The permanent war in eastern Congo is based on a construct of lies

Eastern Congo – the long-term humanitarian catastrophe continues (Part 2)

von Peter Küpfer

The first part of this presentation dealt with how the endless war in eastern Congo came about, who its main masterminds are and what interests they are pursuing.1 In eastern Congo, as well as elsewhere, the terms used by war propagandists such as “civil war”, “war of rebellion” and “war of defence” conceal brutal power politics. This war is not primarily fuelled by ethnic conflicts, but by the greed for economic superiority and the delusion of being able to create security through war. This text will describe the propaganda systems disseminated in this context, which conceal the true intentions, as what they are – war lies. As we know, lying means not only not telling the truth, but also suppressing essential parts of the truth and attaching great and undeserved weight to others. We see both of these manipulation strategies at work also in the long-term humanitarian disaster in eastern Congo. The long duration of the suffering supports the endless greed for power and for illicit income.

Systematic war lies also here

Paul Kagame, the former bush commander of the Rwandan Tutsi elite exiled to Uganda in the 1960s (see box), continues to publicly claim that his country still has to protect itself from the members of the Rwandan Hutu ethnic group who fled in panic to eastern Congo in 1994. After all, in his rhetoric, they were all, without exception, “perpetrators of genocide”. Members of the Palestinian population are indiscriminately massacred by the Israeli army every day according to a similar logic. Because in the words of Israeli political leadership, every Palestinian is a potential anti-Semite and therefore a genocidaire.
  The ethnic card drawn in the power game around the eastern Congo also worked according to this recipe, and this was completely out of touch with reality. As in other hot spots around the world, here too an entire ethnic group (the Rwandan Hutu) is collectively and adamantly labelled as “genocidaires”, as perpetrators of genocide, and treated as fair game in a fabricated theory of self-defence. This long-established cooked-up version of the real circumstances is in no way up to the task of confronting the facts. After their violent seizure of power in July 1994, the RPA (Rwandan Patriotic Army, the guerrilla force that helped Kagame to regain power for the Tutsi elite in Rwanda under the direction of the USA), regarded all Hutu as genocidaires. This was the main reason why the Rwandan Hutu fled in their hundreds of thousands as the Tutsi army under Kagame’s command approached. A large number of them, mostly civilians, were gunned down by the Tutsi guerrillas pursuing them. At the time, fleeing was enough to prove to the invaders that they were “génocidaires”, otherwise they would not be fleeing “from the liberators”.

Not every Rwandan Hutu
fleeing in 1994 was a ‘genocidaire’

However, in 1994, shortly before the imminent capture of Kigali by Kagame’s Tutsi army, the Rwandan Hutu population had other serious reasons for fleeing in panic in their hundreds of thousands and seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. To wit, there were serious rumours circulating at the time, based (as it later turned out) on terrible truth, that the soldiers of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), Paul Kagame’s guerrilla army, were carrying out systematic mass murder of the settled Hutu population in the settlements of the areas they had “liberated” as they advanced towards the capital Kigali.
  In the meantime, there is a carefully documented scientific literature that records in detail this Rwandan genocide the Tutsi “liberators” committed against their Hutu compatriots.2 So the Hutu militias’ genocide against the Tutsi in the early summer of 1994 (the only genocide our world is talking about!) was preceded by another genocide, that of the RPA guerrillas under Kagame against the Hutu population in the areas of Rwanda “liberated“ them. According to the available documents, this first and completely concealed genocide took place from 1990 onwards and culminated before the capture of Kigali, i. e., from the beginning of the war of intervention waged by the RPA under Kagame to combat the democratically legitimised government of reconciliation under Juvénal Habyarimana in Kigali. This was during the entire four years that the RPA’s guerrilla war lasted until it took power in the summer of 1994. Accumulating testimonies, UN reports and mass graves found in the zones “liberated” by the RPA have repeatedly served to confirm this terrible fact.
  Unfortunately, the criminal court set up in Arusha, Tanzania, specifically for the genocide (only that of early summer 1994!) in Rwanda (established under pressure from the USA) has failed to gather legal evidence of this systematic crime against humanity. In her autobiography, the Swiss lawyer Carla del Ponte, former Federal Prosecutor of the Swiss Confederation and acting as chief prosecutor for Rwanda at the International Criminal Tribunal, explains this situation as follows: she was instructed at the highest intervention of Kofi Annan to only deal with cases in which Hutus were the perpetrators. The genocidal mass executions committed by the RPA during its campaign in the preceding years of the war thus fell completely outside the timeframe set by the UN. When the courageous Swiss lawyer protested, she was replaced a short time later, apparently at the instigation of the USA, by a chief prosecutor better suited to covering up facts in the American interests. This was the Gambian lawyer Boubakar Hassan Jallow, a close friend of a high-ranking Rwandan co-founder of the RPA. This was the beginning of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s actively turning a blind eye to serious crimes committed by the plaintiff party. So in Rwanda there was not only the one genocide, the one from April to the end of June 1994 that the whole world is talking about, but an equally cruel precursor before that, committed by the side that is today presenting itself as the victim.

Yet another ethnically ‘justified’
mass murder, also covered up

A second serious crime against humanity, perpetrated by troops under Rwandan command and banned from official historiography, took place two years later. As is well known, the first war of intervention in the Congo took place at the beginning of November 1996, and it brought Laurent-Désiré Kabila, former leader of an erstwhile eastern Congolese guerrilla formation in the early days of Mobutu, to power in Kinshasa.
  This proxy war, prepared long in advance by the Pentagon and approved by US President Clinton, is portrayed by Western documentation sites, including Wikipedia, almost exclusively as a “war of rebellion” by an eastern Congolese Tutsi minority (the so-called Banyamulenge in eastern Congo) to enforce rights that were supposedly withheld from them by the Congolese government (then still Mobutu). Such an alleged Congolese Tutsi ethnic group never existed in eastern Congo (see Bucyalimwe Mararo, Stanislas, Manoeuvring for ethnic hegemony, 2 volumes, Editions Scribe 2014, and Onana, Carles, Holocauste au Congo. L’omertà de la communauté internationale, Editions de l’Artilleur, Paris 2023). In reality, these eastern Congolese Tutsi were a stratum of former Rwandan Tutsi immigrants from the more recent period, who had mainly settled in South Kivu (Uvira region). They had lived in peace with their host environment, mainly Congolese Bantu ethnic groups, for a long time. Tensions only arose when warmongering circles in Rwanda incited them against the supposedly restrictive laws of their host country.
  In the years when the first Congo war was being prepared, their settlement grew by leaps and bounds and was augmented by military elements from Rwanda and Burundi. Rwanda persistently spread the racist version that the Banyamulenge were threatened in their existence by the Congolese and therefore had to be protected by the Rwandan army. After the events of the early summer of 1994, these accusations increased in vehemence. This was the official reason for the first Congo war in 1997/98, which was immediately taken up and disseminated by the Western media.
  In reality, this blitzkrieg was another proxy war in disguise, planned, mainly financed and militarily equipped by the USA. It was essentially carried out by members of the Rwandan army, as is well known despite all the camouflage. From the outset, the undeclared war aim was clear: to secure the strategically important raw materials and territory of eastern Congo, or parts of it, for the Western alliance.
  What is mostly not mentioned is the fact that at the same time as the camouflage army with the euphonious name AFDL (Alliance des Forces démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo – Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo) advanced, the huge camps of Rwandan Hutu refugees then existing in eastern Congo were literally rammed into the ground, in some cases with artillery fire and bombs. This is what happened on 2 November 1996 with the huge Mugunga camp near Goma, the “largest refugee camp in the world”, and this was followed by other similar crimes.
  This third Rwandan genocide (and the second one committed by the Tutsi army against its own Hutu population), this time on the soil of eastern Congo, was of unbelievable proportions. According to reliable estimates, hundreds of thousands of defenceless people, mostly Rwandan Hutu civilians, were killed either directly by shelling their camps or as they were mercilessly pursued by Rwandan-commanded units on their renewed flight westwards through the jungle wilderness, in some cases hundreds of kilometres, to Kisangani on the Congo River.
  The renowned East Africa specialist Helmut Strizek summarises this crime against humanity, against which not a single court case has yet been initiated, in the following words: “Hardly anyone would have believed at the turn of 1996/97 that the rebel alliance AFDL could succeed in conquering the whole of Zaïre by 17 May 1997 and in exterminating a large proportion of the Rwandan Hutu refugees in this war.” (Strizek, Helmut, Congo-Zaïre, Rwanda, Burundi, Weltforum-Verlag 1998, p. 179)

Perpetrators set up
for being the victims

This unprecedentedly brutal action against the defenceless was justified by the Rwandan camarilla as self-defence before and after it happened. According to the war lie, incursions into Rwandan territory that jeopardised Rwanda’s security had repeatedly started from the refugee camps. As is done now, so even then the correspondingly falsified ethnic card was played, with which perpetrators of crimes against humanity hide behind their human right to self-defence – with the argument that a certain population group wants to destroy them. This is a bold claim, considering the real conditions of the refugees in the huge, absolutely squalid refugee camps in North and South Kivu from 1994–1996. At the time when the AFDL army invaded eastern Congo in November 1996, the more than one million Rwandan Hutu crammed into improvised tents there were merely struggling to survive.
  How a powerful guerrilla force could have emerged from the refugees under such circumstances, how they could have posed a serious military threat to the existence of the new Tutsi Rwanda under Kagame or committed another “genocide”, is one of the many Rwandan mysteries. Charles Onana confirms that in 1994, strict arms control was implemented at the refugee crossings (opération Turquoise) guaranteed by the French army. The people who passed through there were running for their lives, their wives’ lives and their children’s lives. They had other things to worry about than organising a revanchist guerrilla against the new government in the camps. Where would the weapons have been among these squalid clusters of desperate and starving people? And where would the ammunition have come from? Where fresh supplies?
  That part of the West which is in thrall to the USA, and first and foremost its corrupted quality media, including Wikipedia, have been falling hook, line and sinker for this Rwandan general war lie – to this day.3 Kagame’s cynical statement before the slaughter in the refugee camps has been widely quoted, but nothing has been done to counter it. Kagame said: “If the international community does not intervene to put an end to the danger posed by the genocide victims who have fled to eastern Congo, then it will just have to be I, who does the job in Congo.” Which he promptly did (Onana, p. 112ff.).
  Based on this grossly distorted view of every Rwandan Hutu refugee in eastern Congo being a perpetrator of genocide, he conjured the AFDL army out of a hat, and with its leader Laurent Désiré Kabila as well as his officers, all experienced in guerrilla warfare, marched through half of Congo in a blitzkrieg and drove out the ailing Mobutu. All on the grounds that they had to help the oppressed Tutsi group of the Banyamulenge to gain their rights. The thus legitimised blitzkrieg to conquer the Congo, with all its destruction and deaths, would never have been possible without the planning and support of the USA and was obviously part of that Western superpower’s long-term Africa strategy.

The organised ‘impunité’ –
the disease of impunity

Even though in the course of this campaign further serious offences against humanity had been committed, the top group of those responsible were appointed to high offices in the state and in the army (!) of that country, which proudly – but now without justice – called itself the “Democratic Republic of Congo” again (as in Patrice Lumumba’s time). This was immediately after the Rwandan AFDL coalition victory in the summer of 1997. Thus, they are protected from any legal proceedings against them. Kagame’s closest brother in arms in the 1990-1994 guerrilla war and commander-in-chief of the Rwandan-led side in the first Congo war (1996/97), James Kabarebe, immediately became commander-in-chief of the Congolese army and interspersed it with Rwandan officers and army units. This was an act of rare perfidy and humiliation.
  Is it any wonder that such a “national” Congolese army has so far been ineffective in fighting the “rebel groups” in eastern Congo that are equipped and supported by Rwanda? For example, the fact speaks volumes that Laurent Désiré Kabila, who had been elevated by the AFDL (and the CIA) to become the new president of the Congolese empire and had shortly afterwards tried to improve the existing mining contracts with large Western mining companies in favour of the grindingly poor Congolese population (a large proportion of whom still live on two dollars a day), was then shot dead by one of his own security guards (on 16 January 2001). His successor, Joseph Kabila, is not Congolese, but Rwandan. He speaks French only with difficulty, which is no wonder, as he grew up in Rwanda in the environment of Kabarebe, Kagame’s most loyal comrade in arms and the “brains” of the blitzkrieg, and belonged to the inner circle of RPA officers from an early age. Since the time that Kabarebe and Joseph Kabila have been in power, the giant Congo and the dwarf Rwanda, which has since become the poster boy of African development in the Western media, have been under the control of the same camarilla. The troubled Kongo is thus being corroded from within, not only by corruption but also by mindset.
  It will be difficult to find a way out of this fouled-up situation. A rocky road will have to be travelled. South Africa shows that in principle, this is possible. However, it has had to shed its subservience to the Western power cartel in order to achieve internal peace. Unlike there, however, in the Congo there are no insoluble tensions between sections of the population. The Congo does not have a problem of racism. And the population is united in their take on the issue of eastern Congo: the foreign troops are to finally leave the country. The main problem is that the population is so patient that it tolerates a government that plunders its own people.
  The only thing that can really help here is what the Bishops’ Conference of East African States has recently confirmed once again: the honest, constructive forces on all sides must finally come together and find a solution that will bring lasting peace. This will not be possible without sincerely meant help from outside.
  Up to now, the West’s turning a blind eye to the facts, its acceptance of the usual war lies in the media and politics and its refusal to provide effective humanitarian aid to the defenceless civilian population have only promoted what the global West, including the EU, obviously wants: permanent war. This permanent war protects and promotes the illegal theft of assets rightfully belonging to the Congolese population, an unsustainably large proportion of whom still live dramatically below the poverty line on 2 dollars a day (Médecins sans frontières, statistics). How much longer will the rest of the world stand by and watch?  •

1 Previous publications in Current Concerns on the subject of the permanent war in Congo/Eastern Congo: “The post-Mobutist Kongo: The USA is betting on Rwanda”, Current Concerns No. 3 from 8 February 2018; “Questionable elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo”, Current Concerns No. 5 of 5 March 2019; “Den Schlägen standgehalten – Die Autobiographie des kongolesischen Historikers Stanislas Bucyalimwe Mararo ist ein Vermächtnis (Withstanding the blows – The autobiography of Congolese historian Stanislas Bucyalimwe Mararo is a legacy). Special supplement, Zeit-Fragen No. 19/20 of 8 September 2020; in German. “After the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A baseline study”, Current Concerns No. 4 of 27 February 2024; “Eastern Congo – the perpetual humanitarian disaster continues. Part 1: The never-ending war targets mainly the civilian population”, Current Concerns No. 7 of 17 April 2024.
2 Historical corrective studies on the topic: Ruzibiza, Abdul Joshua (murdered by anonymous perpetrators after publication). Rwanda. L’histoire secrète, Paris (Editions du Panama) 2005; “Report Mapping”, UN report on the war crimes committed in eastern Congo, available (English and French versions) at UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mapping Exercise 2010; Bucyalimwe Mararo, Stanislas. North Kivu (RDC). Vingt-quatre ans des tueries programmées (mars 1993 - mars 2017) (Twenty-four years of programmed killings), Saint-Denis (Edilivre) 2018;  Rever, Judi: In praise of blood. The crimes of the Rwandian Patrotic Front, (Vintage Canada) 2020 (reprint), ISBN 978-0345812100; Onana, Charles. Holocauste au Congo. L’omertà de la communauté internationale (Holocaust in Congo. The omertà of the international community), Paris (Editions de l’Artilleur) 2023, ISBN 978-2-81001-145-2
3 In the winter of 2001/2002, the author visited the foreign editorial office of the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” and the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation, as well as meeting a high-ranking official from the Africa section of the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany in Berlin. He did so together with close associates of self-help organisations in eastern Congo, who were in Switzerland at the invitation of the association Pour la Paix et l’Entente en Afrique (For peace and mutual understanding in Africa). In the editorial office of the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” there was an oppressive lack of knowledge about the true situation in eastern Congo; in Bern the responsibility of the Red Cross and internationally binding agreements were referred to. In Berlin, however, we were told verbatim and with the naïve bluntness of those who think they are right: “You know, Mr Kagame is one of Germany’s closest friends in Africa, we are doing everything we can to support him.”

Internal oppression and humiliation have prevailed in Rwanda for centuries

pk. Before independence (1962), Rwanda was a micro-kingdom (under the rule of the «Mwami» dynasties, similar to Burundi). A German mandate territory before the First World War, it came under Belgian administration in 1908, like the Congo. The Rwandan Tutsi ethnic group (about 17 % of the Rwandan population at independence) treated the majority Bantu Hutu tribe (80 %) as their born “ostlers”. The minority Tutsi caste, the Rwandan aristocracy for centuries, provided all the high court officials and army officers. They were disproportionately represented in the missionary schools (the only functioning schools at the time and therefore a prerequisite for a career), while the Hutu, who at the time were considered to have limited educational ability, were underrepresented. All this is attested independently by trustworthy contemporary witnesses and researchers, in particular the book entitled “Un évêque au Rwanda” (A bishop in Rwanda) by the Swiss missionary and later Archbishop of Kabgayi (Rwanda), André Perraudin. Since the Hutu genocide against the Tutsi in the spring and early summer of 1994, this academic literature has been denigrated as “revisionist” (denying the genocide) or, in an open reversal of reality, even as “racist”. The aforementioned Swiss Archbishop Perraudin said in the last years of his life, with regard to the situation in Rwanda during the transition to independence in the early 1960s: “I finally realised that the Hutu group was despised in the country. The Hutu were regarded as second-class people by the others who felt called to rule, with a mentality of the ‘superhuman’ that you knew well in Germany. I apologise for this comparison, but it is apt”. However, as with many comparable topics, a certain school of thought is interested in spreading a cloak of silence over what has happened and only being on the “right side”. Here, too, the victors (the former Tutsi elite restored to autocracy by Kagame in the summer of 1994) rewrote Rwandan history. Unfortunately, the majority of modern literature, the media and cultural workers on the Rwandan tragedies follow them almost blindly.

The “value-based” West has intentionally destabilised eastern Congo

Kagame had apparently already discussed his intentions of aggression with American circles at this time (summer 1997, preparation of the first ‘war of rebellion’ against Congo/Zaïre). We know that this policy was not uncontroversial in military and intelligence circles either. In the end, it gained the upper hand. Mobutu was cleared to be shot down. [...] The unresolved Rwandan refugee issue and the consideration for the new minority ruler Kagame in Rwanda hindered democracy in Zaïre, which was within reach as Mobutu’s death approached [he was suffering from cancer at the time]. Since the fall of 1996 at the latest, the secret services knew that Mobutu’s cancer was no longer controllable and that his imminent death could be expected. No one would have been able to prevent democratic presidential elections in Zaïre.” (Strizek, Helmut. Congo/Zaïre-Rwanda-Burundi. Stabilität durch neue Militärherrschaft? (Stability through renewed military rule?) Study on the ‘new order’ in Africa, p. 142)”
  One thing is very clear. If the Congolese government and civil society in the Democratic Republic of Congo do not take a more decisive and offensive stance on the issue of impunity practiced for serious crimes, the Rwandan, Ugandan and Burundian criminals active there will continue to sow death and destruction [...] with the aim of definitively driving the Congolese out of their country. The Congolese should not forget the words of Pope Francis, which he urged them during his stay in Kinshasa on the forgotten genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo: ‘The future of the Congolese is in their hands. They should no longer allow themselves to be manipulated, much less bought by those who want to continue to abandon the country to violence so that they can continue to exploit it and carry out their shameful business.” (Onana, Charles. Holocauste au Congo, p. 442; Translation Current Concerns)

The perpetrators present themselves as liberators

pk. Based on the real history of Rwanda, it is no wonder that the former ruling families and their clientele, the Tutsi elite, emigrated in large numbers at the time of the transformation of the “dwarf monarchy of Rwanda” into a democracy (around the 1960s), because they saw no chance of maintaining their privileged position in the given majority situation. Most of these Tutsi expats turned to Uganda, including Paul Kagame’s family, who were among the most influential in Rwanda. With the support of Museveni and the USA, Kagame built up his intervention army RPA there and at the end of July 1994 he regained his lost supremacy over Rwanda with it, after a bloody four-year war of intervention, disguised even then and widely publicised in the West under the misnomer “civil war”. In reality, it was a war of intervention organised according to the CIA’s script and launched by the Clinton government against the democratic government of the elected President Juvénal Habyarimana (Hutu).
  The intrepid Cameroonian-Canadian researcher Charles Onana pointed out several years ago in his study “Ces tueurs tutsi” with many serious indications that it was very probably the RPA under the command of Kagame that triggered the Hutu genocide against the Tutsi from April to early summer 1994. In the night of 6
 April 1994, the plane of the democratically elected Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, who was intent on reconciliation, was hit by a surface-to-air missile fired nearby as it approached Kigali airport to land. President Juvénal Habyarimana, his Burundian counterpart Ntaryamira, senior officers from both countries and the French four-man crew were killed in the cowardly attack. The attack, which the Hutu blamed on the RPA, triggered the beginning of the genocidal mass murder of the Tutsi by Rwandan Hutu extremists in 1994. Onana and other critical observers and experts on the events assume that it was actually the RPA that carried out the assassination. According to them, the RPA command staff (Tutsi) deliberately delivered their own ethnic group (Tutsi) to the knife of the Hutu extremists in order to be able to present themselves to posterity as the honourable “liberators before the Hutu genocide” against the Tutsi. The fact that the RPA itself carried out genocide-like mass murders of the Rwandan Hutu population before and after is to be covered up by a similar propaganda strategy, which also conceals the true origins of the Palestinian problem: The perpetrators cynically use the tragedy of their people to cover up their own crimes. The perpetrators present themselves as victims. As far as the Congo is concerned, serious studies speak a clear language (see references in note 2).

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