Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Hard Truths We Must Swallow: Rwanda is Wreaking Havoc in Congo.. and why the international community keeps quiet

Many articles and reports have been published on the the Rwandese involvement in the Congolese war. Only last year the United Nations investigators revealed that Rwandese troops crossed into Congo to fight side by side with a notorious rebel group, the M23, which has murdered civilians and gang-raped women, wreaking destruction on the eastern part of that country.

 Alice Gatebuke is a Rwandan genocide and war survivor, Cornell University graduate, and a human rights activist, wrote in her article "The Hard Truths we must swallow: Rwanda is wreaking Havoc in Congo" the following:

"The Rwandan Genocide was 19 years ago.....It is precisely this fear of another genocide carried out by the perpetrators of the genocide of 1994 that motivated the current Rwandan government’s first invasion of Congo in 1996. It is this fear that has sustained the Rwandan government’s justification for repeated intervention in the Congo over the last 16 years[..]
Since the first invasion, more than five million people have died in DR Congo, making it the deadliest conflict since the Second World War. And many of those deaths lie at the hands of the Rwandan government. These are hard truths we must swallow.[... ]
After sixteen years of invasion and intervention through proxy groups, it is still difficult for people in the international community to accept that the Rwandan government is guilty of anything but justified intervention in Congo [...] We, along with the rest of the world, must no longer refuse to swallow difficult and painful truths, and dedicate consistent focus and action towards resolving the deadliest conflict since the Second World War in Congo. "
Her full article can be found here:

Certainly security (as well as retaliation) was at the heart of the initial invasion. However, economic interests have played an important role as well. 

The New York Times writes: "Congo may be one of the world’s biggest tragedies, a country blessed with just about every natural resource imaginable — diamonds, copper, gold, oil, water, fertile land — but plagued by a series of interlocking wars that have killed millions of people. A U.N. report from 2002 accused Kagame’s army of plundering minerals from Congo and exporting them through Rwanda, at a staggering profit, supposedly with the help of one of the most infamous arms traders, Viktor Bout"  

Certainly a sense of guilt by the international community over the Rwandan genocide, especially the Unites States of America, can be one explanation for the lack of actions against this small country landlocked in the heart of Africa. (The US had just experienced the disastrous Somalia mission  - also known as Black Hawk Down - a year prior to the Rwandan crises, and were against any intervention on the continent when the genocide was brought to their attention). 

The NYT articles continues with their explanation on the lack of international pressures, and the US as following:
"The United States has a long history, of course, of putting aside concerns over human rights and democratic principles and supporting strongmen who can protect its strategic interests, like keeping the oil flowing or Communist sympathizers or Muslim extremists in check. But what makes the Kagame situation different from the one in Egypt, say, where the army has mowed down crowds, or in Saudi Arabia, where misogynistic princes rule, is that there is no obvious strategic American interest in Rwanda. It is a tiny country, in the middle of Africa, with few natural resources and no Islamist terrorists. So why has the West — and the United States in particular — been so eager to embrace Kagame, despite his authoritarian tendencies? One diplomat who works in Rwanda told me that Kagame has become a rare symbol of progress on a continent that has an abundance of failed states and a record of paralyzing corruption. Kagame was burnishing the image of the entire billion-dollar aid industry. “You put your money in, and you get results out,” said the diplomat, who insisted he could not talk candidly if he was identified. Yes, Kagame was “utterly ruthless,” the diplomat said, but there was a mutual interest in supporting him, because Kagame was proving that aid to Africa was not a hopeless waste and that poor and broken countries could be fixed with the right leadership. “We needed a success story, and he was it.”

 The entire New York Times article can be found here:

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