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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 08:06 AM
Original message
UN expresses concern over Rwanda, DRC(3.5m dead about time)
UN expresses concern over Rwanda, DRC

May 15 2004 at 09:18AM

New York - The United Nations Security Council expressed "serious concern" on Friday that Rwandan troops reportedly crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwandan rebel groups in the DRC had crossed into Rwanda.

"The Security Council expresses its serious concern regarding recent reports of an incursion into the DRC by elements of the Rwandan army," said a statement read by council president Munir Akram, Pakistan's UN ambassador.

It also expressed concern at reports of increased military activities of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda in the DRC "and of incursions made by them on the territory of Rwanda."
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 08:08 AM
Response to Original message
Youve guessed: Cynthia McKinney.

That was covered in the . . . well, it wasnt covered at all in the U.S. press.

McKinney contacted me at the BBC. She asked if Id heard of Barrick. Indeed, I had. Top human rights investigators had evidence that a mine that Barrick bought in 1999 had, in clearing their Tanzanian properties three years earlier, bulldozed mine shafts . . . burying about 50 miners alive.

I certainly knew Barrick: Theyd sued the Guardian for daring to run a story Id written about the allegations of the killings. Barrick never sued an American paper for daring to run the story, because no American paper dared.

The primary source for my story, an internationally famous lawyer named Tundu Lissu, was charged by the Tanzanian police with sedition, and arrested, for calling for an investigation. McKinney has been trying to save his life with an international campaign aimed at Barrick.

That was another of her mistakes.

Goodbye to All That

I'm proud of the bill to stop the importation of coltan into the United States, the source of so much pain and suffering in eastern Congo because it's a key ingredient in our computers, palm pilots, Sony Playstations, and Oneboxes that people are willing to kill to get their hands on it.

I'm proud that we extended the benefits for our veterans who are suffering from Agent Orange because those benefits were about to expire and I authored the legislation that was passed into law to help them. But I'm most proud of my work to hold this Administration accountable to the American people.

And after I've asked the tough questions, here's what we now know:

That President Bush was warned that terrorists were planning to hijack commercial aircraft and crash them into buildings in the US;
That in the weeks prior to September 11, 24-hour fighter cover was placed over the President's ranch in Crawford, Texas;
That in the weeks prior to September 11, Attorney General Ashcroft stopped flying commercial aircraft and instead flew Government aircraft;
That the US received numerous high level warnings from a wide range of foreign intelligence services warning of impending hijackings and terrorist attacks;
That a number of FBI agents were pleading with their superiors to conduct intensive investigations into the suspicious activities of various men in US flight schools;
That in the days prior to September 11, highly suspicious stock market activity in aviation and insurance stocks took place indicating that certain well-placed people had advance knowledge of the attacks.

Hidden cost of mobile phones, computers, stereos and VCRs?

The DRC's rich resources provide easy ways to finance the conflict and the rebels had long been successful in setting up financial administrative bodies in their controlled areas, especially with regards to trading with Rwanda and Uganda, while Kabila had also been able to finance his side of the conflict.

There are many resources and minerals etc being exploited, including (but not limited to):

A number of major human rights groups have charged that /
some multinational corporations from rich nations have been profiting from the war and have developed "elite networks" of key political, military, and business elites to plunder the Congo's natural resources.

Yet, a number of companies and western governments pressured a United Nations panel to omit details of shady business dealings in a report out in October 2003. As reported by the British newspaper, The Independent:

Last October <2002>, the panel accused 85 companies of breaching OECD standards through their business activities. Rape, murder, torture and other human rights abuses followed the scramble to exploit Congo's wealth after war exploded in 1998.

For example the trade in coltan, a rare mineral used in computers and mobile phones, had social effects "akin to slavery", the panel said. But no Western government had investigated the companies alleged to have links with such abuses. Some, including ones from the UK, US, Belgium and Germany, had lobbied to have their companies' names cleared from the "list of shame".

"Many governments overtly or covertly exerted pressure on the panel and the Security Council to exonerate their companies," Ms Feeney said. Some companies gave legitimate explanations for their business in Congo, or pulled out. But lawyers for others challenge the panel's findings, often capitalising on errors in earlier reports as proof of unreliability.

In the report this week, the cases against 48 companies are "resolved" and requiring "no further action".

-- Declan Walsh, UN cuts details of Western profiteers from Congo report, The Independent, October 27, 2003

When the UN finally released the report

at the end of October 2003, they listed approximately 125 companies and individuals listed that had been named in a previous report by the panel for having contributed directly or indirectly to the conflict in the DRC.

Other companies, the report noted, may not have been directly linked to conflict, but had more indirect ties to the main protagonists. Such companies benefitted from the chaotic environment in the DRC. For example, they would obtain concessions or contracts from the DRC on terms that were more favorable than they might receive in countries where there was peace and stability. (See for example, page 6, par 12 of the report.)

The above-mentioned coltan has been the source of much controversy lately:

Hidden cost of mobile phones, computers, stereos and VCRs?
The ore, Columbite-tantalite, or coltan for short, isn't perhaps as well known as some of the other resources and minerals. However, the demand for the highly prized tantalum that comes from the refined coltan has enormous impacts, as highlighted by a recent U.N. Security Council report where an expert panel was established on the illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Given the substantial increase in the price of coltan between late 1999 and late 2000, a period during which the world supply was decreasing while the demand was increasing, a kilo of coltan of average grade was estimated at $200. According to the estimates of professionals, the Rwandan army through Rwanda Metals was exporting at least 100 tons per month. The Panel estimates that the Rwandan army could have made $20 million per month, simply by selling the coltan that, on average, intermediaries buy from the small dealers at about $10 per kg. According to experts and dealers, at the highest estimates of all related costs (purchase and transport of the minerals), RPA must have made at least $250 million over a period of 18 months. This is substantial enough to finance the war. Here lies the vicious circle of the war. Coltan has permitted the Rwandan army to sustain its presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The army has provided protection and security to the individuals and companies extracting the mineral. These have made money which is shared with the army, which in turn continues to provide the enabling environment to continue the exploitation.

-- Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Nations Security Council, April 12, 2001.
The report also mentions Ugandan and Burundian rebels being involved in looting and smuggling of coltan, using illegal monopolies, forced labor, prisoners and even murder. According to the Industry Standard, "hese accusations have not been taken lightly; several members of the U.N. panel that prepared the report have since received death threats. Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi have issued protests to the United Nations over the report, claiming it to be inaccurate and unfounded."

A follow up report in October 2003 also noted that:

In 1999 and 2000 a sharp increase in the world prices of tantalum occurred, leading to a large increase in coltan production in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Part of that new production involved rebel groups and unscrupulous business people forcing farmers and their families to leave their land, or chasing people off land where coltan was found and forcing them to work in artisanal mines. As a result, the widespread destruction of agriculture and devastating social effects occurred, which in a number of instances where akin to slavery.

-- Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Nations Security Council, S/2003/1027, October 28, 2003
What drives the demand for this mineral? The answer is: most of modern computer-based technology:

more ...

Nearly 3 million people have died in Congo

Immaculate, 32, in Drodro hospital. She was attacked by Lendu forces and now waits for treatment from locals who have no medical supplies. Bandages were recovered from the ground after looting and are being rewashed to be reused.

Cellphones fuel Congo conflict
Cellphones may have revolutionized the way we communicate, but in Central Africa their biggest legacy is war.

Nearly 3 million people have died in Congo in a four-year war over coltan, a heat-resistant mineral ore widely used in cellphones, laptops and playstations. Eighty percent of the world's coltan reserves are in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The mountainous jungle area where the coltan is mined is the battleground of what has been grimly dubbed "Africa's first World War," pitting Congolese forces against those of six neighbouring countries and numerous armed factions.
The victims are mostly civilians. Starvation and disease have killed hundreds of thousands and the fighting has displaced 2 million people from their homes.
Often dismissed as an ethnic war, the conflict is really over natural resources sought by foreign corporations -- diamonds, tin, copper, gold, but mostly coltan.
At stake for the multitude of heavily armed militias and governments is a cut of the high-tech boom of the 1990s, which sent the price of coltan skyrocketing to peak at US$400 per kilo. Coltan -- short for colombo-tantalite -- is refined into tantalum, a "magic powder" essential to many electronic devices.
The war started in 1998 when Congolese rebel forces, backed by Rwanda and Uganda, seized eastern Congo and moved into strategic mining areas, attacking villages along the way.
The Rwandan Army was soon making an estimated US$20 million a month from coltan mining.
A May 2002 report from the United Nations Security Council said the huge coltan profits are fueling the war and allowing "a large number" of government officials, rebels and foreigners "to amass as much wealth as possible."
The fighting rages on despite peace treaties signed in the summer of 2002. The peace process was started after the assassination of Congolese President Laurent Kabila in January 2001 and pressure from South Africa. But not all sides signed on. While foreign troops have officially withdrawn, internal factions remain at war. /

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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 03:57 PM
Response to Original message
2. kick
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 04:30 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Thanks struggle4progress
3.5 million

On the Trail of the Congo's "Cannibal Rebels"
Eliza Griswold traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo twice to investigate claims of cannibalism as a weapon of war. Reports of the attacks helped to mobilize the media, the United Nations, and the International Criminal Court to respond to a war few people know about.

From: Eliza Griswold
Subject: Using Sensationalism To Bring Attention to a Human Rights Abuses
Wednesday, March 24, 2004, at 7:44 AM PT

Child soldiers in Eastern DRC

On my way to see the man who first told Amuzati's story to the worlda Catholic bishop named Melchisedec Sikuli PalukuI watch a group of child soldiers run away into the jungle. They are tripping over their fatigues and weapons. Thanks to the influx of arms from the DRC's neighbors, an AK-47 costs only $30-$50. Most end up in the hands of children, who form an estimated 60 percent of the DRC's rebel fighting force. These days, their leaders, courting legitimacy, have heard enough from the international community to know that child soldiers are a major no-no. The kids know it too. So when they see a car full of white people coming along the road, they split.

In his redbrick bishopric on a hilltop in the town of Butembo, Bishop Paluku, a squat and somber man, has consented to meet with yet another pushy journalist who wants to talk to him about cannibalism. It is Sunday afternoon, and he has already celebrated several masses.

We dance around the subject for several minutes, but the bishop knows how the press works by now, and he wants to get started on his story. On the wall, there is a giant decal of a formal French garden. He leans against the arm of a plush chair in his reception room. The bishop has grown both wary and weary of the press. For him, these interviews are a devil's bargain: He trades his story's potential sensationalism for the media's ongoing attention to his waning human rights campaign.
Since the fall of 2002, he has been loudly decrying rebel groups waging war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Recently, under a peace deal with the government, the rebels have been taking government posts. It's as if they're being rewarded after warlords-turned-politicians like Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba and a host of others have exploited DRC's mineral wealth for all that they can. Despite their newfound legitimacy, the bishop continues to accuse them of cannibalism.

"Bemba's men were cutting fingers and ears off," the bishop tells me as we eye the shrubbery on the wall. "But that was normal; it wasn't astonishing. But when they started feeding them to the prisonersthat was something new." /

When Westerners reach for their cell phones or pagers, turn on their computers, propose marriage with diamond rings, or board airplanes, few of them make the connection between their ability to use technology or buy luxury goods and a war raging in the DRC, half a world away. In what has been called the richest patch of earth on the planet, the DRC's wealth has also been its curse. The DRC holds millions of tons of diamonds, copper, cobalt, zinc, manganese, uranium (the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were built using Congolese uranium), niobium, and tantalum. Tantalum, also referred to as coltan, is a particularly valuable resource - used to make mobile phones, night vision goggles, fiber optics, and capacitors (the component that maintains the electrical charge in computer chips). In fact, a global shortage of coltan caused a wave of parental panic in the United States last Christmas when it resulted in the scarcity of the popular PlayStation 2. The DRC holds 80% of the world's coltan reserves, more than 60% of the world's cobalt, and the world's largest supply of high-grade copper
Also in 1997, Bechtel, the engineering and construction company, established a strong relationship with Kabila. Bechtel - whose history of collaboration with the CIA is well-documented in Laton McCartney's 1989 book, Friends in High Places - drew up a master development plan and inventory of the country's mineral resources free of charge. Bechtel also commissioned and paid for NASA satellite studies of the country for infrared maps of its mineral potential. Bechtel estimates that the DRC's mineral ores alone are worth $157 billion.

U.S. military aid has contributed significantly to the crisis. During the Cold War, the U.S. government shipped $400 million in arms and training to Mobutu. After Mobutu was overthrown, the Clinton administration transferred its military allegiance to Rwanda and Uganda, although even the U.S. State Department has accused both countries of widespread corruption and human-rights abuses. During his historic visit to Africa in 1998, President Clinton praised Presidents Kagame and Musevini as leaders of the "African Renaissance," just a few months before they launched their deadly invasion of the DRC with U.S. weapons and training. The United States is not the only culprit; many other countries, including France, Serbia, North Korea, China, and Belgium, share responsibility. But the U.S. presence has helped to open networks and supply lines, providing an increased number of arms to the region.
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 10:07 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Galeano had a beautiful line about Latin America:

"the poverty of mankind as a result of the wealth of the land."

It sounds like it's the same story here: "perpetual war as a result of the wealth of the land," enabling foreign exploitation of resources.

If we had a foreign policy really aiming at human rights, we wouldn't tolerate this ...
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demdave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 04:14 PM
Response to Original message
3. Did the U.N. also shake it's finger at them and call them "bad people"?
Expressed concern? WOW, what strong action for such an effective institution. The great Rwandan army must be shaking in it's boots when confronted by such a powerful force of good as the U.N..
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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 04:34 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Close to 1 million Rwandans died in 1994
and no one did anything. Now we're at 3.5 million and counting and they express concern.

Bodies of Hema men, executed by Lendu militia just hours before, lie on the road north of Fataki. They were bound and impaled before being shot.
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jbutsz Donating Member (226 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-15-04 11:48 PM
Response to Original message
7. Weird observation
Weird to me anyways...

A handful of folks burn to death when the shuttle broke up on re-entry. It was a tragedy and everyone here(IRL) mourned for days.

3.5 Million poeple die in Rwanda/Congo and it's barely even a soundbite...

I wonder what the world would be like with a free media..
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