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Eyes On Persecution: Shedding Light On Human Rights Abuses—The Congo

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Eyes on Persecution congo

(Voice of the Persecuted)  We are acquiring information of conflicts in Central Africa that are still waging despite virtual media silence. The  Congo has seen many wars and Human Rights abuses.   Mass graves, rape of children and many human rights abuses have been brought to our attention.  One thing I’ve learned over the last 6 years is to have an analytic mind while reading news. To research the facts and digging out the truth. Often you will find that nothing is as it seems on the surface.

Most interesting is that in Africa, the countries with the most persecution and genocide of Christians, is that Christianity continues to grow. And the demographics of Christians in the world are actually changing.  According to Pew Research in 2050, nearly four-in-ten of the world’s Christians (38%) are expected to be living in sub-Saharan Africa, up from 24% in 2010 and less than 2% in 1910.  In addition, by 2050, five of the 10 largest Christian populations in the world – Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda – will be in Africa, which had three of the 10 largest Christian populations in 2010. 

In December, World Watch Monitor reported when Religious leaders called for dialogue in the Great Lakes Region (Congo).

congo meeting religious leaders

(World Watch Monitor) Situated in the middle of the continent, the Great Lakes region is one of the most volatile areas of Africa. For decades, it has been ravaged by violent conflicts, such as the bitter ethnic rivalries that led to the Rwanda genocide of 1994, in which more than 800,000 people, mainly ethnic Tutsis, were slaughtered in the span of 100 days.  Neighbouring Burundi also was torn by deadly ethnic tensions following its independence in 1963. Those tensions broke out in 2003 into civil war that lasted 12 years and claimed more than 300,000 lives.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, however, has suffered the worst conflict in Africa. Up to 6 million people were killed during the five-year civil war that started in 1998. Often referred to as Africa’s “World War” because it involved most of its neighbouring countries, the conflict technically ended with a 2003 peace agreement and the deployment of the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping mission, though the measures have yet to bring a lasting peace, particularly in the eastern regions of the country.

“This would commend us to draw lessons from it, in order to be able to allocate the things we can tolerate and those we cannot afford to tolerate anymore,” said Bishop John Rucyahana of the Anglican Church of Rwanda.

‘‘We need dialogue in order to strategize and set the pace for development,” he said. “We critically have to expose sources of conflicts as much as we need to dialogue to establish policies, not only to eliminate those conflicts, but also do it with the intent commitment to heal our social fabric.’’

‘‘It is imperative to assess and set apart all the things we can no longer tolerate, like the things that hinder our unity and disrupt the process of our development and our total recovery. We don’t only tolerate conflict resolutions or prevention but we remove it if possible,” Rucyahana said.

Further potential sources of violence exist, EIRENE’s regional director, Tahirou Sy Issaka, told World Watch Monitor in a telephone interview.

Several Great Lakes countries — Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and Uganda – will hold elections in 2015.  Issaka said religious and ethnic affiliations maybe manipulated for political purposes, creating conditions that could spark violence.  (Read the full report)

The Democratic Republic of the Congo also known as DR Congo, DRC, Congo, Congo-Kinshasa, DROC, or RDC(known as Zaïre 1965–97), is a country located in Central Africa. It borders theRepublic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan to the north,Uganda, Rwanda,Burundi and Tanzaniato the East, Zambiaand Angola to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world. With a population of over 75 million.

  • The Congolese Civil Wars, beginning in 1996, brought about the end of Mobutu Sese Seko’s 31 year reign, devastated the country, and ultimately involved nine African nations,multiple groups of UN peacekeepers and twenty armed groups.
  • The wars resulted in the deaths of 5.4 million people since 1998 with more than 90% of those deaths the result of malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition, aggravated by displacement and unsanitary and over-crowded living conditions.
  • Nearly half of the victims were children under five.

These facts seem to ring true in every conflict present today.  The weak and the vulnerable are the victims, not the governments or the groups waging war against them.  We are told that the Congo is still in conflict and human rights abuses abound, but are simply not being shared.  So we went to work.  We found reports of abuses, and raging conflict, that rebel groups in this area have alliances with Al-Shabob, (through the Allied Democratic Forces). And remember this is where the LRA raged their murderous campaigns of kidnapping and rape.  When you begin to peel back the layers, the smell is overwhelming.

For the last couple years rights groups like Amnesty International and and sources such as World Watch Monitor have been reporting on the abuses of women.  One Congolese Doctor say’s that “Rape is a weapon of mass destruction.”  Last June, Fides Agency reported Denis Mukwege, a Congolese doctor, who has been working for years to treat victims of rapes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Dr. Mukwege manages the health center of Panzi, in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu which together with North Kivu are two of the most unstable areas of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, due to the presence of numerous armed groups that terrorize the population.”Rapes – explains the doctor – are born from the desire to destroy the woman as the bearer of life. In this sense, they are weapons of mass destruction”.  He goes on to say that “A woman is considered first of all a mother”, recalls the document. “She gives life. That is all which is to be considered sacred in African tradition. … In such a context, violence against women is considered a way of inflicting death to an entire community. It is a way to strike at the very heart of the community”. According to Dr. Mukwege, war rapes are weapons used in various conflicts around the world, from the former Yugoslavia to Syria: “I met some Bosnian women and Syrian doctors who told me of similar rapes.”

Reuters shared in March, that girls as young as 18 months old are being raped and left with horrific injuries. Precious babies and as one doctor said, their bodies have been destroyed. They cited that 34 babies and young girls had been treated from one community alone.  Giving credence to the above report from Fides.  It seems this evil is dead set on controlling the population and indeed destroying communities by attacking those who give life, not a new tactic.  Whole communities in the Congo are being attacked, attacking the very vulnerable and defenseless….children.  And nothing is done to stop this.  Nothing from the media, nothing from World leaders, only silence.

The UN Peacekeeping force does have a presence and refuse to leave until they can make progress with Rwandan rebels, so we find many factions just lurking under the surface.  Many rebel groups, many mentions of bloody and disastrous conflicts, incessant human rights abuses and the innocent suffer unspeakable horrors.

The New York Times did do an op-ed in Dec. of 2012,  and titled the conflict in the Congo “The World’s Worst War.” The author of this articles say’s “The Congo has become a never-ending nightmare, one of the bloodiest conflicts since World War II, with more than five million dead.” (Read here)

Something else stands out in the above report, the rapes have been marked by a level of brutality that is shocking even by the twisted standards of a place rived by civil war and haunted by warlords and drugged-up child soldiers.

More than 5 Million people killed.  Wikipedia puts the numbers at 5.4 million since 1998.  In January of this year, it was reported that the government opened fire on civilians protesting election law change.  It seems this is a practice.  A mass grave has been uncovered and reports say that overnight in January 421 bodies were buried by the government.  It was uncovered when women working in a field smelled a stench and found a leg.  A US based Human Rights Organization say’s that the bodies are from the crackdown on protesters in January.  They called for exhumation of the bodies since the government said they were babies that died or fetuses.  But the Government is refusing to exhumation—Human Rights Abuses again meet silence.

This morning the Fides Agency shared that The Democratic Republic of Congo would have the potential to be a rich country, not just for exotic and natural landscapes, but also for the presence of minerals such as gold, diamonds, iron, coltan and natural gas. The same oil fields, if properly exploited, could bring important resources to invest in the Country. Unfortunately, the proliferation of armed groups and often the economic interests of other Countries, which agree that the situation remains so, make any kind of change difficult. The violence of rebel groups, particularly in the eastern part of the territory, leave destruction everywhere, broken families, women raped, children abducted to be recruited by criminal gangs. In addition, health care is possible only in major cities. School education is not remotely contemplated. Extreme poverty is widespread with the exception of a very small group. Volcanoes in full activity and that are close to Goma make the already precarious situation even worse. One of the most active volcanoes in the world, Nyiragongo has already erupted over 50 times in the last 150 years, causing widespread damage and deaths, flooding the city and 14 other surrounding villages. A short distance from Nyiragongo is Nyamuragira volcano, the most active in all of Africa.

No justice, no condemnation, too few calls for committees to investigate.  This is an ongoing story, one of indeed a never ending war, with the same players moving with the same agendas. Where is the outcry for their protection? Who will be their VOICE encouraging those with the power to act? Has history not taught us how our silence only emboldens violent men? With these questions, we are reminded of:

“A sad truth of human nature is that it is hard to care for people when they are abstractions, hard to care when it is not you or somebody close to you. Unless the world community can stop finding ways to dither in the face of this monstrous threat to humanity those words Never Again will persist in being one of the most abused phrases in the English language and one of the greatest lies of our time.” ― Paul Rusesabagina

“We must recognize that if we feel helpless when facing the record of human depravity, there was always a point at which any particular scene of madness could have been stopped.” ― Robert H. Abzug

Proverbs 31: 8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

2 Timothy 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy

And the parable Jesus told of the Good Samaritan when a man beaten, half dead on the side of the road was overlooked by religious men, but noticed and shown compassion by a certain Samaritan. Luke 10:25-37

Often we miss the chance to care for those who truly need us. To speak up for those who are silenced out of fear or oppression. Maybe we’re afraid of being rejected or possibly humiliated in someway. For many, it’s simply easier to say nothing and go about our own business…to speak would require action. “My schedule doesn’t allow for that?”  Surely someone else will step up to improve the situation, or so we hope… If that rings true for you, you’re not alone. In the past, a few of us have been guilty of the same.

Didn’t Jesus advocate for others? We should all remember that faith and action to go hand in hand. We have the power of God behind us and we are not called his hands and feet for nothing. Let us not find ourselves one day saying in regret, “Why didn’t someone do something…why didn’t I?” There will be no passing the blame, collective guilt begins with ‘me’. And we need to be accountable for our own actions or reactions.

Matthew 25:45  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

We are Christians, be bold in faith, stand up, be a VOICE. It’s time for us to do something!

We will watch this closely and report as information becomes available.

  • Pray for the Children
  • Pray for the innocent
  • Pray for God to shine light on this darkness.
  • Pray for Him to send caring hands and comfort.

Voice of the Persecuted

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