Rebel Congo gangs out for revenge

Men displaced by war get haircuts at Bulengo camp just outside Goma in eastern Congo, February 26, 2009. Photo/REUTERS

Men displaced by war get haircuts at Bulengo camp just outside Goma in eastern Congo, February 26, 2009. The UN said today the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo were conducting “hit-and-run” attacks on former positions lost in the last month after a joint-military operation between Rwanda and Congo. Photo/REUTERS

By JOSH KRON, NATION Correspondent, GREAT LAKES RegionPosted Monday, March 2 2009 at 18:59

CONGO, Monday

Just days after Rwandan troops left the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Hutu-extremist rebels there have conducted assaults on former territory.

The United Nations said today the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo were conducting “hit-and-run” attacks on former positions lost in the last month after a joint-military operation between Rwanda and Congo.

Genocide

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame simultaneously said that his country’s forces could again enter the central African country in search of the rebels, who committed genocide in Rwanda in 1994, but that future engagements would include the Kinshasa government.

Rwanda and Congo are expected to resume full diplomatic relations this month.

Rwandan troops began withdrawing last Wednesday – five weeks after they crossed the border to attack the FDLR.

In January, the government in Kinshasa allowed thousands of Rwandan soldiers to enter eastern DR Congo to fight the remnants of the Rwandan Hutu militia.

In a separate development, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, while on a visit to Rwanda, said achieving peace in the region depended on cooperation between Kinshasa and Kigali.

A new chapter

He said he welcomed a plan by Rwanda’s President Kagame for the establishment of full diplomatic relations with DR Congo, speaking of his hope for a “new chapter” in relations between the two neighbours.

In eastern Dr Congo, however, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission said on Sunday he had reports that the FDLR rebels had retaken several positions in the area.

From Daily Nation

Let’s keep an eye on the situation over there. The sooner things get better, the faster the women in the congo will get their lives back!

JG*

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War Against Women

CNN’s Anderson Cooper went to the Congo and filmed a documentary. Here is a part of that film:

War Against Women

It won’t let me embed the video but please click the link and watch. It’s about 12 minutes long. It will give you a deeper understanding of what’s going on.

Help us help them!

JG*

From CNN.com: One’ Congolese Woman’s ‘Silent Scream’ is heard

(CNN) — Honorata Kizende was hiding in a house when the soldiers came. They kicked the front door down and found her huddling with her five children and another woman.

art.impact.kizende.jpg

Honorata Kizende can smile again after surviving a four-year ordeal that almost destroyed her life

The men asked the women if they were hiding their husbands. We have none, both replied. Then one of the soldiers said something that chilled Kizende, because she knew what was about to happen.

“Today you will have husbands …”

The men slapped, stripped and raped Kizende. Then they treated her pregnant daughter and friend the same way. The horrific episode could have easily been dismissed as just another brutal act of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But her story is now being heard thanks to two women — an Iraqi-American activist and a small-town California accountant who now calls Kizende her sister. Kizende, 55, is a spokeswoman for Women for Women International, a 16-year-old group that helps rebuild the lives of women victimized by violent conflict in countries such as Kosovo, Iraq and Colombia.The group was founded by Zainab Salbi, a 38-year-old Iraqi-American who knows something about brutality. She grew up under Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, where people who spoke out were often murdered.

Those who speak out in Congo are treated another way — they’re ignored, Salbi said. An estimated 5.4 million people have died in Congo since 1998. George Rupp, president of the International Rescue Committee, once said the loss of life is equal to the entire population of Colorado dying within a decade. Yet Salbi said no one is paying attention to another group of victims in the Congo war. Her organization said there are hundreds of thousands of women who have been subjected to gang rape and sexual slavery.

“My image of the Congolese women is that of a scream,” Salbi said. “But there is no sound coming from the scream because the world is not hearing it.” That’s because the victims are women, she said. “We are numb,” she said. “If I said hundreds and thousands of men were being raped in the Congo, the world would be outraged.”

You can read the rest here.

Again, I just wanted to share an article that I read on CNN.com. It’s important that we hear these stories of women that have risen above their pain and torture. We can all do something to help!

Keep running!

JG*

No Safe Return for the Displaced People of the Congo

All credit to Action Aid UK. I felt this was a stirring article and wanted to share. 

People in Congo who were displaced by fighting are not returning home despite a ceasefire, ActionAid says.

Hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes in November and sought shelter in camps near the town of Goma after fighting between the Congolese army and rebel soldiers.

ActionAid has supplied people in the camps with food and emergency relief items such as soap, mattresses, blankets, plastic sheeting, water containers, mosquito nets and cooking utensils. 

ActionAid is targeting aid at the most vulnerable people including unaccompanied children and child-headed households, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly, female-headed households and survivors of sexual violence.

Maria Ali-Adib, ActionAid’s Emergency Response Program Manager in Congo, said: “We are not seeing large numbers of returnees, in spite of alleged peace. They are still worried for their safety if they go back. The needs of displaced people are still huge, particularly in the areas of protection and education.”

Last week Rwandan troops entered eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for a joint operation with the Congolese against a Rwandan Hutu militia sparking fears of more fighting and further upheaval to the civilian population.
 
Women are particularly vulnerable in the violence in eastern Congo and many are too traumatised or afraid of stigma to seek help.

“Earlier this week I met a 10 year-old-girl who had been raped and then held by soldiers,” Ms Ali-Adib added. “Weeks later she was found wandering around the forest by her sister. They’d thrown her out when they were finished with her and she has barely spoken since.”

ActionAid provides rape survivors with both emotional and practical help and last year helped to set up SAUTI (Sauti ya Mwanamke Mkongomani) – Voices of the Women of Congo – to give women in the region a stronger voice.

photo : ©Jenny Matthews/ActionAid *Not her real name

 

I just want to shed more and more light on the situation that is occurring over there. On my previous post “10 Things You Can Do” there is a list of things that we can call do to help, and a link to contact our federal representatives. Let’s get on it! 

 

JG* 

Congo Fact of the Day IV

Women in the Congo are often ostracized from their communities and shunned to live in refuge homes. Volunteers and workers can help the Congo women get their lives back by teaching them how to cook and make soaps and other trades so that they can begin to get back on track. 

From the soldiers: Why they rape

This is a clip from a documentary done on the rape atrocities in the Congo. Check it out. In this clip the soldiers are explaining why they rape, and their beliefs behind it. 

 

 

JG*

10 Things You Can Do

To help end femicide in the Congo. 

I got this in an email and wanted to share! Original Credit goes to Walter Mosley at The Nation. Please read: 

The peace agreement signed in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006 did not end the war. An estimated 400,000 women have been raped in the past ten years in what can only be called an act of femicide–the planned and systemic destruction of women. Women have suffered fistulas from rapes with knives, guns and penises. Women have been forced to eat dead babies. Soldiers who are HIV-positive are sent to villages to rape wives in front of their husbands, girls in front of their fathers. The systematic breakdown of the family is part of a larger plan to loosen the community’s grip on its natural resources–diamonds, gold and especially coltan, used to make laptops and cellphones.

In this first installment, we talked to Eve Ensler, playwright, activist and founder of V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. Ensler’s approach to “Ten Things” is a list for the nation to put pressure on President-elect Obama to focus on Africa without delay.

 

1 Educate yourself about Congo’s history of Belgian colonialism, its connection to the Rwandan genocide, the horrific femicide that is occurring there, which has left hundreds of thousands of women raped and sexually tortured, and the economic war that is fueling the violence. Spread the word. Visitnewsite.vday.org/drcongo/background. Educate others by holding a teach-in for your community. Watch “Beneath Her Pange” and “LUMO.”

2 Help support a burgeoning grassroots women’s movement in the DRC and around the world. Organizations include Heal AfricaHarvard Humanitarian InitiativeInternational Rescue CommitteeRaise Hope for CongoFriends of the Congo and Human Rights Watch. Support Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource, Power to Women and Girls of DRC, a global campaign.

3 Demand a tenfold increase in UN peacekeepers–including women peacekeepers specifically trained in sexual violence–by writing to your elected officials.

4 Demand that women be involved in any future peace talks, by writing to your elected officials.

5 Demand the arrest and prosecution of war criminals involved in sexual violence, child soldiering and other atrocities at the International Criminal Court, by writing to your elected officials.

6 Demand that President-elect Obama’s administration put pressure on the Rwandan and Congolese leadership to come together at the negotiating table and stop supporting Laurent Nkunda and the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), respectively.

7 Pressure the DRC government to make ending sexual violence a priority, by writing to President Joseph Kabila. For a downloadable letter, visitnewsite.vday.org/drcongo/getinvolved. Tell him to train and support many more women police officers who can protect vulnerable women.

8 Help provide resources to raped and violated women. Donate to the City of Joy, a joint project of Panzi Hospital, V-Day and UNICEF, where women can turn their pain into power; or buy a handmade Congolese bag (store-vday.org) to support the economic empowerment of women survivors. To donate, go tosecure.ga4.org/01/drcongo.

9 Write to your local editorial boards and ask them to cover the Congo war. Blog about the Congo war.

10 Attend the Turning Pain to Power Tour, a nationwide tour coming to a city near you.

 

Also, subscribe to my blog for continued information! 

Here are links to contact your Federal Representatives. Please take a minute or two to do at least a few of the things on this list. 

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Senate

 

JG*