Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FSRN, PLEASE: The UN Security Council Has No Moral Authority in Congo

The UN Security has no moral authority anywhere, but this is about Congo, weaponized rape and weaponized rape prosecution, organized by representatives of the Security Council, in eastern Congo.  I responded, below, and on the KPFA Radio and Free Speech Radio News websites, to this segment from the Free Speech Radio News broadcast of January 21, 2011 regarding the weaponization of rape and rape prosecution in eastern Congo, which also aired on the KPFA Evening News the same day:

DRC arrests soldiers for rape  
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, officials arrested a group of soldiers for their involvement in the rapes of dozens of women on New Year’s Day. They could be tried as early as next week. A UN spokesperson told Reuters that the commander who authorized the attack on the town of Fizi in the eastern part of the country has also been arrested. Human rights groups have long raised concern about armed groups using rape as a weapon of war in DRC. And some say sexual violence will continue if authorities fail to investigate and prosecute those responsible.  The UN’s Jocelyne Sambira has more.

The UN Security Council Has No Moral Authority in Congo

The Security Council has no moral authority whatsoever, but this is a response to your story citing the Security Council's moral authority with regard to the weaponization of rape, and the prosecution of rape, in eastern Congo.
The story described rape charges against the FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu militia, and against the FARDC, the Congolese Army, in eastern Congo, without any context about what those two groups really are, or, any context about the politicization of rape prosecutions in the region.
You cannot report this honestly and responsibly without explaining that the CNDP, another Rwandan and Ugandan militia, was integrated into the very Congolese Army it had been fighting in January 2009, in a new phase of the Rwandan and Ugandan Tutsi elite control of the region and its resources, with the backing of the real beneficiaries, the U.S. and the UK.
You cannot report it honestly and responsibly without attempting to explain who's charging and prosecuting whom for this, and why, and explaining the UN Security Council's political agenda in determining who charges and prosecutes whom.
This story, in a matter sure to satisfy the UN Security Council and the U.S. State Department, disregards the UN Mapping Report leaked on August 26th and released on October 1st, which documents the Ugandan and Rwandan armies' use of rape as a weapon in eastern Congo. No one from either the Rwandan or Ugandan armies is being prosecuted.
The report cites the UN Security Council as a moral authority, though nothing could be further from the truth, especially in eastern Congo and especially with regard to the weaponization of rape in eastern Congo.
Neither FSRN nor KPFA should be citing the UN Security Council as a moral authority in this situation, or any other.
That's the simplest starting point.
Who, for starters, are the permanent members of the Security Council? To be considered for membership, a nation must first of all have a nuclear bomb, and, the more the better, although China was admitted after only their second detonation, with only a few nuclear bombs.
India, one of the newer nuclear weapons states, is the most recent contender for a permanent Security Council seat as well. Japan seemed to be under consideration for awhile, despite not having a bomb, but it wasn't admitted. And Japan could never even have been considered if the world's most powerful nations hadn't known that it's so nuclear, and industrial, that it could build one in a long weekend.
The other prerequisite for becoming a permanent member of the Security Council, at the time it was formed, was being a victor in World War II, and the Security Council has been firmly committed to victor's justice ever since. In Rwanda and Congo, it has been committed to the justice that prosecutes the losers of the Rwandan Civil War, "Hutu genocidaires," at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR), and demonizes "Hutu militias," meaning the refugee army that retreated into eastern Congo. Hence, "Hutu militias" have been blamed, by the Security Council, for nearly all the violence done to the people of eastern Congo since 1994.
I recorded and then quoted ICTR defense lawyers Christopher Black and Peter Erlinder on victor's justice at the ICTR and other international tribunals on KPFA News, and in Global Research and the San Francisco Bay View, National Black Newspaper,
I should add, so that it doesn't seem like I'm unfairly attacking FSRN, that Democracy Now has made the same error, re the UN Security Council, on this issue. Democracy Now has also, however, radically improved its East/Central Africa reporting this year and given attention to the Mapping Report documenting atrocities, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocidal massacres of civilians, and mass, weaponized rape, committed most of all by the armies of Rwanda and Uganda in D.R. Congo. That should be a key reference point for any story about rape in eastern Congo now. I'd like to see FSRN keep the Mapping Report on hand, and see both FSRN and Democracy Now stop granting moral authority to the Security Council.
Like most of the Pacifica community, I value FSRN, but that's why I'm taking the time to say that it should do better, much better. Both the Pacifica audience, and the African people of the Great Lakes Region, deserve better. Sad to say, not reporting this story at all would have been much better than this.
-Ann Garrison, KPFA Weekend News Reporter, WBAI AfrobeatRadio Radio Producer, regular contributor to the San Francisco Bay View, National Black Newspaper, Global Research, and the Newsline EA (East Africa)

Several of my Rwandan friends posted these responses on the KPFA Website:

Champ· 2 days ago
Ann you are correct about the reporting of the rape story in Eastern Congo as has been told by the UN Security council. This story was known by the UN Security Council for weeks before they said a word about it? Why did they come out with it when they did? Because a leaked shameful/embarrassing report about Rwanda and Uganda, darlings of the UN Security council was released. Who made the report? It was made by the UN Human Rights High Commissioner. Why was it blocked? Because the security council didn't want Rwanda's and Uganda's disgraceful atrocities, including possible genocide brought public. What did the Security Council do after they couldn't block the Human Rights High Commissioner report anymore? They screamed about the rape story to create a distraction, even though they hadn't even conducted an investigation.

KPFA would do best to investigate this rape story before reporting on it. They will find those involved in perpetrating the crime to be more diverse and will include Congo's regular army, the Rwandan army, and the Ugandan army and their proxies.

On the other hand, Ann has been spot on in her reports about the Rwandan and Ugandan army involvement in the atrocities in the region as well as both of these armies serving as the US proxy militias in conflicts in Africa. Ann, you are make KPFA listeners proud with your Africa reporting.

As a survivor of the carnage that has engulfed Rwanda and neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, I was shocked by the bias in the report regarding the rape in DRC. The story talks about stopping impunity. It goes on to mention various sides of the conflict in DRC. But somehow it does not mention how the current president of Rwanda, General Kagame is the one who started the conflict in DRC. The United Nations is mentioned but somehow, there is no single mention of the October 1st, 2010 United Nations report that accused General Kagame's extremist Tutsi forces of rape as well as genocide.

That UN report said "The extensive use of edged weapons (primarily hammers) and the systematic massacres of survivors after the camps had been taken show that the numerous deaths cannot be attributed to the hazards of war or seen as equating to collateral damage. The majority of the victims were children, women, elderly people and the sick, who were often undernourished and posed no threat to the attacking forces. Numerous serious attacks on the physical or mental integrity of members of the group were also committed, with a very high number of Hutus shot, raped, burnt or beaten. The systematic, methodological and premeditated nature of the attacks listed against the Hutus is also marked: these attacks took place in each location where refugees had been screened by the AFDL/APR over a vast area of the country. The pursuit lasted for months, and on occasion, the humanitarian assistance intended for them was deliberately blocked, particularly in the Orientale province, thus depriving them of resources essential to their survival. Thus the systematic and widespread attacks described in this report reveal a number of damning elements that, if proven before a competent court, could be classified as crimes of genocide."

I expected better from KPFA. I expected more professional, unbiased reporting and that story was a total disappointment for me.

This is not the first time that I have objected to FSRN's Africa reporting.   I can't, at this point, remember an FSRN story on Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo that I have not objected to, and many of my African friends, including Rwandan journalist Eleneus Akanga, contributor to the Newsline EA, and Hampshire College Professor Susan Thomson went to the FSRN website to object to its false reconciliation story, Rwanda village brings together Hutus and Tutsis on path toward reconciliation.   Zack Baddorf, FSRN Reporter and Board President Zack Baddorf, and the producer of that piece, failed to respond.   Nathan Moore, FSRN Administrative Director, responded instead, but without addressing the fundamental issue---that, FSRN had reported a story of false reconciliation, as described by as Hampshire College Professor and Africa/Rwanda expert Susan Thomson wrote, in her response to that piece: 

reaction to reconciliation village segment

I am writing to express my concern about the quality of reporting on this piece. It reads as government propaganda, and indeed many of the reactions I've read thus far support this claim. However, I think the journalist is simply naive and perhaps a little lazy. It is certainly note the kind of reporting I expect from FSRN. It is important to go beyond the narratives of the ruling RPF to understand the various motivations and methods of killing as well as the structures of power put in place since (controlled as they are by the RPF) to understand and explain "reconciliation". Indeed, it is an affair of the heart, and of the stomach as poor and traumatised individuals are left to fend for themselves for their daily needs. At the same time the government is strictly monitoring their political activities to assure commitment to the "script" of national unity and reconciliation. In other words, if you ask people who have lived their lives in chronic adversity to speak about their real feelings in a government-controlled space like the reconciliation village what do you expect their answers to be? I am hungry? I can't send my children to school because I am not the right kind of survivor? Or I lost my health benefits because I didn't forgive correctly at gacaca? No. Of course not. So yes, there is tolerance, which is conceptually different than reconciliation. Tolerance means you have no option but to accept sharing with another individual. Reconciliation means something different, and in the Rwanda context it means to heal the heart. Such cultural clues go unrecognised on this shameful piece.

Stations throughout the Pacifica Network, with five sister stations in New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Berkeley, and Houston, and many affiliated independent radio stations throughout the United States, play FSRN, and FSRN has, over the years, done a great deal of good reporting on other issues.  So, I keep responding and suggesting that others, who understand what's wrong with FSRN's reporting on this part of the world, do the same.  Here's the link, for writing to FSRN about their January 21st, 2011 broadcast:, and here's the link for KPFA Evening News,   

No comments:

Post a Comment