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10 Steps to Dictatorship: Why The Grassroots Movement in Haiti Is Taking To the Streets Against President Michel Martelly

by CHARLIE HINTON

Counterpunch:  DECEMBER 17, 2013

10 Steps to Dictatorship in Haiti

At great personal risk Haitians have been demonstrating massively in cities throughout the country for the last several months calling for President Michel Martelly to step down, including September 30 and October 17, dates of important coup d’etats in Haitian history, and November 29, the date of an election day massacre in 1987.

By choosing these historically significant dates, the Haitian grassroots majority is clearly saying they want an end to Martelly and to the 10-year UN military occupation that has followed the coup that overthrew elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide on February 29, 2004. Martelly’s police force brutally broke up some demonstrations with tear gas and beatings.

Demonstrators have reported the police used a very “powerful” gas, which surprised them in its potency and aerial reach.

In late October, students in Cap Haitien, demonstrating to support teachers demanding an increase in pay, were tear gassed so viciously that 60 were injured, 4 seriously.

The next day, students in the State University of Port-au-Prince, demonstrating in support of attorney Andre Michel (see #7 below), were gassed for hours, even after they had been pushed back to their campus. The gassing went on so long that some legislators went on the radio to demand that it be stopped.

On November 6th, lawyers marched in Port-au-Prince demanding an end to threats and harassment for those willing to take on cases involving Martelly’s corruption. They also called for the resignation of the chief prosecutor.

And on November 7th, thousands marched, chanting “Aba Martelly” (Down with Martelly). Haitian police attacked the demonstration with tear gas and beatings. Three people were shot and wounded.

1. Who Is Michel Martelly?  Martelly grew up during the 27 year dictatorship of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his son, Jean Claude “Baby Doc.”  He reportedly joined the Duvalierist death squad, the Tonton Macoutes, at the age of 15, and later attended Haiti’s military academy. Under Baby Doc, Martelly, a popular musician, ran the Garage, a nightclub patronized by army officers and members of Haiti’s tiny ruling class.

After Baby Doc’s fall in February 1986, a mass democratic movement, long repressed by the Duvaliers, burst forth and became known as Lavalas (“flood”), from which emerged Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a popular liberation theology Catholic priest, who was elected president in 1990 with 67% of the vote in the first free and fair election in Haiti’s history.

Martelly quickly became a bitter opponent of Lavalas, attacking the popular movement in his songs played widely on Haitian radio.

Martelly “was closely identified with sympathizers of the 1991 military coup that ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide,” the Miami Herald observed in 1996, and ran with members of the vicious FRAPH death squad from that period, infamous for gang rapes and killing with impunity.

On the day of Aristide’s return to Haiti in 2011, after 8 years of forced exile in South Africa, and two days before the “run-off” election, Martelly was caught in a video on YouTube insulting Aristide and Lavalas: “The Lavalas are so ugly. They smell like s**t. F**k you, Lavalas. F**k you, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.”

2. The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2010-2011:   In the presidential election cycle of 2010-2011, Haiti’s Electoral Council banned Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas Party from participation, which de-legitimized the whole corrupt process. Voter turnout was less than 25% in the primaries and less than 20% in the “run-off.” The top two candidates announced after the sham primaries were the wife of a former pro-Duvalier president and the son-in-law of Rene Preval, the president at the time. Martelly was declared third, but his supporters demonstrated violently. An OAS commission, with the full support of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who flew to Port-au-Prince at the height of the Egyptian revolution, ruled that Martelly had finished second. He received $6 million from an anonymous donor in Florida to hire a PR firm that had worked on the campaigns of Felipe Calderón in Mexico and John McCain in the U.S.

3. Corruption – Corruption scandals have followed Martelly since he refused to divulge who funded his campaign for president.

Bribes – Award-winning Dominican Republic journalist Nuria Piera broke the story in April 2012 (later reported in Time) that Martelly was alleged to have accepted $2.6 million in bribes during and after the 2010 election to ensure that a Dominican construction company would receive contracts under his Presidency.  In addition, the vote to make Laurent Lamothe the Prime Minister is known in Haiti as the “tout moun jwenn vote” (“everyone got their cut” vote).

Surcharge on international calls and money transfers for “education” – Questionable new taxes have also fed controversy. A $1.50 tax on money transfers and a 5 cent per minute tax on phone calls to Haiti are alleged by Martelly to support education, but the poor majority continue to face unaffordable school fees, and critics say no money from this tax has gone to schools. Moreover, Haitian teachers have been marching to demand back pay. Martelly’s new taxes were not ratified by or presented to Haiti’s Parliament, making them illegal.

Travel Expenses – When traveling, which he does often, Martelly’s entourage receives an outrageous per diem from the Haitian government. According to Senator Moise Jean-Charles, Martelly gets $20,000 a day, his wife $10,000 a day, his children $7,500, and others in his inner circle get $4,000 daily.

A plan to establish an illegal parallel customs system to circumvent legislative control – This allegedly involved the selling of a membership card and gun to anyone who wanted to be part of the Martelly gang. The membership privileges included tax-exempt status at customs. The program had to be scratched when US DEA complained about members facilitating drug transport on the strength of their membership.

 4. Rewriting and Undermining Haiti’s Constitution:  The overthrow of Baby Doc in 1986 led to the creation of a new democratic Constitution in 1987, ratified in a referendum by an overwhelming majority of Haitians. It recognized Haitian Kreyol as an official language, along with French, and legalized Vodun, the spiritual practice of the majority of Haitians. It provided for grassroots participation in national decision-making, decentralized the nation’s finances and political structure, and provided for protection of human rights.

On June 12, 2012 Martelly announced new amendments, which concentrate executive power and herald the return of Duvalier-style dictatorship. The new illegally amended Constitution, written by non-legislators, and never seen nor voted by the Parliament prior to its publication creates a top down method of choosing a Permanent Electoral Council to run elections, undermining grassroots participation and centralizing control from above.

It allows the president to appoint the prime minister after merely “consulting” the heads of the two chambers of Parliament instead of requiring Parliamentary ratification. In cases of “presidential vacancy,” the new amendments make the prime minister the provisional president, so presidents can resign, appoint the prime minister to succeed them, and thereby maintain perpetual control.

New amendments provide that a “general budget” and a “general expenditures report” can replace line item annual budgets, thus limiting parliamentary oversight of the budget.

New amendments return Duvalier era and other retrograde laws, including:

* A 1935 law on “superstitious beliefs,” which would ban Vodun once again.

* A 1977 law establishing the Court of State Security to increase state surveillance and repression.

* A 1969 law that condemns all “imported doctrines”, thereby attacking freedom of thought and freedom of association.  Violation of this new law can result in the DEATH PENALTY.  The 1987 Haitian Constitution had eliminated the death penalty.

5. Restoring The Army:  In one of the most popular moves of his administration, President Aristide disbanded the hated Haitian army in 1995. Since the coup that overthrew Aristide for the second time in 2004, UN troops and police, currently numbering 8,754 uniformed personnel, have occupied Haiti. One of Martelly’s campaign promises was to restore the Haitian Army, and now new Haitian troops are being trained by Ecuador and Brazil. In addition, well-armed former military and paramilitary personnel have occupied militia camps since early 2012, supported by Martelly.

6. Return of the Death Squads:  Martelly has issued pink identity cards with a photo for $30 to selected supporters, promising many benefits to those who hold them, like jobs and impunity from prosecution. During the Duvalier period, every Tonton Macoute received a card that provided many privileges, like free merchandise from any store entered, entitlement to coerced sex, and fear and respect from people in general.

Senator John Joel Joseph has identified Senators that he claims are marked for assassination. He identified the people who have been paying the “hit squads” on behalf of Martelly. He denounced one of the men as an escaped criminal who had been caught red handed with a “near death” victim behind his vehicle. Said victim sent the police to a house where two more victims could be found. Senator Joseph identified the leader of the death squad and his vehicle, denouncing the group as the one which recently assassinated a grassroots militant. He accused the president and his wife of pressuring the chief of police to remove the senators’ security detail, in order to facilitate their assassinations. He denounced a previous instance when Martelly tried to pressure former police chief Mario Andresol to integrate a hit-man into the police, to assassinate Senator Moise Jean Charles. 

7. Death of a Judge:  Martelly set up his wife and son as head of governmental projects, but with no parliamentary oversight. A Haitian citizen, Enold Florestal, filed suit with attorney Andre Michel before Judge Jean Serge Joseph, maintaining that the Martellys were siphoning off large amounts of state monies, which the Haitian Senate has no jurisdiction over. Judge Joseph moved the case to the next judicial level, which required depositions from the Martellys and various governmental ministers. Enraged, Martelly and Prime Minister Lamothe called two meetings with the judge (which they deny took place) to demand he kill the case, the second on July 11. The judge drank a beverage offered him at that meeting.

On July 12 Judge Joseph became violently ill and died on July 13. Haitian police arrested Florestal on August 16 after viciously beating him, and Haitian authorities have issued a warrant for the arrest of Attorney Michel, who has gone into hiding. A commission of the Haitian Parliament is now calling for the impeachment of Martelly based on illegal meetings with the judge, interference in legal matters, and threats to those involved in the case.

Since then Enold Florestal and his brother, who’s completely uninvolved with the case, have been arrested and remain in jail. On October 22, police stopped Attorney Andre Michel and demanded to search his car. He refused without a judge present to prevent tampering or planting of evidence. The action quickly turned into a standoff between police forces and a large crowd that was gathered to defend Michel. Michel was eventually summoned to appear in court the next day.

In court the prosecutor told the judge he did not have charges to file, but for Michel to  not leave the courtroom. Several Deputies and Senators who were present whisked Michel out of the courtroom and took him to an unknown location, where he remains at the time of this report.

8. Corrupting the Judiciary and Parliament:  The Martelly regime is working to establish executive control over the judicial system through the use of “controlled” prosecutors and judges. In violation of the constitution, he appointed as Supreme Court chief justice, Anel Alexis Joseph, who is 72. Haitian law says a judge must be 65 or under to be named to this position. The chief justice also leads the commission that regulates the entire judicial system, so Judge Anel Alexis Joseph is using his power to block an investigation into the death of Judge Jean Serge Joseph and to protect Martelly and his henchmen from all legal challenges, thereby granting impunity.

Martelly has also corrupted the legislative branch that could bring charges against members of the executive. He ordered the arrest of Deputy Arnel Belizaire in spite of parliamentary immunity and his legal council’s advice. He has so far failed to call elections for 10 Senate seats in January, and is trying to force the 10 Senators whose terms he says are up (they say in 2015, not 2014) to leave office. Since elections have still not been held for 10 additional seats, if these new 10 seats are vacated, it would leave the 30 member Senate without a quorum, allowing Martelly to dissolve the Parliament and rule by decree.

9. Reactionary Economic Policy:  Martelly enforces the Clinton Bush plan for economic “development” of Haiti through sweatshops, tourism, and the selling of oil and mining rights to transnational corporations. Under this plan, money donated for earthquake relief has been used to build a duty free export manufacturing zone in the north of Haiti, which was not affected by the earthquake, and several luxury hotels in Port-au-Prince. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund made a $2 million equity investment in a hotel called the Royal Oasis, to give foreign tourists and investors an “oasis” to escape the miserable conditions under which the majority of Haitians live.

At the same time, the Martelly regime viciously represses the economic activities of the poor super majority. The phone and money transfer taxes cut into their incomes. Taxes have been arbitrarily increased on imports, affecting small merchants. Thugs wearing masks have burnt markets in different cities, causing merchants to lose capital they had been accumulating for years, forcing them to raise new capital through usury loans. Street vendors are harassed and removed forcefully, then after hours, their stands are looted.

10. Duvalierism Returns to Haiti:  Martelly warmly welcomed the January, 2011 return to Haiti of Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, one of the most brutal dictators of the 20th century, after his decades of luxurious exile in France. Duvalier still has many supporters in Haiti, some of whom are armed and have a history of killing political opponents.

Martelly’s government is filled with Duvalierists: hardline former Haitian army officer David Bazile is now Interior Minister. Magalie Racine, daughter of notorious former Tonton Macoute militia chief Madame Max Adolphe, is Martelly’s Youth and Sports Minister. Public Works Secretary of State Philippe Cinéas is the son of longtime Duvalierist figure Alix Cinéas, who was a member of the original neo-Duvalierist National Council of Government (CNG) which succeeded Duvalier after his fall in 1986. In addition, Duvalier’s son, Francois Nicolas Jean Claude Duvalier, is a close advisor to Martelly.

Conclusion:  A major objective of the Duvalier dynasty was to institutionalize dictatorship through death squad brutality, supported by the United States and other powers. Martelly is an example of their policies having come to fruition. He’s restoring a government of impunity per the Duvalier era, building an administration of right wing ideologues who believe in dictatorship, and who collaborate to sidestep all legislative and judicial controls.

His goal is to implement extreme neo-liberal economic policies on behalf of Haiti’s less than 1% with control over all natural resources. The people will be at their mercy for factory work and other “subservient” positions, under the boot of a UN occupation force of 8,754 army and police personnel, the beginnings of a restored army, paramilitary training camps, death squads, gangs and mafias that use the cover of the corrupted executive and judicial systems to operate.

The Haitian majority does not accept this return to the bad old days, however, and has been actively and massively protesting this repression for the past year. They deserve the support and solidarity of freedom loving people everywhere.

HAITI ACTION COMMITTEE • www.haitisolidarity.net • action.haiti@gmail.com

 

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Pétition de l’intelligentsia Kongo à la suite de la tuerie de février et mars 2008 des populations du Bas-Congo…

PETITION DE L’INTELLIGENTSIA KONGO A LA SUITE DE LA TUERIE DE FEVRIER ET MARS 2008 DES POPULATIONS DU BAS-CONGO PAR LES FORCES DE POLICE

I. Condoléances

Au nom de tous les intellectuels Kongo et de tous les esprits épris de paix, de justice et de respect de la personne humaine, nous présentons nos condoléances les plus émues aux familles éprouvées et à toute la Communauté Kongo§ Puissent les âmes de tous ceux de nos frères et sœurs, fauchés par la violence barbare et auxquels nous ne saurons jamais offrir des obsèques dignes, reposer en paix auprès de nos ancêtres glorieux et de tous ceux qui ont payé un prix fort pour notre liberté !

II. Objet

La volonté manifeste du pouvoir de travestir les faits et de manipuler l’opinion nationale et internationale ; la superficialité et la sensiblerie quasi générales de la presse dans le traitement de l’information ; le discours frileux des élus kongo (nationaux et provinciaux) ; l’humiliation, par le pouvoir, de notre peuple présenté désormais à la face du pays, de l’Afrique et du monde comme xénophobe ; la traque, en violation des lois de la République et des droits de l’homme, des membres d’une organisation dont la culpabilité et les chefs d’accusation ne sont nullement bien établis ; enfin, notre responsabilité en tant que conscience de notre peuple nous poussent à prendre, une fois de plus, la plume pour dénoncer et condamner cette nième tuerie des populations du Bas-Congo.

III. Rappel des faits

Face à quelques adeptes de Bundu dia Kongo (BDK) non armés, des forces de police équipés d’armes de guerre, déferlent régulièrement, depuis juillet 2002, à travers la province du Bas-Congo, sous le prétexte de rétablir l’autorité de l’Etat, causant la désolation partout où elles passent. Leur dernier passage dans les territoires de Luozi et de Nseke Mbanza, à Matadi, Kisantu etc. ressemble bien à une véritable expédition punitive dirigée contre, non seulement les adeptes de BDK – même ceux qui n’avaient rien fait de répréhensible-, mais aussi contre tous ceux qui avaient le malheur de se trouver sur leur chemin. A coup de roquettes et d’autres armes de guerre, les maisons ont été détruites et des villages entiers rasés. C’est ainsi que des villages comme Kinsemi (territoire de Luozi, secteur de Mbanza Mwembe), Mbandakani (à côté de la paroisse du même nom), Lufuku (territoire de Luozi, secteur de Kinkenge), ont été totalement détruits. Dans ce déchaînement des forces conditionnées par leurs commanditaires pour tuer, de nombreuses vies humaines ont été fauchées. Plusieurs corps ont été jetés dans le fleuve Congo et d’autres égarés dans la brousse et la forêt ne seront peut-être jamais retrouvés et identifiés. Depuis lors, une véritable chasse à l’homme a été instaurée et l’objectif est, au dire même du Vice-Gouverneur du Bas-Congo, Son Excellence Monsieur Deo Nkusu, d’éradiquer le BDK en occupant ses différents lieux de culte. A Matadi, Kisantu, Lufutoto… les forces de police ont investi ces lieux, semant, dans la foulée, la désolation au sein de la population et des pertes en vies humaines.

IV. Les raisons avancées par le gouvernement

La dernière expédition des forces de la police, particulièrement dans les territoires de Luozi et de Nseke Mbanza se justifie, pour les autorités provinciales et nationales, par la nécessité et l’urgence de restaurer l’autorité de l’Etat bafouée en ces lieux, par le BDK, du fait :

1° tantôt, de sa velléité de rébellion par la tenue des camps d’entraînement militaire et la détention d’armes de guerre ;
2° tantôt, de la mutilation d’une personne accusée de sorcellerie ;
3° tantôt, que les adeptes de ce mouvement politico-religieux chassent, de leurs postes, les agents publics et s’arrogent leurs prérogatives ;
4° tantôt, du non-respect par ses adeptes de l’hymne et du drapeau du pays ;
5° tantôt, de la xénophobie et de l’antichristianisme de ses adeptes ;
6° tantôt, de la déclaration de ne Muanda Nsemi, à RFI, sur la non pertinence des frontières héritées de la colonisation et de la nécessité pour l’Afrique centrale de se constituer en une confédération des Etats fondés sur l’homogénéité culturelle.

V. Notre appréciation de la situation

1. C’est depuis le gouvernorat de l’Honorable Jacques Mbadu Nsitu, qu’avec forte médiatisation, le BDK est accusé de tenir des camps d’entraînement militaire et de détenir des armes de guerre. Et pourtant aucun camp d’entraînement et aucune arme de guerre n’ont été jusqu’ici trouvés dans le Bas-Congo. Hélas, s’appuyant sur ces allégations, dont la preuve n’a jamais été fournie au peuple congolais, le pouvoir s’arroge le droit de tuer. En plus, il y a lieu de noter que le Bas-Congo est la plus petite province de la RDCongo et la plus militarisée aussi. Où est donc passée la vigilance de nos vaillants soldats, policiers et services de renseignement pour laisser ainsi s’installer, jusqu’à leur phase active, ces prétendus camps d’entraînement militaire de BDK. Et en lieu et place du démantèlement de ces camps et de cet armement, c’est au démantèlement des lieux de culte que s’acharnent les forces de police.
2. En ce qui concerne le corps mutilé, tout le monde s’accorde pour dire que ce n’est pas dans les habitudes des Bakongo de régler les conflits par la violence. Qu’à cela ne tienne ! Le pouvoir qui a sans doute arrêté les coupables les fera juger et on saura s’il y a des complices.
3. . La nature a horreur du vide, disait Francis Bacon.. Le rapport de la tournée effectuée dernièrement par les Honorables députés Mvuemba et Mpaka dans le Bas-Congo et publié dans le journal La Prospérité n° 1290, du samedi 1 mars 2008, établit clairement les conditions et les modalités dans lesquelles les adeptes de BDK s’arrogent le pouvoir des services publics. Il ressort de ce rapport en effet, que c’est plutôt les services de l’Etat, par leur incompétence, leur irresponsabilité et leur injustice, qui bafouent l’autorité de l’Etat. Et le redressement des excès notés par-ci par-là , dans le chef de la population, ne peut-il pas l’être par les voies administratives et policières ordinaires ?
4. Dans un amalgame, du reste mal orchestré, la haine dont est victime le Mukongo et sa culture, se mue en xénophobie dont les adeptes de BDK seraient les porte-étendards. Il paraît pourtant bizarre que ces gens dont on dit être hostiles aux populations allogènes, n’auraient molesté ou tué que des Bakongo. Il y a lieu de noter ici que JP Bemba et J Kabila ont obtenu plus de voix dans le Bas-Congo que tous les candidats kongo réunis, au premier tour des élections présidentielles, et que l’Assemblée provinciale du Bas-Congo compte, en son sein, deux députés non kongo. Si ceux-ci le sont, comme le prétendent certains compatriotes, par le vote des leurs installés au Bas-Congo, alors de quoi accuse-t-on les Bakongo qui, par ce fait même, auraient raison de se dire être victimes d’une colonisation intérieure et de s’en défendre.
5. Fustiger l’idée de la « Confédération de l’Afrique Centrale » comme l’expression d’une velléité de restauration du Royaume Kongo et de balkanisation de la RDCongo c’est faire preuve de sensiblerie, de misère intellectuelle et de manque de vision politique, surtout de la part de ceux-là même qui, dans le même temps, se font chantres de la CEAC, de la CPGL, de l’UA… et même des Etats-Unis d’Afrique. De quoi s’interroger si en faisant de la RDCongo membre de toutes ces organisations, les dirigeants congolais comprennent bien à quoi ils engagent notre pays.
6. Le BDK porte des revendications partagées par l’ensemble des Bakongo et mêmes par d’autres communautés de la RDCongo et qui se ramènent fondamentalement à l’exigence d’un Etat de droit et de justice pour tous. L’acharnement du pouvoir sur ce mouvement n’y fera rien. Il n’est un secret pour personne que les élections fondatrices de la IIIe République étaient entachées de beaucoup d’irrégularités et de corruption ; que la gestion du pouvoir d’Etat de notre pays de fait de façon discriminatoire comme le témoignent les statistiques de nomination des responsables dans l’armée, les entreprises publiques, le gouvernement, les services secrets et spéciaux… ; que la gestion du pouvoir d’Etat dans notre pays se fait en violation flagrante et récurrente de la constitution ; qu’en privant le Bas-Congo de ses ressources pétrolières et d’autres on le condamne à la stagnation. C’est ici le lieu de noter que l’existence, dans les autres provinces, des maux dénoncés au Bas-Congo ne peut en aucun cas vider ces revendications de leur légitimité.
7. Etant donné que ces revendications rencontrent l’assentiment de tous les Bakongo et même d’autres congolais, des voix se sont toujours élevées pour les soutenir. On peut citer à ce propos, le mémorandum des Enseignants Kongo des Universités et Instituts Supérieurs à Monsieur le Président de la République Démocratique du Congo le 9 septembre 2002, Mémorandum des professeurs Kongo des Universités et Instituts supérieurs de la République Démocratique du Congo à Monsieur Muanda Nsemi, Chef spirituel de Bundu dia Kongo du 3 novembre 2002, Mémo à la bienveillante attention de son Excellence Monsieur le Président de la République Démocratique du Congo : S.D.(document rédigé par le R.Père Matota s.j.), Note à l’intention de son Excellence Monsieur le Président de la République Démocratique du Congo par le Groupe des professeurs Kongo des Universités et instituts supérieurs : le 23 février 2003, Convention des communautés culturelles congolaises : le 17 novembre 2003 (document rédigé par quelques enseignants du supérieurs), Mémorandum des professeurs des universités et instituts supérieurs à la bienveillante attention de son Excellence Monsieur le Président de la République Démocratique du Congo : le 19 juillet 2004, Mémorandum des Enseignants Kongo des Universités et instituts supérieurs à la bienveillante attention de son Excellence Monsieur le Président de la République Démocratique du Congo : le 28 août 2004, Fédéralisme : forme d’Etat appropriée à la République Démocratique du Congo : déclaration des professeurs des universités et instituts supérieurs du Congo : le 7 avril 2005., Déclaration commune des Evêques du Bas-Congo et de l’honorable Ne Muanda Nsemi, sur la situation qui prévaut au Bas-Congo : le 26 février 2008. Après avoir pris connaissance de ces documents, aucune personne sensée ne peut condamner des revendications aussi légitimes. Ceux qui persistent, malgré tout, à se comporter en sophistes pour justifier les exactions du pouvoir sur des populations éplorées, doivent savoir que l’histoire les jugera. En poussant le pouvoir à sévir contre une partie de la population, ils diminuent les chances de la cohésion nationale et, partant, de la construction d’un Etat puissant et prospère.

VI. Notre interpellation

1. Aux adeptes de Bundu dia Kongo
Votre impatience à voir la démocratie s’instaurer réellement dans notre pays et spécialement dans le Bas-Congo vous pousse parfois à commettre des actes répréhensibles, ce qui donne l’occasion aux ennemis du peuple d’assouvir leur haine. Depuis 2002, on assiste à des massacres pour lesquels le pouvoir vous rend responsables à tort ou à raison. En fait, vous êtes tombés dans le piège des gens qui nourrissent des projets machiavéliques à l’égard du peuple. Désormais, essayez d’exprimer vos revendications dans le cadre légal et vous verrez que la vérité finira par éclater au grand jour. Vous devez cesser de servir de boucs émissaires. Vous avez affaire à un pouvoir incapable de restaurer l’autorité de l’Etat là où elle est réellement bafouée. Humilié, il pense redorer son blason en déversant ses forces sur des populations non armées et faire croire à l’efficacité de l’Etat. « A vaincre sans péril, on triomphe sans gloire », dit-on. Le peuple qui n’est pas dupe parle sous cape. Malheureusement, on n’a pas la culture des sondages en République Démocratique du Congo car l’opinion populaire édifierait sans doute le pouvoir congolais.

2. Aux responsables de l’Exécutif provincial.
Votre attitude pendant le massacre de la population que vous êtes censés protéger étonne tout le monde, sauf évidemment ceux à qui vous obéissez aveuglement comme des satrapes. Vous ne savez que faire de l’autonomie que vous accorde la constitution de la République Démocratique du Congo. Comment ne pouviez-vous pas régler le problème de Bundu dia Kongo par le dialogue. En livrant une population innocente en pâture à des soldats assoiffés de sang et prompts à piller et à détruire, vous avez privilégié vos intérêts personnels et ceux de vos amis politiques. Votre attitude nous pousse à douter de vous. Notre déception est d’autant plus grande que vous êtes vous-mêmes des intellectuels, c’est-à-dire des gens sur qui le peuple fonde son espoir pour sa sécurité et son développement. Qu’allez-vous faire maintenant que le peuple se sent trahi par vous ? Feriez-vous amande honorable en vous excusant publiquement ou persisteriez-vous dans l’erreur, dans la répression ? Vous vous êtes rendu indignes de votre peuple. Quoi que vous fassiez, quoi que vous disiez, vous portez le sang de vos frères et sœurs massacrés à Luozi, Nseke-Mbanza, Matadi, Kisantu etc. sur vos têtes.

3. Aux Bakongo
Il y a, parmi vous, des gens qui se complaisent dans la sale besogne de délateurs pour quelques prébendes. En oubliant l’idéal de liberté et d’attachement aux valeurs ancestrales, ils ne sont pas dignes de la mémoire de nos illustres ancêtres : Vita Nkanga, Kimpa Vita, Paul Panda, Simon Kimbangu, Simon Toko, André Matsoua, Edmond Nzeza Nlandu, Daniel Kanza, Joseph Kasa Vubu, Bikebi etc.. Ne vous laissez pas intimider par le discours comminatoire des laudateurs du pouvoir qui tentent de vous attribuer des sentiments qui n’ont jamais été les vôtres. Ils disent que vous êtes tribalistes, xénophobes, séparatistes alors qu’ils savent parfaitement que le Bas-Congo n’a jamais fait sécession et qu’il n’a jamais accepté une rébellion sur son sol. En outre, il n’y a pas de provinces qui accueillent autant des populations allogènes que le Bas-Congo. Nous savons que le pouvoir fait au Bas-Congo ce qu’il n’ose pas faire ailleurs. Toutes ses injustices sont connues et nous continuerons à les dénoncer comme nous l’avons toujours fait, c’est-à-dire par des pétitions et le peuple Kongo doit redoubler de vigilance pour savoir qui défend réellement ses intérêts. Ne vous enfermez pas dans le désespoir et l’amertume. Ne vous recroquevillez pas et sachez qu’il existe au sein et en dehors du Bas-Congo des gens qui ont compris la pertinence de votre combat pour la liberté et la justice. Que vous soyez du pouvoir ou de l’opposition, vous êtes avant tout Kongo. Et à ce titre, vous êtes tous embarqués sur un même bateau et votre sort est lié. Qu’on se rappelle de l’holocauste juif !

4. Aux compatriotes congolais.
Lés régimes dictatoriaux divisent les gens pour les dominer. La 2e République a opposé les frères et sœurs de même ethnie et surtout les gens d’ethnies différentes tout en clamant qu’elle travaillait pour l’unité nationale.
Aujourd’hui, l’histoire se répète. Le pouvoir tente de diviser les Bakongo en faisant croire qu’il existe, entre eux, un conflit de nature religieuse alors que l’esprit irénique a toujours régné au Bas-Congo. Il tente également d’isoler les Bakongo de leurs compatriotes d’autres provinces en les présentant comme des gens hostiles aux non-originaires. C’est ainsi que le pouvoir entend distraire les congolais pour qu’ils ferment les yeux sur les injustices et deviennent les complices d’une dictature en voie de consolidation.

Il faut savoir que l’instauration d’une dictature n’est pas l’affaire d’une seule personne. La responsabilité est partagée par chacun des citoyens d’un pays par sa passivité, sa lâcheté, son silence devant les injustices, les exactions commises par le pouvoir. La conférence que les Bakongo réclament ne concerne pas qu’eux. Leurs intérêts rencontrent mutatis mutandis ceux de tous les citoyens de ce pays. Posez-vous la question de savoir pourquoi notre pays est toujours en crise depuis 1960 alors que certains pays qui étaient moins développés que le nôtre sont aujourd’hui en train de sortir du sous-développement. Entre-temps plusieurs forums ont été organisés pour juguler la crise congolaise mais elle est toujours là. Cela veut dire que le diagnostic n’a jamais été bien posé ou alors on n’a pas appliqué le bon remède. Nous connaissons l’origine du mal congolais et nous croyons détenir la solution. C’est pourquoi nous tenons à cette conférence pour en parler. En refusant l’organisation de cette conférence, le pouvoir veut éviter un déballage qui l’éclabousserait en révélant son vrai visage à l’opinion nationale et internationale. Suivre le point de vue du pouvoir, c’est vouloir prolonger la crise congolaise.

5. A la communauté internationale
Nous n’avons cessé de dire que ce qui se passe dans le Bas-Congo, procède d’une haine et d’un mépris du Mukongo par le pouvoir. Un génocide rampant s’y déroule. Et la communauté internationale ne devrait pas s’en disculper demain si elle s’en tient aujourd’hui au discours officiel sur les tueries récurrentes qui endeuillent notre province depuis 2002. Le monde s’émeut aujourd’hui de l’holocauste juif, du génocide arménien, serbe… et plus récemment, tusti. Un autre s’accomplit au Bas-Congo et dont Bundu dia Kongo sert de prétexte et d’alibi.

CONCLUSION

Cette expédition punitive dans le Bas-Congo confirme une fois de plus, outre la dérive dictatoriale du régime en place que d’aucuns avaient prédite eu égard à la manière dont les élections avaient été organisées, sa soif de vengeance annoncée par quelques indiscrétions à la suite de résultats médiocres obtenus par Joseph Kabila dans le Bas-Congo. Ainsi, au lieu de créer un climat de paix et de concorde nationale favorisant la promotion de la démocratie, le pouvoir recourt à l’utilisation des méthodes répressives qu’on croyait enterrés avec la 2e République et a une gestion romantique du pays. On se demande alors en quoi le nouveau régime constitue-t-il une rupture par rapport au précédent.

La destruction des vies humaines et des biens matériels ne peut pas être expliquée par la bavure policière comme on a coutume de le dire dans de telles circonstances. Il s’agit bel et bien d’une action préméditée contre les Bakongo, Bundu dia Kongo, n’a fait que fournir l’occasion rêvée pour soumettre le Bas-Congo à l’arbitraire des affairistes au pouvoir. Car la motivation profonde, c’est de faire main basse sur les recettes de cette province qui est comme on le sait, la vache à lait de la République Démocratique du Congo ou plutôt des affairistes au pouvoir.

Les massacres des victimes innocentes notamment des enfants lâchement abattus sous le regard des parents laissent complètement indifférents les tenants du pouvoir et leurs thuriféraires qui parcourent les médias pour justifier ces crimes, quand bien même la communauté internationale les condamne. De plus, ils ne se départissent pas des propos comminatoires, ce qui veut dire qu’ils sont prêts à recommencer. Ils ont même poussé le cynisme jusqu’à organiser un conseil des Ministres au chef-lieu de la province meurtrie pour intimider les populations et non pour les sécuriser. On peut comprendre alors que la thèse d’un complot contre les Bakongo n’est pas une vue de l’esprit. Ces tueries à répétition ressemblent bien à un génocide rampant dont il faut vite identifier les vrais instigateurs avant qu’il ne soit trop tard. Il ne faut pas attendre l’holocauste pour se rendre à l’évidence. Les Bakongo sont prévenus, mais aussi les autres Congolais, car on ne sait pas qui seront les prochaines victimes de la violence barbare du pouvoir.

Devant tant des morts à répétition, le pouvoir n’a exprimé aucun regret. Au contraire il continue à criminaliser ses victimes sans pour autant prouver leur responsabilité dans les forfaits qui leur sont imputés. Il est illusoire de croire que l’arrestation de Ne Muanda Nsemi et l’interdiction de Bundu dia Kongo, devenus le lieu commun de la réflexion des états-majors de la majorité au pouvoir dans la résolution de la crise au Bas-Congo, mettraient un terme à celle-ci. Sans une réponse satisfaisante aux revendications qui ne sont pas seulement celles de Bundu dia Kongo mais de toute la province et même de la majorité du pays, les gens ne se sentiront jamais sécurisés. Car au-delà des écarts de langage ou de comportement que l’on peut observer chez tel ou tel adepte de BDK et même chez tel ou tel Mukongo, les Bakongo, par le BDK, posent une fois de plus des questions fondamentales qui requièrent des réponses fondamentales et non épidermiques du genre des carnages récurrents perpétrés dans la province. Les Bakongo posent en fait une question fondamentale, à savoir : peut-on bâtir l’unité nationale, la démocratie et le développement dans notre pays sur la corruption, l’injustice, le mensonge et la discrimination ? c’est dommage que, comme à l’indépendance, face à cette question de fond, les Bakongo ne peuvent bénéficier d’un véritable soutien des autres communautés nationales. Traités d’illuminés et de prétentieux, lorsqu’ils posèrent la question de l’indépendance, les Bakongo découvrent encore à leurs dépens, 49 ans après, qu’ils sont en avance par rapport à beaucoup de leurs compatriotes. Et pourtant ils ne réclament aujourd’hui que l’application stricte de la Constitution du pays.

Unis par le sort, les congolais doivent construire et consolider cette unité dans l’effort de bâtir la liberté et la justice pour tous. C’est cela notre combat, il n’ y a pas un autre.

Si le Bas-Congo doit faire sécession, il le fera, si et seulement l’injustice, la prédation de ses richesse, et la discrimination se consolident en mode de gestion du pays. Et par rapport à cela, le pouvoir actuel constitue un cheval de Troie vis-à-vis duquel les congolais doivent se départir du discours creux, pour le juger et le soutenir aux actes. L’ennemi de l’unité nationale, le liquidateur de l’Etat congolais, ce n’est sûrement pas le Bundu dia Kongo, ni les Bakongo, mais ces dirigeants affairistes qui bradent les intérêts nationaux et banalisent, sans état d’âme, la vie des Congolais à l’autel des intérêts personnels et partisans.

C’est pourquoi il est impérieux d’organiser une conférence dont l’objet portera sur l’ensemble des revendications. L’opinion nationale et internationale a le droit de savoir la vérité sur ce qui se passe au Bas-Congo avant de prendre position. En outre, nous exigeons une commission d’enquête internationale afin d’établir clairement les responsabilités et de juger, de manière équitable, tous les coupables de quelque bord qu’ils soient. Après la condamnation des coupables, les familles des victimes devraient être indemnisées. Ce que le pouvoir fait maintenant ressemble à une fuite en avant dont on ne peut prévoir les conséquences. Nous estimons qu’il est opportun que le Tribunal Pénal International diligente une enquête sur ces massacres récurrents. Car il n’est pas normal que la communauté internationale reste indifférente face à ces violations permanentes des droits de l’homme. Attend-elle un holocauste pour réagir ?

Mbongi A Nsi #3

Click these links for issue #3 of Mbongi a Nsi (each file ca. 3.5MB):

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Congo’s President Joseph Kabila: Dynasty or Travesty?

U.S. independent journalist Keith Harmon Snow writes from a point of view not often heard and raises useful and interesting questions.

However, one outstanding omission in his historical summary is how the slave trade contributed to the Congo’s vulnerability to colonial conquest. When the bulk of a region’s strong young people are kidnapped and shipped overseas to work as slaves, it is a devastating blow to the social, economic, and spiritual life of their communities—and to their ability to defend themselves against the King Leopolds of the world. Slavery set the stage for “the ongoing exploitation today [that] can be directly connected to banking, plantations, and mining interests that plundered the Belgian Congo (1908-1960) and then the ‘independent’ state—the Democratic Rpublic of Congo (1960-1972) and then Zaire (1972-1997)…” (Snow) The fact that something so staggeringly obvious is routinely omitted from western histories of Africa perhaps indicates the west’s wish to deny slavery’s essential contribution to the empire-building of the last three centuries and the disparities of wealth which continue to this day.

Another gap is the role of the Catholic Church in demonizing Lumumba. Monsignor Malula’s depiction of Lumumba as a communist and an atheist who had no respect for Congolese religious feeling was one of the key elements in preparing the ground for his assassination.

We also wish Snow had not omitted a discussion of the role of the UN and South Africa in brokering the so-called “global peace agreement” of April 2003. The search to please as many warlords as possible and to avoid antagonizing Rwanda has given us what we have today on the eastern border. As in Haiti, emancipatory politics must be kept out at all costs.

Reposted from Toward Freedom November 13, 2007.

Who is the new president of Congo, Joseph Kabila, and how did he rise to power? Is he really the son of Laurent Kabila? Why was Laurent Kabila assassinated and by whom? What is Joseph Kabila’s relationship to the great white fathers in Belgium who once ruled this colony? Are Joseph Kabila’s days numbered?

In March 2007 the military and security forces backing newly elected President Joseph Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo fought it out with the supporters of Kabila’s strongest challenger, the baby-faced Jean-Pierre Bemba, a spoiled brat with a rebel army, who was seeking to overthrow Kabila in a coup d’etat.(1)

Most people believe his name is neither Joseph nor Kabila. Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, and others, reported that Joseph Kabila was a taxi driver in Tanzania, but others say he came from Rwanda, and Kabila’s supporters says he was born in Congo. According to some reliable sources, the real name of Joseph Kabila is Hippolyte Kanambe. Asked where Joseph Kabila is from, Janet Kabila refused to answer.(2)

Jean-Pierre Bemba exploited the question of Joseph Kabila’s origins under the slogan “Bemba: One Hundred Percent Congolese.” Bemba made speeches of nationalistic self-righteousness, and whipped up riots in Kinshasa by his supporters. Many Congolese people today say that Joseph Kabila’s origins are unimportant: what matters, they say, is good leadership.

Laurent Desire Kabila, the supposed father of now President Joseph Kabila, was a thorn in the side of President Mobutu during the early decades of Mobutu’s reign. In 1996, Laurent Kabila was plucked out of a bar in Dar es Salaam, where he was owner/manager, and installed as the Congolese figurehead of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL). Bill Clinton administration officials like Madeleine Albright, Susan Rice, Prudence Bushnell, and Anthony Lake backed Laurent Kabila’s selection and the war that ensued.(3)

Laurent Kabila provided the Western press the perfect face of rebellion, and they repeatedly invoked the ghost of Che Guevara, who briefly fought alongside Kabila, the “leftist veteran guerrilla,” in the 1960’s. Kabila attended the University of Dar es Salaam alongside Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, John Garang of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, and Wamba dia Wamba, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) rebel leader from Kisangani, DRC.

The ADFL insurgency began in 1996 with Rwandan President Paul Kagame shelling refugee camps in eastern Zaire in violation of international humanitarian and human rights statutes. The Rwandans (RPA/F) and Ugandans (UPDF) swept across Zaire behind the mask of a “liberation” struggle. Hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children—mostly Hutu refugees fleeing the U.S.-backed RPA/F coup d’etat in Rwanda—were hunted down and massacred, continuing the RPA/F genocidal campaign against Hutus begun in 1990.(4) The ADFL used “kidogo”—children armed by RPA/F and UPDF and put at the front to draw fire—and the people of Congo suffered unspeakable atrocities and depredations.

Laurent Kabila was reportedly held behind the frontlines during the ADFL campaign to overthrow Zaire. The Rwandan-backed rebel General Laurent Nkunda, who at this writing continues to destabilize and plunder in North Kivu, was an junior RPA/F officer. Leading the charge beside commanders Paul Kagame, James Kabarebe, and James Kazini—and their American military advisers—was the young man who is now president of DRC.

“Joseph Kabila was a soldier for Kagame,” one newly elected Congolese deputy said in April 2007. “He worked for Rwanda and the RPA rebels. He was in the war [1996-1997] from Rwanda to Kinshasa, from the Kivus, through Kisangani, where they killed all the Hutus, through Equateur to Mbandaka. He was there in Mbandaka when all the Hutus were massacred—all across Congo, he was there. He was with General Nkunda in Kisangani too. He was a friend with General Salim Saleh, Museveni’s half-brother, and with Colonel Mayombo, now a General in Uganda.”(5)

Laurent Kabila rejected the program his backers had planned. Attacks against Laurent Kabila increased in direct proportion to Kabila’s resistance to the directives of the great white fathers and their agents. At first Kabila’s resistance translated to threats against the Kabila government that appeared couched in the language of human rights. The massacres committed by the RPF/A and UPDF forces against the populace as they marched across Zaire suddenly became the problem of the ADFL—“Kabila’s liberation army”—as if the RPF/A and UPDF were never involved. Special Rapporteurs were duly dispatched to Zaire to investigate the skeletons in Kabila’s war chest. The massacres of hundreds of thousands of Rwandan Hutu refugees forced to flee in front of the RPA/UPDF killing machine suddenly became worthy news, and the word genocide flickered for a moment and then disappeared from sight. In the end however, all the killing was blamed on the ADFL—dismissing the roles of Rwanda, Uganda, and the US and Israeli military officials advising them and Pentagon agencies providing logistics.(6)

While cheered and canonized for ousting Mobutu just a year earlier (1997) Laurent Desire Kabila was soon declared a “dictator” because he steered Congo on an independent course. Kabila threw out Rwanda, Uganda, Bechtel, the World Bank and IMF, and so began the “War of Occupation.” From 1998 to 2000 the Laurent Kabila government allied with Angola, Chad, Namibia, Sudan (Khartoum), Libya and Zimbabwe; South Africa has played both sides.

Khartoum joined the war because the Ugandan government and the U.S. were backing John Garang’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army in south Sudan, as they are today backing rebels in the U.S. war for Darfur. Some 700 Ugandan rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fought for Kabila. The Lord’s Resistance Army is a Ugandan rebel faction backed by Khartoum that Museveni for 20 years has courted to justify increasing AID-for-ARMS scandals (unreported) and the ongoing UPDF genocide against the Acholi people in oil- and gold-rich northern Uganda.(7)

Laurent Desire Kabila was assassinated on January 16, 2001, exactly 40 years less one day after the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. It was a clear message: not only will we kill those who do not cooperate, we can do it when and where we like. Joseph Kabila “assumed” the presidency on January 26, 2001 and remained president throughout the transition (2002-2006).

From 1998-2004 countless mining and logging contracts were let with no transparency or accountability. Meanwhile, war raged in Congo killing millions, depopulating territories, and providing hundreds of millions in profits and market share for the Western “humanitarian” business sector, a.k.a. the misery industry, and the international landmine racket.

King Leopold’s Ghost Revisited

There are many powerful Belgians behind the skeletons dumped in the forests, swamps, rivers, and other mass graves across Congo. Belgium has pillaged Congo for some 150 years. It all began with blood rubber and ivory and King Leopold’s quest for a personal territory to rival the colonies of competing kings and princes.

In 1876, Leopold II hired New York Post journalist Henry Morton Stanley and Stanley became Leopold’s primary agent of death in the Congo Free State. The Leopold era (1876-1908) claimed some 10 million lives through networks of bloodletting and slavery directly overseen by Stanley. One Belgian national (later punished) shot 122 Congolese people on a single rubber collecting expedition in 1903.

Here is how the Belgian colonial enterprise was presented in to 12 year-old Belgian primary school children in 2006: “When the Belgians arrived in the Congo, they found a population that was victim of bloody rivalries and slave trade. Belgian civil servants, missionaries, doctors, colonists and engineers civilized the black population step by step. They created modern cities, roads and railroads, harbors and airports, factories and mines, schools and hospitals. This work greatly improved the living conditions of the indigenous people.”(8)

While the people of Congo resign themselves to believing that “the page has been turned” in Congolese affairs, much of the ongoing exploitation today can be directly connected to banking, plantations and mining interests that plundered the Belgian Congo (1908-1960) and then the “independent” state—the Democratic Republic of Congo (1960-1972) and then Zaire (1972—1997)—controlled by Joseph Mobutu and his western business partners and backers.

Amongst the many prominent people involved are Belgian nationals like Louis Michel, Étienne Davignon, Philippe de Moerloose and Andre Flahaut, and U.S. nationals like Henry Kissinger, Bill Richardson and Maurice Tempelsman. The interests of the Royal Family of Belgium are also involved. The predatory meddling and plundering of such people is rendered invisible by the international “community”—press, think-tanks, non-government organizations, foreign policy institutes and especially by academia—e.g. anthropology, international relations, political science, and African affairs departments.

Louis Michel is EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian AID, a gatekeeper position that insures that millions of Congolese people suffer miserably. Louis Michel has been one of Kabila’s strongest allies, and he played a pivotal roll in the 2006 electioneering of Joseph Kabila’s “victory.” Previous to his EU posting, Michel was a Belgian parliamentarian, minister and Vice Prime Minister, until 2004. He is reportedly a diamond merchant exploiting the diamond rich Tshikapa region of DRC. Michel also has ties to Congo’s diamonds through the Societe Miniere De Bakwanga (MIBA), a mainstay of Belgian neocolonialism in Congo; Michel’s son is reportedly directly involved at MIBA.(9)

Immediately after the assassination of Laurent Kabila on January 16, 2001, then Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel was quick to confirm the involvement of Kabila’s army chiefs and steer attention away from the obvious coup d’etat: the assassination of Laurent Desire Kabila.

Belgian business tycoon Viscount Étienne Davignon is chairman of the board of directors of S.N. Brussels Airlines, which he co-founded after the bankruptcy of Sabena, the Belgian national airline that carried Patrice Lumumba to his own death in 1961 and shipped DRC’s plundered minerals out of Rwanda (1998-2005) in partnership with the Kagame regime. Davignon is also a member of the board of numerous Belgian companies, and a former director of Anglo-American Corporation, the big Oppenheimer/DeBeers mining conglomerate operating in Congo in partnership with G.H.W. Bush-connected Barrick Gold Corporation. A 2001 Belgian parliamentary enquiry concluded that Davignon played an important and active role in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba.(10) Like Maurice Tempelsman, Davignon was deeply involved in the Western coup d’etat that put Joseph Mobutu in power, and kept him there.(11)

From 1989 to 2001, Étienne Davignon was chairman of the Belgian bank Société Générale de Belgique, one of the most lasting and perfidious enemies of the Congolese state. Hundreds of billions of dollars of minerals were plundered by the Societe General de Belgique through its majority-owned subsidiary the Union Minière du Haut Katanga (UMHK)—the Belgian Royal family’s mining company that exploited Congo’s copper, cobalt, tin, uranium and zinc from 1908, and later became GECAMINES, the parastatal mining company “controlled” by Mobutu and his closest cronies and Western allies. The U.S. purchased uranium from UMHK’s Shinkalobwe mine and later used it to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. GECAMINES was reportedly used by Joseph Kabila’s political party—Parti Pour la Reconstruction et le Développement (PPRD)—as a vehicle for party financing.(12)

Étienne Davignon was a director of Kissinger Associates, the intelligence and defense-consulting firm set up by Henry Kissinger, whose list of notable associates includes Clinton’s former UN Ambassador Bill Richardson, who put a “humanitarian” face on the US invasion of Zaire (1996-1998). Henry Kissinger is on the board of the International Rescue Committee, a prominent “relief” agency in the Congo—and one of the reasons the death toll is so high.

Étienne Davignon is also a director of Gilead Sciences, a “biotechnology” company whose past directors include Donald Rumsfeld (1988-2001). Gilead directors today include George Shultz, a Bechtel director and former U.S. Secretary of State; Carla Hills, International Crisis Group director and NAFTA architect; John Madigan, a former Tribune Company (mass media and “news”) director and current member of the Defense Business Board of the U.S. Department of Defense; and Nicholas G. Moore, another Bechtel director, and former CEO/Chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers from 1994-2004. Gilead Sciences was involved in the “Tamilflu” scare.(13)

The International Crises Group (ICG) is a flak organization with a “humanitarian” front that is pressing a U.S. national security agenda. The ICG primes the international media with white supremacist policy statements about Congo, Uganda and Sudan (Darfur) that never address the structural violence that underpins the Western exploitation of Africa. The ICG and International Rescue Committee are two of the main organizers and steering entities behind the Anglo-European “Congo Global Action Coalition”—self-described as “a global alliance of humanitarian, human rights, environmental, and faith-based organizations, students, members of the Congolese Diaspora, and other grassroots movements.”(14)

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) is involved in the Lueshe niobium mine in DRC’s North Kivu province, a mine currently kept off-line—and soaked in blood—by Rwandan-backed General Laurent Nkunda, the warlord in eastern Congo, in order to drive up world niobium prices. Belgian Étienne Davignon is also Special Adviser to EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel.

Belgian Philippe de Moerloose, a member of Kinshasa’s elite, supplies jets, helicopters and other presidential toys to Joseph Kabila.(15) De Moerloose’s firm Demipex—based in Brussels, Kinshasa and Lumumbashi—deals in equipment and logistics and holds the sole Nissan distributorship in DRC. His firm Overseas Security Services is responsible for atrocities against desperate Congolese in MIBA held diamond concessions. MIBA is reportedly $US 100 million in debt, with some $US 20 million owed to De Moerloose. De Moerloose’s Belgian aviation company, Demavia Airlines, partnered with the DRC-based Hewa Bora airlines, is accused of arms shipments to DRC. De Moerloose companies served as intermediaries shipping helicopters between France’s Aeromechanic Corporation and Britain’s Sloane Helicopters Ltd. to Air Katanga, a “Congolese” firm controlled by other notable Belgian nationals.

Philippe de Moerloose has business ties to the companies connected to George Forrest, a mainstay of exploitation in Congo since 1922; De Moerloose also operates in Rwanda and Burundi, putting him in business relations on both sides of Congo’s wars. De Moerloose vehicles sold in Rwanda and Congo are used by armed forces, and De Moerloose (2002) confirmed that the Rwandan Ministry of Defense buys directly from his companies. Paul de Moerloose, a brother, married Marie-Pierre Pairoux, of the wealthy French Pierre Pairoux family—partners of George Forrest businesses.

Patrick de Moerloose has lived in Katanga’s copperbelt zone for 30 years, and was accused of stealing coltan and copper from Gecamines, the massive Congolese mining concern. De Moerloose companies are believed to be involved in illegal diamond, copper and cobalt smuggling out of DRC. Philippe De Moerloose is also implicated in selling weapons to Angola.(16)

Arms and Intelligence for Kabila

Andre Flahaut, Belgian Minister of Defense, provoked a row in Belgium after promising to invite President Joseph Kabila to Brussels to receive a degree of Honorary Doctor of the Royal Military Academy (Ecole Royale Militaire) in Brussels. Flahaut announced the nomination of Kabila during a visit to Kinshasa in February 2007. Some 300-500 Congolese military “elements”—officers and instructors—were sent to the Belgian Royal Military Academy for military training in 2004. France received 10 FARDC personnel, China 20, and South Africa 200.(17)

Some 500 European Union Community forces—EUFOR—arrived in Kinshasa in June 2006, sent to insure that the electioneering would succeed. Notably, state-of-the-art Robocop equipment provided to beef up Congolese security forces in support of the electoral process is now being used against disenfranchised Congolese people in Western-controlled logging, mining, diamond and plantation areas.

Joseph Kabila is married to Sandrine Nguesso, the daughter of Dennis Sassou Nguesso, the President of Congo-Brazzaville. There were reportedly only two white men who attended Joseph Kabila’s wedding: one was Israeli-American diamond magnate Dan Gertler, the new King of the Congo, and the other was Belgian tycoon Philippe de Moerloose.(18) France has very close ties with Sassou Nguesso and Gabon’s President Omar Bongo, both of whom have supported Jean-Pierre Bemba and his father.

It is notable that a high-powered Angolan delegation visited Kabila in Kinshasa on March 14, 2007, just days before the warlord’s deadly battle with Jean-Pierre Bemba. The delegation included top Angolan military, police and intelligence officials. While the agenda focused on Angolan military incursions in DRC territory, occupying some 11 Congolese villages in diamond-rich areas, the Angolan military support for the impending war with Bemba was certainly decided. Congolese opposition officials affiliated with Jean-Pierre Bemba complained about the Angolan incursions, but the Kabila government was unconcerned about the Angolan presence on DRC soil.

Unturning the Page

With help from his “friends” behind the scenes, Joseph Kabila outmaneuvered Jean-Pierre Bemba to “win” the “historic national elections” of 2006, Congo’s first since so-called independence in 1960. The two warlords—Kabila and Bemba—were competing to be the new Black Face of Congo presented to the world by the great white Anglo-European fathers.

Like academic institutions and African Studies departments all over America and Europe, the so-called “human rights” and “humanitarian” organizations gloss over, ignore or completely mask the realities of Western manipulation and control. The media reports the corporate line, full of tribalism and savagery and ebola viruses.

Many of the same families behind the European colonial enterprise—rooted in slavery, white supremacy and terror—are behind the warlords in Congo today. The mainstays of exploitation, like the interests of former Belgian Barons or the Ministers of Colonies, have morphed into more insidious corporate entities. New players have dislodged some interests, like the Israeli-Americans dealing in blood diamonds through the Tel Aviv diamond exchange with the support of the White House. And now China is deeply involved in the fray, but that’s another story, another page to be unturned, and a hidden history to be excavated from the rubble of Central Africa.

It has often been stated that Joseph Kabila—whoever he is—had no choice but to assume the post he was pushed into as President of DRC. For Joseph Kabila to complain, balk or resist the machinations of power in any way, people close to him say, would mean his certain death.

Notes:

[1]. See: keith harmon snow, Congo’s Baby-Faced Bemba: A People’s History of a Brat with a Rebel Army,” Toward Freedom, September, 2007, and keith harmon snow, “Behind the Scenes: Warlord’s Deadly Battle in Congo,” Toward Freedom, August 9, 2007.

2. Private communication, Janet Kabila, Kinshasa, DRC, July 2006.

3.See: Wayne Madsen, Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa, 1993-1999, Mellen Press, 1999.

4. One of the very few accounts of the counter-genocide by RPA and UPDF forces is provided by New York Times journalist Howard French in his book Africa: A Continent for the Taking.

5. Private interview, Kinshasa, DRC, April 2007.

6. See: Howard French, Africa: A Continent for the Taking, 2001.

7. See: keith harmon snow, “Northern Uganda: Hidden War, Massive Suffering: Another White People’s War for Oil,” and “Tullow, Hardman and Heritage Oil Concessions Map,” .

8. J.-P. Lefevre, Une ancienne colonie, le Congo, in A la conquête du temps. Cycle 10/12, Ransart, p. B9, in Guy Vanthemsche, The Historiography of Belgian Colonialism in the Congo

9. Private interview, Kinshasa, 5 April 2007.

10. Parliamentary Committee of enquiry in charge of determining the exact circumstances of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba and the possible involvement of Belgian politicians, Belgium, 2001.

11. David Gibbs, The Political Economy of Third World Intervention: Mines, Money and U.S. Policy in the Congo Crises, University of Chicago Press, 1991.

12. Barry Sergeant, “Nikanor’s Quandry,” April 4, 2007,

.

13. See: A. Kronstadt, “Bird Flu: Hype, Hypothesis, and Hypodermic,” World War 4 Report, 2007, ; and “Rumsfeld’s Growing Stake in Tamiflu,” Fortune, Oct. 31, 2005, .

14. “Join the Congo Coalition,” IRC, .

15. “Diamonds: How Crooks Still Exploit the System,” Africa Confidential, Vol. 48, No. 3, 02 February 2007; “Diamond miners killed in DR Congo,” BBC News, 7 August 2006, link.

16. Interview with Philippe De Moerloose, Belgian Senate “Great Lakes” Inquiry, 2002. The Rwandan subsidiary of Demipex is SOGERRWA-IMC.

17. Africa Research Bulletin, Volume 41, Number 9, 15899-15938, October 2004.

18. Africa Confidential, 2007; see also: Barry Sergeant, “Nikanor’s Quandry,” 04 April 2007,

Lynchburg, Ota Benga, and the Empowerment of the Pygmies: an International Conference, October 25 – 27, 2007, Lynchburg, VA.

The program for the conference can be found at http://vul.edu/events_otabenga.html.

The theme of the conference revolves around Ota Benga, a Pygmy who was brought to America, by explorer/missionary Samuel Phillips Verner to be part of an exhibit at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. When the World’s Fair closed Ota Benga returned to the Congo where he helped Verner collect plants and specimens that Verner hoped to sell to the Museum of Natural history in New York. Upon their return to the U.S., the Museum was not able to pay them for the artifacts. Running out of funds, Verner left Ota Benga at the Museum where he lived for a period of time until he was taken to the Bronx Zoo. There, Mr. William Temple Hornaday, director of the zoo, exhibited Ota Benga in a cage with chimpanzees. The exhibit attracted crowds of visitors and was well documented in the New York newspapers of the time. A group of black ministers, incensed at this outrage, managed to get him released in their custody. He was taken to live in an orphanage in New York but later was able to persuade them to take him to the Virginia Seminary and College in Lynchburg (now VUL). He lived in the President’s house and took classes at the school. He also worked in a tobacco factory and did odd jobs. However, growing despondent because he was not able to secure funds to return to Africa, he shot himself in the heart, on the Spring Equinox, 1916. He is buried in Lynchburg in an unmarked grave.

Through Ota Benga’s compelling life story the Conference will provide an open environment for discussion on issues of past exploitation of vulnerable human populations and the resulting present day effects.

Topics include Western intervention and occupation of Africa in the late nineteenth century, the impact of American Missionaries on Africa and the current situation of the Pygmies in the Congo

By bringing together humanities scholars from throughout the U.S., indigenous people from the Congo, foreign embassy personnel, students and the general public the Conference will examine these issues from different cultural perspectives.

The conference is sponsored by the Virginia University of Lynchburg, in conjunction with Lynchburg College, Randolph College, Sweet Briar College, the African Congress of the Pygmies, and Amazement Square Children’s Museum.

Major funding for the conference is provided by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities as part of the We the People initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Dolan Fund for Peace and Justice.

BBC reports: Pygmy artists housed in Congo zoo

Recently, the BBC posted a horrific story of the abuse of pygmies in Congo-Brazzaville. It recalls nothing so much as the imprisonment of Ota Benga in the Bronx Zoo, where this photo was taken by the Wildlife Conservation Society in 1906.
Ota Benga in the monkey enclosure at the Bronx Zoo 1906

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6898241.stm

Pygmy artists housed in Congo zoo

image of pygmy family and tent

Human rights activists have criticised the organisers of a music festival in the Republic of Congo for housing pygmy musicians in a tent at a zoo.

Other artists at the Festival of Pan-African Music (Fespam) are staying in hotels in the capital, Brazzaville.

The organisers say the grounds of Brazzaville zoo are closer to the pygmies’ natural habitat.

But the pygmy musicians say they had expected to be housed properly while staying in the city.

The Baka pygmy musicians, from the far north of the country, were one of the highlights at the opening ceremony of Fespam on Sunday.

It is the fifth year they have performed at the festival and previously they have been treated the same as other guests.

But this year the group of 20, including 10 women and a three-month-old baby, were given one tent to share in the city’s zoo.

A spokeswoman for Fespam said the decision was made in consultation with the Forestry Ministry, so that the pygmies would not be cut off from their “natural environment”.

But the group themselves are not happy.

Activists say the pygmies are being treated like zoo exhibits

“It’s not good for men, women and children to all be in this one tent. We need some space,” dancer and musician David Motambo told the BBC.

“We can’t live here where there are so many mosquitoes. Here in the city we can’t stay in the forest.”

Roger Bouka Owoko from the Congolese Observatory of Human Rights said the pygmies were having to collect firewood in the zoo to cook their food, and were being stared at and filmed by tourists and passers-by.

A BBC correspondent says indigenous forest communities are among the most marginalised groups in Africa and are regularly regarded by their neighbours as less than human.

“It’s clear that it’s a situation like we saw in earlier centuries, where people put pygmies in zoos to dance or to create a spectacle. They were treated the same as zoo animals and I think that we have a similar situation today,” said Mr Owoko.

Government officials say they are seeking to have the group relocated to a hotel.

Who Is Ota Benga?

Ota Benga was a Congolese man, brought to the United States by the self-styled entrepreneur/explorer Samuel Phillips Verner, to be exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Ota Benga, an Mbuti, who was about 4 feet 8 inches tall, a so-called pygmy, was exhibited in the Hall of Man at the Fair along with an exotic collection of indigenous peoples from the western world. It is alleged that Ota Benga from the Congo was exhibited next to a group of Native Americans that included Geronimo.

Such exhibits were not unusual for the day. Natural history museums in western capitals vied with each other to have whole families in permanent residence.

At the end of the World’s Fair, Ota Benga, along with eight other Mbuti, was returned to the Congo Free State (at that time still the personal property of King Leopold of Belgium). There, Ota Benga found that his hunting band had been annihilated by military forces put in place by Leopold’s agents to maximize production of rubber and ivory. Verner, possibly sensing a business opportunity, offered Ota Benga a chance to return to the US with him. Verner struck a deal with the Natural History Museum in New York to display Ota Benga there. The deal fell through when Ota Benga failed to be sufficiently docile in the Museum. Some months later in 1906, Verner negotiated a contract with the New York Zoological Gardens for Ota Benga to be displayed in the primate section of the zoo.

Ota Benga’s presence at the zoo was a huge success. Visitor rates soared, but within a few short weeks, ministers of churches in Harlem were writing to the New York Times to protest his confinement there. They felt Ota Benga’s plight as an affront to their all-too-recent emancipation from slavery, to their humanity, and to their dignity. Responses to their arguments came from anthropologists who argued that Ota Benga was being treated “humanely” at the zoo.

The pressure to release Ota Benga eventually resulted in his leaving the zoo. For the next ten years, Ota tried to fit in. He was helped first by the churches, who put him in an orphanage (probably because he was a small person), and later by Harlem Renaissance artists, notably the poet Anne Bethel Spencer who lived in Lynchburg, Virginia. She taught him to read and write along with her grandson. In the early 1990s, when asked if there was anything that stood out in his memory of Ota Benga, Anne Spencer’s grandson said that Ota often slapped his chest and said, “I am a man. I am a man.”

Ota was once sighted dancing in Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. In 1916, despondent over the likelihood that he would never return to the Congo, Ota Benga shot himself to death. He was 35 years old.

The relevance of Ota Benga’s story for us today?

His story still resonates because:

We still define people by their ecological niches, cultural or physical differences (think Khoi-San, Maasai, or any number of indigenous people). From Ota’s experience, we see how this diminishes our humanity.

Rainforest/ecological/zoological approaches to “the other” blind us to the humanity of the individual.

Disrespect for Ota Benga’s ethnic group was as real in Congo as elsewhere. The Mbuti remain as threatened today in the DRCongo as they were when Ota was alive.

Affronts to human dignity are not restricted to physical and cultural differences: the treatment of the homeless or of survivors of Hurricane Katrina are cases in point.

Ota Benga’s story is so blatant that, despite the full century that has passed since his stay at the zoo, the lesson of human dignity is easy to see, and through it the recognition that this is an area we must work to change.