How the conflict in Ukraine has exposed the double standards of the West and a call for reparations for the pastcolonization of Democratic Republic of Congo and other African countries.
April 15th, 2022 | JoJo Deogracias Ejonga Watching the situation in Ukraine breaks my heart and the heart of many around the world. It is a nation devastated and attacked by a bully dictator and a war criminal. The war in Ukraine also raises serious questions about the West’s level of concern when it comes to an attack on another Western country in contrast to its silence regarding African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo.
As a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo whose family served the defense and independence of that great nation, I am angered to see the Western nations, especially the European countries like Belgium, Germany, and France, now in the stage of panic and fear with the war at their doorsteps, yet were nowhere to be found when it came to helping the Congolese people to defend themselves from attacks by tyrants who have sought to invade the Congolese territory.
It forces me to question why those countries have remained silent with respect to the situation in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. While the situation in Ukraine has won the hearts of many, which is a good thing, I ask on behalf of the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, why isn't the same level of concern being raised when it comes to the territorial incursion and violation being committed by the tyrant Kaghame (Kagame?) Where is the world's outcry to the genocide being committed in Democratic Republic of Congo by the tyrants in Rwanda?
Where is the humanitarian and military support for the people of Congo (DRC)?
Is it because the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire) isn't a Western nation?
Is it because the lives being taken don't look like them?
Or, is it because these same Western nations are the ones behind the atrocities and are using the destabilizing conditions to steal and rob the country of its natural minerals?
It is well known within Democratic Republic Of Congo (Zaire) and other African nations that the Western countries have been behind the war in the eastern part of Congo (Zaire). It is also well known and documented that the Western countries have been behind the weapons being used by the tyrants to inflict death and terror on the citizens of Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire) while denying the Congolese people's ability to defend themselves due to the plethora of embargoes, both military and commercial.
The Western nations’ "arms embargoes" have made it impossible for the Congolese people to effectively defend themselves from the Western-sponsored tyrants and rebels. Furthermore, the military embargo has made it harder for the country to build and maintain an effective fighting military force to defend the sanctity of the people of Congo and the territorial integrity of Congo (Zaire).
The same hypocrites in Europe, or should I say the Western nations including the United States, have been in support of the tyrants taking over the Congolese region of Kivu and Goma, a mineral-rich region that lies on the Eastern part of the country, bordering Rwanda. This is a region which the tyrants in Rwanda have always sought to invade and rob from Democratic Republic of Congo. The Kivu and Goma region has been under constant attack by Hutu Rebels from neighboring Rwanda and rebel groups from Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania since the beginning of the war in late 1996. This is a war which the West calls a "Civil War", but in reality was and is an invasion by foreign fighters through the rebel leader Laurent Kabila and a foreign Tanzanian military official who claims to be the son of Laurent Kabila, the so-called “Joseph Kabila."
A Brief History of the War:
The war in Congo started in 1996, with Laurent Kabila leading a rebellion sponsored by Rwanda, Uganda, and the Western countries. With the help of Western-funneled weapons and their proxies from Rwanda and Uganda, Kabila seized power in May 1997. Twelve months after Kabila took power, he turned on the foreign occupiers who helped and advised him in his rebellion. Three months later, in August 1998, Hutu rebels from Rwanda, with the aid of both the Rwandan and Uganda military, as well as with the help of Western arms, attacked Democratic Republic of Congo in an attempt to overthrow Kabila.
The West and its proxies became angry at Kabila because he wasn't able to control the resistance by Congolese guerrilla fighters opposed to him and his foreign advisers. As a consequence, the West, through its proxies in Rwanda and Uganda, formulated, and succeeded in, a coup to kill Laurent Kabila and replaced him with Joseph Kabila, who served in the Tanzanian Armed forces and claimed to be the son of Laurent Kabila. After Joseph Kabila took power, the country was again overrun by soldiers from Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania, equipped with Western arms.
The West has used it imperial power to destabilize the Congolese nation, either directly or through its proxies. Western Imperialism has been nothing but destructive to Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire) and its people. For 26
years, the country has been under constant attack and intrusion by its neighbors Rwanda and Uganda with the help of Tanzania, and western-supplied weapons, costing hundreds of thousands of Congolese civilian lives. This has sparked minimal to no condemnation and minimal to no support coming from the West, either of a military or humanitarian nature. In contrast with this, the Western nations’ actions in support of Ukraine amidst the invasion has been massive. In the first 30 days of the war, from February 24 to March 26, the United States has given no less than
15 billion dollars in both military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and the rest of the Western nations have also given no less than 6 billion dollars for the same cause. This is considerably more than any given to Democratic Republic of Congo since the beginning of the war in 1996 to the present. This is a clear double standard.
It makes me wonder, do the lives of the Congolese people matter, or do lives only matter when there are Western lives in danger?
I wonder, is Congolese territorial integrity a matter of importance, or does territorial integrity only becomes a matter of importance when it pertains to Western countries?
I wonder, does defending democracy only matter when it comes to Western countries? Isn’t defending democracy just as important when it comes to Congo and other African countries?
Lastly, it makes me wonder, does Democratic Republic of Congo only matter to the Western governments when it comes to exploiting and robbing the country of its natural minerals and subjecting the citizens to cheap labor?
There hasn't been any evidence to show that the Western governments care about the Congolese people or African countries. Western actions have shown and proven that the only thing the West cares about is the exploitation of the natural minerals in Africa.
It angers me and so many other Congolese people when we see the hypocrisy and lack of action and witness the silence of the Belgian government since the beginning of the conflict in Congo. It angers me and my fellow Congolese to hear and see the Belgian government’s complicity with the tyrants that constantly violate the territorial integrity of Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire) and attempt to force the people of Congo to surrender part of our territory to the tyrants in Rwanda.
In research conducted by Dr. Richard Brennan, corroborated by The International Rescue Committee, it was estimated that the conflict in Democratic Republic Of Congo has claimed the lives of "Close to, or more than” 5.4 million people from August 1998 to July 18, 2003. The study further estimates that from 1998 through 2008, a minimum of 45 thousand people died each month and half of these deaths were children.
This death toll is comparable to imagining yourself living in Europe and having every single person in Denmark killed. The amount of lives lost in Congo (DRC) from 1998 through 2003 is equivalent to the whole population of Denmark in 2008-9. Underscoring this is that the number given above is just the number estimated from the second war which started in 1998. Looking back to the first Invasion from October 27, 1996 through May 16, 1997, it is estimated that the country lost up to 1 million people due to the invasion. This number includes between 200 thousand and 800 thousand confirmed dead and another 200 thousand or more people confirmed or presumed missing or dead. The war in Congo, which started as a result of a Western-sponsored invasion, has caused the life of more than 10 million people, either through violence, disease, or starvation as a consequence of the war.
The majority of Congolese people have a negative impression and feelings towards Western governments. This feeling is exacerbated by the Western countries’ actions and/or inactions which trigger past memories of the suffering and atrocity inflicted on the people during colonization. Those feelings affect many of my generation, including myself. Many in my generation try to wrap our heads around what’s going on and ask questions as to why there has constantly been such an obsession regarding our land by foreign nations and Western powers, either during colonization or after the period of formal colonization. The questions we try to ask are quickly answered by just looking at and examining the areas of conflict and the land itself. It is very apparent that Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC) is the main basin of natural resources and the areas in which the conflict continues to persist are in the mineral-rich regions of the country.
Considering all the crimes and genocide committed against the Congolese people, I wonder, will there ever be accountability and reparations for the past crimes committed against the Congolese people? I ask, is Rwanda, the Hutu rebels, Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania ever going to be held accountable for either directly or indirectly participating in the violation of international law when they violated the territorial integrity of (DRC) Congo?
Or, are they going to be forgiven by the West because they operate as the Western Powers’ proxies?
I ask, are the Western colonial powers ever going to be held accountable for the hundreds of years of slavery through colonization?
I ask, when is the accountability and reparation going to happen to compensate and right the wrongs done for hundreds of years of slavery and human suffering inflicted on the Congolese people during the illegal colonization?
When is the Belgian government going to pay reparations for the years of harm, trauma, pain, killings, rapes, and other crimes against humanity inflicted on the Congolese people?
When are they going to apologize for their past atrocities during the enslavement, or the so-called “colonization;" of the Democratic Republic of Congo?
As a native of Democratic Republic of Congo, born in the city of Kinshasa, and from the blood line of "Ejonga" and "Lihau," whose great grandfather Marcel Lihau strived and fought for the independence of Congo, I demand, in accordance with the voices of my follow Congolese people, that a public apology from the King and the Belgian government be made to the people of Congo.
I demand as well that the said government must pay reparations to compensate the people of Congo for the harms done to our ancestors. Beyond this, I demand a complete end to the exploitation of the land and an end to Western interference and the corruption of our political affairs and territorial integrity, either directly or by proxy, by the Belgian government and/or its Western allies.
We the Congolese people demand an end to the Western-sponsored deforestation of the Congolese Equatorial Forest, the stealing of our natural resources, and the continued slavery through cheap labor of our mothers, fathers, and children.
The West can either be an ally or an adversary by proxy. What the Western governments shouldn't be, or must not be doing, is being both.
While this piece is meant to bring awareness to the situation and is an appeal to the citizens of the Western countries regarding the continued atrocities in Congo, it is also an indictment of those governments in Europe (specifically the Kingdom of Belgium), as well as the U.S., whose actions or inactions have been behind the continued oppression and destabilization of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire), either directly or indirectly through their proxies.
While I speak, I speak in defense of the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I speak in defense of every inch of the territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I speak in defense of democracy and in defense of territorial integrity.
I speak in defense of Continental Africa.
I speak in defense of African people.
I speak in defense of peace-loving people around the world.
I speak in support of the great people of Ukraine.
In addition, I speak in condemnation of imperialism, authoritarianism, dictatorship, human rights abuses, human rights violators, and war criminals like Kaghame (Kagame), Vladimir Putin, and Laurent Nkunda.
In conclusion, while we all stand in condemnation of the Russian Invasion in Ukraine, and in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, I ask that the same condemnation, attention, and care be given to the situation in Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire) and other African nations whose territorial integrity has been under threat of attack, either through territorial incursion or outright invasion.
May peace and love prevail over war and hate.
JoJo Deogracias Ejonga. Aka. Jonathan Deogracias Ejonga-Lihau. Twitter@JoJoEjongaLihau