It is night in the town of Kalembe, in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) North Kivu Province. North Kivu borders Lake Kivu in the eastern DRC. It is about as far as one can get from the capitol city of Kinshasa. There are very few roads in all of Congo and limited flights, unless you can hop a UN transport. The air distance from the provincial capitol of Goma is 1571 km (976 miles), and 2683 km (1667 miles) by land, if you can find a passable road. Imagine the driving distance from south Florida to northern Minnesota in the United States to get a mental picture.
A teenage girl is enjoying the evening air in Kalembe, but she soon finds herself as far as one can get from peace, quiet and safety. She is about to be sucked into the maws of hell.
The March 30 waxing moon floating in the starry sky is almost half full, but there is not enough light for the fourteen-year-old girl to see the man lurking in the shadows. He has been watching her for minutes, maybe more. The man is a soldier of the 3402nd Regiment of the Congolese Army (FARDC), and he has sworn to defend the constitution of Congo. He obeys orders that can be traced to the desk of Congo President Joseph Kabila, 2683 km away.
The soldier pounces on the teenager and his dirty hand, probably reeking with the smell of gun oil and nicotine, covers her mouth as he drags her into the shadows. If she utters a word, he undoubtedly promises to kill her family. He rapes her and leaves her sobbing in the moonlight. (CLA Protection Working Group Meeting Report April 7 documented the rape. Details are surmised.)
On the following morning, President Barack Obama is on the phone with the president of Congo. The teenage girl is in a hospital in Goma. Obama most likely has no knowledge of the events of the night before. Our president has other things on his mind. He needs to pander to Kabila. Strategic minerals, mining interests and US prestige in the region is at stake.
The “readout” or summary of the phone call says, “The President noted that President Kabila’s legacy as a leader who brought the DRC out of war and set it on a path of continued democratic progress would be consolidated by free and fair elections in 2016.” The two leaders reaffirmed “their shared commitment to ending the threat of armed groups, particularly the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).”
(It is important to understand the meaning of the acronym, FDLR. The FDLR were responsible for the murder of up to one million during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.)
Obama lauds Kabila’s non-existent “leadership” and democratic progress for purposes of diplomacy, but he also wants to make sure that Kabila does not violate the Congolese constitution and try to grab an illegal third term, with civil war a probable outcome. The political pandering is completed. The sexual violation of the teenage girl is a mere mote in the dustbin of Congo’s violent, pathetic history and does not figure in the conversation.
Within the same week, Kabila’s “legacy” in the rape capitol of the world is still in motion. Members of the regiment that raped the teenager, and possibly other perpetrators from the International Intervention Brigade, were moving through the impenetrable darkness of Congolese nights; stealing phones, money, domestic animals and raping with impunity.
The UN Security Council authorized the Intervention Brigade (FIB) in March 2013 as part of the 20,000 plus MONUSCO force already stationed in DRC. The brigade is based in the Kivus and consists of 3,069 “peacekeepers” from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi. Tanzania provides the artillery and special forces. The United States under Obama’s watch, and as a permanent member of the Security Council, voted to authorize the FIB to eliminate armed rebel groups.
20,000 UN forces could not prevent DRC from becoming the “rape capitol” of the world. This distinction was bestowed on DRC in 2010 by Margot Wallstrom, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict.
Obama had to know this, or he should have known while he was speaking with Kabila.
At the very least he should have known about a December 2012 classified United Nations leaked document. This document counted as many as 6,000 armed troops of the FDLR perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide of 1994 that were massing in North Kivu.
See this testimony from villagers from that time period.
The classified CLA-MP-94/12-12 warned, “Crime rates had escalated as the protection of civilians got seriously affected with all kinds of human rights violations (mass killings, rape, burning of houses, plundering) triggering new waves of people (sic) mass displacement.” (sic)
The intervention brigade was designed to bring an end to the FDLR and other rebel groups by working with the Congolese Army and the 20,000 UN troops that had been miserably ineffective. A leaked map of Congo shows that most of the attacks by armed rebel groups happened near UN outposts in 2014.
As it happened, FARDC and the intervention brigade were working together all right, but not in the manner one would expect from a peacekeeping force.
On March 31, 2015 in Kitshanga, one FARDC 3402nd soldier broke into a house where he stole some items and raped the wife of the owner of that house. During the night that bridged day between April 3 and 4, two FARDC intervention brigade soldiers robbed a businessman of $2600 at gunpoint near Rutshuru.
The author of the CLA Report that documented these and dozens of other atrocities wrote at the end of his/her report, “it is very sad to notice that nowadays PNC (local police) and FARDC soldiers have become dangerous to civilians at night; yet, they are the ones supposed to protect them. It has become a bit hard to appropriately address the problem because of lack of collaboration between MONUSCO (UN) and FARDC.”
The report was drafted by Kitshanga CLAs in the offices of Save the Children International on April 7, one week after Obama’s phone call with Kabila.
But the Congolese Army and the International Intervention Brigade are not the only perpetrators. Those 6,000 FDLR troops mentioned in the leaked classified document are busy committing the same atrocities in eastern Congo.
On April 4 near Rwindi three “motrads” (motorcyclists) were kidnapped on the road between Rwindi and Kibirizi. This happened not very far from not far from the FARDC 8061 Platoon position. According to unconfirmed sources, the perpetrators are allegedly FDLR elements and have demanded the return of goods taken from them during Sukola 2 ops at Kahumiro, Kazaroho and Kabuhendo. “Sukola” means “cleanup,” and refers to the mission of the intervention brigade. (Goma CLA Summary Report 07 April 2015)
According to information gathered during a patrol in the Gihondo-Katsiru area on April 7, the FDLR re-established their presence in the village, leading to fears of harassment of the population. The Congolese Army (FARDC) has said that it will redeploy to the area, but given their behavior in other villages, this is of little comfort.
On the night of April 8 one police officer (PNC) from Nyamilima was reportedly abducted by FDLR elements. Reportedly, the PNC was released later, but the kidnappers took his weapon (s).
According to a local source, unidentified armed men assaulted a truck driving from Kanyabayonga towards Goma. The armed men, suspected to be FDLR elements by the same local source, forced an unknown number of passengers of the truck to follow them into the forest. (CLA Summary Report of April 9, 2015)
These narratives and literally thousand of others that would fill an encyclopedia are taken directly from CLA reports that find their way to my desk on a regular basis. They languish on my hard drive until the critical mass explodes in my mind and forces me to comment on the morass known as Congo.
CLA means “community liaison assistant.” They are Congolese staff recruited to link local communities with MONUSCO. They are fluent in English, French, and local languages. They report on local conflicts, atrocities, and note rebel troop movements. MONUSCO commanders are “often unfamiliar with DRC and thus ill suited to analyze the subtleties of local conflict dynamics and civilian vulnerability on their own, making the CLAs a critical asset,” says Refugees International.
As CLA narratives unfolded within one week of President Obama’s cheery phone call to Joseph Kabila, it is worth noting that this was not the first time that Obama treated the world’s worst dictator to kid glove handling.
See this report in the Daily Mail that offers a concise list of reasons why President Obama and John Kerry made a huge mistake and sent the wrong message to the world community when they invited Joseph Kabila to an African summit in October of 2014. Among other things, the Daily Mail documents $5.5 billion in offshore shell company transfers by Kabila, while Congolese live in squalor.
A mountain of CLA reports confirm that Congo is more than a failed state, aided and abetted by the blind eyes of the international community, the USA, the State Department and our President. Congo is a cauldron of misery, blood and greed, stirred by the worst humanity has to offer. It is a psychotic madhouse, run by a narcissistic dictator who holds the United States in the palm of his greedy hand.
Note: Dana Perino of FOXNEWS made some comments the other day that prompted me to pull together these CLA reports from Congo. She lamented the fact that Congo gets very little coverage. She is correct. Whenever I travel to Africa, Rwanda and Congo in particular, I hear how much Africa loves George W. Bush. It is true that Bush did a lot for the people there, who are mostly silent on the subject of Obama.