by Barly Koyangbwa, Deputy Representative of APARECO North West UK
In this short film, Barly speaks powerfully about the violent regime in Congo – and the multinationals' post colonial scramble for minerals in the country, including coltan which is used in the manufacture of laptops and mobile phones.
In this article I wish to bring to the attention of the international community, particularly to the people of UK, the countless violations of human rights occurring in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Ever since my home country was assaulted by a Rwandan-Ugandan coalition 21 years ago, with the support of the international community and global corporations alike, these violations have been taking place day and night.
It is indeed the case that the media’s silence on the matter, as well as the complicity of the international community, hinders the chance for the British public to learn what exactly is going on in DRC.
Points to consider
It is no longer a secret to anyone; most of the world media are either financed or owned by global corporations1. The silence from the mass media on the massacres and violations in DRC is due to the great interest these corporations have in the region’s natural resources, such as coltan - used in the production of smartphones and laptops - gold, cobalt, gas and diamonds among others. These companies, engaged in large-scale business with genocidal criminals such as Joseph Kabila, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni, know that if the British public were aware of these crimes they would then put pressure on their government to intervene, thus complicating matters for the multinational companies.
At the start of the 20th century Britain supported DRC in its fight against genocide at the hands of the Belgian King Leopold II during the rubber tapping campaign2. Millions of Congolese were mutilated, amputated and killed simply when they were not able to carry the heavy loads of rubber that was demanded3. With the help of APARECO, ‘L’Alliance des patriotes pour la refondation du Congo’ (The Patriotic Alliance for the Restoration of Congo), the Congolese can now call upon Britain’s help once again.
I take this opportunity to urge human rights organisations, independent journalists and humanitarians in the UK to speak out, just as Edmund Dene Morel, Roger Casement, John Harris and Arthur Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes) did. They put pressure on Leopold II and wrote about the crimes being committed under his watch, and in 1908 the independent state of Congo was removed from the private ownership of Leopold II and became a Belgian colony.
The British people now have a moral duty in the face history; it is your turn to put pressure on the government and on the UN, and to support APARECO in its fight to free DRC, so that the Congolese are no longer massacred because of the natural resources that they happen to live among.
Key moments in DRC
- 1996: the Rwandan-Ugandan army attacks DRC with the financial, logistical and political backing of USA, Canada and South Africa along with support from multinationals. At the head of the rebellion is a Congolese man named Laurent Désiré Kabila, a puppet put in place to portray the situation as in-fighting between the Congolese, consequently leading the outside world to believe that this was the case4.
- 1997: May 17th - President Mobutu is removed from power and Laurent Désiré Kabila becomes President of the Republic5.
- 1998: Kabila realises that much control of the country is now in the hands of the Ugandan-Rwandan coalition, control that he himself signed away in the legal agreements before becoming president. With this realisation, Kabila refuses to recognise these agreements and the alliance between him and the Rwandan-Ugandan aggressors come to an end. Rwandan and Ugandan ministers, advisers, officers and soldiers leave DRC and retreat to Rwanda. The Rwandan and Ugandan armies mount a new war of aggression in DRC, this time with more rebel groups and other figureheads such as Jean Pierre Bemba.
- 2001: The conflict ends with the assassination of President Laurent Désiré Kabila, completing the coup lead by Paul Kagame. A Rwandan citizen called Hyppolite Kanambe, also known as Joseph Kabila, is appointed president of DRC6. The war of aggression against DRC by its neighbours in the East concludes with Joseph Kabila’s appointment as head of state. It is in this moment that the occupation of DRC is complete. The success of the occupation is evident by the fact that all the Rwandan officials and politicians who had fled DRC, having been expelled by Laurent Désiré Kabila, then return to DRC. (Only one official of note remained in Rwanda - general James Kabarebe who, under Laurent Désiré Kabila, was the Chief of Staff of the Congolese army, but then took up the same position with the Rwanda army).
What are the interests at stake?
DRC is a rich country that attracts the interest of its geographical neighbours and of big businesses. A stable DRC is of no interest to them. The big powers believe DRC is too vast and therefore must be ‘Balkanised’, ie, divided up to facilitate the exploitation of its natural resources. While multinational companies extract DRC’s natural resources they would prefer not to negotiate with a government made up of Congolese patriots. To keep this potential inconvenience at arm’s length they finance and arm militia with the aim of creating instability and chaos in the region to profit further from the selling-off of its resources.
The Rwandan-Ugandan point of view
Rwanda and Uganda profit from their intermediary status by carrying out fraudulent business in DRC and staging fake rebellions in collaboration with Joseph Kabila and his generals. They create insecure environments, stealing from, murdering and raping Congolese.
While Paul Kagame’s Rwanda not only steals resources from DRC it is also his intention to colonise the East side of the country7.
Strategies that Kagame’s Rwanda uses in DRC
Many might ask how it is possible that such a small nation (Rwanda) could bring its giant neighbour to its knees. It becomes clear when one considers that Rwanda is the active accomplice of an international plot to ‘Balkanise’ DRC, and behind that plot lies the world’s big businesses. Their strategy can be summarised in two words: lies and chaos.
1) The lie:
The occupants of DRC entered the country on a lie, claiming that they had arrived to liberate the country from the Mobutu dictatorship. They had established an identity thief as leader, Joseph Kabila. They arrested and kill patriotic Congolese politicians and have fabricated a false government opposition in the form of corrupt and greedy Congolese officials who allow them to stay in DRC and further the region’s ‘Balkanisation’. That is why APARECO does not only oppose Joseph Kabila as an individual but is also against the whole system of occupation of DRC. Its occupants can simply replace Kabila with another Rwandan or Congolese puppet at any time in order to portray a change of system. APARECO does not believe in elections in an occupied DRC or in the results from conversations between its occupants and their collaborators. APARECO is instead preparing the Congolese for an awakening that will result in a grass-roots uprising.
2) The chaos:
The occupants persistently stir up rebellions to create insecurity and intimidate the Congolese with mass rape and burning down natives’ homes to oust them from the East. They gradually spur on the Rwandan colonialists to infiltrate the region so that one day, when they become a majority in East DRC, the new Rwandan population can request a referendum on independence. Women in DRC, including the elderly and infants, are victims of systematic rape as the occupants try to eliminate Congolese nationals in the East. DRC has become “the rape capital of the world”8. Where important minerals are found, killings begin. In the case of Kasai, 80 mass graves have been discovered since September 2016, 38 of which were found by MONUSCO.9 According to UNHCR, more than 1.3 million Congolese have been displaced as a result of the conflict in Kasai.
I do not believe that revenge, hatred or division are the credible answers to bring about stability in the region of the Great Lakes. The Congolese, Ugandan, Rwandan and Burundi people are already destined to be eternal neighbours.
When looking at Europe’s history one can see that its countries have endured many invasions and wars amongst them throughout the centuries, most recently in the 20th century two world wars and the Balkan atrocities the were preceded by genocide. Fortunately however the Europeans did not let themselves succumb to the disaster of division. They condemned the guilty parties and put systems in place to ensure their living together in harmony, respect and dignity. Who would have thought that France and Germany would now be working together for the progression of the European Union?
For the case of DRC and the region of the Great Lakes, I encourage the United Nations to officially recognise the genocide taking place and repair the damages committed. The Congolese, Ugandans and Rwandans must forgive each other and accept, tolerate and continue to live together in mutual respect, while also respecting the borders inherited from the period of colonialisation.
With regards to the sponsors of crime against humanity, the genocidal leaders that are Joseph Kabila, Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame should be brought to court and feel the full force of the law.
The leaders of the world’s corporations who buy coltan, gold and so many other natural resources in DRC, obtained at the price of Congolese bloodshed, should be put before the country’s special court. Charles Taylor and the big buyers of blood diamonds were responsible for the massacres in Sierra Leone and rightfully faced trial. Their actions don’t compare to the level of genocide that has occurred in DRC. Paul Kagame, Joseph Kabila, Yoweri Museveni and their accomplices from multinationals are responsible for these atrocities, and they too should be brought to justice.
1 ‘Tous les gouvernements mentent: 1001 Vies TV Canada’ - Oliver Stone Documentary
2 ‘King Leopold Rule in Africa’ Edmund Dene Morel. ‘The Crime of Congo’ Conan.
3 ‘Red Rubber’ - Edmund Dene Morel
4 ‘L’Afrique en morceaux. La tragédie des grands Lacs’
5 ‘Ainsi a sonné le glas: Les derniers jours du Marechal Mobutu’. Honoré Ngbanda Nzambo
6 ‘Les origines cachées de Joseph Kabila jusqu’à son ascension au sommet de L’état Congolais’ - www.abidjantv.net
7 ‘Crimes organisés en Afrique Centrale : Enquêtes sur les Réseaux Rwandais et Occidentaux’ Auteur: Honoré Ngbanda Nzambo
8 Margot Wallstrom, UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, 2010
9 ‘Strategies du chaos et du mensonge : Poker menteur en Afrique des Lacs’ Honore Ngbanda Nzambo et Patrick Mbek