establishment in Kampala. In the case of Rwanda, things are more systemic. There are linkages and bridges between some key companies, as in the case of Tristar and BCDI and, above all, the relationship between RPA, RPF, BCDI, Rwanda Metals, Grands Lacs Metals and Tristar. The senior management of these companies seems to report separately to the same people at the top of the pyramid. On the other hand, all key managers have personal relationships with different army commanders who themselves report to the leadership. This pyramidal and integrated structure coupled with the strict discipline of the group has made the exploitation of the resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo more systematic, efficient and organized.’

There is a multitude of actors involved in the ongoing DRC conflict. But those whose actions have prevailed all along the years are either able to influence towards their own national interests the work of UN structures operating in the region, or are implicated on the ground operations as proxies of the former, or they are only after their own specific and very localised interests. On a non exhaustive list of enablers one finds MINUAR, ICTR, MONUC, MONUSCO, AFRICOM, US, Britain, China, Holland, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Chad, South Africa. Individual involvement of these different actors evolves with time following changing factors.

Current mechanisms to discourage beneficiaries of ongoing minerals’ conflicts in the region appear not to be working. American Legislation (Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Bill) on mineral products from the region, requires all manufacturing companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges to trace and audit their supply chains for tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold sourced from Congo and its adjoining countries to ensure that the minerals did not come from mines or trading routes controlled by armed groups. But Rwanda, one of the main culprits in the supply chain, is already looking for buyers of its stolen minerals other than Western companies. On the other hand, the fact that The Netherlands and Norwegian governments reduced financial support to Rwanda after the publication of the UN report on DRC in 2008 which highlighted its direct involvement didn’t deter looters from pursuing their stealing. ICC sentencing Uganda government to pay compensation to DRC or prosecuting FDLR leaders didn’t either achieve expected results. Towards the end of October 2010, David Barouski reported that ‘Sources in Goma claim that, despite the smuggling, coltan stocks bought illegally before the mining ban are being smuggled to Rwanda without much problem, as the border guards and customs officials are still easily paid off.  Charcoal, ivory, wildlife, and cash crops are still smuggled as well.

A combination of additional and drastic measures is necessary to stop the looting of DRC resources. Among them could be:

  • Freezing bank accounts and banning from travelling abroad officials whose names are documented in UN reports with criminal responsibility in the human tragedies of the region and looting
  • Boycotting internationally products (laptops, cell phones, jewelry, etc.) and services of companies named in UN reports where they are accused of fuelling the conflicts
  • Starting the judiciary/ technical process that the UN Mapping Report on crimes committed in DRC between 1993 and 2003 demands
  • Supporting democratisation of prevailing dictatorships (Rwanda and Uganda), or DRC failed democracy, by starting and imposing political solutions to ongoing instability in the region; outsiders who support military options are as part of the problem as political leaders in named countries who oppose democracy because it would expose their crimes
  • Banning temporarily exploitation of minerals in Eastern Congo as long as there are no Congolese structures responsible to manage the area in the interests of Congolese people

Early this month, Apple, the American multinational behind trendy PCs and iPhones put out a new advertisement stating that the company had raised up its stakes in terms of social responsibility. It announces that, ‘The new iPhoneCF guarantees to all its customers the same high quality phone as the original iPhone 4 with the added bonus of taking you one step closer to a world without conflict.’ But can multinationals really contribute to a solution of the crisis in the Great Lakes region, unless compelled or financially forced into doing so? The example of the end of apartheid should come to mind. South African conglomerates which suffered from international boycotts of their products because of the system were among the initiators who brokered negotiations between ANC and the Pieter Botha government. They had interest that the discriminative policy ends because it was affecting their profits. A similar boycott of products made against companies sourcing their raw material in DRC could add to the pressure to end politically conflicts in that country and the whole region.

Courage is the only weaponry required to do a revolution (via The Rising Continent)

Courage is the only weaponry required to do a revolution During the time of the guerilla war that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led against Juvenal Habyarimana’s government from October 1990 to July 1994, national and international journalists visited the rebellion’s base at Mulindi in the region of Byumba. They asked RPF’s strategists if their war was not going to make their Tutsi compatriots massacred by Hutus. More than anything else the rebel movement’s grievances were more about ruling the cou … Read More

via The Rising Continent

Read, personalise, then send to your representative at the parliament of which government supports Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president (via The Rising Continent)

There is nothing like experience. When I first landed in the West, fleeing Africa, after my home country Rwanda was savaged by war, there is one understanding I got aware of firsthand. Ordinary Westerners are fed with filtered and misrepresentative news about what raw African realities generally are, and particularly in the case of tragic events in specific countries such as Rwanda or Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite the blame developing cou … Read More

via The Rising Continent