Kambale Musavuli on the "Forgotten
War" in the Congo
interviewed by Amy Goodman
The latest round of fighting in the Congo
has seen a dramatic rise in the number of rapes, and some 200,000
people have been displaced since August, according to the World
Food Program. That's in addition to the nearly 1.5 million people
already displaced since 2007. Bringing attention to the dire situation
in the Congo and the role of Western corporations in fueling the
conflict was the focus of Congo Week, an awareness-raising week
of events on campuses across the country that concluded Friday.
Kambale Musavuli, Congolese engineering
student at North Carolina A&T University. He helped coordinate
Congo Week with the group Friends of the Congo.
JUAN GONZALEZ: The so-called "forgotten
war," the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is
threatening to explode once again, away from the glare of any
international media attention. On Sunday, rebel commanders led
by Laurent Nkunda seized an army base and the headquarters of
Congo's famous Virunga National Park.
The fighting between Nkunda's forces and
the Congolese army has increased since August, in part over the
government's alleged alliance with Hutu militias from Rwanda.
Nkunda claims to be defending ethnic Tutsis in the area, and the
Rwandan government has accused the DRC of supporting militias
responsible for the 1994 genocide of Tutsis. Rwanda has invaded
the DRC three times in the past twelve years, twice sparking civil
The latest round of fighting has seen
a dramatic rise in the number of rapes, and some 200,000 people
have been displaced since August, according to the World Food
Program. That's in addition to the nearly 1.5 million people already
displaced from this part of the country since 2007.
AMY GOODMAN: Bringing attention to the
dire situation in the Congo and the role of Western corporations
in fueling the conflict was the focus of Congo Week, an awareness-raising
week of events last week across the country on campuses.
Kambale Musavuli is a Congolese engineering
student at North Carolina A&T University. He helped coordinate
Congo Week with the group Friends of the Congo, joining us now
from Washington, D.C.
What do you think is the most important
issue for people in this country to understand, as you come out
of Congo Week, a war that very few people in this country know
KAMBALE MUSAVULI: Yes, thank you for having
me on the show. The really main important things that people should
know that is the war in the Congo is directly connected to the
United States, as far as resource exploitation is concerned. What
we wanted to do, coming out of Congo Week and-is to show that
connection, as well as be able to provide enough information to
the world community and the US-based universities on how they
can help support the Congolese to regain the sovereignty on the
land, understanding that the conflict in the Congo is based on
resource exploitation, which we're seeing in the later years from
the invasion of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi in the eastern part
of the Congo.
JUAN GONZALEZ: When you say directly connected
to the United States, what firms are in the Congo, and what are
they doing to fuel the conflict?
KAMBALE MUSAVULI: There are numerous firms.
I will go with the Dan Rather report that just came out last month
about "All Mine." Freeport-McMoRan, out of Arizona,
Phoenix, Arizona, they are exploiting the copper out of the Congo.
Dan Rather did a wonderful job showing how Freeport-McMoRan is
doing so. Cabot Corporation out of Boston, Massachusetts, is another
company that was mentioned in the UN report of 2001 and 2003 on
the exploitation of coltan, and coltan being a resources that's
found in virtually every electronic device, such as cell phones,
laptop, DVD players.
And understanding that the root cause
of the conflict in the Congo is the scramble for Congo's mineral
resources is what actually is making us, the youth of the Congo,
to go out to the world and be able to connect with people a good
way, of letting them know that the strife is not more so of an
ethnic strife, but more so of the scramble for Congo's mineral
AMY GOODMAN: What about the issue of the
epidemic of rapes in Congo?
KAMBALE MUSAVULI: The rapes are a direct
result of the war. We're seeing it-the latest spasm that we're
seeing right now has been going on since '96. The rapes, the murders,
they all are being done as a way of mass displacement, if you
have to put it in the context. As one person is brutalized in
a community, the people in the neighborhood will be afraid, and
that will cause them to be displaced. As you mentioned, we have
about 1.5 million people internally displaced in the Congo. As
this strategy has been used in the eastern part, we're seeing
masses of people being displaced from the villages, from the cities,
simply because they live in a area rich of minerals. Now we're
seeing it very clearly, The Virunga Park was taken over yesterday,
simply because there are resources that Laurent Nkunda exploit
into the Virunga Park.
So, to end the rape, you must end the
conflict. And to end the conflict, you must stop the resource
exploitation of the Congo, thus creating a platforms for the Congolese
people to be sovereign and free. And a few prescriptions that
I may mention would be to put pressure on Rwanda, because we do
know that Rwanda is supporting proxy forces in the eastern part
of the Congo. And we can use such people who have Kagame's ear,
such as Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Cindy McCain, Rick Warren, to
put pressure on Kagame to make sure that not-we do not see another
nearly six million people dying in the eastern part of the Congo
simply because of a blessing of land. The people who are exploiting
those resources are cursed, as they continue to create the conflict
at the detriment of the Congolese people.
AMY GOODMAN: Kambale, we only have about
thirty seconds, but you also organized a cell phone protest yesterday.
KAMBALE MUSAVULI: Yes. What we have asked
people to do to show the connection with coltan is to turn off
their cell phone last week on Wednesday, October 22nd, and change
their voice mail, because we believe that people will call their
phones still, and explaining why their phone is off during that
day. Our aim, really, during the cell phone boycott, is to raise
awareness about what's happening in the Congo, and using the cell
phone as a messaging tool was very, very successful. We had students
in New Zealand, a high school in Avonside, that actually did that
perfectly, getting the whole high school to participate in that.
So, our aim into the cell out, as well as Congo Week, is basically
to end the conflict and provide support to the Congolese people
in their quest to regain sovereignty of their land.
AMY GOODMAN: Kambale Musavuli, I want
to thank you very much for being with us. The coltan used in cell
phones, from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He's an engineering
student at North Carolina A&T State University, helped coordinate