Many participants of the conference “Mut zur Ethik” 2021 might remember the contribution of Professor Stanislas Bucyalimwe Mararo reprinted in this issue of “Current Concerns”. It is a shortened version of his lecture written by him for Current Concerns. The speaker is a Congolese patriot, an impartial historian and political scientist committed to the facts, and an unwavering defender of human rights, which must apply everywhere in the world and to all people. His viewpoint is broad, his analyse incorruptible, his conclusion consistent. Since the presentation requires some knowledge on the recent history of this giant country in the heart of Africa, marked by severe suffering, a few facts will be recalled below to illuminate this history. A more detailed account of the recent history of Congo, especially of its population living in an intolerable situation in North Kivu to this day, has been documented in articles in this newspaper intermittently, referring to relevant sources and documents, many of which are taken from Bucyalimwe’s works.1 The issues raised reveal the urgency of the question that was also the main topic of the “Mut zur Ethik” conference: how humanity manages to turn from confrontation to cooperation. Obviously, one of the greatest obstacles to such a turn is the delusional idea that the only way to create security is from a position of supremacy over one’s own fellow human beings. The example of Congo shows how much suffering this mania causes.
Still there is another point: in times of wars everywhere in the world and the “global powers” preparing for a final war (we are living in such a time right now), the political actions of these great powers often don’t correspond to their populations’ desires. The people want peace and humane conditions everywhere in the world. Even after murderous territorial wars, like the Second World War, it was the initiative of the people who first reached out to their former “enemies”. The town twinning arrangements that have regained so much importance today, especially those between German and Russian towns, are proof of this. It is this “people’s diplomacy” which contributes so much to world peace. Real bonds of friendship have been forged between people who were once bitter enemies on the war fronts, often among their children and children’s children. We should strengthen this bond between people and nations, this sort of natural diplomacy of mutual exchange and understanding. This is one of the ways of releasing the world from the obsession of a “politics” based on the domination of some peoples over others.
Actually, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s independence barely lasted three weeks. At the independence festivities of 30 June 1960, at which the only truly democratically elected prime minister to date, Patrice Lumumba, confronted the assembled Belgian festive community (in the presence of King Baudouin) with the less than festive side of the more than 50 years of colonial rule under Belgium demanding that the hitherto exploiters of its mineral resources be forced into a legally correct and fair trade, his “liquidisation” was already a decided matter. Just three weeks later, the Katangese billionaire’s son Moïse Tshombe proclaimed the independence of the copper province of Katanga, and again a few weeks later Albert Kalonji proclaimed that of South Kasai, where the immense diamond mines are located. This was the beginning of the four-year chaos that became known as the Congo troubles. Six months later, on 16 January 16 1961, Patrice Lumumba was dead, cowardly murdered with the help of the CIA and the Belgian army (Ludo de Witte, “L’assassinat de Lumumba”, Paris 2000; title of the English edition: “The Assassination of Lumumba”).
Soon again, this actual “shadow cabinet”, with its guarantor Mobutu, ruled the defenceless state. In 1965, Mobutu Sese Seko had taken power in a coup d’état remaining there for 32 years. Congo thus never had the chance to become what it had hoped to be, a truly independent state of its own. Mobutu’s dictatorship by means of his MPR (Mouvement Populaire de la Révolution) unity party was based on an unofficial “contract” complied with by all parties involved: toleration of Mobutu’s autocracy in exchange for the delivery of coveted raw materials on preferential terms and the unconditional integration of the country into NATO’s geostrategic interests in Africa.
Is that what you call independence?
New foreign domination
In the last years of the Mobutu dictatorship, from 1990 on, the broader political context where Mobutu was considered indispensable in African politics was changing: The Cold War against the Soviet Union came to an unexpectedly quick end after the collapse of the communist Eastern Bloc. For the United States, which at that time considered itself the “sole world power”, this meant that the Congo had to keep on being unconditionally at the disposal of the United States interests: The U.S. did not wait for the Mobutu regime to collapse out of its own internal weakness. Mobutu had to go and his willing regime had to be replaced.
Initially, the U.S. wanted to bring its African – now reliably Western-oriented model pupil – Yoweri Museveni into play. Like his friend and comrade-in-arms Paul Kagame (Rwanda), at an early age Museveni had been trained in all branches of modern Marxist guerrilla warfare in the Tanzanian cadre school in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) (it dated back to the time of the legendary Maoist-inspired neo-Marxist Julius Nyerere).
After the collapse of the communist Eastern bloc, Museveni had made a spectacular U-turn and became the class leader of the “new generation” of American-affiliated African autocrats under Reagan’s and then Clinton’s reigns. Finally, in 1986 Museveni with his National Resistance Army (NRA) won his long-running jungle war against former Ugandan President Milton Obote with American backing, especially through its high-tech war machine and, decisively, with the military cooperation of Paul Kagame and his Rwandan exiled guerrillas of Tutsi émigrés in Uganda. In return, Museveni appointed Kagame deputy head of Uganda’s domestic intelligence service, which provided Kagame with a vast network of connections, both open and secret. A few years later, while Kagame was establishing in Museveni’s Uganda the revanchist guerrilla army of the emigrated Rwandan Tutsis, the FPR (Front Populaire Rwandais) – aiming to restore the former rule of the Tutsi minority in Rwanda by force of arms – the American administration’s Congo plans would focus more on this young jungle strategist, who had received his final training at the elite American military academy at Fort Leavenworth before becoming head of the FPR. From 1990 onwards, he launched what was falsely called a civil war against the Rwandan government of reconciliation under Juvénal Habyarimana with raids on Rwandan territory, which the weak Rwandan national army initially was unable to repel, and later was only able to do so gradually. It was France to help the troubled Rwandan president with military advisors, weapons and ammunition.
The “civil war” in Rwanda that never was one
The official account of the “new Rwanda” paints a propagandistic picture of the tragic events of the 1990s that contradicts the facts. It is based on the following constructs: In Rwanda, after independence in 1962, the educated and politico-military-social elite of the Tutsi minority (see box), had been suppressed. During the years of the Rwandan civil war, the hatred of the Hutu majority towards the Tutsis was stirred up in the Rwandan media, especially on the radio. To make the camel’s back drop, Hutu extremists had made an assassination attempt on the moderate President Juvénal Habyarimana (Hutu). Immediately afterwards, the hordes of the Interahamwe (Hutu militia) had systematically attacked the Tutsi population in pogroms and, according to a deadly system, had killed them by the hundreds of thousands in the open streets. Only when the Tutsi guerrilla army (FPR) under Paul Kagame conquered Kigali in July 1994 and when he took over the government a stop was put to the killing.
This picture is contradicted by a whole number of meanwhile well-documented facts. The murderous rampage of the Hutu against the Tutsi domestic population in 1994 did take place, whether or not in the way it is “officially” portrayed remains open. The assassination on the presidential plane by a surface-to-air missile during the approach to Kigali airport on 6 April 1994 also took place, killing the two presidents of Rwanda and Burundi (both Hutu) as well as senior Rwandan officers. It was the spark at the petrol barrel that then triggered the excesses. However, like every such event, they are not isolated. They have their antecedents (see box).
In the meantime, there are enough documents to suggest that it was not the Hutu who committed the plane bombing that triggered the killing in 1994 (at least emotionally), but a special unit under the direct command of Kagame. It is also a fact that the FPR systematically terrorised the Hutu civilian population in the northern Rwandan zones reconquered from Uganda since 1990 with mass executions years before “the” genocide of 1994. These are attested in many places and can be found, with location, dates, names of the perpetrators and names of the victims (often they were local dignitaries or priests and nuns of the Catholic Church, see box “Call of Archbishop Munzihirwa”), in many serious documentations, including official UN reports.
However, in connection with these documented incidents, the world public only ever speaks of “the” genocide of the Tutsi (and thus means the genocide against the Tutsi). Yet it is precisely the fact that the FPR systematically carried out terrorist actions and mass executions against Hutus and “assimilated Tutsis” in the recaptured Rwandan territories, as well as the wave of assassinations in Kigali before the 1994 aeroplane shoot-down, that generated fear, resistance and, in connection with this, probably also feelings of hatred against the Tutsis among many Rwandan Hutus. There was not “the genocide” in Rwanda during this period, but several.
When, two years later (in October 1996), the Rwandan guerrilla army (APR Armée Populaire Rwandaise), experienced in jungle warfare and led by Paul Kagame, set about militarily unseating the ailing Mobutu regime in the neighbouring giant country of Congo (Zaire) and annexing large parts of it, they relied on a second propaganda construct (it is characterised by just as insufficient facts as the first; nevertheless, it figures in almost all media, historical accounts and school libraries): The Interahamwe groups of extremist Hutus who had fled Rwanda when it was reconquered would have mingled with the hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees when the FPR approached in 1994, would have hidden their weapons in the eastern Congolese refugee camps and would destabilise the Tutsi government in Kigali from there.
In order to combat this “threat”, a military phantom organisation with a suitable identification figure was created. This was found in the person of Laurent Désiré Kabila, a former Marxist jungle fighter who had already been involved in the uprising in the east against Mobutu’s rule in the 1970s (Simba rebellion under Soubialot). In the meantime, he had kept his head above water with rather dubious business dealings and was amazed when the Rwandan and Ugandan military junta told him that he could sit on Mobutu’s throne in the near future. So, he became the figurehead of the military alliance AFDL founded for this purpose with the beautiful name Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo (Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo). In reality, it was not an alliance and it wanted to promote anything but Congolese democracy. At its core, it consisted of elite formations drawn from the Ugandan and Rwandan guerrilla wars as well as Burundi’s Tutsi army, equipped to the teeth with the latest weapons technology as well as electronic communications and tracking devices, all logistically provided by their counterparts in the US, Britain and Belgium. The AFDL invaded the defenceless Congo in the October days of 1996 and after only three quarters of a year reached Kinshasa, which Mobutu had left a few days earlier (he succumbed to cancer in exile a short time later). The blitzkrieg would not have been so lightning-fast if the Rwandan AFDL Colonel James Kabarebe (Kagame’s long-time comrade-in-arms in Uganda), who was actually waging the war, had not been able to rely on the data on the locations and strength of the Congolese national army constantly provided by specialists from the USA.
Massive war crimes
What not at all or only to a lesser extent was taken note of by the world public: The “problem” of the huge Rwandan Hutu refugee camps in the Eastern Congo was indeed “solved” by Kagame, but in a brutal way in the form of a war crime: AFDL units attacked with massive artillery and grenade launcher fire the defenceless, predominantly apolitical Rwandan Hutus. Rwandan Hutus, who at the time of the approach of the Tutsi guerrillas panicked and could escape across the border in the direction of Bukavu and Goma (Eastern Congo). There they vegetated crammed together under unspeakable conditions (a situation out of which it would be difficult to form a new guerrilla which could be a military threat to the highly armed new Rwanda under Kagame). Hundreds of thousands, including the infirm, women and children, were once again on the run after these bombardments. Their desperation went round the world in 1996 in disturbing images without any was done to help them survive. At first, some of them went back to Rwanda, where they ended up in prisons or were shot on the spot under the general suspicion of being “génocidaires”, ended up in prisons or were shot on the spot. Others when they heard what fate awaited them in the new Rwanda desperately tried to make their way through the jungle in the direction of Kisangani on the upper reaches of the Congo. Many were massacred by the AFDL troops pursuing them. Others starved to death in the jungle. Like others this massive crime against humanity went “unnoticed” by the world. Their commanders, officers and henchmen today sit at the levers of the state administrations of the “new Rwanda” and the Congo was “liberated from Mobutu”. Kabila, once installed in the Congolese presidential palace, has successfully resisted that the UN should investigate the whereabouts of an estimated 800,000 “missing” Rwandan Hutu refugees. Another crime of gigantic proportions seems to be condemned being covered up by the actively provoked oblivion. Also, the report on the mass killings by the Tutsi army in the settlements of the resident Congolese population, which was commissioned by the UN like the many comparable documents has been pigeonholed in the New York archives of the UN and has not been submitted to the International Criminal Court about Rwanda or any other court having jurisdiction. The crimes were committed in Congolese territory during the advance of the AFDL against mostly Congolese Hutu, who they suspected of covering for or even supporting the fugitive Interahamwe. (cf. Report of the Mapping Exercise documenting the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed within the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between March 1993 and June 2003; August 2010; https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/RDCProjetMapping.aspx.)
And another “war of rebellion”!
The new edition of a falsely called “war of rebellion” barely one year later again had to serve to conceal the true motives. When Kabila realised with whom he had really “associated” himself, with the “Tutsis without borders” (as Stanislas Bucyalimwe Mararo often calls them), the whole thing became scary for him. However, it was already too late: in the meantime, he had made the Rwandan officer who had militarily led the 1996/97 campaign, Col. James Kabarebe, Chief of Staff of the Congolese national army (!). He had thoroughly mixed it with his trusted men and corresponding crew. One rubs one’s eyes: the president of a country appoints as chief of staff of “his” army the man who drove that army across the Congolese jungle with the help of international mercenary armies!
The decisive moment came when Kabila wanted (in favour of the Congo) to cancel the mining rights of the profitable mines in Katanga and Kasai, scattered too generously before to the American, British, Belgian and Israeli financiers. Although in the early summer of 1998 Kabila sent the Rwandan Tutsi camarilla back home, his fate was sealed. Once again, the tried and tested rebellion lie was planted for the attention of the world media: The masterminds of 1996 simply founded a new military alliance. This time it was called, no less obfuscating than the first, Rassemblement congolais pour la Démocratie RCD (Rally for Congolese Democracy). It was not Congolese, but international. It did not want democracy in the Congo, but the stabilisation of Rwandan Tutsi rule over the Congo. Therefore, the government of Rwanda still held its reins and its strategy firmly in their hand. The campaign was launched in August 1998 from Rwanda for the second time similar to the first, with the only difference that this time an entire alliance of African governments had joined both armies. Although the phalanx of the aggressors this time, too, quickly reached a line deep inside the Congo, it could be stopped by the defenders. The result was the Lusaka Agreement of 2020, which, however could not achieve ceasefire and the withdrawal of the invading forces.
Even 40 years later: Politically motivated murder
A short time later, on 16 January 2001, Laurent Désiré Kabila was dead, shot by one of his own security guards, who however was never arrested. To this day, the circumstances of his death are not officially known. The Congolese Council of the Wise then hoisted Kabila’s “son”, Joseph Kabila, who acted as still being in his teens at the time, to the Congolese presidency. He governed for a transitional period which was prolonged twice before he became a “legitimate” president by elections (the legitimacy of which was questioned each time). After that he reigned until 2019, two years beyond the legal date! Those familiar with Congolese circumstances doubt Joseph Kabila’s official biography, even that he is the son of Laurent Désiré Kabila. He is certainly bred and recruited by the Tutsi reconquering party in the set of Kagame.
After the 2019 “election” of Felix Tshisekedi, Kabila II, as finesse of Congo’s “democratic” constitution, let himself be installed as “senator for life”. This now protects him from any prosecution in connection with the war crimes committed during the two wars. Just one year after Joseph Kabila’s inauguration, the “peace accords” of Pretoria, then of Sun-City (South Africa) came about, agreements that were in line with the ideas of USA: We will turn a blind eye to all the massive war crimes you have committed – you will leave us your raw materials on our terms. They are indispensable to us.
Permanent war in Eastern Congo
After the attempt by Laurent Désiré Kabila to take countermeasures (he did not survive), Congo is once again the usual “self-service shop” according to the taste of the of the Western military-industrial complex, a fact that also Felix Tshisekedi, the new social democratic president of the Congo, obviously neither wants nor is able to change (see picture). In Eastern Congo, the collapse of all civil and civic institutions has continued to this day. Especially North Kivu, the home of Stanislas Bucyalimwe Mararo, has to endure daily devastation by a constant war of anonymous marauding militias supported by Rwanda. This is still continuing. For the people there, life has become similar to that of the civilian population of Germany in the 30 Years War. Cobalt, coltan, gold and other mines are protected by the militias. The civilian population is terrorised until they “voluntarily” leave the surroundings of the mines and start moving away (to where?); a secure border to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi does not exist, nor schools, hospitals, jobs, wages: all that things exist only as hope for the plagued population. The area has become a real no-go zone, withdrawn from the world public, the sham UN, media interest and real peace initiatives, which would also include economic peace, for 25 years now. One has the impression that the practised depopulation corresponds to a strategy that has been practised for years. How much longer? •
1 cf. the following articles in Current Concerns:
The Democratic Republic of Congo – amidst the East African Storm (No 20/21 of 14 August 2015);
50 years ago Mobutu Sese Seko revolted in the Congo - Never ending Kleptocracy? (part 1), In No 32/33 of 22 December 2015);
50 years ago Mobutu Sese Seko revolted in the Congo. A never ending Kleptocracy? (part 2) in No 6, of 22 March 2016
The “new” Africa policy of the West and the Congo. Kleptocracy without end? (part 3) in No 2 of 24 January 2017
The “post-Mobutist” Congo: The USA is betting on Rwanda. Congo – kleptocracy with no end in sight? (part 4) in No 3 of February 2018
Dubious elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in No 5 of 5 March 2019
Will truth out? Rwanda colloquium in the French Senate in No 9 of 15 May 2020
Zeitfragen: Sonderbeilage Kongo (in Nr. 19/20 vom 8.9.2020), on the occasion of the publication of the autobiography of Stanislas Bucyalimwe Mararo (only in German and French)
Bucyalimwe Mararo, Stanislas. La République Démocratique Congolaise 1960–2021 en bref. Typoscript. Afrique-Monde: Vivre ensemble en Afrique des Grands Lacs, 25. Juni 2021
Bucyalimwe Mararo, Stanislas. La Géopolitique internationale et régionale dans la dynamique politique en RDC depuis 1960. In: Le degré zéro de la dynamique politique en République Démocratique du Congo 1960–2018, (éd. J. Kanwenda Mbaya) ICREDES, Kinshasa, Montréal, Washington, 2018, S. 581–680
Bucyalimwe Mararo, Stanislas. Face aux coups de l’adversité. Une autobiographie, Editions Scribe Bruxelles 2019
Bucyalimwe Mararo, Stanislas (éd.). RD-Congo. L’Entre-deux-Lacs, Kivu et Edouard. Histoire, économie et culture (1885–2017), (Editions Scribe) Bruxelles 2018
Bucyalimwe Mararo, Stanislas. Maneuvering for ethnic hegemony. A thorny issue in the North Kivu Peace Process (DRCongo), 2 Bde., (Editions Scribe) Bruxelles 2014
Scholl-Latour, Peter. Afrikanische Totenklage. Der Ausverkauf des Schwarzen Kontinents. München 2001, bes. S. 13–28, 244–296
Strizek, Helmut. Kongo/Zaire-Ruanda-Burundi. Stabilität durch neue Militärherrschaft? Studie zur «neuen Ordnung» in Zentralafrika. (Weltforum Verlag) München/Köln/London 1998
pk. The two countries, small compared to Congo, closely related by their common history and structure, were both African monarchies until independence was obtained in 1962. In both countries, the two main ethnic groups, Hutu and Tutsi, coexisted in highly tense conditions from the mid-20th century onwards, with Tutsi making up only about 15% of the total population and Hutu 85%. In both monarchies, the kings, civil servants and officers were exclusively members of the Tutsi elite. Traditionally, the economy of these two hill countries, which are poor in natural resources, was mainly based on cattle breeding. The Tutsi were traditionally the owners of the large cattle herds. They regarded the Hutuas backward and treated disrespectfully and often with contempt. For many Tutsi, the Hutu were and remain their “natural-born” stable hands. Upon independence of both countries, this led to a conflict that could not be resolved by the former Tutsi elite: a democratically organised state meant that in both Rwanda (capital Kigali) and Burundi (capital Bujumbura), the Hutu majorities could hardly be changed, even in purely demographic terms. Since the 1960s, there have been repeated mass persecutions and massacres of one ethnic group against the other in both countries, including assassinations in Kigali during the Rwandan «civil war» and the 1994 genocide of the Hutu against the Tutsi. Of the democratically elected presidents of Burundi, four (all Hutu) were killed by political assassination perpetrated by Tutsi militants. In truth, several ethnically motivated mass murders occurred in both Burundi and Rwanda. However, they have so far only been noted and prosecuted if the perpetrators were on the Hutu side. The crimes of the Tutsis, committed in the summer of 1972 against the Burundian Hutu intelligentsia by the then Micombero army (Tutsi), by the FPR (Tutsi) against the Rwandan Hutu civilian population (from 1990–1994), then disguised as AFDL against the Hutu refugees (1997) and the eastern Congolese civilian population (1997/98) and their successor «militias» (1998 to the present day) are officially concealed and have so far remained unpunished.
pk. In 1958, during the heated debate about the future of an independent Rwanda and Burundi, a document was written by respected Tutsi leaders in which they justified their unwillingness to enter into an equal dialogue with Hutu leaders about the political future of the country as follows:
“The relations between us, the Tutsi, and them, the Hutu, have been based on servitude from ancient times to the present day; therefore, there is no basis whatsoever for fraternisation (fraternité) between them and us. [...] Since our kings conquered the land of the Hutu, killed their kings and thus subjugated the Hutu, how can they now pretend to be our brothers?” (Quoted in Strizek, Helmut. “Kongo/Zaïre-Ruanda-Burundi. Stabilität durch erneute Militärherrschaft?” (Congo/Zaïre-Rwanda-Burundi. Stability through renewed military rule?” Munich 1998, p. 60. Quotation from the French, translated by Strizek; englisch translation Current Concerns).
“A word to our neighbouring countries. We call on the governments of Kigali and Bujumbura to solve their internal problems in their countries among themselves and not to bring them to Congo. We call on the Rwandan Tutsis in particular, whom we have repeatedly taken in as refugees, not to spit into the well from which they drank. Today they repay our hospitality with bombs.”
Christophe Munzihirwa, Archbishop of Bukavu, murdered by members of the AFDL on 29 October 1994, during the capture of Bukavu (cited in Stanilas Bucyalimwe Mararo. “North Kivu (République Démocratique du Congo): vingt-quatre ans de tueries programmés (March 1993-March 2017)”.
If you want to prevent the setting of cookies (for example, Google Analytics), you can set this up by using this browser add-on.