LIGHTNING RELEASES (2/5/2013) By Chris Wing - I married into a family with deep roots in the chaotic Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). My in-laws have been missionaries there for 40 years, and our son’s Congolese “God Parents” are themselves missionaries in the DRC. It is no surprise then that our family is long-term supporters of a ministry in the DRC and is working to transform men into champions of change. And change is most certainly needed.
Over the past 18 years, more than 6 million Congolese have died from massive regional conflicts fought on DRC soil. Every day more than 1,100 women are raped (making the DRC “the rape capital of the world”). Militia groups (primarily M23), backed by Rwanda, continue to wreak havoc by terrorizing the everyday people living in the Eastern part of the country. While the West has largely chosen to look the other way or ignore the brutalities completely, the facts can’t be ignored: The atrocities taking place in the DRC makes this the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.
Fortunately, some of the world is beginning to take notice and Rwandan incursions and crimes in the DRC are beginning to capture the attention of the western powers. Three things in particular have occurred, which has elevated the issue greatly.
First, a 1994 report by Robert Gersony (working for the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees) has surfaced on the Internet. Known as the Gersony Report, the document on the abuses in the DRC and Rwanda was widely reported to have been suppressed by the U.N. until now. Second, in 2010 the United Nations published the “Mapping Report” documenting a decade of “gross violations of human rights and international law” perpetrated by Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. And third, just last year the United Nation’s published the “Group of Experts” report documenting Rwanda’s support of the M23 rebel group that has been terrorizing the eastern part of the DRC.
As a result of Rwanda’s support of M23, the European Union – Germany, France, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – have all withheld foreign aid to Rwanda. They are to be congratulated for their integrity and for taking a public stand for justice and accountability.
At the same time, however, the United States continues to turn a blind eye to Rwanda’s crimes in the DRC … or worse. Some of our local and national heroes have actually heaped praise upon Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame! In 2009 former President Bill Clinton honored Paul Kagame with the Third Annual Clinton Global Citizen’s Award. That same year Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church, lauded Kagame with the “International Medal of Peace Award.” And even today U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is reportedly blocking any attempt by that body to sanction President Kagame and Rwanda.
Why haven’t our local and national leaders and heroes demanded that President Kagame denounce M23 and acknowledge the crimes committed in Congo by Rwanda?
President Kagame is a shrewd businessman, and the cost/benefit return for his pillaging the wealth of the Eastern DRC seems to hold the trump card. The mineral wealth of the Eastern DRC includes vast deposits of tin, copper, gold, coltan, and newly discovered oil and natural gas. As a result, President Kagame and Rwanda pilfer the wealth of DRC and NEVER has had to face consequences.
I am incensed. All American’s who love the U.S. as I do should be incensed as well! There has never been a greater moral crisis in our generation, and our nation’s continued silence only serves to perpetuate the decades of horror in this region. If 18 years of Rwandan crimes in the DRC do not constitute crimes against humanity, what possibly could? And if our citizenry and government will not stand up against such crimes, who will? Russia? China? Really?
Evil has been triumphing in the DRC for 18 years. It is time for the United States to join the rest of the western world in publically taking a stand against the crimes of Rwanda in the DRC. I urge you to contact Ambassador Rice, President Obama, recently nominated Secretary of State Kerry, Former President Clinton and Pastor Warren to say, “Enough is enough!”
Edmund Burkes said that “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Our hope is that the 18-year silence of the U.S. on this issue ends! And it ends now!
Chris Wing is a founding board member of Resplendent Hope, a faith-based organization committed to advancing the cause of widows and orphans in selected third-world countries.
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