"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)



The AP's Michelle Faul does a wonderful job explaining the DRC Mapping Report, and, more importantly, covering the effects Rwanda's actions in Zaire had on the local population:
Matata Ihigihugo has relatives in three mass graves: her husband and two sons in the one reserved for males, a sister in the women's grave, and her 8-year-old daughter in the one where children's small bodies were buried.

"They killed all my people. I have no life left," said Ihigihugo, who thinks she is 40 but looks many years older.

She objected to being asked to name her massacred family. "Why do you ask me to call out the names of those who are dead?" she demanded. "There can be no peace for me until they are properly buried."

...Uncovering the graves, proving how people were killed and even perhaps identifying them could bring closure for people like Ihigihugo, one of the widows of Musekera.

"There can be no rest for people buried like that," she said of the mass graves. "Giving a proper burial to my family also would put my heart at rest."
The decisions made in foreign capitals - about whether to prosecute these crimes, where to try potential accused war criminals, and what this report means for regional stability - really, really matter. As former investigator Reed Brody told Faul, Rwanda's actions in some ways established the culture of impunity that surrounds crime in the eastern DRC today:
"The fact that these killings of tens of thousands, if not more, went utterly unpunished, the fact that there was clearly not the political will to identify the authors of these massacres and to bring them to justice, has facilitated the cycle of violence," he said.
Faul also covers Brody's frustrations with trying to get information from the American government. Suffice it to say that the Clinton Administration's Africa policy team - in particular Susan Rice, who was at the time Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs - really messed this up the first time around. They decided early on to more-or-less unquestioningly support Kagame, Museveni, and Kabila. The decisions they made in those critical months in 1996-97 allowed Rwanda to get away with slaughtering Hutus in Zaire.

Many of those same policy makers are now in the Obama administration. They've got a rare, second chance to get it right. Do they have the courage to cut through the diplomatic niceties and stand up for the rights of all the people of the Great Lakes? Will they finally hold Kagame to account for the events for which he bears full responsibility? I don't know. But I do know that people like Mrs. Ihigihugo deserve nothing less.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the spring of 1994 the RPF was not a wholly Tutsi force. After the liberation of Rwanda more Hutu were recruited (to the RPA). The suggestion that in 1996 "the Rwandan Tutsi soldiers" were responsible for massacring Hutu is flawed since it implies that the Rwandan forces were entirely Tutsi which they were not. They were also allied to Congolese forces in the fight against Mobutu. The suggestion that the violence in Congo was Tutsi v Hutu might fit the agenda of the writer (and her references to genocide) but it is wrong.

Monday, October 11, 2010 6:51:00 AM

Anonymous Mary Hoyt said...

thank you so much for your clear explanations for us "laymen"

Monday, October 11, 2010 8:11:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you as always for your clear explanations of a complex situation.

Do you have any time to take on more "badvocacy?" The group "Falling Whistles" seems like a classic case of oversimplifying the nuances you explain so well: http://www.fallingwhistles.com/home.php

Monday, October 11, 2010 10:28:00 AM

Anonymous Brendan said...

@the first anonymous

maybe you should check out this book-

Surviving the Slaughter: The Ordeal of a Rwandan Refugee in Zaire (Women in Africa and the Diaspora)Univ. of Wisconsin press by Marie Beatrice Umutesi

Monday, October 11, 2010 1:13:00 PM

Blogger friends of congo said...

Join the call for justice for the people of Congo during Congo Week, October 17 - 23. On Friday October 22nd, Jason Stearns, Luc Cote (lead on the UN Mapping report) and Jihan El Tahri of L'Afrique en Morceaux (referenced in the UN Mapping Report) will address the issues of impunity and justice in the Great Lakes Region at a film and panel discussion in Harlem, NY. http://mayslesinstitute.org/cinema/congo_in_harlem2.html

Also, as a part of Congo Week, Friends of Congo and the Institute for Policy Studies host the American Bar Association and members of the National Bar Association as they present on their work in the Congo and the Great Lakes Region - October 20, 2010 in Washington, DC at 12 noon. Find out more here: http://congoweek.org

Join us and hear from the experts who are at the forefront of much of the research being discussed in this forum and elsewhere.

Monday, October 11, 2010 7:03:00 PM


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