Cork Campaigning meeting: 27June2003 The ongoing crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo Speech made by Pierrot Ngadi Chairperson of the Congolese Irish Partnership (CIP) Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very pleased to be with you tonight to share in much needed discussions about the crisis in the DRC. I would like to thank the organizers of this meeting. My thanks goes especially also to Dr. Fintan Lane chairperson of the Anti-War Campaign Movement. Thanks also to Ms Bernadette McGonigle, chair of Amnesty International, who accepted the invitation to join us tonight. Ladies and Gentlemen Tonight’s meeting concerns the ongoing situation in the DRC. We people of the DRC are enduring the worst tragedy on earth since the Second World War (SWW). Five million of our compatriots have died and millions more have suffered extremely from atrocities. I will begin with some general background information. The DRC is the third largest country in Africa. It is located in Central Africa, at the heart of the vast African continent. Approximately 250 ethnic groups inhabit the Congo and most of them share many cultural traits. The DRC shares its land borders with no less than nine other countries. Tanzania does not share a land border with the Congo; rather it borders Congo’s Lake Tanganika, the second-largest lake in Africa and the fifth largest in the world. The Congo’s ties to its immediate neighbors are reinforced by the fact that many of its ethnic groups straddle national boundaries. Hence you will find many Congolese tribes in neighbouring countries. The Kongo tribe also lives in Angola and Congo-Brazzaville, the Ngbandi tribe in the Central African Republic, the Zande tribe in Sudan, the Alur in Sudan and Uganda, the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa in Rwanda and Burundi, the Bemba in Zambia, the Lunda in Zambia and Angola and finally the Tshonkwe in Angola. Ladies and Gentlemen: It is often said that the DRC is the heart of Africa, and if the hearth stops, the body stops. Franz Fanon, a Martinique well known patriot, said: “Africa has the shape of a revolver and its trigger is in the Congo.” When you pull the Congo’s trigger all of Africa will explode. Serious concerns lie behind these colourful analogies. And there is no doubt that if the Congo is in difficulty, all of Africa will be seriously affected. The current Congolese crisis confirms this. All countries bordering the Congo are now involved in what’s called the “first continental war”, with the beleaguered DRC at its heart. Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi are aggressors in the Congo. While Chad, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe have been invited in by the DRC government for support. Ladies and Gentlemen There are many historic connections between Ireland and the Congo, but people often forget history. I am obliged to remind you that many years ago, when the Congolese people were suffering under the rule of Belgium’s King Leopold, and when his agent was committing genocide there, the Irish Patriot, Roger Casement was an outspoken critic. He was reportedly among the first influential Western people who had the courage to criticize the Belgium King’s genocidal policies in the Congo. Casement called on King Leopold to command his agents to end genocide and atrocities against the Congolese people. During the 1960 “civil war in the Congo, a UN mission was dispatched which included Irish troops. Nine Irish soldiers lost their lives during the fighting. Genocide is also taking place in Congo today in a forgotten war called the “war of aggression.” Since this war began in August 1998, five million people have died. Over three quarters of the killings have taken place in Eastern Congo, around the mineral rich area. Around 90 per cent of the local population has been internally displaced as a result of the violence. Do people know why war is now raging in the Congo? To understand it is necessary to look at a number of events, which took place before the “war of aggression”, broke out. Firstly, In May1998 Congo’s then President, Laurent Kabila disagreed with multinational companies about licensing for the exploitation of natural resources. Secondly, in May 1998 Kabila decided to remove Bugera as a general secretary of Alliances des Forces Democratic pour la Liberation du Congo (AFDL) and nominated him a minister of state in the presidency without responsibility. Thirdly, in July 1998, Kabila restructured the army by appointing a new chief of armed forces. The previous occupier of the post, James Kabarebe was made adviser to the president. This is how the late president Kabila freed himself from Rwandan military imposition or Rwandan military tutelage in order to rule the DRC as a sovereign state. Fourth, internal opposition parties in the Congo asked President Laurent Kabila to get rid of Rwandan troops and officers in the Congolese army as the political leaders in the Congo felt that their brother Kabila was compromised and restricted by the Rwandan troops. Fifth, on July27th 1998 Kabila finally ordered Commander James Kabarebe and all Rwandan troops to leave the DRC and to return to Rwanda. This caused the break out of the “war of aggression” on 2ndAugust 1998 in Goma. Repercussions were felt in Kinshasa. The Rwandan government established the same plan as they had in 1996, which led to the creation of the Alliances des Forces Democratic pour la Liberation. They collaborated with some Congolese people who they could easily manipulate to form a rebel movement, the rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD). The RCD had the support of some Congolese people, like Jean Pierre Ondekane and Wamba dia Wamba, who legitimized their actions against Kabila’s regime. The instigators of the war of aggression thought that this war would follow the same path as the war of liberation in the 1996. Unfortunately history did not repeat itself. External reaction to the war of aggression The international community remains indifferent in the face of foreign aggression against the Congo. Rwanda and Uganda received support from a superpower ally, the United States. The US trained and armed both countries so that they could effectively counter the Islamic Fundamentalist state in Sudan. As a result Rwanda and Uganda became arrogant, and decided to occupy the Congo, a sovereign state, and cause massacres and destruction there. The western powers believed the propaganda spread by Uganda and Rwanda, who claimed they invaded the DRC to safeguard their security interests. But the interests of the Congolese did not figure anywhere on the agenda of the international community. The US and Western allies remained quiet about human rights abuses being committed by Rwandan and Ugandan armies against innocent people in the DRC since 1998. The West and the US must bear the responsibility for the deaths of millions of Congolese people, since they have had the capacity and ability to prevent these killings if they had been interested. In reality, it took almost two years for the United Nations Security Council to take action and condemn aggression against the Congo. (From August 1998- June 2000). In contrast, look at the speed and force of action taken by the international community against Iraq. Rwanda and Uganda have been deeply involved in mining and other economic activities in the Congo. Both Presidents Museveni of Uganda and Kagame of Rwanda are following a strategy of dividing up the Congo among rival warlords, which will allow them to have political influence in the country and, most importantly, access to its vast natural resources. Consider Museveni’s half brother Salim Saleh, Army chief of staff Brigadier Kazini and the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF). All have been more successful in making business deals than waging war in the Congo. Their major activities have consisted of the systematic looting of natural resources in the Congo. Both countries have established a regime of pillage and have divided up among themselves the gold, diamond, timber, coffee,coltan and tea resources of the north east of Congo. Today several NGOs working in the DRC, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Trocaire, Concern, Goal and the Congolese Irish Partnership (CIP) have stated that the biggest unique factor underpinning the conflict in the DRC was control and exploitation of its natural resources, including diamond, gold, timber and coltan. Hundred of thousand of Congolese civilians, especially women and children, have been tortured and killed during the fight to secure control of natural resources. Many more have died for lack of food; thousand of women have been raped; children soldiers have been enlisted; children have been force into hard labour in the mines; and human rights activists who have denounced these abuses have been beaten, arrested, detained and forced to flee or simply killed. “Despite many promises by the various factions to withdraw, the war is still raging and Ireland also continues to give aid money to a corrupt and brutal regime that is up its neck in the rape of the DRC”, this is horrific because they can use that aid money to further their warlike activities in the DRC, said John 0’Shea on 24 June 2003, on his speech to the Joint Dail Committee on Foreign Affairs. The Congolese Irish partnership a non- governmental organization who is active in Ireland and works closely with grassroots organizations in the DRC support and will continue to support John O’Shea’s position. The CIP demand to the Irish government if it to help poor people in Uganda, it is better to do it through missionaries and NGOs. Ladies and Gentlemen, The current situation in Ituri in the North East is highly critical; More than 50,000 people have died since there since the war started in the northeastern of DRC in 1999 and 500,000 have been internally displaced. The Mission Observer of the United Nations in Congo (MONUC), stationed in Bunia, has not been able to stop the massacres. On 28th May 03, the French Ambassador to the United Nations, Jean Marc de la Sabliere, requested authorization from the Security Council to intervene in the Congo in order to stop the genocide. On 30th May 03 the UNSC voted to accept the French proposal. UN Resolution 1484 was passed, which authorized the deployment of an Interim Emergency Multinational Force, while the UN could debate strengthening the mandate of MONUC in the long term. The interim force was to be stationed in Bunia, Ituri, and was mandated to operate in close cooperation with MONUC until MONUC was to be re-enforced by Bangladeshi forces on 01 September 2003. Deployment of the multinational force under French commandment began in June, and it is now operational in Ituri. Half of the more than 1,500 troops required are French. Other countries interested in sending their soldiers were Britain, Belgium, South Africa, Sweden, Sweden, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ireland. Ireland has since contributed four members of the armed forces to the force. They will be stationed in Paris and Entebbe, Uganda. The mission of the multinational force is to ensure stability around Bunia, to protect its airport and to protect the civilians sheltering there. Moreover, resolution 1484 authorises participants in the mission “to take all necessary measures” to fulfill its mandate. This mission is to continue until 1stSeptember 2003, and MONUC will continue its presence in the region in the long term to provide security and to protect civilians in the region. The objectives of the CIP’s campaign are as follows: • to urge the international community to provide the political, military and financial back up to ensure the multinational force in Ituri will succeed and accomplish their difficult mission to stop genocide and to protect civilians in the area; • to urge the international community to put pressure on Presidents Museveni and Kagame of Rwanda and Uganda to end their support for armed and rebel factions in the Congo; • to urge the international community not to focus solely on the violence in Ituri, but also to ensure the situation in the whole of the Congo is considered, by producing a long term plan for the country; • to urge the international community, through the UN, to renegotiate and make more robust the mandate of MONUC in order that it will be more effective in ending massacres and protecting the civilian population; • To urge the international community to expand the operations of MONUC throughout the North East and consider deployment of MONUC forces in the whole of the Congo; In order to work towards these objectives, we aim to target the following governments and members of government and international organizations through letter writing campaigns, email lists, meetings, lobbying, media coverage, etc. • to target governments of Rwanda, President Paul Kagame, Minister of Defence, Foreign Affairs; Uganda President Gbagbo Yoweri Museveni, Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs; the Europeans Union; Canada, South Africa, the US; the United Nations and the African Union. In Ireland, action will be focused around the following: • Initiation of a letter writing campaign to local TDs and to the Taoiseach and Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ireland, calling for him to put the crisis in the Congo top of the Irish agenda; and for Ireland to use it’s influence with the Ugandan government to urge them to cease support for rebel and armed groups in the Congo; • to urge Irish government, which makes significant donations to Uganda through Ireland AID to review its aid to the Ugandan government; • to urge the Irish government, which wields significant influence with the Ugandan government through its aid policy, to strongly urge the Ugandan government to cease support for armed and rebel forces in the Congo and particularly those which recruit child soldiers; • to urge Brian Cowen, Minister for Foreign Affairs to visit the DRC as soon as possible to witness for himself the tragedy that is unfolding. • to ask Irish media to give more attention on the conflict in the Congo and in their coverage to focus on the involvement of Rwanda and Uganda in the conflict; • To target the Minister for European Affairs in order to lobby for the prioritising of the Congo during the Irish Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2004; Ladies and Gentlemen: I would like to give you the Background information on the “war of aggression” 1998. During June and July 1998 a number of events — some verifiable, some only rumored — indicated that relations between President Kabila and the Rwandans had not only seriously deteriorated but had reached boiling point. Some of Kabila’s collaborators are reported to have concluded that a Rwandan officer was about to assassinate Kabila during the Independence Day festivities on June 30. Kabila personally suspected his then army Chief of Staff, James Kabarebe. At that time Kabila’s now Katangan guards allowed the Chief of Staff to enter the President’s office only after having been bodily searched and disarmed. A few days later, Kabila replaced Karabebe as chief of staff with his brother in law, Celestin Kifwa. In this atmosphere of mistrust, Tutsi families in Kinshasa began to feel insecure and started to leave. Kabila did a lot of traveling during these crucial days, lobbying for international support. He visited Namibia and Cuba, presumably seeking support for the Congolese, given the increasing split between the Congo and Rwanda which lead to the breakdown of their alliance. On July 27, Kabila officially ended the Rwandan mission of cooperation in the DRC and the Rwandan military was asked to leave immediately. On July 29, Rwandese troops flew back to the Rwandan capital Kigali. A little over a year earlier they had been received as liberators; now public opinion in Kinshasa vehemently supported their de facto expulsion. 2 August 1998: The Commander of the Arme Nationale Congolaise’s (ANC) 10th Brigade — one of the best and largest units in the new Congolese army — stationed in Goma, declared they no longer considered Kabila to be the DRC president. The 12th Brigade in Bukavu soon joined them. Rwandan army units were reported to be crossing the frontier into the Congo in force. In Kinshasa, a firefight began between Congolese Tutsi soldiers who refused to be disarmed and other Force Arme Congolaise (FAC), largely Katangan, soldiers. The Tutsi were routed and most were killed, though some manage to escape into the bush West of Kinshasa. Pogroms, encouraged by the Kabila regime, were carried out against Tutsis in Kinshasa and other cities throughout the Congo. 4 August 1998: In a spectacular cross-continental airlift, a plane full of Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers (according to some accounts also Congolese) led by James Kabarehe landed at Kitona army base located in the Lower Congo near Cabinda. The base held some 10–15,000 former Force Arme Zairoise (FAZ) soldiers who were being “re-educated” since the departure of Mobutu. Kabarebe and his approximately 150 soldiers managed to mobilize these troops to join their uprising against Kabila. Later, more troops from the East flew in to join this enterprise. Within days, they captured a number of towns and most importantly the Inga hydroelectric dam where they were able to cut off electricity supplies to Kinshasa as well as Katanga and began a siege of the capital Kinshasa. Sporadic power cuts and severe water shortages were inflicted on the capital, whose 8 million populations suffered greatly. Hospitals were severely affected, disease spread and many children died. The capital was threatened with starvation and military attack. Kabila called on the city’s population to arm itself and to defend the capital. There was a real response to this call to arms, but it involved many mob killings of suspected Tutsi infiltrators, mutinous soldiers, and simply unfortunate individuals who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. 20 August 1998: A group of Congolese politicians — for a wide variety of reasons, and coming from very different political backgrounds — united in Goma to form the political wing of the anti-Kabila movement, the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD-Goma). They came from a wide range of their political backgrounds. Some were from former ADFL members (see above), some were former Mobutu military who in 1996, claimed to oppose the Tutsi. Now they built an alliance with the Tutsi, and the Kabila regime seemed doomed. Its best military units had joined the “rebellion”, two well prepared former allies had not only invaded from the east, but also captured the far west of the country. Kinshasa was threatened by advancing troops coming from the lower Congo. 23 August1998: Angola, in fear of a threat to their borders and invited in by Kabila, attacked Rwanda-Uganda-RCD positions in the Lower Congo from its bases in Cabinda. The anti-Kabila forces were surrounded. Some of their troops reach the outskirts of Kinshasa where they were attacked by the population and massacred. Rwanda’s cross continental maneuver had failed, but in the east there were virtually no pro-Kabila forces and their “rebellion” achieved full military control. 26 August1998: Zimbabwe sent a military expedition to Kinshasa in support of the Kabila regime. Later, Namibia and Chad also sent troops which took up positions in support of Kabila. There were also some unconfirmed reports of Sudanese involvement on Kabila’s side. In sum, a war had begun on Congolese soil which involved, directly or indirectly, a large number of African states, military establishments, militia, and economic interests. The war in the Congo has become the first continental war. The trigger had been pulled and the heart of the African continent was exploding. 10th July 1999: After one year of bitter fighting, all parties involved in the war decided to sign an agreement in Lusaka, Zambia, called the Lusaka Agreement. 6-11 June 2000: The fragile peace agreement was short lived. Six days of fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan troops broke out in Kisangani, in the North East, in a bid for control of the mineral rich area. Rwandans and Ugandan troops massacred around 2000 civilians in Kisangani, many women were raped, homes, business and essential services were destroyed, and the city lay in ruins. Throughout all this time Rwandan and Ugandan governments claimed internationally that the war in the Congo was a civil war between Congolese ethnic groups. Their part in the destruction, they said, was simply that they had assisted Congolese rebels in order to ensure their own security. The international community seemed happy to believe this tale of events, and declined to intervene or take action against acts of aggression by Rwanda and Uganda. The massacres continued, the world ignored than on May 2003 a massacre occurred in Drodro, Ituri etc…the north-eastern of the Congo many people were killed, not an unusual figure by Congolese accounts. The only difference in this was 700 UN –troops were sitting in their barracks in Bunia or Kindu watching and failed /felt unable to assist the populations.