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Interfaith delegation from Congo in U.S.

DRC panel

The Rev. Liberato Bautista (standing left), head of the General Board of Church & Society’s U.N. & International Affairs office, and the Rev. Mande Muyombo, executive secretary for Africa in the General Board of Global Ministries Mission Relations, moderate a panel on “Raging War, Waging Peace — Achieving Justice in the DRC,” at the Church Center for the United Nations last week. Panelists (from left) are Harriett Olson, chief executive of United Methodist Women; United Methodist Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda; Kayon Watson of the Mennonite Central Committee, U.N. office; Imam Cheikh Abdallah Mangala Luaba, chief of Islamic Community, DRC; Malamba Kifungo Chantal, secretary general of DRC Women’s Caucus; and Lou Pingeot of Global Policy Forum. (Photo by Doug Hostetter/MCC UN Office)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A delegation from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is in the United States seeking help to end human rights violations associated with two decades of invasions by Rwanda.

Delegation … [seeks] help to end human rights violations.

United Methodist Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda of the North Katanga Area is a member of the 30-person delegation consisting of religious and civil society organizations. The bishop is also a member of the DRC Senate.

The delegation, sponsored by DRC Advocacy, is presented a petition for peace, dialogue and reconciliation to the United Nations Security Council last week and is making calls on members of Congress and at the White House this week.

‘Massive violations of human rights’

The petition states that “massive violations of human rights” have been recorded, hundreds of thousands of women raped, and more than 6 million Congolese have been killed during the two decades of assaults from Rwanda. “These same crimes continue to be committed following the current invasion that has been confirmed by the report of the Panel of Experts of the United Nations,” the petition emphasizes.

The petition charges Rwanda with war crimes, interfering with the internal affairs of the DRC and calls for persecution of perpetrators of human rights atrocities.

The delegation pointed out that such charges are also contained in recent reports by the Human Rights Watch and by a still-to-be released United Nations experts’ report already submitted to the U.N. Security Council.

‘Raging War, Waging Peace’

While in New York, Bishop Ntambo was a featured presenter in a public forum, “Raging War, Waging Peace — Achieving Justice in the DRC,” at the Church Center for the United Nations on Friday.

The Rev. Liberato Bautista, assistant general secretary of the General Board of Church & Society’s U.N. & International Affairs ministry, moderated the forum. Harriett Olson, chief executive of United Methodist Women, participated as a respondent.

It has caused so many lives and limbs lost, and so much resources gone to violence and destruction.

In his introduction to the forum, Bautista emphasized the need to address both the contingent and intractable character of the conflict in the DRC. “It has caused so many lives and limbs lost, and so much resources gone to violence and destruction,” he said.

Bautista called on those gathered “to imagine, even in the thick of the conflict, of a just, durable, and sustainable peace in the DRC and its neighbors.”

What is hopeful, Bautista said, is that this delegation from the DRC has come to the United Nations invoking international norms and mechanisms available to all parties. “The settlement of the conflict, including that with Rwanda, must find solution in commonly agreed mechanisms, including human rights and humanitarian laws, so that further violence and destruction are halted, and the consolidation of peace can begin,” he said.

Church Center for the U.N.

Bautista and DRC delegates

The Rev. Liberato Bautista (third from left), assistant general secretary of the General Board of Church & Society’s U.N. & International Affairs work area, is shown outside his office in the Chruch Center for the United Nations with (from left) United Methodist Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda of the North Katanga Area; Mme. Malamba Kifungo Chantal, secretary general of DRC Women’s Caucus; and Mme. Zanao Selemeni Emma of the Women’s Initiative for Peace, Great Lakes Region, DRC.

The Church Center, across the street from the United Nations, houses GBCS’s U.N. office and is owned by United Methodist Women.

Other members of the delegation who participated as presenters at the forum were Imam Cheikh Abdallah Mangala Luaba, chief of Islamic Community, DRC; Malamba Kifungo Chantal, secretary general of DRC Women’s Caucus; and Zanao Selemeni Emma of the Women’s Initiative for Peace, Great Lakes Region, DRC.

Other respondents were Lou Pingeot of Global Policy Forum and Kayon Watson of the Mennonite Central Committee, U.N. office.

The Rev. Mande Muyombo, executive secretary for Africa at the General Board of Global Ministries Mission Relations, also served as a moderator and interpreter.

The forum was sponsored by the General Board of Church & Society (GBCS), United Methodist Women, Global Policy Forum, Mennonite Central Committee – U.N. Office, Presbyterian Ministry at the U.N. and The Episcopal Church.

In New York, the DRC delegation was received by Hervé Ladsous , U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, on behalf of U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon. The delegates also met with government diplomats of the United States, Ghana, Germany and Guatemala at their Permanent Missions at the United Nations.

In Washington, D.C., Mark Harrison, director of GBCS’s Peace with Justice work area, assissted the delegation in arranging meetings on Capitol Hill with members of Congress. A meeting at the State Dept. occurred Monday. The delegation also hopes to deliver its petition to the White House.

The petition says Rwanda’s “unjust and unjustifiable invasion” undermines the efforts of reconciliation and reconstruction of the Congolese nation. “It is accompanied by unprecedented crimes and systematic looting of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

The petition follows:

Petition Demanding Suppression of Crimes
by Rwanda in Democratic Republic of Congo

For two decades, the Congolese people are assaulted by successive invasions from Rwanda. As a result, with each time, killings and destruction of families are deplored. Additionally, these invasions have pitted communities against each other and put the future of the entire nation in peril.

Massive violations of human rights have been recorded; hundreds of thousands of women raped and more than 6,000,000 (six million) Congolese have been killed leaving behind thousands of widows and orphans. These same crimes continue to be committed following the current invasion that has been confirmed by the report of the Panel of Experts of the United Nations (#S/2012/348) and its addendum which provides information stated as follows:

  • Rwanda has created from scratch the M23 Movement;
  • Rwanda provides weapons, facilitates and provides logistics to the M23 from its territory;
  • Rwanda recruits young children and refugees and recycles ex-combatants of the FDLR on behalf of the M23;
  • Rwanda interferes in the internal affairs of the Democratic Rep. of Congo by recruiting some Congolese politicians on behalf of M23;
  • The Rwandan Army (RDF) intervenes directly in Congolese territory to strengthen the M23;
  • Rwanda provides material and financial support to other armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo;
  • Rwanda collaborates with the FDLR;
  • Rwanda violates the sanctions of the United Nations on weapons and persons in the Great Lakes region;
  • Rwanda has become a haven for war criminals wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This unjust and unjustifiable invasion undermines the efforts of reconciliation and reconstruction of the Congolese Nation. It is accompanied by unprecedented crimes and systematic looting of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In the light of the flagrancy of the violation of the territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, WE, the Congolese people demand:

  1. The mobilization of the MONUSCO Forces in support of the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) to stop once and for all the invasion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the systematic looting of its natural wealth and the massive rape of Congolese women;
  2. The arrest and prosecution of all war criminals specifically cited in the various reports of the United Nations;
  3. The arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of all war crimes committed in Democratic Republic of Congo and all other criminals circulating between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the neighboring countries;
  4. The rejection of candidature of Rwanda to the post of non-permanent member of the Security Council of the Organization of the United Nations for recurrent violations of the Charter of the United Nations;
  5. The application without delay of all the United Nations Decisions in favor of peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In view of the above, we are opposed to all forms of negotiations with the eternal criminals as well as any attempt of the Balkanization of the national territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Letter to the Editor