By Gergianne Nienaber
How is it ethically possible to negotiate with a group and then promote war against it?
While the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rebel group M23 continues to pursue peace talks in Kampala, Uganda at the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), under the leadership of chairman Bertrand Bisimwa and spokesman Rene Abandi, the United Nations is organizing three battalions of 3,000 troops from South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique to conduct “offensive operations” against rebels in eastern Congo. 19,815 MONUSCO troops are currently deployed in the country. This action will effectively pit Africans against Africans in the forests of Congo, opening the door to a regional bloodbath, while ignoring the problems that have plagued the Kivu Provinces for decades.
It has been nineteen years since the Rwandan genocide of April 1994–a heinous event that the United Nations watched unfold in silence.
Africans were expendable then and seem to be now. The UN should have acted in 1994. The Security Council should refrain from meddling and using African nations to prop up MONUSCO’s failed peacekeeping mission in DRC at the expense of more African bloodshed.
On March 28, the UN Security Council approved Resolution 2098, which authorizes three infantry battalions, one artillery, and one special forces and reconnaissance company to be headquartered in the provincial capitol of Goma. The text of the Resolution targets the “increased activity of other armed groups, including the Alliance des Patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain (APCLS) and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in North Kivu, the Mayi-Mayi Gedeon and the Mayi-Mayi Kata-katanga in Katanga Province, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Orientale Province, and further expressing concern at Rwandan reports of attacks by the FDLR on Rwandan territory.”
It is about time that something is done to protect the innocent in this region, but there are some glaring omissions and half-truths present in the United Nations’ statement. Number one is the omission that the M23/CNDP was formed in March 2012 as a response to the lawlessness and lack of government control in eastern Congo. The Goma Peace Accord was signed by Congolese President Joseph Kabila in 2009 and never implemented. A central tenet of the agreement is that a “quick and lasting solution to this crisis” of “massive human rights violations” and “unprecedented” humanitarian emergencies must be found.
The M23 has been essentially fighting for the same outcome that Resolution 2098 purports to be seeking– while actively engaged in fighting FDLR genocidaires who have proven collusions with not only the United Nations, but also the Congolese Army (FARDC). FDLR defectors have detailed incidents when MONUSCO came to the militia’s rescue, including “bailing them out with food supplies.”
Read this press account and you will learn that it was the FARDC that conducted mass rapes in Minova during the offensive. Review reporting by AlJazeera and be reminded that Goma was taken with barely a shot fired by the M23 and no resistance.
When they [Congolese Army] arrived in Minova they were drunk, hungry and violent. The locals suffered two nightmarish days of looting, rape and murder before the army restored some discipline among its troops. Hundreds of women were raped. It is impossible to accurately state the number of cases as victims often fail to come forward, fearing that their communities and even their husbands will reject them, but hospital director Dr. Ghislain Kassongo said he dealt with well over 100 women with rape-related injuries after the army rampage.
Besides efforts to bury the truth, the United Nations is opening the door to mass burials of African casualties if the potential for regional war is realized. The five permanent members of the Security Council– China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States–have little to lose, and only two non-permanent members, Morocco and Rwanda, are from Africa.
M23’s political leader Bertrand Bisimwa criticized the resolution as a de facto declaration of war in the face of ongoing peace talks. Instead of “encouraging a political solution by supporting the political negotiations, the UN has chosen to wage war against one of the partners for peace”, he said in a
Bisimwa also sent a direct appeal to the government of South Africa, offering condolences to families of the members of the South African Army that lost their lives while defending the Central African Republic (CAR), under what is looking more and more like a backroom deal to give South Africa increased influence in the mineral-rich region.
South Africa officially reported that 13 of its soldiers died fighting rebels that ousted CAR president FranÃ§ois BozizÃ©’s regime. “But according to the rebels, as many as 36 South Africans were killed, raising questions over why the soldiers were stationed there and why the South African government would want to cover up the number of deaths,” said France24. It appears the soldiers were defending South Africa’s mining interests. Eastern Congo is rich in minerals that western nations desperately need for the communications and defense industries.
Analyst Andrew Mwenda of Uganda’s Independent outlines the African perspective and the very real prospects for regional war in this situation. He details the surreal surrender of Bosco Ntaganda to the American embassy, an event that flew in the face of all international press accounts that had firmly tied the warlord to the M23. In reality, it was the M23 under U.S. and UN sanctioned Sultani Makenga who delivered Ntaganda to the International Criminal Court by way of the U.S. embassy in Rwanda after Ntaganda was roundly defeated by M23 forces in Virunga National Park.
Mwenda rightly ridiculed the international press for their silence in the wake of a development that demolished the contrived narrative known as Conventional Wisdom. This collective and false narrative, which blamed Rwanda for all of the ills of the region, was promoted by erstwhile “human rights” organizations and a sloppy and hastily written report by a UN Group of “experts.”
Instead of analyzing its own mistakes, the international press has gone silent. The errors and consequences of malfeasance are too great to admit. Mwenda goes even deeper with his accusations.
For example, beginning mid last year, the international press (largely western based or managed) has launched a jihad against the government of Kagame in Rwanda. The ammunition for the this jihad is a shoddy and doggy report by a UN “panel of experts” that alleges Rwanda to be training and arming M23 rebels fighting the government of President Joseph Kabila of DR Congo.
In the “Hijacking of Human Rights,” Chris Hedges exposes the underbelly of so-called human rights organizations that are in reality “propagandists for pre-emptive war and apologists for empire.”
The current business of human rights means human rights for some and not for others. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights, the Peace Alliance, and Citizens for Global Solutions are all guilty of buying into the false creed that U.S. military force can be deployed to promote human rights. None of these groups stood up to oppose the invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan, as if pre-emptive war is not one of the grossest violations of human rights.
Human Rights Watch is the principal drumbeater for a proxy war in the Great Lakes region. The first world members of the Security Council have decided to send African brother against African brother to do the dirty work in the name of a deceptive “human rights” agenda.
As Hedges writes:
The creed of “humanitarian intervention” means, for many, shedding tears over the “right” victims. Its supporters lobby for the victims in Darfur and ignore the victims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Gaza. They denounce the savagery of the Taliban but ignore the savagery we employ in our offshore penal colonies or our drone-infested war zones. They decry the enslavement of girls in brothels in India or Thailand but not the slavery of workers in our produce fields or our prisons.
Hedges might have added to his analysis that in the world of Human Rights Watch (HRW), the “right” victims are not the ethnic Tutsis who have suffered genocide and annihilation for decades. The gospel according to HRW has it completely wrong.
Mwenda’s article cautions “that fighting a counter insurgency in a country that is densely forested, with a bad terrain, and speaking a language alien to the imported brigades is complete folly.”
The M23 knows every nook and cranny in eastern DRC and has an overwhelming tactical advantage. They defeated the Congolese Army on its own turf. When the Tanzanians and South Africans are defeated by the M23, as they most certainly will be, the narrative will likely morph back to the previous narrative that Rwanda is behind it all.
Perhaps this is why Rwanda, as a temporary member of the Security Council, surprisingly signed onto Resolution 2098. The blaming took its toll on the tiny country still struggling to recover from the events of April 1994.
The press and “human rights” groups will embrace the western perpetrators of violence initiated under a false narrative that serves the oppressive government of DRC and exploitive international interests, rather that remembering, as Hedges says, “that human rights mean defending all who are vulnerable, persecuted and unjustly despised.”
Where is the outcry from “human rights” groups on behalf of the moer than 3,000 Africans about to be sacrificed by the UN Security Council for western interests?
The UN has effectively authorized a massacre from the safety of a New York City skyscraper.
History repeats and repeats.
On April 14, 1994, the United Nations stood by with the tacit support of the Clinton administration as Rwanda descended into the third circle of hell and up to one million ethnic Tutsis were murdered by the militia now operating as the FDLR in eastern DRC. The congolese army and the United Nations have done nothing to eliminate this militia of genocidaires.
Despite admitting in a 2000 report that “[UN] council members acknowledged its main finding that their governments lacked the political will to stop the massacres,” it seems the UN has no real remorse when it comes to sacrificing African lives to political expediency.
The grim month of April is here once again. Nineteen years ago the world stood by and watched the unthinkable become reality.
Are we willing to force change? Or are we content with pitting brother against brother in Africa as expendable commodities, while we shed tears over the “right” victims?