According to the International Rescue Committee, more than5,400,000 Congolese civilians have died due to war during the last ten years. Most of these deaths have occurred in eastern Congo where rebel leader Laurent Nkunda continues to wage a resources war against a democratically elected and internationally recognized government. Laurent Nkunda alleges that he is protecting the minority Tutsi ethnic group against remnants of the Rwandan Hutu army that fled to Congo after the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
If Tutsis are under attack in the Congo then there must be a widespread conspiracy not to report these attacks by the local media, the Rwandan media, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUC), and the international media, at least for the last five years. The fact is that attacks against Congolese of all ethnic groups are a daily occurrence in the region. Laurent Nkunda’s troops are responsible for most of these attacks.
Not only have countless civilians lost their lives, hundreds of thousands of Congolese women have been raped by rebels and militiamen in an epidemic that has reached apocalyptic proportions. Tutsis have not been singled out for attacks. Congolese have certainly not attacked Tutsis in Congo. But, they are paying the high price of an unjust and immoral war imposed on them by the Rwandan government and its local agents.
One of the enduring mysteries of the conflict in eastern Congo is why have more than 5,400,000 innocent Congolese civilians had to die at no fault of their own. There are more than 300 ethnic groups in the Congo. Tutsi villages are mainly found in the two Kivu provinces. Tutsis are a small minority in North and South Kivu. Is one ethnic group superior to all other 300 ethnic groups present in the Congo? Should one ethnic group have special dispensations to entertain a war that continues to kill countless civilians, a war that continues to cause tens of thousands of women to be raped, and the displacement of more than 1,000,000 civilians?
Congolese did not invite and have never welcomed the Rwandan Hutu militiamen to their country. Much to the contrary, Congo has no interest and absolutely nothing to gain by their presence. Congolese citizens would like nothing more than to see all remaining Hutus go back to Rwanda. Paul Kagame wants them to stay in Congo. He has frustrated all attempts by the Congolese government and the international community to repatriate them back to their country. He failed to finish them off when he had tens of thousands of his troops occupying the region, before “withdrawing” some of them under international pressure in 2003 and leaving the job to Laurent Nkunda.
Some have bought into the pretext of an endangered Tutsi minority in Congo. They never fail to mention that Laurent Nkunda is supposedly fighting to protect “his people”. They have failed to question his true motives which are to occupy the mineral-rich North-Kivu province, pillage its resources, and act as a proxy army in eastern Congo for the Tutsi-led Rwandan government in Kigali. Kagame wants a foothold in eastern Congo so his country can continue to benefit from the pillaging and exporting of minerals such as Columbite-Tantalite (Coltan). Many experts on the region agree today that resources are the true reason why Laurent Nkunda continues to create chaos in the region with the help of Paul Kagame.
What’s shocking is that some in the media have no shame in calling and joking with the rebel leader in interviews while he continues to be the main reason why more than 1,000 people are dying per day in Congo, 600 of them children. These journalists should think twice before cozying up to a person that will go down in history as a war criminal and mass murderer alongside Radovan Karadzic and Adolph Hitler.
Laurent Nkunda is a war criminal. The Congolese government issued an international arrest warrant against him for war crimes in 2005. Human Rights Watch has been calling for his arrest for war crimes since February of 2006. He is on a UN Sanctions List for breaches of the UN arms embargo in the DRC. On October 31, 2006 U.S. President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13413 freezing his assets for contributing to the conflict in the Congo.
Laurent Nkunda belongs in a prison cell at The Hague along with his acolyte Bosco Ntaganda, who is being sought under an unrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and unsealed on April, 28 2008. Laurent Nkunda is also under investigation by the ICC. Many Congolese are wondering why there has not yet been an indictment of Laurent Nkunda while the court was quick to issue one against former Congolese vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba for crimes that while equally important and indefensible, pale in comparison against those of Laurent Nkunda and his troops.
Laurent Nkunda’s boss Paul Kagame was indicted on November 17, 2006 by then French magistrate in charge of counter-terrorism affairs Jean-Louis Bruguière. He is accused in the indictment of ordering the attack on the plane carrying then Rwandan President, Juvenal Habyarimana and his counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi. Their deaths led to the genocide of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Judge Fernando Andreou Merelles of the Spanish Central Instruction Court issued indictments against 40 senior officers of the Rwanda Defense Forces formerly of the Rwanda Patriotic Army for committing mass killings after the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. He said he also has evidence against Paul Kagame who only escaped indictment because he is a sitting president.