Sunday, February 27, 2011

Africa advocates head to Congress re Congo atrocities

KPFA Weekend News Anchor Cameron Jones: The Great Lakes Region of Africa Coalition of peace and social justice activists in the U.S. is preparing for a March 2nd Congressional briefing on the UN Mapping Report documenting atrocities committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The report was leaked on August 26th, 2010, and officially released by the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights on October 1st.

President and General Paul Kagame leads the army whose
crimes in Congo are documented in the UN Mapping Report
leaked 08.26.2010, and officially released 10.01.2010.
The armies of Congo's neighbors to the east, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi, and most of all that of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, are most implicated, but the U.S. continues to collaborate with all three militarily. KPFA's Ann Garrison has more.

KPFA/Ann Garrison:  International, multilingual broadcast headlines following the August 26th leak of the UN Mapping Report were later combined into this sound collage to introduce "The contradictions of General Paul Kagame:," a video posted to the Youtube and Jambo News, a publication covering Africa's Great Lakes Region:

Audio collage of headlines:  (Audio collage of broadcast headlines during the week following the 08.26.2010 leak of the report.)

KPFA/Ann Garrison:  Despite the Mapping Report's documentation of atrocities including mass rape, civilian massacres, destruction of hospitals and other essential infrastructure, and even genocide, there have been no international criminal indictments. Within the last year Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, and Burundi's President Pierre Nkrunziza, all of whom are implicated in the UN report, held onto power in elections that much of the world understood as window dressing for dictatorship.

The U.S. and UK have continued to arm, train, and collaborate with the armies of Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi in Somalia, Sudan, and elsewhere on the African continent. Last July the Pentagon awarded Northrop Grumman and three other defense and security contractors a $500 million contract to train the armies of Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi and other African allies.

Jacques Bahati, Policy Analyst for the Washington D.C.-based Africa Faith and Justice Network spoke to KPFA about the Great Lakes Coalition's hopes for its March 2nd briefing on Capitol Hill:

Jacques Bahati:  Our goal is to rally U.S. support for justice for the crimes committed by the Rwandan, Ugandan, and Burundian armies and their Congolese collaborators in the war against Congo in 1996 to 2003.  Also we want the U.S. to take a clear stand on this issue, supporting the UN Mapping Report recommendations to set up an investigation to determine whether the targeted and massive killing of Congolese, Burundian, and Rwandan Hutu were a genocide.    

KPFA:  There have been many Congressional hearings and many UN reports about this.  What are you hoping might be different this time?

Jacques Bahati:  Well, we can't get tired.  We will continue to push and rally the international community for peace and stability of the region.  Although they might not hear us or they haven't heard us, we believe that one day they will hear what we are saying, because the evidence is very clear.  Many people died and justice has to be served.  

President  Barack Obama, as a Senator, authored Senate
Bill 2125, the Congo, Relief, Security, and Democracy
Promotion Act of 2006.
Ann Garrison:  Bahati also said that they would be asking Congress to push for implementation of Senate Bill 2125, the Obama Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006, and the only bill that President Obama, as a Senator, ushered into law on his own. The bill calls for appointment of a Special Envoy to the Congo, and for the cancellation of U.S. assistance to any country invading the Congo and plundering its resources, as the Mapping Report and previous UN reports demonstrate, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi have.

The Great Lakes Coalition is asking Americans to call their Senators and Congressmembers to ask them to attend the March 2nd briefing on the UN Mapping Report on Capitol Hill.  For updates on the hearings, see the websites of the Africa Faith and Justice Network and Friends of the Congo.

For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I'm Ann Garrison.

(For Congressional contacts, see

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