Tags: Africa, africa free trade, african union, annexation congo, Bill Clinton, britain congo, Congo, congo atrocities, congo conflict, congo invasion, congo natural resources, congo war, crimes against humanity, drc, herman cohen, icc, international court justice, kabila, kambale musavuli, mobutu, paul kagame, rady ananda, rick warren, roger hollander, rwanda, rwandan aggression Congo, rwandan atrocities, rwandan defense forces, rwandan investment group, sarkozy, Tony Blair, ugnada, us congo
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by Kambale Musavuli (Posted by Rady Ananda)
www.opednews.com, March 7, 2009
Since Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Congo in 1996, they have pursued a plan to appropriate the wealth of Eastern Congo either directly or through proxy forces. The December 2008 United Nations report is the latest in a series of U.N. reports dating from 2001 that clearly documents the systematic looting and appropriation of Congolese resources by Rwanda and Uganda, two of Washington and London’s staunchest allies in Africa.
However, in the wake of the December 2008 report, which clearly documents Rwanda’s support of destabilizing proxy forces inside the Congo, a series of stunning proposals and actions have been presented which all appear to be an attempt to cover up or bury the damning U.N. report on the latest expression of Rwanda’s aggression against the Congolese people.
The earliest proposal came from Herman Cohen, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs under George Herbert Walker Bush. He proposed that Rwanda be rewarded for its well documented looting of Congo’s wealth by being a part of a Central and/or East African free trade zone whereby Rwanda would keep its ill-gotten gains.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy would not be outdone; he also brought his proposal off the shelf, which argues for essentially the same scheme of rewarding Rwanda for its 12-year war booty from the Congo. Two elements are at the core of both proposals.
One is the legitimization of the economic annexation of the Congo by Rwanda, which for all intents and purposes represents the status quo. And two is basically the laying of the foundation for the balkanization of the Congo or the outright political annexation of Eastern Congo by Rwanda. Both Sarkozy and Cohen have moved with lightning speed past the Dec. 12, 2008, United Nations report to make proposals that avoid the core issues revealed in the report.
The U.N. report reaffirms what Congolese intellectuals, scholars and victims have been saying for over a decade in regard to Rwanda’s role as the main catalyst for the biblical scale death and misery in the Congo. The Ugandan and Rwandan invasions of 1996 and 1998 have triggered the deaths of nearly 6 million Congolese. The United Nations says it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II.
The report “found evidence that the Rwandan authorities have been complicit in the recruitment of soldiers, including children, have facilitated the supply of military equipment, and have sent officers and units from the Rwandan Defense Forces” to the DRC. The support is for the National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP, formerly led by self-proclaimed Gen. Laurent Nkunda.
The report also shows that the CNDP is sheltering a war criminal wanted by the International Criminal Court, Gen. Jean Bosco Ntaganda. The CNDP has used Rwanda as a rear base for fundraising meetings and bank accounts, and Uganda is once more implicated as Nkunda has met regularly with embassies in both Kigali and Kampala.
Also, Uganda is accepting illegal CNDP immigration papers. Earlier U.N. reports said that Kagame and Museveni are the mafia dons of Congo’s exploitation. This has not changed in any substantive way.
The report implicates Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, a close advisor to Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda. Rujugiro is the founder of the Rwandan Investment Group. This is not the first time he has been named by the United Nations as one of the individuals contributing to the conflict in the Congo.
In April 2001, he was identified as Tibere Rujigiro in the U.N. Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of the figures illegally exploiting Congo’s wealth. His implication this time comes in financial contributions to CNDP and appropriation of land.
This brings to light the organizations he is a part of, which include but are not limited to the Rwanda Development Board, the Rwandan Investment Group, of which he is the founder, and Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council. They have members as notable as Rev. Rick Warren, business tycoon Joe Ritchie, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Scott Ford of Alltell, Dr. Clet Niyikiza of GlaxoSmithKline, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and many more.
These connections provide some insight into why Rwanda has been able to commit and support remarkable atrocities in the Congo without receiving even a reprimand in spite of the fact that two European courts have charged their top leadership with war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is only recently that two European nations, Sweden and the Netherlands, have decided to withhold aid from Rwanda as a result of its aggression against the Congolese people.
The report shows that the Congolese soldiers have also given support to the FDLR and other armed groups to fight against the aggression of Rwanda’s CNDP proxy. One important distinction must be made in this regard. It appears that the FDLR support comes more from individual Congolese soldiers as opposed to overall government support.
The Congolese government is not supporting the FDLR in incursions into Rwanda; however, the Rwandan government is in fact supporting rebel groups inside Congo. The Congolese population is the victim of the CNDP, FDLR and the Congolese military.
The United Nations report is a predictable outgrowth of previous reports produced by the U.N. since 2001. It reflects the continued appropriation of the land, theft of Congo’s resources, and continuous human rights abuses caused by Rwanda and Uganda. An apparent aim of these spasms is to create facts on the ground — land expropriation, theft of cattle and other assets — to consolidate CNDP/Rwandan economic integration into Rwanda.
Herman Cohen’s “Can Africa Trade Its Way to Peace?” in the New York Times reflects the disastrous policies that favor profits over people. In his article, the former lobbyist for Mobutu and Kabila’s government in the United States and former assistant secretary of state for Africa from 1989 to 1993 argues, “Having controlled the Kivu provinces for 12 years, Rwanda will not relinquish access to resources that constitute a significant percentage of its gross national product.”
He adds, “The normal flow of trade from eastern Congo is to Indian Ocean ports rather than the Atlantic Ocean, which is more than a thousand miles away.” Continuing his argument, he believes that “the free movement of people would empty the refugee camps and would allow the densely populated countries of Rwanda and Burundi to supply needed labor to Congo and Tanzania.”
Cohen’s first mistake in providing solutions to the conflict is to look at the conflict as a humanitarian crisis that can be solved by economic means. Uganda and Rwanda are the aggressors. Aggressors should not define for the Congo what is best, but rather it is for the Congo to define what it has to offer to its neighbor.
A lasting solution is to stop the silent annexation of Eastern Congo. The International Court of Justice has already weighed in on this matter when it ruled in 2005 that Congo is entitled to $10 billion in reparations due to Uganda’s looting of Congo’s natural resources and the commission of human rights abuses in the Congo. It would have in all likelihood ruled in the same fashion against Rwanda; however, Rwanda claimed to be outside the jurisdiction of the court.
The United States and Great Britain’s implication is becoming very clear. These two great powers consider Rwanda and Uganda their staunch allies and, some would argue, client states. These two countries have received millions of dollars of military aid, which, in turn, they use in Congo to cause destruction and death.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame is a former student at the U.S. military training base Fort Leavenworth and Yoweri Museveni’s son, Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, graduated from the same U.S. military college in the summer of 2008. Both the United States and Great Britain should follow the lead of the Dutch and Swedish governments, which have suspended their financial support to Rwanda.
With U.S. and British taxpayers’ support, we now see an estimated 6 million people dead in Congo, hundreds of thousands of women systematically raped as an instrument of war and millions displaced.
A political solution will resolve the crisis, and part of that requires pressure on Rwanda in spite of Rwanda’s recent so-called “house arrest” of Laurent Nkunda. African institutions such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union are primed to be more engaged in the Congo issue. Considering Congo’s importance to Africa, it is remarkable that they have been so anemic in regard to the Congo crisis for so long.
Rwanda’s leader, Paul Kagame, cannot feel as secure or be as arrogant as he has been in the past. One of his top aides was arrested in Germany as a result of warrants issued by a French court and there is almost global consensus that pressure must be put on him to cease his support of the destabilization of the Congo and its resultant humanitarian catastrophe.
In addition to pressure on Kagame, the global community should support the following policies:
1. Initiate an international tribunal on the Congo.
2. Work with the Congolese to implement a national reconciliation process; this could be a part of the international tribunal.
3. Work with the Congolese to assure that those who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity are brought to justice.
4. Hold accountable corporations that are benefiting from the suffering and deaths in the Congo.
5. Make the resolution of the Congo crisis a top international priority.
Living is a right, not a privilege, and Congolese deaths must be honored by due process of the law. As the implication of the many parties in this conflict becomes clear, we should start firmly acknowledging that the conflict is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies.
We call upon people of good will once again to advocate for the Congolese by following the prescriptions we have been outlining to end the conflict and start the new path to peace, harmony and an end to the exploitation of Congo’s wealth and devastation of its peoples.
Global Research, February 22, 2009
Online Journal - 2009-02-19
Of Blood and Gold: How Canadian Mining Companies Loot the Congo February 26, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Canada, Environment.
Tags: American Mineral Fields, anvil mining, banro, barrick gold, Canada, canadian government, canadian mining, Congo, congolese, copper mining, drc, environment, envrionmental regulations, First Quantum, Hrambee Mining, human rights, Human Rights Watch, International Panorama Resources, john lasker, Kinross Gold, Melkior Resources, mining watch canada, natural resources, oecd, roger hollander, Tenke, third world exploitation
|Written by John Lasker www.towardfreedom.com|
|Thursday, 26 February 2009|
In the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where some analysts say a decade-long “resource war” has taken the lives of millions, a Canadian mining company has caught a fever over gold. Once again, the presence of a foreign mining company in the DRC offers a stunning example of disparity between the “have-mores” of the West and the local Congolese, who seemingly have nothing but violence and struggle. In January of this year the Banro mining company of Canada called on investors to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to help them mine one of Africa’s “last great” gold deposits. The deposits are located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) province of South Kivu, a region that actually has been spared from the brunt of the long-lasting resource war.Banro predicts it could mine some 2.6 million ounces of gold over 15 years out of their South Kivu mines. After expenses and paying taxes Banro believes such a haul can generate a net-profit of nearly $600 million US dollars over the 15 years, averaging $40 million per year, if gold stays around $850 per ounce.
Just a few weeks before Banro’s call for mining capital, the United Nations Development Programme released updated statistics for its Human Development Index (HDI). The index tabulates statistics that are critical to revealing a nation’s well-being. The HDI measures life expectancy, standard of living, literacy rate and the number of school-aged children being educated. Out of 179 countries measured the DRC ranks 177th; a ranking for a country with a population of over 65 million.
Life expectancy in the DRC is 46 years. Only 33 percent of the school-aged children are enrolled in some type of school. While the GDP hovers around $300 US dollars, per person, per year. On the other hand in Canada the life expectancy is 80 years. A good education is guaranteed as 99 percent of all school-aged children are in school. And for most adults their yearly average earnings could be around $37,000.
But even with all the disparity Banro will figure out a way to avoid paying their fair-share of taxes to the Congolese, says Jamie Kneen of MiningWatch Canada, a mining industry watch-dog group. “Banro will find ways to get around showing full-profit,” said Kneen. “They will find seventeen different ways to avoid paying the Congolese tax man.”
Kneen has good reason to chastise Banro. Earlier this decade, the UN charged Banro with pillaging minerals from eastern DRC.
What’s more, Banro “wholly-owns” the South Kivu gold mines, says Kneen. “The government owns the resources but the project is owned by Banro. They have to pay taxes and royalties but they can do whatever with the profits.” Banro won 100 percent ownership after suing the DRC government for essentially losing control of the mines during the decade-long war.
According to CorpWatch.org, 60 percent of all the world’s mining companies come from this progressive and multi-cultural nation – mining companies that generate $50 billion a year for Canada. But the irony is, says Kneen, many work outside Canada. In the 1990s they went global, he says, escaping newly enacted and tougher environmental regulations. Environmentally speaking, taking your operation overseas saves your own country from dealing with the mess: 20 tons of waste rock, for instance, comes from the creation of one gold wedding ring.
Canadian mining companies have now spread themselves across the globe, making mining-agreements or concessions with many underdeveloped nations. These days, says Kneen, “the Toronto Stock Exchange is the number one (generator) for mining capital in the world.”
On its web site Banro prides itself “by increasing and developing its significant gold assets in a socially and environmentally responsible manner”. One of its foundations working in South Kivu recently built two high-schools, completed a potable water delivery system serving 18,000 people, built 100 km of roads and shipped in health supplies. On the flip side, China promised to build roads, highways, universities, schools and health centers as part of a $9 billion deal to access Congo minerals.
“Banro will have enough money coming in to do some regional development in South Kivo, which is pretty remote,” says Kneen.
Perhaps hearing the calls for more infrastructure, on February 25th Banro promised another $1 million for Congo projects, adding that they’ll pay more taxes on potential profits.
Nevertheless, in an effort to reassure investors over the region’s off-again, on-again wars – caused mostly by the plundering of Congo minerals by rebels, mining multi-nationals and DRC’s neighboring countries, such as Rwanda and Uganda – Banro has publicly said South Kivu’s lack of infrastructure is actually a good thing.
“There’s very little transportation infrastructure between where the fighting is and where (Banro’s mines are)” said Martin Jones, Banro’s vice-president of corporate development in a February issue of The Northern Miner, a trade-association magazine. The fighting, he claimed, is 200 kilometers or more away and “is unlikely to spread (and) the issues that are being fought over…have limited impact on people in the rest of the Congo.” Keep in mind this is a conflict where the UN says 45,000 women were raped in 2005, and in some cases as reported by the Independent, deliberately wounded in sexual organs by firearms.
The Banro deal in the DRC is the future of Canadian mining in central Africa. To offer some context, here is some past history of several Canadian mining companies in central Africa:
In October of 2004, Anvil Mining, the leading copper producer in the DRC, had to shut down production at their Dikulushi Mine when a so-called “rebellion” took place in a nearby village – a rebellion of “ten to twelve” villagers that had nothing to do with mining, said Kneen. Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC), of the DRC government, proceeded to seize the town, says Kneen, then went door-to-door “raping and pillaging”. Between 70 to 100 civilians were killed including women and children. Kneen said the Congo forces had Anvil’s “full cooperation”. Anvil claimed the Congo forces basically put a gun to their chest. Anvil nevertheless offered up trucks and logistics, says Kneen, trucks that transported troops and dead civilians. In the aftermath, the Canadian government essentially looked the other way. “They refused to investigate because there’s no legal mechanism in place,” says Kneen.
Anvil is supposed to adhere to OECD guidelines for multi-national corporations, a voluntary set of moral standards for working in another country established by the think-tank the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, based in France. But the Canadian government – like many Western governments – do not enforce OECD guidelines.
Canada’s Barrick Gold is the world’s largest producer of gold. In a 2005 Human Rights Watch report entitled The Curse of Gold, Barrick Gold and other mining companies are accused of making mining agreements in 2002 with two eastern DRC militias that had control of the mines. Both militias were also in the midst of murdering hundreds of civilians. In return for the gold mines, the militias were given housing and trucks, among other appeasements. Incredibly, as highlighted by independent journalist and Congo-expert Keith Harmon Snow, Barrick’s current and past advisors and directors include former US president George H.W. Bush, former Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney, Vernon Jordan, a close friend to Bill Clinton, and one-time Tennessee senator Howard Baker. Snow says Barrick and one its partners, Anglo-Ashanti, even sent in lawyers to help represent leaders of the militias after some were apprehended by the DRC government.
In 2001 the UN released their “Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo”. Out of the 29 mining multi-nationals the report accuses of stealing resources out of the DRC, eight are from Canada. They are American Mineral Fields, First Quantum, Hrambee Mining, International Panorama Resources, Kinross Gold, Melkior Resources, Tenke and Banro.
Analysts suggest the resource wars in the DRC are partially fueled by the fact that Western multi-nationals – with the help of host governments – are able to invade an underdeveloped nation, and take its wealth right out from under the feet of the general population. And in this case, the DRC could certainly use all the profits to benefit its own development. With that in mind, any Western mining project in the DRC should be looked upon with caution and skepticism.
John Lasker is a freelance journalist from central Ohio. Photo by Julien Harneis