The recent clashes between the forces loyal to General Laurent Nkunda and the Congolese Armed forces has once again put the spotlight on the simmering problems of intra state conflict that still afflict Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes Region at large.
Though these tensions and conflicts may be intra state they also have inter state dimensions.
This is so because of the nature and ethnic ties that cut across the artificial boundaries that are a relic of a colonial history of bygone time.
However what is seemingly not giving prominence is the issue to deal with the rights of the Tutsi ethnic group of eastern Congo mostly known as the Banyamulenge.
What is most times ignored is that this group in Congo has been on several occasions subjected to a great deal of harassment and at some point had been expelled.
Had it not been the fact that they mobilised a resistance movement against President Mobutu Zaire leading to his overthrow, they would have lost their citizenship and historical rights to their land.
This is something that must be held in mind by all people interested in finding lasting peace in the Great Lakes Region.
These events are in my view related to the plight of other Kinyarwanda speaking groups who have been faced with expulsion from Tanzania and Uganda (Abalaalo) recently.
Although these expulsions have happened at different times and in different areas, there is no doubt that there is a relationship.
So what happens when a group of people of same consanguine are faced with latent and manifest xenophobia in different countries at almost the same time?
I will dwell much on the issues surroundings General Nkuda’s patriotic stand in the face of authorities that have done little to address the issues of his people.
It is widely known and held that the nature of oppression determines and greatly informs the nature of resistance.
Military resistance is always a response to that kind of oppression that violets peoples basic rights.
When a people’s right to live is violated at any moment in time they will defend themselves by launching a struggle for survival.
This is in most cases a last resort because it involves people staking their own lives so that others can live in freedom.
General Nkunda is leading a peoples struggle for survival.
He is a patriot who must be supported to ensure that he is not defeated.
Any negotiations must reach a lasting solution that leaves his people with the confidence that they will live thereafter in freedom with full rights as citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
What must not be lost in the minds of the international community is that the people whose hopes and aspirations are embodied in the personality of General Nkunda are targets of an extremist group bent on their extermination.
The interahamwes who carried out Genocide in Rwanda are known to have targeted Nkundas’ people.
These extremists are still at large and marauding in Eastern Congo not far from where Nkunda ethnic clans’ people live.
Now organised under the rag tag FDRL the interahamwe are known to receive logistical support from some powerful political force in the international community.
This is reason enough for all progressive forces in the international community to give support in what ever form to a people who are a target of a holocaust.
Genocide has happened before in Rwanda and by the Nazi against the Jews.
It can happen again if pre emptive action is not taken to shun it.
It is the responsibility of all humanity to ensure that it does not happen in Eastern Congo.
In the meantime, as the world procrastinates General Laurent Nkunda forces reserve the right to self defence; his military resistance has been dictated by the nature of oppression that has been subjected to his people.
This is historical oppression that begun during Mobutus hey day and continues to manifest in different forms and with different faces.
However what is clear is that the motive of the people trying to exterminate Nkundas people in Congo can not succeed in the evil ploy.
Efforts by all forces including the DRC government to find a lasting solution to this emotive issue must be commended and supported by the international community.
The author is a Sunday Times opinions writer.