Sunday, April 6, 2014

Rwanda: " An epitaph to a broken dream to exorcise this silent scream "

Reuters reports

Rwanda's foreign adventures test West's patience


Rwanda's President Paul Kagame addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 25, 2013


KIGALI (Reuters) - Rwandan President Paul Kagame may dress in the sharp suits of a company CEO, but his language can be more like a drill sergeant when he grills his cabinet on its performance.

"When you speak I find myself becoming impatient, almost to the point of being annoyed," the former military intelligence commander publicly berated a minister last month at an annual meeting of top officials on modernising the tiny African state.

Western nations offer only modest remonstrations over what they see as democratic shortcomings in Rwanda, thankful for the oasis of order that has replaced the genocide they failed to prevent 20 years ago this month.

But they quietly express concern that Kagame's assertive style at home is being translated into brazen meddling in a volatile region and threatening a potential model for Africa.

That concern is increasing. However it is not only western nations increasingly African nations are also getting frustrated with Kagame.

In 2012, a U.N. report accused Kagame's government of backing a rebel group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, prompting the West to halt some aid; economic growth took a hit.

I wouldn't put the reduction in western aid as a causing of the slowdown in economic growth. Throughout 2013 Rwandas ability to raid the economic resources of neighboring eastern DR Congo was effectively halted. 

" In fact, the relative prosperity of the minority Tutsi political and business elite, is built on the bones of 6 million dead Congolese and the natural resources looted from their country. Rwanda’s so-called “New Economic Model” is simply pillaging and massacre, theft and murder on a huge scale, in concert with multinational corporations and under the protection of the United States."

Now Rwanda is blamed for sending hit squads to assassinate opponents in South Africa, killing one of two alleged targets.

What is interesting is just how unprofessional the Rwandan action was. Kagame made no real effort to deny the accusations, that in effect is confidence verging on insanity.  

" One of the four suspects is a senior official in the Rwandan armed forces, Lt Col Francis Gakwerere. His name was on a list of seven people claimed in a blog run by Rwandan dissidents to belong to a hit squad sent to South Africa to eliminate Karegeya. Police in South Africa suspect the former spymaster was strangled. A bloodied towel and curtain cord were found in a safe in the hotel room. Opponents of the Rwandan government say he was murdered at the behest of Rwandan President Paul Kagame."

"It seems to me that they are getting less risk averse," said one senior Western diplomat, who asked not to be named so he could speak more openly. "The risk they run is sowing the seed for rupture with the international community."

Jason Stearns at Congo Siasa gives an interesting regional perspective:

" South African involvement was particularly on show during the 2011 elections, which took place just weeks after a Kabila granted the South African government a contract for Inga III . Zuma was then one of the first presidents to congratulate Kabila for his victory, despite rampant irregularities. Then, when Uganda began facilitating peace talks with the M23 as chair of the ICGLR, South Africa and Angola (which has also just signed a lucrative offshore oil deal with Kinshasa), worried about Uganda and Rwanda's influence in the ICGLR, offered to send troops to Kinshasa's aid through SADC. Kabila reportedly believes that the brigade will help bring an end to the nettlesome M23 rebellion."


Which the brigade did. Uganda has recognised it would seem that the tide is out and the world is now ( I guess better late than never ) serious about defending the territorial integrity of the DR Congo. The reality Kigali can't comprehend is that its interfering in the Congo is over and it would seem Tanzania, Mali, Angola and South Africa have chosen sides and they are with the DR Congo. Ironically the Republic of Congo seems to have inexplicably gone with Rwanda a quick look at a map might have you shaking your heads on that decision.
Rwanda, which insists the government that has reformed the still aid-dependent economy is democratically accountable, vigorously denies both accusations of foreign meddling.

Well it used to vigorously deny meddling but I suspect that Kigali has recognised that the world just doesn't believe its denials anymore. I would guess that perhaps signals some vague connection with reality and that might be a reason to hope Kigali adopts a new position on international relations.
Public comments from Kagame and other officials have done little to change Western views of Rwanda's complicity, but criticism has remained muted, and more so with the anniversary of the genocide that Kagame is credited with ending.

"There is an upswing of international guilt about 1994," the diplomat said. "There is pressure. I don't think it is increasing and this year there is a dip."

There is guilt and there should be but, and it is not a small but, that guilt should not prevent us seeing the the bigger picture and that is that 6 million people have died in the DR Congo since 1994 and the lions share of responsibility for that genocide can be laid at Rwanda's door.
EXILED OPPONENTS

After exiled former spy chief Patrick Karegeya was found dead in a Johannesburg hotel in January, Kagame said "traitors" should expect consequences. A Rwandan website quoted Defence Minister James Kabarebe saying: "When you choose to be a dog, you die like one."

As I said above they can't even be bothered lying about it now, one has to hope that the geopolitical realities Rwanda now faces are not being handled by the M23 former Chief of Staff James Kabarebe.
In March, armed men broke into the Johannesburg home of former Rwandan army chief General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, another exiled critic. Nyamwasa, who survived an attempt on his life in South Africa in 2010, was not in his house at the time.

Diplomats and analysts said the killing and attempted assassination in short succession showed Kagame feared exiled opponents were trying to unseat him using links inside Rwanda.

"His number one threat is potential military dissidents in his own party," said central Africa expert Jason Stearns.

Jason Stearns is worth listening to. The problem with Rwanda is that it is a military organisation in charge of a state and history tells us if you have that around the wrong way which Rwanda does, the results are never good in the long term.
South Africa, a regional superpower, expelled three Rwandan diplomats over the attacks. Kigali, which said South Africa had produced no evidence, reciprocated by throwing out six.

The U.S. special envoy to the region, Russ Feingold, said in a brief statement he was "very concerned about the tension", but was unavailable for further comment when asked by Reuters.

Russ Feingold has been a total disappointment.

Rwanda lives in an unstable neighbourhood, next to war-ravaged east Congo and politically troubled Burundi, which endured decades of ethnic massacres into the 1990s. Nearby are South Sudan and the Central African Republic, both mired in conflict.

Rwanda has created much of the instability in the " war ravaged Congo " by successive military invasions. As noted above the Rwandan economic miracle requires the eastern DR Congo to be unstable so Rwanda can nick anything of value. It doesn't wash as an excuse for the Kagame regime.
Behind closed doors Western feathers have been ruffled. Diplomats, who have described Rwanda's foreign policy as "reckless", worry Kigali could target opponents in exile in Europe or elsewhere, action that would draw tougher sanction.

"On the security side, there are more and more countries warning them off," said another diplomat, He said the private U.S. message was: "Don't do anything like this in the States."

I suspect Rwandan passport holders will face a lot more scrutiny going forward. I blogged yesterday about this issue amongst other things.
Critics of Western policy say such warnings are too little, too late. Rwanda is assertive abroad because the West has not reined in the president's authoritarian ways at home, they say.

"There hasn't been much reaction to things that happened inside Rwanda," said Filip Reyntjens, a Rwanda expert and professor at the University of Antwerp, who says he has been banned from travelling to Kigali. "That emboldened the regime."

That can change very quickly. It should start with expulsion from the Commonwealth, that inconveniences a few athletes but it might also focus a few minds.
HEALING RIFTS

Rwanda dismisses such criticisms. Shyaka Anastase, head of the Rwandan Governance Board, a state agency that licences political parties and assesses everything from civil liberties to corruption, said Rwanda's system was based on consensus.

Yes, well it is an interesting interpretation of consensus. I very much doubt Rwanda's only credible opposition leader Victoire Ingabire who is rotting in a Rwandan gaol agrees with the consensus.
That helped Kagame win re-election in 2010 with 93 percent of the vote, he said, while Western critics were too conditioned by their politics where parties often win just 40 percent.

93% if you aren't laughing you should be. That is a North Korea statistic and whilst Rwanda is not quite yet at that level of batshit crazy it is well down the road.
"We feel there is a lot of unfairness," he told Reuters, adding Rwanda's system was healing ethnic, religious and regional rifts which fuelled the ethnic slaughter in 1994 of 800,000 people, mostly minority Tutsis but also moderates from the Hutu majority.

Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo denied a Rwandan role in the South Africa cases but, via Twitter, said Pretoria harboured "dissidents responsible for terrorist attacks in Rwanda".

Louise Mushikiwabo AKA Rwanda's liar in chief.  

Rwandan officials have in the past blamed sporadic grenade attacks, often fatal, in the capital and elsewhere on exiled and other opponents. One former presidential bodyguard, who lived in Uganda, is now on trial in Kigali over involvement in such assaults. Exile opposition deny any role in such attacks.

They have and in fairness this would seem to be true. The genocidal fools of the FDLR the remnants of the former regime do occasionally promise gullible kids future jobs in the next Rwandan incarnation, not to mention US $20 to go and throw a grenade in a market place in Rwanda. Quite how that justifies 6 million deaths in the DR Congo escapes me.   


" One of the suspects who manned the recent grenade attack at Nyabugogo Taxi Park in Kigali, has said that he and his colleagues were sent on a mission by their boss, Colonel Enoch Bizimana alias ‘Matovu’ who commands a section of FDLR rebel in the DR Congo.
The 23 year old suspect, identified as Jean de Dieu Ntakirutimana, who left Rwanda at the age of 4 years, says that he joined and deserted FDLR forces and was later on contacted by the Colonel, through a third party, to conduct the attacks for a price.


When asked for further comment on the South Africa attacks, the president's office again denied any role and said Rwanda "cannot be expected to mourn the death of someone actively involved in carrying out violence against innocent citizens".

It added that talk of "extrajudicial assassinations on foreign soil is both outlandish and false".

A return if not welcome to form.

Even as diplomats express private frustrations, public Western criticism is muted, tempered by genocide guilt and Rwanda's role as an example for Africa on the efficient use of the West's aid.

And even more efficient theft of the mineral resources of the eastern DR Congo.
Achievements are plain to see. Residents describe jumping over corpses in the capital in 1994 but now few, if any, African cities can rival the order and tidiness of Kigali, where small groups of women trim grass verges on the sides of new roads.

And there are six million more corpses in the Congo, A very high price for trimmed grass verges.
Rwanda is pitching to be a regional financial hub, an idea unimaginable a few years ago, while the World Bank assesses the tiny nation of 11 million people as the easiest place to do business in continental Africa. Ranked No. 32 globally, it is above some European nations such as its former colonial power Belgium. http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings

It still relies heavily on aid for two-fifths of government spending. When aid flows stopped in 2012, growth in 2013 tumbled sharply to 4.6 percent, down from the 7 to 8 percent it had averaged in previous years, even though aid resumed in 2013.

As I said above aid had nothing to do with the economic slowdown.
POLITICAL CREDENTIALS

Britain's overseas aid department DFID, one of Rwanda's top benefactors, talks of "impressive and fast-improving public financial management system" but notes political restrictions.

To burnish Rwanda's political credentials, Anastase's governance board now produces a scorecard on issues from rule of law to transparency - ticking boxes that win allies in the West. Rwanda, says one diplomat, is "obsessed with indicators".

It might be time to add a few more coffins sorry boxes. Six million in fact.
Swayed in part by visible development, the West also worries about upsetting the fragile balance maintained by Kagame - president since 2003 and power behind the throne since his Rwandan Patriotic Army marched into Kigali in 1994 to halt the killings that mainly targeted Kagame's own Tutsi group.

The west should be more worried by the the truth. I get the feeling it is now and Kagame has no idea what that will mean.
The government wants to bury the idea of ethnic loyalties, saying everyone is "Rwandese". But tensions sometimes emerge including during the "I Am Rwandan" campaign that began last year and which urged Hutus to apologise for the killings.

If you believe that well .... the whole point of this article is that nobody believes a word Rwanda has to say on anything.
"It encourages people to feel guilty because of their ethnicity," said a middle-aged Hutu, asking not to be named and commenting on the voluntary countrywide meetings. "But what can you do? We still go along (with the idea)."

Hutus accept their group is to blame for the genocide, but grumble that Hutus who were also massacred are often ignored.

Such concerns give Western nations pause. "The worry at the back of Western minds is you end up with an ethnic bloodbath," said the senior diplomat. "That is why people in the West are prepared to put up with the political situation as it is."

And when the untenable situation that is the current status quo erupts and you have another ethnic bloodbath are we any further forward ?
Some politicians now talk of changing the constitution to allow Kagame stand for a third term in 2017. The West murmurs disapproval, while opponents in Rwanda struggle to be heard.

"We do not have a personal problem with the president but we would not wish that the constitution is changed," said Frank Habineza, head of the Democratic Green Party, which registered last year and is the only party not aligned with the government.

"Kagame is not naturally a democrat," said a regional Western diplomat. "We just wish he was embracing a little bit more of the concepts of democracy."

Yes well look to the Russian solution.

" Kagame has become delusional, his inability separate his administration from the the nation state that is Rwanda. He assures all that he will not alter the constitution to extend his tenure as Rwanda's President but the reality is that he has created a situation where he will be forced to remain in office. Expect an African version of the Putin / Medvedev tandemocracy . There is very little available in the way of attractive retirement options available for autocratic dictators after they lose power. Ask Gaddafi."

Friday, April 4, 2014

Rwanda / NZ: " To this orphan of heartbreak, disillusioned and scarred A refugee, refugee. "

Stuff reports 


Returning to Rwanda 'too dangerous'

TWENTY YEARS: Joseph Kimenyi had hoped to take his children to Rwanda by now, but ongoing tensions in the area make it impossible.
The last drive Palmerston North man Joseph Kimenyi made to Kilgali International Airport lives on behind his eyelids.
Thousands of mutilated corpses didn't just line the familiar road, they covered it. Many were bloated.
"There was no way to pass them by. We just had to close our eyes and drive over them," Kimenyi said.
It is reminiscent of the portrayal of Paul Rusesabagina journey across Kigali in the film Hotel Rwanda, the realisation that they are driving over bodies is mind numbing.


On Sunday it will be 20 years since the worst mass-murder event of modern times was triggered in Rwanda - a three-month massacre that left 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus dead.
It was a lesson for the world and unfortunately one that we failed to learn from if one was to look at the current situation in the Central African Republic. Our failure to act against the Rwandan regime 20 years ago is one of the direct causes of the Congo wars that have killed a further 6 million people. Only now is the world catching up with the remnants of the genocidal  regime and the civilian Hutu militia known as the Interahamwe, the FDLR will be defeated soon by the Congolese Army ( FARDC ), MONUSCO, and the Intervention ( Africa ) Brigade.

It forced Kimenyi, a Hutu himself and son of Rwanda's first president Dominique Mbonyumutwa, to repatriate to Kenya and then New Zealand with his family two years later.
The night the genocide began, Kimenyi, managing a fleet of 400 cars for the United Nations in Kigali, dropped a cohort of Bangladeshis off at Kigali Airport and drove back to the UN compound to finish his shift.
"Gunshots started to be fired and I was waiting for them to stop so I could go home but it just got worse and worse," Kimenyi said.  
It is a familiar story, one that you will hear repeated throughout both Rwanda and the DR Congo. It is an interesting historical footnote that whilst the UN Security Council dithered New Zealand was in the presidency and attempted to prevent it only to be frustrated by the permanent members of the council. Former NZ Deputy Prime Minister Jim McLay recounts:

" As the death count grew, our Ambassador, Colin Keating, pressed hard for the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda to be strengthened, and for the Council to declare this atrocity as genocide.

As the Council’s President in April 1994, we even had to threaten to hold a public debate to shame certain countries for their refusal to acknowledge what was happening.

In the end, mainly because of the unwillingness of some of the Council’s permanent members, those efforts were unsuccessful and 800,000 innocent people were butchered – many with jungle knives."

New Zealand is in the running for a non permanent seat on the UN Security Council later this year. I hope the world remembers the efforts of a small South Pacific nation to help Rwanda, destined to failure though they were.


Kimenyi could not go home. He was holed up in the sandbagged five-storey compound eating biscuit rations until May 18, more than a month after fighting began, when he was transported by the UN to the airport and then Kenya.
Twenty years on Kimenyi, now 58, wishes he and his adult-age children could go back to his former country. See the mountains, walk the streets, reprogramme the memories.
That is not possible under the current Tutsi-led government, which he says is still marginalising the Hutu population and silencing those abroad who speak up about it.
Paul Kagame's regime is little better ( if at all ), than that of the genocidaires who he displaced. One only needs to look at his treatment of Victoire Ingabire to realise the levels of domestic oppression he continues to inflict on the Rwandan Hutu population. The actions of his government and other African regimes in the Great Lakes Region surrounding the eastern DR Congo have exceeded even the colonial atrocities of the west. That the west has only just started to act to restrain Kagame is in itself an indictment upon us.    
"I had hoped that those who took over power would have learned from the mistakes of other governments. I had thought it would be five, maybe 10 years, but now 20 has gone by and still there's problems."
They haven't and all that can be said for that failure to learn, is that a repeat of the 1994 insanity is far more likely because of that. I blogged this stupidity from Rwanda's UN Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana back in January.

" Meanwhile, 20 years after the Genocide, the UN for the first time yesterday used the phrase “genocide against the Tutsi” in reference to the 1994 killings that claimed the lives of one million people, instead of the “Rwandan genocide”.

That is a mistake. Many Hutu also died because they would not participate in the genocide. Their sacrifice should never be forgotten. Racism should be fought wherever it happens, the perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide like the Nazi's will face justice. The world owes the murdered nothing less, both Tutsi and Hutu. 

The label “Rwandan genocide” is mainly associated with groups and individuals who attempt to distort the history of the Genocide, including those who deny that Tutsis were the principal targets during the 100-day killing spree.

Bullshit. Again a lie covered with a truth. No one denies that Tutsi were the principal target I just refuse to see people in terms of racial identity. Will New Times next be asking for ethnicity to be included on identification documents ? That is the road of ethnic separation that idiotic statements such as " groups and individuals who attempt to distort the history of the 
Genocide"  will take Rwanda down, a road it should never travel again."

Gasana is a fool in a nation that is governed by fools. Tomorrow should not be about Tutsi or Hutu, it should be a day for the world to reflect on our failing of both the Tutsi and Hutu who were murdered by the Interahamwe thugs and for Rwanda it should be about reconciliation. I have little hope either will happen.  


The Manawatu Standard spoke to Kimenyi in 2010 after a BBC correspondent contacted him to tell him his father's body had been dug up.
After his death in 1986, Mbonyumutwa was buried at Democracy Stadium in Gitarama - the place where Rwanda's Hutu leaders announced the Tutsi monarchy would be abolished.
The exact location of Mbonyumutwa body's is unknown but he is understood to have been moved to a public cemetery. Kimenyi said that was just one example of the government's attempt to rewrite history to exclude the suffering of Hutu during the genocide.
Paul Kagame and his merry men thugs will ultimately fail. As Jason Stearns at Congo Siasa reminds us, " Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi."


"There's still no acknowledgement of the Hutu that have put their lives at risk to protect Tutsi.
Remember Victoire Ingabire who now is rotting in a Rwandan gaol for trumped up charges that there is absolutely no evidence of her committing, her principle crime was opposing Kagame and being a Hutu. 
" Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza  arrived in Rwanda on the 16th of January 2010, From the airport she went straight to the memorial of the genocide to pay respect to Tutsi victims of genocide. She made a speech in which she called for justice to bring to book those who committed genocide against Tutsi and those who committed other crimes including war crimes and crimes against without fear or favour, irrespective of ethnic or political affiliation. She considered equitable justice as a solid foundation for national reconciliation and durable peace and development. After this speech she was accused of having and spreading  Genocidal ideology, negationism and divisionism." 
"It is heartbreaking for me - there can't be reconciliation if the government continues to change our history.
"I feel I have to make a choice. Do I let myself be silenced or do I speak and face the consequences?"
It is a real fear the Kagame regime has undoubtedly informants within the Rwandan diaspora, New Zealand might well be too much of a stretch for Kagame but Joseph Kimenyi would be at risk anywhere in Africa and one of the consequences he now faces is that his country of birth is now for the foreseeable future out of his grasp.


Kimenyi said his criticism of the government was far easier for him to do in New Zealand than if he were in Rwanda but he could never be certain of his safety.
Again that is true Kagame would be insane to attempt anything in New Zealand and if he did his agents would almost certainly be caught but it is not unreasonable to question Kagame's sanity.


"That's why I'll probably never get back to Rwanda. I do wish to go back some day. The weather is beautiful."
Rwanda's loss is our gain.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Uganda: " Hounds freeze in silence bewitched by the reptile spell "

The NZ Herald reports

Giant, man-eating crocodile caught in Uganda

                                       A giant crocodile caught by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Photo / AFP


A giant, one-tonne crocodile has been caught by Ugandan villagers, after allegedly eating a man and maiming several others in a village.

A bit of competition for Museveni. Actually it is good to be blogging about a real crocodile rather than the human variety.

The reptile was captured by the Uganda Wildlife Authority after a four-day hunt along the shores of Lake Victoria, in Kakira village.

The crocodile, believed to be approximately 80-years-old, was trapped by officials using meat on a hook and transported out of the village on a truck while more than 100 residents watching.

I am glad they didn't adopt the Western Australia approach. A dog urinating on a lamppost isn't being anti social it is being a dog.  

"Residents appealed to UWA to hunt the crocodile following the death of a resident from Kakira town council in Jinja district," a UWA official told The New Vision Ugandan daily.

The reptile's presence proved problematic for local fisherman, who became too scared to approach the lake until it was caught.

I can't say that I blame them.
                         A giant crocodile caught by volunteers from Uganda Wildlife Authority. Photo / Donald Kiirya

The crocodile has since been transferred to the Murchison Falls National Park. At 1,000 kg, it weighs just 75 kg less than Lolong, the world's largest crocodile, who died last year.

I am guessing that Murchison Falls National Park well at least the water ways just got a new CEO.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

All Africa blogs and the progressive Americans who have not thought.

The All Africa blog platform is back, as a ( initially involuntary ) contributor to the site I am pleased to see it back. Think Progress is a contributing blog and today I couldn't help but spot this post.

"If You Support The Death Penalty, You Are Probably White"

                                                                                                Death Chamber

Well I am white and don't support the death penalty although there have been times and will be again I am sure that as a watcher of the DR Congo and neighbouring countries I have and will again want the death penalty used. A great friend of mine Ross Blanch has actually felt the need to tell me to pull my head in on this subject. He was of course correct, he usually is. 
A new Pew Research Study reveals that the percentage of Americans who support the death penalty declined from 62 percent in 2011 to 55 percent in 2013 — and that support for executions is driven largely by white people. According to the survey, 63 percent of America’s white population support capital punishment, whereas only 36 percent of black people and 40 percent of Hispanics do.
I suspect and I have no evidence to back this up, that these figures would alter massively in the other direction if the study was done globally rather than just in America. Western European states and the Anglo Saxon derived states such as New Zealand don't want capital punishment. The headline for this blog probably should read more along the lines of:  " If you are white and don't support capital punishment you probably are in the majority unless you live in the USA "
This racial disparity is unsurprising in light of the way death sentences are often dolled out in this country. Florida, for instance, has never executed a white person for killing a black person. Defendants are 97 percent more likely to receive the death penalty if the victim in question was white, and Alabama follows a similar trend: African Americans are six times more likely to be sentenced to die for murdering white people with college degrees than white people who kill blacks. All told, 32 of the 39 executions that occurred last year were cases in which a white person was victimized.
" African Americans are six times more likely to be sentenced to die for murdering white people with college degrees than white people who kill blacks."
I have no doubt that the USA is totally screwed. The domestic citizens of Lego Land never fail to astonish me and always for the wrong reasons. However could anyone explain to me the relevance of college degrees ?  
I am totally in favour of college degrees, I think every one should be allowed the opportunity to get them ... but that statistic has made me wonder,  perhaps in the interests of fairness we should stop white Americans being allowed to matriculate. 
OK I am taking the piss but the author of this blog is also doing so. lets face it, this could be read as an instruction to black people planning to kill white people to select their victim carefully and make sure they don't have a college degree. 
Batshit crazy ? Yup. 

DR Congo: " Just another empty gesture with an empty glass "

Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports ( Translated by a translation service and cleaned up by me. The author Chantal should be familiar to regular readers of this blog. I have resisted the temptation yo comment ).

Living near a large lake and dying of thirst
By Chantal Faida, Goma




March 22 was World Water Day. In Goma, DRC, there are voices demanding that special attention be paid to the problem of access to safe drinking water.

In an interview with a local radio Misona Gautier, president of the Civil Society in the city of Goma, suggests that the issue of water should be a popular topic: "Access to water is an inalienable right . The  people of the DRC should think about building public awareness through non-violent protests - peaceful marches, public statements, etc. -demanding the right to safe drinking water "

The ongoing water shortage 

More than a problem, the recurrent water shortages in the Congo in general and Goma in particular have become a disaster. To believe the 2013 annual report of UNICEF , 37 million Congolese do not have access to drinking water and the numbers are growing.

Improper water causes diseases

There is reason to wonder what use all that water 
serves us. With regard to the city of Goma, it is a paradox to live beside the majestic Lake Kivu and die of thirst.

In most residential areas of the town at the foot of the volcano, the taps are dry. The humanitarian consequences are unpleasant. The consumption of unsafe water (untreated water lake) is the cause of waterborne diseases. Fetching water early in the morning or late at night is dangerous, travelling very long distances on foot, with all the risks that may incur, such as kidnapping, rape and even murder.

The State is always absent when needed

"Our teams are hard at work to address this glaring lack of water in Goma, just a little patience," this is the standard excuse from the local authorities when we the problem of water shortages is mentioned.

There is no master plan for water, no water code, no reconstruction of damaged infrastructure for water, no development of a public water supply, in short, there is no way to deal with this issue that affects all of the local population.

Youth engagement

Meanwhile, some young people involved in the fight for positive change in Congo, Lucha - are planning to hold a day of demonstrations shortly, outside government offices to demand that the water flows back into the taps.

Welcome Matumo, a Lucha  activist advocates this action: "It is not a favor we will ask them, but it's a demand to restore our rights. Water is life. We have the right to life. For a long time people have had only half measures, we want sustainable solutions. "

Chantal's Blog is here   

Friday, March 28, 2014

DR Congo / Uganda - " Three boats down from the candy, much to much to lose "

The BBC reports

Uganda Lake Albert boat disaster 'killed 251 refugees'


                                    Ugandan police divers helped in the search for survivors, and bodies

More than 250 people died in last Saturday's boat capsize on Lake Albert between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, a minister has said.
This is a sharp increase on the initial death toll, partly a result of the vessel carrying many more passengers than the official capacity of 80.
The boat was taking Congolese refugees in Uganda back to their home country.
These were refugees from the Kyangwali refugee  camp. These deaths can be attributed to crap boats, crap regulation and crap oversight by both the UN, DR Congo and Uganda but lets not forget that these people were refugees due to the Ugandan ADF rebels.  
Boat accidents are common in both countries because of poor safety standards and overloading.

That is no reason to accept the deaths. Clearly there has been a failure by both Uganda and the DR Congo authorities as well as by MONUSCO who have run Facebook puff pieces on how they have a maritime patrol division.   

Some Questions,
- Was the boat fit for purpose ? ie. Could it operate on Lake Albert safely under all the conditions it was foreseeable it would face.
- Was the boat in a seaworthy condition and was it operating under a safe ship management plan? An 80 passenger limit would suggest it was.
- What was the history of the boat ? In the Pacific Islands we have similar tragedies usually the vessels in question have reached the end of their economic life in either NZ or Australia and are dumped on the Pacific Islands where they sink and kill.
Congolese authorities have declared three days of national mourning for the victims of last Saturday's disaster - among whom were many children.
On Tuesday they made up more than half of the then death toll of 107. About 300 people are now thought to have been aboard.

A boat that is surveyed for 80 passengers will under the best circumstances have life boat, life jackets etc. for 80 people I very much doubt that this was the case but even if it was with 300 people on board this was a foreseeable disaster and official heads should role.
"It is with deep sorrow that we confirm to the nation the death of 251 of our compatriots who had boarded the boat from the Ugandan side of Lake Albert," said Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende Omalanga, adding that "we have managed to have something like 50 people who have escaped."

Don't expect many women and children to be among those who survived.
Congolese authorities are helping to support survivors, while arranging funerals for the dead, he said.
Saturday's disaster happened just days after DR Congo launched a campaign to enforce the wearing of life jackets on all boats on its many waterways.

It is common for boats in both countries to have too few, if any, life jackets on board.

I am not saying that compulsory wearing of life jackets is a bad idea but it is a second class solution. What is needed is quite probably a new class of vessel designed for the Great Lakes region. The craft should be simple and the fittings should float you don't need GPS, flash electronics ... etc. Seaworthy simple modern ferries that are fit for purpose would fit the bill. 
The actual  " bill " for the boats should be a priority aid project given the reliance on maritime transport of the region but why not do it smart. Get a good design and licence it to local manufactures with a naval architect overseeing the builds, make the financing through a suspensory loan arrangement  with real incentives to operators running vessels that are maintained well and operate within survey limits. By incentives I mean up to at least an 80% right off of the loan. Carrots are more effective than sticks.
'Deeply shocked'
On Monday, the UN high commissioner for refugees Antonio Guterres said he was deeply shocked by the disaster.

Yes... you were responsible Mr Guterres for those people and you failed. Your job was to get them home safely. I hope you have offered your resignation because your cavalier attitude to the repatriation of these people is yet another cause of this disaster. 
"My thoughts are with those who have lost dear ones, and the survivors,"he said in a statement.
"I am grateful to the government and other actors who have mounted a rescue-and-recovery operation and are assisting the survivors.''
The boat was one of two which left on Saturday from Uganda's Hoima district on the eastern side of the lake, which lies on the border with DR Congo.
The boats were carrying refugees who had been living at a camp in Uganda, and had decided to return to eastern DR Congo of their own accord, the UNHCR said.

The UNHCR had a responsibility to get them home. This was a UN failure let's not fail the people of the Eastern DR Congo again.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Australia: "...to pay the rent, to give it back, it belongs to them. "

The Guardian reports


Another stolen generation: how Australia still wrecks Aboriginal families
The mass removal of Indigenous children from their parents continues unabated – where is the outrage?

Most Aboriginal families live on the edge. Their life expectancy in towns a short flight from Sydney is as low as 37. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

The tape is searing. There is the voice of an infant screaming as he is wrenched from his mother, who pleads, "There is nothing wrong with my baby. Why are you doing this to us? I would've been hung years ago, wouldn't I? Because [as an Aboriginal Australian] you're guilty before you're found innocent." The child's grandmother demands to know why "the stealing of our kids is happening all over again". A welfare official says, "I'm gunna take him, mate."
This is beyond astonishing. It would seem Australia has learnt nothing from its past, I have no problem with kids being removed from inherently dangerous situations. Not removing them in New Zealand has lead to far to many of our kids dying.  The key point is that every attempt is made to place children the state has had to seize with other family members in a safe environment. 
This happened to an Aboriginal family in outback New South Wales. It is happening across Australia in a scandalous and largely unrecognised abuse of human rights that evokes the infamous stolen generation of the last century. Up to the 1970s, thousands of mixed-race children were stolen from their mothers by welfare officials. The children were given to institutions as cheap or slave labour; many were abused.
That it happened is terrible, that it is still happening is beyond belief. In a study released today by Monash University Melbourne a finding was made that should scare the crap out of Australians.
" The migrants were asked whether they would describe Australians as caring, friendly and hospitable people; just 1 per cent of Kiwis did so, compared with 7 per cent of immigrants from the United States and Canada."

The Kiwi figure is not that much of a surprise, we know the Australians better than anyone else what is a real worry is that it would seem that Australia is falling behind both Canada and the USA. But of course America and Canada have like New Zealand at least made an effort to compensate indigenous citizens for the appalling damage inflicted on them through colonisation. Australia has done nothing, in fact it is doing worse than nothing. Nothing would be a blessing.

Described by a chief protector of Aborigines as "breeding out the colour", the policy was known as assimilation. It was influenced by the same eugenics movement that inspired the Nazis. In 1997 a landmark report, Bringing Them Home, disclosed that as many 50,000 children and their mothers had endured "the humiliation, the degradation and sheer brutality of the act of forced separation ... the product of the deliberate, calculated policies of the state". The report called this genocide.
It is genocide.
Assimilation remains Australian government policy in all but name. Euphemisms such as "reconciliation" and "Stronger Futures" cover similar social engineering and an enduring, insidious racism in the political elite, the bureaucracy and wider Australian society. When in 2008 prime minister Kevin Rudd apologised for the stolen generation, he added: "I want to be blunt about this. There will be no compensation." The Sydney Morning Herald congratulated Rudd on a "shrewd manoeuvre" that "cleared away a piece of political wreckage in a way that responds to some of its own supporters' emotional needs, yet changes nothing".

" There will be no compensation...."  We may not have it exactly right in New Zealand but at least we have made an effort.

" Treaty of Waitangi claims and settlements have been a significant feature of New Zealand race relations and politics since 1975. Over the last 30 years, New Zealand governments have increasingly provided formal legal and political opportunity for Māori to seek redress for breaches by the Crown of the guarantees set out in the Treaty of Waitangi. While it has resulted in putting to rest a number of significant longstanding grievances, the process has been subject to criticisms from a number of angles, from those who believe that the redress is insufficient to compensate for Māori losses, to those who see no value in revisiting painful and contentious historical issues. The settlements are typically seen as part of a broaderMāori Renaissance."
Today, the theft of Aboriginal children – including babies taken from the birth table – is now more widespread than at any time during the last century. As of June last year, almost 14,000 Aboriginal children had been "removed". This is five times the number when Bringing Them Home was written. More than a third of all removed children are Aboriginal – from 3% of the population. At the present rate, this mass removal of Aboriginal children will result in a stolen generation of more than 3,300 children in the Northern Territory alone.
I guess it easier to keep people in poverty and despair than to take ownership of the past in a real way with an apology Rudd that is genuine and a plan to right the wrongs, easier still to keep on inflicting a very Australian genocide that you hope the world will not notice.  
Pat (not her real name) is the mother whose anguish was secretly recorded on a phone as four department of child services officials, and six police, descended on her home. On the tape an official claims they have come only for an "assessment". But two of the police officers, who knew Pat, told her they saw no risk to her child and warned her to "get out of here quick". Pat fled, cradling her infant, but the one-year-old was eventually seized without her knowing why. The next morning a police officer returned to apologise to her and said her baby should never have been taken away. Pat has no idea where her son is.

So the police knew she was a good mother two officers told her to bugger off quick. What is wrong with this picture, Australian police have guns, I am not a fan of giving cops guns, not least because they never seem to know when to use them. Those cops should have drawn their weapons and defended " Pat " a few dead Child Service Officials who are clearly not fit for the job would have been a small price for the Australian community to pay.  
Once she was "invited" by officials to bring her children to "neutral" offices to discuss a "care plan". The doors were locked and officials seized the children, with one of the youngest dragging on a police officer's gun belt. Many Indigenous mothers are unaware of their legal rights. A secretive children's court has become notorious for rubber-stamping removals.

You steal a country, you then commit acts of genocide on the indigenous population 200 years later. Fuck you Australia.
Most Aboriginal families live on the edge. Their life expectancy in towns a short flight from Sydney is as low as 37. Dickensian diseases are rife; Australia is the only developed country not to have eradicated trachoma, which blinds Aboriginal children.

Australia is of course known as the " Lucky Country " I guess you have to be White.
Pat has both complied with and struggled bravely against a punitive bureaucracy that can remove children on hearsay. She has twice been acquitted of false charges, including "kidnapping" her own children. A psychologist has described her as a capable and good mother.
Josie Crawshaw, the former director of a respected families' support organisation in Darwin, told me: "In remote areas, officials will go in with a plane in the early hours and fly the child thousands of kilometres from their community. There'll be no explanation, no support, and the child may be gone forever."

Think about that. It would result in a substantial gaol term in most nations.
In 2012 the co-ordinator general of remote services for the Northern Territory, Olga Havnen, was sacked when she revealed that almost A$80m (£44m) was spent on the surveillance and removal of Aboriginal children compared with only A$500,000 (£275,000) on supporting the same impoverished families. She told me: "The primary reasons for removing children are welfare issues directly related to poverty and inequality. The impact is just horrendous because if they are not reunited within six months, it's likely they won't see each other again. If South Africa was doing this, there'd be an international outcry."

Exactly. But it is our mates the Aussies....fuck you Australia I am ashamed of you, the ANZAC code only goes so far and you have broken it.
She and others with long experience I have interviewed have echoed the Bringing them Home report, which described an official "attitude" in Australia that regarded all Aboriginal people as "morally deficient". A department of family and community services spokesman said that most removed Indigenous children in New South Wales were placed with Indigenous carers. According to Indigenous support networks, this is a smokescreen; it does not mean families, and it is control by divisiveness that is the bureaucracy's real achievement.
I met a group of Aboriginal grandmothers, all survivors of the first stolen generation, all now with stolen grandchildren. "We live in a state of fear, again," they said. David Shoebridge, a state Greens MP, told me: "The truth is, there is a market among whites for these kids, especially babies."

It is time to sanction Australian politicians and senior officials. 
The New South Wales parliament is soon to debate legislation that introduces forced adoption and "guardianship". Children under two years old will be liable – without the mother's consent – if "removed" for more than six months. For many Aboriginal mothers like Pat, it can take six months merely to make contact with their children. "It's setting up Aboriginal families to fail," said Shoebridge.

Not at all Australia sets families up to succeed if they are white it is setting up Aboriginal families to fail. That is genocide.
I asked Josie Crawshaw why. "The wilful ignorance in Australia about its first people has now become the kind of intolerance that gets to the point where you can smash an entire group of humanity and there is no fuss."

Why indeed.