Stop killing Congolese people


KPFA Weekend News, 01.04.2015

Competition for Congolese resources can't be stopped, but the massacre of Congolese people can and must, says Dr. Jean Didier Losango.



KPFA Evening News Anchor: The people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, have suffered violent conflict ever since the Rwandan conflict of the 1990s spilled across the Rwandan-Congolese mining researcher Dr. Jean Didier Losango spoke to KPFA via Skype from Johannesburg, South Africa. Congolese border in 1994. The First Congo War began in 1996, the second in 1998. The second war drew in all nine countries bordering the DRC, left millions dead, displaced millions more, and ignited conflicts that continue in the country’s mineral rich east, despite the peace treaty signed in 2003.  Now the DRC fears another regional war waged within its borders, possibly drawing in Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Burundi, and Tanzania, and powerful interests from outside the African continent. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to scholar and mining researcher Dr. Jean Didier Losango about what can be done to stop the escalation of Congo's human catastrophe.

KPFA: Congolese mining researcher Dr. Jean Didier Losango said that the conflict in eastern DR Congo is commonly described as ethnic, but it’s really a conflict over Congo’s vast resources, most of all its mineral resources. Most Congolese are indigenous agricultural peoples, who keep dying in wars for their enormous mineral wealth without any benefit to themselves and without even understanding the role these minerals play in modern manufacture. He agrees, he said, with what Congolese scholars and activists Maurice Carney and Dr. Yaa Lengi said in Friends of the Congo’s film, Crisis in the Congo, that first the killing has to stop.   

Maurice Carney: You do not have to slaughter millions of people to get access to the cobalt for your color television, or access to the cobalt for your aerospace industry, or access to the copper for your automobile industry.. 

Dr. Yaa Lengi: All right, you're dealing with the economy. You want the coltan. Man, Congolese people don’t eat coltan. Congolese people can't eat gold. Talk to the Congolese people, who're gonna let you get the resources, but for God's sake, stop killing the people! Stop letting Rwanda, Uganda, and Joseph Kabila kill with impunity. 

KPFA: Dr. Losango said that it’s time for the international community to acknowledge that millions of Congolese people have been killed, displaced, raped and/or dismembered in wars for minerals in the country’s east with no benefit to themselves. 

The body of Jean Pierre Paluku Muvungu, 38, who was killed by unidentified assailants with machetes on October 2, 2014, in Mukoko village in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo. © 2014 Dearbhla Glynn First of all he said, again, the killing has to stop, and since the international competition for the resources of the eastern DRC cannot be stopped, people of mineral rich eastern Congo should be moved to other parts of the country, where they can re-establish their indigenous agricultural practices. As long as the people are in the way of the world's most powerful nations and corporations' resource interests, he said, the massacres, atrocities and displacement will continue.

Then, he said, the people need roads to get their agricultural products to market, and foreign investors who are willing to buy local products, train and employ local people, and build the infrastructure the country needs. Only China, he said, builds essential infrastructure in exchange for mining leases, and only China buys local products and training and employing local people. South Africa, he said, imports all the employees, building materials, and even agriculture produce that it needs to operate in DRC from South Africa, leaving nothing for the Congolese people.

China and the US are the two most powerful nations with the greatest hunger for Congo’s resources. Russ Feingold, US Envoy to the Great Lakes Region and the DRC, recently traveled to China to discuss their mutual resource interests in the DRC, but reported only  that the talks were cordial and productive.

I asked Dr. Losango how the Congolese people might claim some of the vast wealth extracted within their borders, if, first, as he said, the killing can be stopped. He said that the Congolese people need the educational infrastructure to understand how essential their mineral wealth is to the manufacture of modern modern life. Colonial powers, he said, have made every effort to keep his people from understanding this.

Once Congolese people understand how their wealth is used around the world, their challenges will be building infrastructure and establishing governance in the interest of all Congolese people. 

For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

David Landau: And our reporter Ann Garrison was actually speaking Dr. Losango's words because his French accent is a little bit thick.

Note: Thanks to Dr. Losango for learning the English language, to speak to the English speaking world about this. French is the European language most used in DR Congo, which was the personal property of King Leopold of Belgium from 1885 to 1902, when it became a Belgian colony until 1960. -AG

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