My friend Patrick Tshilenge made this impassioned plea at the Rally for Congo Peace last Saturday in Washington:
Brothers and sisters of the Congolese diaspora and to all of you who are friends of The Congo. For many years we have seen different administrations moving in and out of Washington with no significant change to the situation in the Congo. We have seen how parallel events of lesser magnitude like the Kosovo war seemed to draw more attention and intervention then the situation in The Congo. We have seen hearings, reports, commissions, resolutions and many negotiations with absolutely no results. Instead we often see perpetrator and belligerents who have been cited as direct actors in the turmoil welcomed with open arms at the White House.
As it is often said now days, IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE. The crimes that have been committed against the Congolese people are atrocious, the living conditions of the inhabitants of eastern Congo are deplorable and the humanitarian crisis is catastrophic. The numbers of casualties and other victims of this war are too big. They will be marked in history. Therefore we may ask ourselves these questions. what is the world awaiting to intervene? What more has to happen for this tragedy to be put to rest?
The 1.6 millions who have been displaced are not enough
The hundreds of thousands of rapes and other human rights violations are not enough
The 6 millions who lost their lives are not enough
How come the 400,000 casualties in Darfur get more attention then 6 millions who have died in The Congo?
How come the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe is highly reported by all the media while the same outbreak in Congolese refugee camps has gone unnoticed?
How come Charles Taylor was brought to justice for his criminal involvement in Sierra Leone and Paul Kagame is still off the hook?
How come Jean-Pierre Bemba is currently at The Hague for the atrocities he committed in The Central African Republic while Nkundabatware is walking free?
In 2007 our secretary of state-to-be Hillary Rodham Clinton sparked a controversy because she announced that she would support a resolution on the Armenian genocide which took place at the beginning of the 20th century. How come no one is asking for an investigation regarding the massacre in Kiwanja which took place in November 2008 after the elections?
President-Elect Obama, we are gathered here. We are asking, can we expect change regarding the US approach toward the Congo or will it be more of the same? In other words can we have HOPE?
Hope that the rapist, those who are forcing children to take weapons and fight, those who are fuelling this conflict for the illegal exploitation of minerals and all those who are involve either directly or by proxy in this conflict will be brought to justice.
Hope that this administration will do its best to end this horrendous tragedy.
Hope that life will be normal again in the East and every where else in The Congo. We have suffered enough seeing our daughters damaged beyond repair our mothers raped in front of us. Our cries have gone unheard for too long. Will you, Mr. President? Will you bring change now?
–My thanks to Patrick for sharing his words with us.