Governments have a duty to protect all their people

As the war between the forces loyal Geneneral Laurent Nkunda and the government of Kinshasha rages, the United Nations Observer Mission to Congo (MONUC) has come out to justify their involvement on the side of Kabila’s army.

As the war between the forces loyal Geneneral Laurent Nkunda and the government of Kinshasha rages, the United Nations Observer Mission to Congo (MONUC) has come out to justify their involvement on the side of Kabila’s army.

The MONUC spokesman was quoted saying that they have a duty to side with the elected government against the Nkunda loyalists.

Whereas that can be a legitimate concern, it is very superficial and does not address the crux of the matter. In the first place the elected government in Kinshasha must protect its entire people.

Their failure to do so justifies the CNDP struggle.
By trying to justify their support for the Kabila alliance, they are making one grave mistake. Foremost, they are joining and seeking to justify an alliance that includes a terrorist group the FDLR/ Interahamwe.

Earlier this week, with a colleague and United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) staff, I visited the Gihembe refugee camp for Congolese refugees in Gicumbi Northern province.

The sprawling camp hosts more than ten thousand Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese who fled their homes in North Kivu.

This group includes people who fled over ten years ago from the Masisi and Rutshuru areas in Kivu. All I talked to spoke of a desire to return to their homeland. They believe that their return home can only be guaranteed by the expulsion of the FDLR/ Interahamwe from Eastern Congo.

When people fled, Nkunda as a leader of a resistance organisation had not yet emerged on the scene. But people of his consanguine were already being targeted for extermination.

Although sources say he was part of the first resistance against the Interahamwe and Mobutu in 1996, he was not well known and was not at the time the embodiment of his people’s struggle.

The nature of the conflict in Eastern Congo has been defined by the nature of oppression. If somebody is attacked for being Catholic, he/she will instantly first mobilise fellow Catholics for self defence as a group.

Thus the nature of oppression informs the nature of resistance. After this, others who abhor all kinds of discrimination are mobilised by the cause.

But primarily you identify with those who are like yourself. Whereas the Rwandan government has publicly stated that the issue of Nkunda is an internal Congolese matter to be sorted out by Congolese, it ought to be recalled that it has bearing on Rwanda and the region as a whole.

And indeed media reports indicate that our government has condemned the involvement of FDLR in the pro-Kinshasha alliance.

MONUC has to appreciate the level of danger that is posed by the Interahamwe to Tutsis in Congo. When the existence of the state of Israel and its Jewish people came under direct threat in 1967 and 1973, all Jewish people were mobilised into the defence of the homeland.

So the fact that Tutsis have over a long period of time been targets of mass murder while world looked the other way, should inform all and sundry that they are unlikely to trust others to guarantee their survival when history shows that no body did in the past.

People who see their brothers threatened would naturally be threatened themselves and hence common sense dictates that they come to the aid of their own.

It does not have to be a policy of the community as a whole or a nation state, but individual/private initiative.

Many people are not compelled to join a cause, but as a matter of necessity they join struggles and are willing to give up their lives for something they hold dear.

With or without Nkunda, such a struggle that has real justification will never fail to take place. The only solution is to address the underlying causes of such a struggle.

Even when Nkunda is no longer there, circumstances will produce another leader to champion the same cause as longer as the conditions that forced Nkunda to take up arms are still there.

frank2kagabo@yahoo.com

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