Nobody rational can reduce the death of more than 6 millions of victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo to only sexual violence. It would be criminally minimalistic.
The initiative – Dying in the Great Lakes – A Living Portrait is attracting some interest as far as New Zealand.
Iain Steward, who has been extensively commenting from that country on our notes regarding the project is an example of what the whole idea underlying it could bring to the international audience and particularly western in understanding better the tragic situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries of the Great Lakes region.
It is true that the human tragedy which is going on in that part of the world should normally touch all the countries in a special way: other human beings like ourselves being murdered raped displaced impoverished because of a maliciously sustained indifference by interested parties.
Instead of informing about the real issues and solving and stopping what is inacceptable, there is widespread disinformation [for example where M23 is more of a Rwandan unit in DR Congo than a rebel group] and manipulation [using among other strategies MONUSCO to control and sustain persistent occupation of the country].
Western governments and NGOs, multinationals, and complicit local governments of Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC are all parts of the problem with different levels of responsibility.
Maybe this where Iain Steward finds that the politics of the Great Lakes region are very complex for the average British person who might see the event scheduled in London on September 14th, 2013. I think they appear somehow difficult to apprehend because they are intentionally presented as so to solve in order to put off any non-concerned individual – when human issues should call everyone everywhere to care about them.
The politics of violence in the region are not complex at all if for example you include in the picture the multinationals which are the primary beneficiaries of the plundering of DRC resources. Nowhere one sees in Western media as often as this should be companies such as Berkerley Resources (uranium), SouthernEra or BRC Diamonds (diamonds), Barno or Moto Gold (gold), First Quantum, Nikanor, Metorex, Katanga Mining, Camec, Mwana Africa, Teal, Copper Resources, Africo Resources (copper/ cobalt), etc.
Let’s agree with Iain Stewart that the average British could relate easily to sexual violence. Perhaps, but the violence which is observed in the DRC is more than that. Nobody rational can link more than 6 millions of victims to only sexual violence. It would be criminally minimalistic. What is usually referred to in Western societies for such criminal act is totally different in DRC in terms of horror, strategies used, and ultimate objectives.
In fact one of the main aims of organising the event is to help Westerners understand that the problem is not as complex as their media has been presenting it to them. When it is presented as an ethnic issue, to be about weak or bad governance, and or corruption on one hand, but deliberately leave out the responsibility of the West on these different issues for its own interests, effectively it looks complicated.
This is because one of the main elements of the problem is left out of the puzzle. It is like having a mathematical equation with several variables where one would be missing thus making it impossible to find the value/weight of others in order to solve it.
Iain Stewart explains in his comment that
“…many in the West would struggle to find the Great Lakes region on a world map. I know several who have not been able to point to the DR Congo on a world map.”
The Great Lakes region of Africa traditionally consists of the following five countries: Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and DR Congo. But the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region includes the mentioned five countries plus Angola, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Kenya, Sudan and Zambia.
Dying in the Great Lakes intends among others things to educate the general public by effectively telling its audience [even inspire them to Google and locate that region on a world map], that in that particular part of the world, millions of people are dying with a covered complicity of their governments.
As for taking the envisaged visual representation of the tragedy to different places across the globe as suggests Iain Stewart, this has from the start been part of the initiator’s line of thinking. Considered the interest that Iain Stewart has demonstrated so far, he could be the representative of the organising committee in New Zealand.
Discussions on how to hold a similar event in his country would however be initiated immediately after the London one in order to learn from its experience. Similarly, where there could be other interested parties in other places around the world, they could reach out to the organizing team to be found on the following Facebook page: Dying in the Great Lakes/ Mourir dans les Grands Lacs.