The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Democratic Republic of the Congo:
War and pillage continue in North Kivu

Nov 17, 2008

The following article is translated from the November 14 issue of Lutte Ouvri re (Workers Struggle), published by the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

An international summit was held in Nairobi, Kenya on November 7 between the heads of African states from the region of the Great Lakes under the aegis of the U.N., which was supposed to find a solution to the crisis of North Kivu. It hardly ended when fighting resumed around Goma, the major city of the province. Rebel and government armed forces each rejected responsibility for the rupture of the cease fire.

For several weeks now, each picture and story which comes to us from the Great Lakes region of Africa is still more frightful. Rebel armed bands of Laurent Nkunda, the self-proclaimed “protector” of Congolese Tutsis, stepped up massacres. They forced refugees into the forests, so that the government and non-governmental organizations can’t use the camps as a pretext to intervene.

Following the example of the rebel forces, the government army massacres and pillages. Each time that it flees before the rebel advance, it leaves desolation in its wake. And when it retakes a city which was in the hands of the rebels, it causes a reign of terror, with the support of Mai-Mai militia auxiliaries, or even old Rwandan Hutu armed forces that caused the genocide in that country.

This army of soldiers, looters, rapists and torturers is considered “legitimate” by the Western powers. The United Nations Forces for Congo defended it when the rebels risked seizing Goma.

Today, as the Congolese conflict becomes visible to the eyes of the entire world, the U.N. feels obliged to raise its voice and denounce the “war crimes” ... of the rebels. The latter massacred dozens of civilians in the city of Kiwanja, to the east of Goma. But this selective indignation by Alan Doss, the head of the U.N. mission in Congo, poorly hides the passive complicity of the U.N. troops: In Kiwanja, where there was a U.N. troop base, they did nothing to stop the massacre.

The “indignation” of the leaders of the U.N. about the misfortune of the Congolese people resonates like a sinister farce. The U.N. has silently been complicit over the ten years that the war has lasted in North Kivu, resulting in four to five million dead and hundreds of thousands of underfed refugees who are surviving in the refugee camps and who risk being struck by epidemics like cholera.

For several years, non-governmental organizations like Human Rights Watch and Global Witness alerted the Western governments and the U.N. to put an end to the pillage. The U.N. troops let them occur, when they didn’t directly support the Congolese army generals who organized the theft of riches, controlled the mines, enriched themselves by trafficking in cassiterite or coltan and diverted pay from their soldiers to construct luxurious villas on the shores of Lake Kivu.

Today, the war is extended to South Kivu. Rwandan soldiers are even coming to the aid of the rebellion, while the Congolese government calls on the aid of Angolan soldiers, at the risk of the generalization of the conflict as occurred in 1998. At that time, it continued into 2003. The neighboring states which intervened in the war and the multinationals pillaged Congo with all their strength.

Today, the war for pillage continues.