How the U.S. Can Make Partial Amends for Its Negligence During the Rwandan Genocide
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To: The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, Washington, D.C., 20520
To: The Honorable Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, United Nations Plaza, New York, N.Y., 10017
Dear Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice,
The humanitarian situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is disintegrating, and it is time for the United States to intervene publicly and forcefully.
According to report after report from human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, the violence is escalating, and the United Nations does not have enough peacekeeping troops to contain the violence. Already more innocents have died than in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The world cannot say again that it had no idea of the scope of this disaster. Rwanda can no longer be given a free pass because of its suffering during the genocide, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame must be held accountable for the alliance he has formed with Congolese President Joseph Kabila, who is turning a blind eye to the crimes committed against innocent Hutu civilians in eastern Congo.
In an urgent communique to independent media, the Congolese National Congress for the Defense of the People (whose French acronym is CNDP), is asking to meet with you precipitously regarding the Rwandan government's unwarranted detention of CNDP leader, Gen. Laurent Nkunda, and the corresponding increase in massacres of Congolese civilians since his arrest on Jan. 22. As documented by Human Rights Watch on Feb. 13:
"The rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which includes elements of the Interahamwe responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide, brutally slaughtered at least 100 Congolese civilians in the Kivu provinces of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo between Jan. 20 and Feb. 8, 2009."
"The FDLR have a very ugly past, but we haven't seen this level of violence in years," said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior researcher in the Africa division at Human Rights Watch. "We've documented many abuses by FDLR forces, but these are killings of ghastly proportions."
In addition, Human Rights Watch has accused Rwandan Tutsi elements of the joint "peacekeeping" forces of "having raped several women since the start of operations against the FDLR." HRW also said the joint force's "information sharing has been scant and too late to permit the U.N. forces to be able to plan for providing the needed protection" of civilians.
"The Congolese government nominally leads the joint operations against the FDLR," HRW said, "but the coalition troops that attacked the FDLR in Ufamandu were largely soldiers from the Rwandan Defense Forces. These Rwandan soldiers were allegedly responsible for having raped several women since the start of operations against the FDLR."
Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice, in order to facilitate this urgent meeting on behalf of Nkunda and the people of eastern Congo, the CNDP will offer a delegation to meet in Washington with State Department officials and Kagame. It is imperative that you understand that with every passing day since the general's detention, Rwandan Tutsi troops have slaughtered more and more Hutu civilians. Unless immediate assistance is provided, and high-level dialogue is initiated with the United States, the general will remain in grave danger (including the possibility of assassination), and civilian massacres will continue to rise.
You should be further aware that reports issued by corporate media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC and Voice of America regarding the general's unprecedented detention, have neglected to include interviews with the general or testimonies by Hutu government officials.
As a result of these omissions, the U.S. State Department and the people of the United States have not received the full story of the tragedy of eastern Congo -- including the deaths of 45,000 innocent people killed each month. These cataclysmic numbers should be sufficiently alarming to warrant America's immediate intervention.