Imagine the entire state of Arizona is massacred, and the press keeps deliberately the news under wrap. Though again hypothetically that state might have in its soil unknown reserves of minerals very indispensable for US and other developed countries’ industries of automobile, aerospace, and technology, its people don’t seem to have much worth in comparison to what can be extracted from the land they live on.
American journalist, Jennifer Fierberg, whose work focuses on the Great Lakes region of Africa, invites US public to imagine what it would feel like if the Congolese tragedy was close to home. I reproduce here one of her articles which first appeared on Salem-News site.
One has to wonder if the international community had asked the people of the Congo permission to mine their minerals without displacing, murdering and raping them what would their answer had been.
The Nightmare in the Congo
By: Jennifer Fierberg, MSW
Imagine the entire state population of Arizona murdered in an 11year period by neighboring rebel groups, all six million people. The women of Phoenix, Flagstaff, CampVerde and other cities brutally raped while their children and husbands watched. After this horrific act of war, the husbands are shot, dismembered and the women left bleeding and ruined in their communities. For the men who do survive they are unable to look at their wives for the shame they suffered by not being able to protect them from the atrocities that occurred. Imagine the children who were forced to watch their mothers being violently raped and their fathers murdered only to meet the same fate at their tender ages. For those children who were not killed they would be taken as child soldiers and “bush wives” to the rebels. The entire state of Arizona left in ruins with only the stench of dead bodies littered everywhere. Now imagine that the mainstream media ignores the entire 11 year massacre. Fox news, CNN, MSNBC all report on elections, high-speed car chases and celebrity divorces and never once mention that the entire state of Arizona has been massacred. This should seem outlandish yet it is happening every day in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Congo is a very large country in Africa which if placed in the U.S. would span from California east to Kansas and from Texas north to North Dakota filling almost half the United States. The Congo has nine bordering countries and is in the midst of a worldwide geo-strategic battle for the precious minerals found there including cobalt, gold, diamonds, copper, manganese, uranium and others. The Congo produces $1 Billion USD of gold per year. It is an understatement to say that everyone wants a piece of the Congo. All of these minerals are vital to the automobile industry, the aerospace industry, production of jewelry and technology. Since 1996 the Congo has been invaded by Rwanda and Uganda for their minerals and is suffering the effects of the war to this day. In a country that has been ruled by colonialism and dictators since 1885 it has seen little peace. This police state has no free press, no open political space and rulers are determined before and election even begins. Within the last few months Congo has been enduring an election where the outcome was already determined by neighboring leaders before one ballot was cast. It is not for lack of other political groups rising up wanting to begin the long road of bringing democracy to a struggling nation but their efforts were in vain and now the people are suffering the consequences of this election.
Since 1990, six million Congolese civilians have been massacred with the full knowledge of the US, UK, Britain and other western backers which are allowing rebel groups from neighboring countries to kill with impunity. It is the same atrocity as if the 9/11 tragedy in the United States happened every two days. Half of the dead are children under the age of five years old. That would get the attention of the media! Yet, why does this situation the DRC continually go unreported? Violence is escalating consistently in the Congo and tens of thousands are murdered every month but there is no consistent or international reporting on these continued horrors. The dire situation begs the question ‘who will hold these perpetrators accountable?’ Sadly, the answer continues to be nobody because the west is too dependent on the financial interests of minerals and money coming out of the Congo.
The world ignored the obvious signs of the pending Rwandan genocide in 1994 and did not intervene. The international community is doing the same thing today in Congo. The DRC was recently declared one of the worst places in the world to be a woman due to the use of rape as a weapon of war. These women and children are being held hostage morally and entire communities are being displaced by rebel groups in order to destabilize the region to gain access to mines and resources. Abject poverty is rampant throughout Congo as refugees struggle to survive on a daily basis. Rwanda massacred hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees that fled in fear after the 1994 genocide. Yet, why were children and women also massacred? Why were the sick and the elderly murdered in cold blood? Did they pose a threat to the stability of a new Rwanda under the RPF regime or was it done in revenge? While the death of one does not justify the death of another I do not believe that anyone would disagree with Rwanda seeking out the Interahamwe in order to ensure peace in the region.
Today, the Congo is controlled by the corrupt dictatorial network of President Paul Kagame, Rwanda; President Yoweri Museveni, Uganda and the currently re-elected President Joseph Kabila with the full support of the US, UK and other nations that have vested interests in the region. There have been no UN sanctions on the Sub-Saharan region for the ongoing atrocities being committed in the Congo every day. U.S. President Barack Obama passed the most comprehensive Public Law,# 109-456, in order to protect the people of the Congo where he clearly noted in section 105 that: “The Secretary of State is authorized to withhold assistance made available under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.), other than humanitarian, peacekeeping, and counterterrorism assistance, for a foreign country if the Secretary determines that the government of the foreign country is taking actions to destabilize the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” These requirements have been documented in the U.N. Mapping report of 2010 as well as other reports providing the proof that Rwanda is destabilizing the region for monetary gain and exports. Yet, the U.S. has provided $1 Billion USD in aid to Rwanda since 2000.
The only way to stop the nightmare in the Congo is for the International community to put pressure on Rwanda and Uganda to stop their daily murderous and controlling activities in Congo. The public law named above must be enacted in order for the citizens of the Congo to get the justice they deserve. This situation is a global issue affecting every continent. Yet, why does the international community bury their heads in the sand and not intervene? The answer is a complex web of political situations and peace keeping missions that the US and other western countries do not want to intervene in therefore if the west continues to allow Rwanda and Uganda to do as they wish in Congo then they will also handle the peace keeping missions in African countries such as Sudan and Darfur so the US does not have to. This thinking proves the point that it is easier to have relations with dictators than democracies.
One has to wonder if the international community had asked the people of the Congo permission to mine the minerals without displacing, murdering and raping them what would their answer had been.
For more information on the issues facing the Congo Please watch Crisis in the Congo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLV9szEu9Ag