A UN report made last year by the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo and submitted to the UN Security Council misleads the world on the security situation in eastern Congo and the UN's Secretary General needs to act quickly to avert the threat of instability in the entire Great Lakes region, a group of 20 scholars has said.
'UN experts have economic interests in the Congo and the problem is not M23 only, they should look into this.'
In a lengthy letter sent to Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, on Tuesday and published on a wordpress.com internet page, the scholars argue that the UN experts' report on Congo dumped the truth about the real threat posed by several rebel militia groups active in Congo by only highlighting M23 rebel group.
The report's mention of the Rwandan government as a supporter of M23 and showing Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese as the real security threat instead of emphasising how Rwanda itself and those Congolese have been fighting against rebels' plans to extinguish an entire Tutsi ethnic group is a recipe for more violence, the researchers noted.
"M23 emerged in Congo after MONUSCO (UN mission in DRC) and armed groups were already there. This means that M23 is less the cause and more simply a consequence of a multifaceted regional crisis," the scholars wrote in the 'open letter' to Ban Ki-moon.
"Indeed, if the Congo--a country as vast as Western Europe and with seemingly endless natural resources -- is today with neither an army nor a functional government, that is not the fault of Rwanda, a nation still deeply traumatised by one of the worst genocides of the twentieth century, and still facing the major threat posed by genocidaires determined to "finish the work" they began in April 1994."
The letter was signed by writers, artists, researchers and university professors, who say they have been following the developments of the security situation in Eastern Congo and feel the urge to tell the truth.
"UN experts have economic interests in the Congo and the problem is not M23 only, they should look into this. We want them to base their decisions on facts," said one of the scholars, Rwandan researcher Aloys Mahwa, who works at the Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center in Kigali.
Mahwa told The New Times in an interview that he was among the people who drafted the letter and then sent it to prominent researchers on Congo who live in different countries in the world for approval and signatures.
He said he was appalled when the UN endorsed the controversial Group of Experts' report and countries in the West based on it to withdraw development aid to the government.
"Decisions that affect as many people shouldn't be based on a few peoples' opinions," Mahwa said.
In their report, the UN's Group of Experts acknowledge that the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo remains plagued by dozens of foreign and national armed groups and acknowledge that instability has increased since M23 rebels, which is partly made up of former members of the Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP), mutinied.
Rwanda has vehemently denied links to the M23 rebels, publishing a response with ten key factual elements that it disproves in the experts' report.
The scholars said insecurity in eastern Congo can be traced from a historical background of brutal colonisation by the West, successive dictatorial regimes, and the appetite of industrialised countries for the country's natural resources.
To help the people of eastern Congo gain their security, the scholars have urged Ban Ki-Moon to quickly initiate measures that would holistically tackle all the eleven rebel groups fighting in eastern Congo as well as end genocidal ideologies that sustain a destructive environment in the area.
"It is time that these people-victims of ruthless colonial exploitation, of Western, Chinese and South African companies, as well as of disastrous and dictatorial regimes from the independence of the Congo until today-are able to benefit from the rights of citizens that can only be guaranteed by a state worthy of its name," the scholars said.
According to a report by NGO Oxfam International, more than 760,000 people have been displaced in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since the beginning of 2012 in the Kivu provinces alone. The report published in November 2012 said that "areas that were relatively stable are again under attack as the Congolese army fights M23 rebels and new local armed groups spring up.
> Boubacar Boris Diop, Senegal, Novelist, political essayist and teacher, Université Gaston Berger, Saint-Louis- Senegal
> Godefroid KÃ¤ Mana, RDCongo, Philosopher, Political Analyst and Theologian, Professor, Université évangélique du Cameroun, Institut catholique de Goma-RDCongo
> Jean-Pierre Karegeye, Rwanda, Director, Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center, Assistant Professor, Macalester College, Minnesota-USA
> Margee Ensign, USA, President, American University of Nigeria
> Koulsy Lamko, Chad, Novelist and playwright, Director of la Casa Hankili Africa, Centro Historico in Mexico
> Wandia Njoya, Kenya, Assistant Professor, Daystar University, Nairobi-Kenya
> Aminata Dramane Traoré, Mali, Writer, Sociologist, former minister of Culture
Susan Allen, USA, Professor, Emory University, Atlanta
> Jean-Claude Djereke, Côte d'Ivoire, Centre de Recherches Pluridisciplinaires sur les Communautés d'Afrique Noire et des Diasporas, Ottawa, Canada
> Jean-François Dupaquier, France, Writer, Journalist
> Erik Ehn, USA, Director, Writing for Performance, Brown University
> Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, France, Chairperson, Frantz Fanon Foundation
> Gerise Herndon, USA, Professor, Director of Gender Studies, Nebraska Wesleyan University
> Timothy Horner, USA, Associate Professor, Center for Peace and Justice Education, Villanova University
> Jean-Baptiste Kakoma, RDCongo, Physician, Professor, Director of the School of Public Health, National University of Rwanda
> Aloys Mahwa, Rwanda, Researcher, Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center, Kigali-Rwanda
> Yolande Mukagasana, Rwanda, Writer, Genocide survivor, 2002 Peace Golden Dove Award, 2003 UNESCO Prize for Peace Education.
> Timothée Ngakoutou, Chad-France, Professor, former Rector of the University of Chad, former Head of the Regional Office of Unesco in Africa, in Dakar, Former Head of the Democracy and Governance section at UNESCO in Paris.
> Moukoko Priso, Cameroon, Professor, Université évangélique du Cameroon
François Wokouache, Cameroon, Filmmaker, Director of KEMIT.
List of rebel groups in S. Kivu, N. Kivu,
> ADF: Alliance des Forces Démocratiques;
> APCLS: Alliance des Patriotes pour un Congo Libre et Souverain;
> FRPI: Force des Résistances Patriotiques en Ituri;
> FDLR: Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda;
> LRA: Lord's Resistance Army.
> M23: March 23 Movement;
> Nyatura: an extremist Hutu outfit.
> Sheka: a Nyange rebellion;
> Mayi-Mayi Yakutumba: a Bembe rebellion against Banyamulenge Community;
> Raïa Mutomboki: a Rega and Tembo rebellion against FDLR;
> UPCP: Union des Patriotes Congolais pour la Paix.