The CIA: Beyond Redemption and Should be Terminated

July 24, 2010

By Sherwood Ross

The Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) has confirmed the worst fears of its creator President Harry Truman that it might degenerate into “an American Gestapo.” It has  been just that for so long it is beyond redemption. It represents 60 years of failure and fascism utterly at odds with the spirit of a democracy and needs to be closed, permanently.

Over the years “the Agency” as it is known, has given U.S. presidents so much wrong information on so many critical issues, broken so many laws, subverted so many elections, overthrown so many governments, funded so many dictators, and killed and tortured so many innocent human beings that the pages of its official history could be written in blood, not ink. People the world over regard it as infamous, and that evaluation, sadly for the reputation of America, is largely accurate.  Besides, since President Obama has half a dozen other major intelligence agencies to rely on for guidance, why does he need the CIA? In one swoop he could lop an estimated 27,000 employees off the Federal payroll, save taxpayers umpteen billions, and wipe the CIA stain from the American flag.

If you think this is a “radical” idea, think again. What is “radical” is to empower a mob of covert operatives to roam the planet, wreaking havoc as they go with not a care for morality or, for that matter, the tenets of mercy implicit in any of the great faiths. The idea of not prosecuting CIA interrogators (i.e., torturers), as President Obama has said, is chilling. These crimes have to be stopped somewhere, sometime, or they will occur again.

“The CIA had run secret interrogation centers before—beginning in 1950, in Germany, Japan, and Panama,” writes New York Times reporter Tim Weiner in his book “Legacy of Ashes, The History of The CIA”(Random House). Weiner has won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the intelligence community. “It had participated in the torture of captured enemy combatants before—beginning in 1967, under the Phoenix program in Vietnam. It had kidnapped suspected terrorists and assassins before…”

In Iran in 1953, for example, a CIA-directed coup restored the Shah (king) to absolute power, initiating what journalist William Blum in “Rogue State” (Common Courage Press) called “a period of 25 years of repression and torture; while the oil industry was restored to foreign ownership, with the US and Britain each getting 40 percent.”  About the same time in Guatemala, Blum adds, a CIA-organized coup “overthrew the democratically-elected and progressive government of Jacobo Arbenz, initiating 40 years of military government death squads, torture, disappearances, mass executions, and unimaginable cruelty, totaling more than 200,000 victims—indisputably one of the most inhuman chapters of the 20th century.” The massive slaughter compares, at least in terms of sheer numbers, with Hitler’s massacre of Romanian and Ukranian Jews during the holocaust. Yet few Americans know of it.

Blum provides yet other examples of CIA criminality. In Indonesia, it attempted in 1957-58 to overthrow neutralist president Sukarno. It plotted Sukarno’s assassination, tried to blackmail him with a phony sex film, and joined forces with dissident military officers to wage a full-scale war against the government, including bombing runs by American pilots, Blum reported This particular attempt, like one in Costa Rica about the same time, failed. So did the CIA attempt in Iraq in 1960 to assassinate President Abdul Kassem. Other ventures proved more “successful”.

In Laos, the CIA was involved in coup attempts in 1958, 1959, and 1960, creating a clandestine army of 30,000 to overthrow the government. In Ecuador, the CIA ousted President Jose Velasco for recognizing the new Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The CIA also arranged the murder of elected Congo Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1961 and installation of Mobutu Seko who ruled “with a level of corruption and cruelty that shocked even his CIA handlers,” Blum recalls.

In Ghana, in 1966, the CIA sponsored a military coup against leader Kwame Nkrumah in 1966; in Chile, it financed the overthrow of elected President Salvador Allende in 1973 and brought to power the murderous regime of General Augusto Pinochet who executed 3,000 political opponents and tortured thousands more.  In Greece in 1967, the CIA helped subvert the elections and backed a military coup that killed 8,000 Greeks in its first month of operation. “Torture, inflicted in the most gruesome of ways, often with equipment supplied by the United States, became routine,” Blum writes.

In South Africa, the CIA gave the apartheid government information that led to the arrest of African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, who subsequently spent years in prison. In Bolivia, in 1964, the CIA overthrew President Victor Paz; in Australia from 1972-75, the CIA slipped millions of dollars to political opponents of the Labor Party; ditto, Brazil in 1962; in Laos in 1960, the CIA stuffed ballot boxes to help a strongman into power;  in Portugal in the Seventies the candidates it financed triumphed over a pro-labor government; in the Philippines, the CIA backed governments in the 1970-90 period that employed torture and summary execution against its own people; in El Salvador, the CIA in the Nineties backed the wealthy in a civil war in which 75,000 civilians were killed; and the list goes on and on.

Of course, the hatred that the CIA engenders for the American people and American business interests is enormous. Because the Agency operates largely in secret, most Americans are unaware of the crimes it perpetrates in their names. As Chalmers Johnson writes in “Blowback”(Henry Holt), former long-time CIA director Robert Gates, now Obama’s defense secretary, admitted U.S. intelligence services began to aid the mujahideen guerrillas in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet invasion in December, 1979.

As has often been the case, the CIA responded to a criminal order from one of the succession of imperial presidents that have occupied the White House, in this instance one dated July 3, 1979, from President Jimmy Carter. The Agency was ordered to aid the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul—aid that might sucker the Kremlin into invading. “The CIA supported Osama bin Laden, like so many other extreme fundamentalists among the mujahideen in Afghanistan, from at least 1984 on,” Johnson writes, helping bin Laden train many of the 35,000 Arab Afghans.

Thus Carter, like his successors in the George H.W. Bush government — Gates, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, and Colin Powell, “all bear some responsibility for the 1.8 million Afghan casualties, 2.6 million refugees, and 10 million unexploded land mines that followed from their decisions, as well as the ‘collateral damage’ that befell New York City in September 2001 from an organization they helped create during the years of anti-Soviet Afghan resistance,” Johnson added. Worse, the Bush-Cheney regime after 9/11 “set no limits on what the agency could do. It was the foundation for a system of secret prisons where CIA officer and contractors used techniques that included torture,” Weiner has written. By some estimates, the CIA in 2006 held 14,000 souls in 11 secret prisons, a vast crime against humanity.

That the CIA has zero interest in justice and engages in gratuitous cruelty may be seen from the indiscriminate dragnet arrests it has perpetrated: “CIA officers snatched and grabbed more than three thousand people in more than one hundred countries in the year after 9/11,” Weiner writes, adding that only 14 men of all those seized “were high-ranking authority figures within al Qaeda and its affiliates. Along with them, the agency jailed hundreds of nobodies…(who) became ghost prisoners in the war on terror.”

As for providing the White House with accurate intelligence, the record of the CIA has been a fiasco. The Agency was telling President Carter the Shah of Iran was beloved by his people and was firmly entrenched in power in 1979 when any reader of Harper’s magazine, available on newsstands for a buck, could read that his overthrow was imminent—and it was. Over the years, the Agency has been wrong far more often than it has been right.

According to an Associated Press report, when confirmed by the Senate as the new CIA director, Leon Panetta said the Obama administration would not prosecute CIA officers that “participated in harsh interrogations even if they constituted torture as long as they did not go beyond their instructions.” This will allow interrogators to evade prosecution for following the clearly criminal orders they would have been justified to disobey.

“Panetta also said that the Obama administration would continue to transfer foreign detainees to other countries for questioning but only if U.S. officials are confident that the prisoners will not be tortured,” the AP story continued. If past is prologue, how confident can Panetta be the CIA’s fellow goons in Egypt and Morocco will stop torturing prisoners? Why did the CIA kidnap men off the streets of Milan and New York and fly them to those countries in the first place if not for torture? They certainly weren’t treating them to a Mediterranean vacation. By its long and nearly perfect record of reckless disregard for international law, the CIA has deprived itself of the right to exist.

It will be worse than unfortunate if President Obama continues the inhumane (and illegal) CIA renditions that President Bill Clinton began and President Bush vastly expanded. If the White House thinks its operatives can roam the world and arrest and torture any person it chooses without a court order, without due process, and without answering for their crimes, this signifies Americans believe themselves to be a Master Race better than others and above international law. That’s not much different from the philosophy that motivated Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich. It would be the supreme irony if the American electorate that repudiated racism last November has voted into its highest office a constitutional lawyer who reaffirms his predecessor’s illegal views on this activity. Renditions must be stopped. The CIA must be abolished. Source

Drone Pilots Could Be Tried for ‘War Crimes’

The pilots waging America’s undeclared drone war in Pakistan could be liable to criminal prosecution for “war crimes,” a prominent law professor told a Congressional panel Wednesday.

It’s part of an ongoing legal debate about the CIA and U.S. military’s lethal drone operations, which have escalated in recent months…

NATO Smears a Truth-Teller in Afghanistan

When the CIA/US needed money or weapons shipped into a country they enlisted the help of Israel. Israel was the funnel tunnel used by the US.
Israel’s Latin American trail of terror

June 5 2003

By Jeremy Bigwood

“I learned an infinite amount of things in Israel, and to that country I owe part of my essence, my human and military achievements” said Colombian paramilitary leader and indicted drug trafficker Carlos Castao in his ghostwritten autobiography, Mi Confesin. Castao, who leads the Colombian paramilitaries, known by their Spanish acronym AUC, the largest right-wing paramilitary force to ever exist in the western hemisphere reveals that he was trained in the arts of war in Israel as a young man of 18 in the 1980s. He glowingly adds: “I copied the concept of paramilitary forces from the Israelis,” in his chapter-long account of his Israel experiences.

Castao’s right-wing Phalange-like AUC force is now by far the worst human rights violator in all of the Americas, and ties between that organisation and Israel are continually surfacing in the press.

Outside the law

The AUC paramilitaries are a fighting force that originally grew out of killers hired to protect drug-running operations and large landowners. They were organised into a cohesive force by Castao in 1997. It exists outside the law but often coordinates its actions with the Colombian military, in a way similar to the relationship of the Lebanese Phalange to the Israeli army throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

According to a 1989 Colombian Secret Police intelligence report, apart from training Carlos Castao in 1983, Israeli trainers arrived in Colombia in 1987 to train him and other paramilitaries who would later make up the AUC.
Fifty of the paramilitaries’ “best” students were then sent on scholarships to Israel for further training according to a Colombian police intelligence report, and the AUC became the most prominent paramilitary force in the hemisphere, with some 10,000-12,000 men in arms.

The Colombian AUC paramilitaries are always in need of arms, and it should come as no surprise that some of their major suppliers are Israeli. Israeli arms dealers have long had a presence in next-door Panama and especially in Guatemala.
In May of last year, GIRSA, an Israeli company associated with the Israeli Defence Forces and based in Guatemala was able to buy 3000 Kalashnikov assault rifles and 2.5 million rounds of ammunition that were then handed over to AUC paramilitaries in Colombia.

Links with the continent

Israel’s military relations with right-wing groups and regimes spans Latin America from Mexico to the southernmost tip of Chile, starting just a few years after the Israeli state came into existence.
Since then, the list of countries Israel has supplied, trained and advised includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.
But it isn’t only the sales of planes, guns and weapons system deals that characterises the Israeli presence in Latin America.
Where Israel has excelled is in advising, training and running intelligence and counter-insurgency operations in the Latin American “dirty war” civil conflicts of Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and now Colombia.

In the case of the Salvadoran conflict – a civil war between the right-wing landowning class supported by a particularly violent military pitted against left-wing popular organisations – the Israelis were present from the beginning. Besides arms sales, they helped train ANSESAL, the secret police who were later to form the framework of the infamous death squads that would kill tens of thousands of mostly civilian activists.

From 1975 to 1979, 83% of El Salvador’s military imports came from Israel, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. By 1981, many of those in the civilian popular political movements who had survived the death squads headed for the hills to become guerrillas.

By 1981 there was an open civil war in El Salvador which took over a decade to resolve through negotiations.
Even though the US was openly backing the Salvadoran Army by 1981, as late as November 1983 it was asking for more Israeli “practical assistance” there, according to a declassified secret document obtained recently by Aljazeera.
Among the assistance asked for were helicopters, trucks, rifles, ammunition, and combat infantry advisors to work at both the “company and battalion level of the Salvadoran Army”.

One notable Salvadoran officer trained by the Israelis was Major Roberto D’Aubuisson, who always held a high opinion of the Israelis. It was Major D’Aubuisson who ordered the assassination of El Salvador’s archbishop amongst thousands of other murders.
Later he would organise the right-wing National Republican Alliance Party (ARENA) and send his son to study abroad in the relative safety of Israel.

Dirty war

Amazingly, while the Israelis were training the El Salvadoran death squads they were also supporting the anti-semitic Argentine military government of the late 1970s and early 1980s – at a time when that government was involved_in another “dirty war” of death squads and disappearances.

In 1978, Nicaragua’s dictator Somoza was making his last stand against a general uprising of the Sandinista-led population who were sick of his family’s dynasty which had ruled and monopolised the county for half a century. The Israelis and the US had been supplying Somoza with weapons for years. But when President Jimmy Carter came into office in 1976 he ordered a cessation of all US military assistance to Nicaragua.

Filling the void, the Israelis immediately increased their weapons supplies to Somoza until he fled the country when the Sandinistas took power.

Israeli operatives then helped train right-wing Nicaraguan Contras in Honduran and Costa Rican camps to fight the Sandinista government, according to Colombian police intelligence reports Aljazeera_has obtained.
At least some of the same Israeli operatives had also previously trained the nucleus of the paramilitary organisations that would become the AUC in Colombia.

But by far the bloodiest case of Israeli involvement in Latin America was its involvement in Guatemala from the 1970s to the 1990s. As in El Salvador, a civil war pitted a populist but, in this case, mainly Indian left against a mainly European oligarchy protected by a brutal Mestizo Army.

As Guatemalan President Carlos Arana said in 1971, “If it is necessary to turn the country into a cemetery in order to pacify it, I will not hesitate to do so.”
Active involvement

The Israelis supplied Guatemala with Galil rifles, and built an ammunition factory for them, as well as supplying armoured personnel carriers and Arava planes. Behind the scenes, they were actively involved in the bloodiest counter-insurgency campaign the hemisphere has known since the European conquest, in which at least 200,000 (mostly Indians) were killed.
Like Israel’s original occupation of Palestine, several entire Guatemalan Indian villages were razed and a million people displaced. “The guerrilla is the fish. The people are the sea. If you cannot catch the fish, you have to drain the sea,” said Guatemalan President Rios Montt in 1982.

Guatemalan army officers credit Israeli support with turning the tide against the uprising, not only in the countryside where Israeli counter-insurgency techniques and assistance set up strategic-hamlet-like “development poles” along the lines of the Israeli kibbutz, but also in the cities where “Israeli communication technicians and instructors” working through then-sophisticated computers were able to locate and then decimate guerrillas and their supporters in Guatemala City in 1981.
From the late 1970s until the 1990s, the US could not overtly support the Guatemalan army because of its horrendous human rights record (although there was some covert support), but many in the US government, especially in the CIA, supported Israel in taking up the slack.

Wrong

But the US grew to regret its actions. On 10 March 1999, US President Bill Clinton issued an apology for US involvement in the war: The “United States… support for military forces or intelligence units which engaged in violent and widespread repression…was wrong.” No similar statement has ever been forthcoming from the Israelis.

At the present time, the only major insurgency war in Latin America is in Colombia, where Israel has an overt involvement.
Besides the dozen or so Kfir IAI C-7 jet fighters they have sold the Colombian government, and the Galil rifles produced in Bogota under licence, most of the Israeli ties to the government’s counter-insurgency war are closely-guarded secrets.
Aljazeera’s attempts to obtain clarification on these and other issues for this story were stonewalled by the Israeli embassy in Washington.

Why does Israel continue to provide arms and expertise to the pariahs of the world? Clearly, part of the reason is the revenues produced by arms sales, and part of it has do with keeping up with trends in counter-insurgent war across the globe.
But another factor is what is demanded of Israel by the world’s only superpower, the US, in partial exchange for the superpower’s continued support for Israeli dominance in the Middle East. Assistance

This relationship can be best illustrated by recently declassified 1983 US government documents obtained by the Washington, DC-based National Security Archives through the Freedom of Information Act.
One such declassified document is a 1983 memo from the notorious Colonel Oliver North of the Reagan Administration’s National Security Council and reads: “As discussed with you yesterday, I asked CIA, Defense, and State to suggest practical assistance which the Israelis might offer in Guatemala and El Salvador.”
Another document, this time a 1983 cable from the US Ambassador in Guatemala to Washington Frederic Chapin shows the money trail.

He says that at a time when the US did not want to be seen directly assisting Guatemala, “we have reason to believe that our good friends the Israelis are prepared, or already have, offered substantial amounts of military equipment to the GOG (Government of Guatemala) on credit terms up to 20 years…(I pass over the importance of making huge concessionary loans to Israel so that it can make term loans in our own backyard).”

In other words, during civil wars in which the US does not want to be seen getting its hands dirty in Latin America, the superpower loans Israel money at a very good rate, and then Israel uses these funds to do the “dirty work”. In this regard, in Latin America at least, Israel has become the hit-man for the US. Source

Israel Trains Other Undemocratic, Abusive Regimes

For years, Israeli military expertise has been shared with other abusive undemocratic regimes across the globe. In the 1980s, Israeli security forces trained a Honduran military intelligence unit, Battalion 316, that disappeared, tortured and killed Honduran citizens. Israel also trained members of the South African apartheid regime’s Inkatha hit squads that targeted ANC leaders. US aid to Israel, then, has led to the support of regimes that US taxpayers perhaps would not have otherwise aided. Source

lsrael’s ties with South Africa seem to be especially disturbing to many who follow Israel’s international activities. Perhaps it is natural that Israel has been castigated more harshly for its arms sales to South Africa than for its sales to other countries: first, because there has been for a decade an arms embargo against South Africa; and second, because of the unsurpassed criminality of the white regime and the uses to which it puts the Israeli-supplied weapons.

Also

Israel has also been involved with the Mozambican “contras,” the South African-backed MNR (Mozambique National Resistance or “Renamo”), which has brought great economic and social distress to Mozambique. Renamo has a particular reputation for ideological incoherence, being regarded by most other right-wing insurgencies as a gang of cutthroats. For several years there have been stories coming from Southern Africa of captured mercenaries of Renamo who say they were trained in neighboring Malawi-one of the four nations to maintain relations with Israel after the Organization of African Unity (OAU) declared a diplomatic embargo in 1973-by Israelis. And more than one report has told of “substantial Israeli aid” to the MNR, thought to have been funded by the CIA and Saudi Arabia as well as South Africa and former Portuguese nationalists. Source

Israel and El Salvador
Israel and Guatemala
Isreal and Nicaragua and the Contras
Israel and Honduras and Costa Rica

Haiti Government was also toppled by the US

Israel and US were behind the Georgian Attacks on South Ossetia and Abkhazia

CIA Torture Tactics Endorsed in Secret Memos

Repression in the Dominican Republic

Another tactic used by the US

A Detailed Description of Management Strategy Fraud

Recent

US occupation not for “liberation of Iraqis

Mental illness rising among US troops

Republicans in the US House of Representatives want Israel to attack Iran

Gaza Flotilla: Lawyers from 60 Countries to Sue Israel

Hospitals in Haiti to be shut down due to lack of funds

141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Sign Petition to Ban DU

What is DU?

  • Depleted Uranium is a waste product of the nuclear enrichment process.
  • After natural uranium has been ‘enriched’ to concentrate the isotope U235 for use in nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, what remains is DU.
  • The process produces about 7 times more DU than enriched uranium.

Despite claims that DU is much less radioactive than natural uranium, it actually emits about 75% as much radioactivity. It is very dense and when it strikes armour it burns (it is ‘pyrophoric’). As a waste product, it is stockpiled by nuclear states, which then have an interest in finding uses for it.

DU is used as the ‘penetrator’ – a long dart at the core of the weapon – in armour piercing tank rounds and bullets. It is usually alloyed with another metal. When DU munitions strike a hard target the penetrator sheds around 20% of its mass, creating a fine dust of DU, burning at extremely high temperatures.

This dust can spread 400 metres from the site immediately after an impact. It can be resuspended by human activity, or by the wind, and has been reported to have travelled twenty-five miles on air currents. The heat of the DU impact and secondary fires means that much of the dust produced is ceramic, and can remain in the lungs for years if inhaled.

Who uses it?
At least 18 countries are known to have DU in their arsenals:

  • UK
  • US
  • France
  • Russia
  • China
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Thailand
  • Taiwan
  • Israel
  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Kuwait
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Belarus
  • Pakistan
  • Oman

Most of these countries were sold DU by the US, although the UK, France and Pakistan developed it independently.

Only the US and the UK are known to have fired it in warfare. It was used in the 1991 Gulf War, in the 2003 Iraq War, and also in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s and during the NATO war with Serbia in 1999. While its use has been claimed in a number of other conflicts, this has not been confirmed.

Health Problems

  • DU is both chemically toxic and radioactive. In laboratory tests it damages human cells, causing DNA mutations and other carcinogenic effects.
  • Reports of increased rates of cancer and birth defects have consistently followed DU usage.
  • Representatives from both the Serbian and Iraqi governments have linked its use with health problems amongst civilians.
  • Many veterans remain convinced DU is responsible for health problems they have experienced since combat

Information from animal studies suggests DU may cause several different kinds of cancer. In rats, DU in the blood-stream builds up in the kidneys, bone, muscles, liver, spleen, and brain. In other studies it has been shown to cross both the blood-brain barrier and the placenta, with obvious implications for the health of the foetus. In general, the effects of DU will be more severe for women and children than for healthy men.

In 2008 a study by the Institute of Medicine in the US listed medical conditions that were a high priority to study for possible links with DU exposure: cancers of the lung, testes and kidney; lung disease; nervous system disorders; and reproductive and developmental problems.


Epidemiology

What is missing from the picture is large-scale epidemiological studies on the effects of DU – where negative health effects match individuals with exposure to DU. None of the studies done on the effects on soldiers have been large enough to make meaningful conclusions. No large scale studies have been done on civilian populations.

In the case of Iraq, where the largest volume of DU has been fired, the UK and US governments are largely responsible for the conditions which have made studies of the type required impossible. Despite this, these same governments use the scientific uncertainties to maintain that it is safe, and that concerns about it are misplaced.

However, in cases where human health is in jeopardy, a precautionary approach should prevail. Scientific scepticism should prevent a hazardous course of action from being taken until safety is assured. To allow it to continue until the danger has been proved beyond dispute is an abuse of the principle of scientific caution.

Environmental Impacts
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has studied some of the sites contaminated by DU in the Balkans, but it has only been able to produce a desk study on Iraq. Bullets and penetrators made of DU that do not hit armour become embedded in the ground and corrode away, releasing material into the environment.

It is not known what will happen to DU in the long term in such circumstances. The UNEP mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina found DU in drinking water, and could still detect it in the air after seven years – the longest period of time a study has been done after the end of a conflict.

Uranium has a half life of 4.5 billion years, so DU released into the environment will be a hazard for unimaginable timescales.

Decontaminating sites where DU has been used requires detailed scrutiny and monitoring, followed by the removal and reburial of large amounts of soil and other materials. Monitoring of groundwater for contamination is also advised by UNEP. CADU calls for the cost of cleaning up and decontaminating DU affected sites to be met by the countries responsible for the contamination.

The Campaign
CADU is a founder member of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) – now comprising over 102 member organisations in 27 countries.

CADU and ICBUW campaign for a precautionary approach: there is significant evidence that DU is dangerous, and faced with scientific uncertainty the responsible course of action is for it not to be used. To this end CADU and ICBUW are working towards an international treaty that bans the use of uranium in weapons akin to those banning cluster bombs and landmines.

Through the efforts of campaigners worldwide the use of DU has been condemned by four resolutions in the European Parliament, been the subject of an outright ban in Belgium, and brought onto the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly.

Source

Sign Petition to Ban DU

International Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons

141 states support second uranium weapons resolution in UN General Assembly vote

The United Nations General Assembly has passed, by a huge majority, a resolution requesting its agencies to update their positions on the health and environmental effects of uranium weapons.
December 2 2008

The resolution, which had passed the First Committee stage on October 31st by 127 states to four, calls on three UN agencies – the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update their positions on uranium weapons. The overwhelming support for the text reflects increasing international concern over the long-term impact of uranium contamination in post-conflict environments and military ranges.

In the 17 years since uranium weapons were first used on a large scale in the 1991 Gulf War, a huge volume of peer-reviewed research has highlighted previously unknown pathways through which exposure to uranium’s heavy metal toxicity and radioactivity may damage human health.
Throughout the world, parliamentarians have responded by supporting calls for a moratorium and ban, urging governments and the military to take a precautionary approach. However the WHO and IAEA have been slow to react to this wealth of new evidence and it is hoped that this resolution will go some way to resolving this situation.

In a welcome move, the text requests that all three agencies work closely with countries affected by the use of uranium weapons in compiling their research. Until now, most research by UN member states has focused on exposure in veterans and not on the civilian populations living in contaminated areas. Furthermore, recent investigations into US veteran studies have found them to be wholly incapable of producing useful data.

The text also repeats the request for states to submit reports and opinions on uranium weapons to the UN Secretary General in the process that was started by last year’s resolution. Thus far, 19 states have submitted reports to the Secretary General; many of them call for action on uranium weapons and back a precautionary approach. It also places the issue on the agenda of the General Assembly’s 65th Session; this will begin in September 2010.

The First Committee vote saw significant voting changes in comparison to the previous year’s resolution, with key EU and NATO members such as the Netherlands, Finland, Norway and Iceland changing position to support calls for further action on the issue. These changes were echoed at the General Assembly vote. Once again Japan, which has been under considerable pressure from campaigners, supported the resolution.

Of the permanent five Security Council members, the US, UK and France voted against. They were joined by Israel. Russia abstained and China refused to vote.

The list of states abstaining from the vote, while shorter than in 2007, still contains Belgium, the only state to have implemented a domestic ban on uranium weapons, a fact that continues to anger Belgian campaigners. It is suspected that the Belgian government is wary of becoming isolated on the issue internationally. Two Nordic states, Denmark and Sweden continue to blow cold, elsewhere in Europe Poland, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain are also dragging their feet, in spite of a call for a moratorium and ban by 94% of MEPs earlier this year. Many of the abstainers are recent EU/NATO accession states or ex-Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan.

Australia and Canada, both of whom have extensive uranium mining interests and close ties to US foreign policy also abstained.

The resolution was submitted by Cuba and Indonesia on behalf of the League of Non-Aligned States.

Voting results in full

In favour:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:

France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States.

Abstain:

Albania, Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine.

Absent: Central African Republic, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Kiribati, Monaco, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia.

Source

Honor Vets by Learning About Depleted Uranium

November 11, 2008

by Barbara Bellows

As Europe mourns in Verdun today for those lost in “The War to End All Wars”, World War I, we could look to another moment in European history to shed light on the most aggressively silenced story of the Bush administration.

In late 2000 and January 2001, reports were exploding across Europe about the rise in cancer amongst NATO soldiers who had served in the “peacekeeping missions” in Bosnia and Kosovo. The effects of the depleted uranium in the U.S. and U.K. weapons could not be ignored.

But history shows that the United Nations and the World Health Organization could be intimidated. The report from the WHO – that detailed how the DU vaporized upon impact into tiny particles that were breathed in, or consumed through the mouth or entered through open wounds, where the irradiating bits attacked cells all the way through the body, causing mutations along the way – was shelved under pressure from the U.S.

Even now, the major U.S. news organizations do not touch the subject, though the international press cannot ignore it. Even last month, a Middle Eastern Reuters reporter discussed the health damages because of the contaminated environment with Iraqi En Iraqi Environment Minister Nermeen Othman,

“When we talk about it, people may think we are overreacting. But in fact the environmental catastrophe that we inherited in Iraq is even worse than it sounds.”

And The Tehran Times further endangers their country by continuing to report on the problem, calling it a war crime.

And across the internet, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Roger Helbig seeks to intimidate anyone who dares to bring up the subject.

But we evolve, and the United Nations First Committee has overwhelmingly passed a resolution, on October 31st, calling for “relevant UN agencies, in this case the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update and complete their research into the possible health and environmental impact of the use of uranium weapons by 2010.” The only countries that voted against it were the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and France.

Meanwhile, to help the reader get to the point, I’ve put together the following.  Although the facts, for the most part, do not contain links, there is a list of the references at the end.

Ten Essential Facts:

1. Depleted uranium, the nuclear waste of uranium enrichment, is not actually “depleted” of radiation; 99.3% of it is Uranium238, which still emits radioactive alpha particles at the rate 12,400/second, with an estimated half life of 4.5 billion years.

2. Depleted uranium is plentiful – there are 7 pounds remaining for every pound of enriched uranium – and requires expensive and often politically-contentious hazardous waste storage.

3. Depleted uranium is less of a problem for the nuclear industry when it is cheaply passed on to U.S. weapons manufacturers for warheads, penetrators, bunker-busters, missiles, armor and other ammunition used by the U.S. military in the Middle East and elsewhere, and sold to other countries and political factions.

4. Depleted uranium is “pyrophoric”, which makes it uniquely effective at piercing hard targets, because upon impact, it immediately burns, vaporizing the majority of its bulk and leaving a hard, thin, sharpened tip – and large amounts of radioactive particles suspended in the atmosphere.

5. Depleted uranium weaponry was first used in the U.S. bombing of Iraq in 1991, under President George H. W. Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

6. Depleted uranium weaponry was later used by President Bill Clinton in the NATO “peace-keeping” bombing missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. By January 2001, as the 2nd President Bush and Dick Cheney were moving in to the White House, there was a furor in Europe over the news of an alarming increase in leukemia and other cancers amongst the NATO troops who’d served in the Balkans.

7. The World Health Organization suppressed a November 2001 report on the health hazards of depleted uranium by Dr. Keith Baverstock, Head of the WHO’s Radiation Protection Division and his team, commissioned by the United Nations. Baverstock’s report, “Radiological Toxicity of Depleted Uranium”, detailed the significant danger of airborne vaporized depleted uranium particles, already considerably more prevalent in Iraq than the Balkans due to the difference in military tactics, because they are taken into the body by inhaling and ingesting, and then their size and solubility determines how quickly they move through the respiratory, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems, attacking and poisoning from within as they travel, and where the damages occur. In addition, the report warns that the particles tend to settle in the soft tissue of the testes, and may cause mutations in sperm. In 2004 Dr. Baverstock, no longer at the WHO, released the report through Rob Edwards at Scotland’s Sunday Herald.

8. The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney administration twisted the meaning of the failure of the World Health Organization to produce evidence of depleted uranium’s health hazards, turning it into evidence that there was no link between exposure to depleted uranium and the increases in cancer in Europe and Iraq; instead, as presented in the January 20, 2003 report by the new Office of Global Communications, ironically titled Apparatus of Lies: Saddam’s Disinformation and Propaganda 1990 – 2003, the depleted uranium uproar was only an exploitation of fear and suffering. Two months later, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Rice began to “Shock and Awe” Baghdad by again dropping tons of depleted uranium bombs on densely populated areas.

9. On March 27, 2003, significant increases in depleted uranium particles in the atmosphere were detected by the air sampler filter systems of the Atomic Weapons Establishment at 8 different sites near Aldermaston Berkshire, Great Britain, and continued at 4-5 times the previous norm until the end of April 2003, after the Coalition forces declared the war over. This information only came to light in a report on January 6, 2006 by Dr. Chris Busby, due to his diligent fight for access to the data through Britain’s Freedom of Information law.

10. We have a new, intelligent President, who is willing to listen.  It is up to us to bring this to his attention.  THIS IS HOW WE CAN HONOR VETERANS.

VALUABLE REFERENCES:

Department of Defense description of self-sharpening depleted uranium: click here

Dr. Keith Baverstock’s November 2001 report, suppressed by the World Health Organization:
Rob Edwards article on Baverstock:

Karen Parker, a Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Lawyer:  Scroll down on the page and you’ll find her documents on DU.

January 2003 White House Report – Apparatus of Lies:

January 2006 Chris Busby report: click here

Source

Depleated Uranium Information

Or Google it there is tons of information out there.

Be sure to encourage those who are still not supporting the ban,  that it  is something that needs to be banned.

This is an extremely dangerous form of Pollution.

We, the people, need to let governments and the United Nations know that these weapons can have no part in a humane and caring world. Every signature counts!

  1. An immediate end to the use of uranium weapons.
  2. Disclosure of all locations where uranium weapons have been used and immediate removal of the remnants and contaminated materials from the sites under strict control.
  3. Health surveys of the ‘depleted’ uranium victims and environmental investigations at the affected sites.
  4. Medical treatment and compensation for the ‘depleted’ uranium victims.
  5. An end to the development, production, stockpiling, testing, trade of uranium weapons.
  6. A Convention for a Total Ban on Uranium Weapons.

The life you save may be your own.

Sign Petition to Ban DU

Published in: on December 4, 2008 at 1:10 pm  Comments Off on 141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban  
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Rape now war strategy in Congo, doctor says

December 1 2008

War, ethnic conflict and greed have turned the lush green jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into one of the most hellish places on Earth.

Lawlessness is rife, massacres are common, theft is systematic, all-pervasive and violent. But for Dr. Denis Mukwege, it is the daily horror of rape and sexual violence to women that are without precedence anywhere.

“The traditional battlefield has changed,” he says. “It is no longer war on the ground, but it is war on women’s bodies. It is a war that destroys women as human beings.”

“Rape and sexual violence are now used as a war strategy,” he says. “It is a tactic of war. It is not rape as understood by many parts of the world, as a violation of the rights of a human being. It is rape used as a weapon of mass destruction.”

The director and founder of the 250-bed Panzi General Referral Hospital in the eastern Congo town of Bukavu, Dr. Mukwege has devoted the last 14 years to treating women who suffer from the most brutal types of rape, sexual torture and mutilation.

“It is sexual terrorism that seeks to destroy the identity of the individuals and their communities,” he said. “Whole communities are raped. It is not merely a physical destruction but the psycho-social destruction of a whole community in which the women are humiliated.”

“They force sons to rape their mothers, fathers to rape their daughters, husbands to rape their wives in the presence of children. It’s aimed to destroy the social fabric of a family and a community.”

Since 1999, Dr. Mukwege’s hospital and its team of six surgeons have surgically reconstructed the bodies of women whose genitals and internal organs have been horribly disfigured in violent sexual attacks.

In the Congo’s brutal civil war, sexual assault victims are three times more common than gunshot casualties and five times more numerous than wounded soldiers.

Sexual violence has become a war within a war.

The Panzi Hospital treats 3,500 rape victims a year and it still can’t cope with the surge in shattered lives that follows each round of warfare in eastern Congo.

Earlier this week aid workers working in the DRC appeared before the UN Security Council in New York pleading with the United Nations to beef up its peacekeeping operations to do more to protect women and children from sexual violence and exploitation in Congo.

“Women and girls in the hundreds and thousands have been targets of opportunistic and brutal rape, while children are being targeted for recruitment as child soldiers,” said Sue Mbaya, the Africa policy director for World Vision. “There is a silent war being waged against women and children.”

“The words rape or sexual violence cannot fully translate the horror I see hundreds of thousands of women living through,” said Dr. Mukwege, who spoke recently at a special forum at the University of Toronto along with Stephen Lewis, the former UN Special envoy for AIDS/HIV in Africa.

Source

Students bring awareness to Congo

Republic of Congo launches national campaign against HIV/AIDS

BRAZZAVILLE

December 1 2008

The Republic of Congo is set to launch a national campaign against HIV/AIDS on Monday to add to the global momentum in fighting the deadly disease.

With a theme of “shut the doors of our families against HIV/AIDS”, the national council for the fight against the disease known as CNLS focuses on family actions in a bid to reduce the risks for the vulnerable in the country.

CNLS executive secretary Marie-Francke Puruhence announced the month-long health drive on Sunday on the eve of the World AIDS Day.

The country has launched a variety of anti-HIV/AIDS activities, including meetings of citizens, conferences at the ministerial level, medical check operations on the basis of volunteers, as well as training and education on the prevention and control of the disease.

According to a survey released in 2003, there were 120,000 patients suffering from AIDS in the Republic of Congo, more than 3.1 percent of the country’s 3.86 million population. As many as 78,000 orphans were registered as a result of the disease.

The survey also indicated that up to 95 percent of the patients had been affected through sexual activities, 3 percent of the cases through the mother-to-child infection and 2 percent through blood transfusion.

Editor: Pliny Han

Source

Special UN envoy chastises rebel leader in DR Congo

December 1, 2008,

The UN’s special envoy to Congo chided the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DR Congo) main rebel leader during a second round of peace talks for breaking a ceasefire, video footage taken inside the closed-door meeting showed.

The footage, taken by the UN and made available to journalists, shows an angry mediator, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, berating rebel leader Laurent Nkunda for starting an offensive along the border with Uganda last week, thus breaking a ceasefire in the middle of peace talks.

Since the first round of peace talks on Nov. 16, Nkunda’s forces have clashed with the army several times, and rebels captured two border posts and a town last week.

“You are making me a laughingstock,” Obasanjo told a seated Nkunda.

“What has happened in the last 14 days has not made me happy,” Obasanjo said on Saturday, adding, “If there is anything that will make you make a move against a self-imposed ceasefire by you, you should let me know. When I finished my first round of talks, I reported to you. You haven’t built the same confidence in me and I feel disappointed.’

Nkunda threatened all-out war if the government does not hold talks with him, reports said yesterday.

After the meeting, Nkunda said the government had no choice but to talk.

“If there is no negotiation, let us say then there is war,” the BBC reported Nkunda as saying late on Saturday. “I know that [the government] has no capacity to fight, so they have only one choice — negotiations.”

Nkunda said that Obasanjo should mediate the talks, which he wants to take place in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

Fighting between Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) and government forces exploded into full-scale conflict in October when the rebels came on the verge of taking Goma, the capital of the eastern North Kivu Province.

More than 250,000 civilians have been displaced since August, aid agencies said.

Nkunda called a ceasefire and pulled his troops back from the front lines last month after meeting Obasanjo.

Despite the ceasefire, clashes have continued with government forces and the pro-government Mai Mai militia.

Nkunda’s men on Thursday seized the border town of Ishasha, about 120km from Goma, forcing over 15,000 refugees to flee to Uganda.

Civilians caught between the warring forces have suffered atrocities at the hands of all parties, the UN said.

There have been repeated reports of rape, looting and murder by the CNDP and government forces.

The UN has agreed to send another 3,000 troops to bolster the 17,000-strong peacekeeping mission in DR Congo, known as MONUC. The peacekeepers are hopelessly overstretched by the conflict.

Nkunda has warned several times he will march on the capital Kinshasa if the government does not address his grievances.

The rebel general says he is fighting to protect Tutsis from Hutu militias who fled to DR Congo after Tutsi forces seized power in Rwanda.

The armed Hutu groups were implicated in the 1994 massacres in Rwanda, when 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

However, the DR Congo government has so far refused to talk to Nkunda and accused Rwanda of backing him.

There are fears the conflict could reignite the 1998-2003 war, which UN agencies say caused the deaths of over 5 million people in DR Congo.

Source


Students bring awareness to Congo

Day of Action, November 27 2008

by Jillian Steger
News Writer

November 25 2008

There is an unparalleled humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today. Five UBC students are taking a stand and have created the Africa Canada Accountability Coalition. Their goal is to call students to action. I spoke with Annabel Wong, one of the founding students of the operation.

J: What was it that interested you in this cause?
Annabel: It was because of this course I’m taking, POLI 360 Security Studies. For a project we were doing I chose to study the DRC and now I question why we don’t hear more about it. The first and second Congo Wars killed approximately five million people and it’s basically World War Three. It involves a regional dynamic. Each of us is a participant in this war, mainly those of us who own cell phones. As part of the larger problem we think we are learning world history when we are mostly learning about Western Europe. Also conflict erupted as we were doing our proposal so I found that we have the responsibility to do something.

J: What has your coalition established so far?
A: We have been talking to MPs. We have established a letter with three points we want the Canadian Government to address. We have been in contact with MPs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo area and Peter MacKay. We have been talking to Philip Lancaster, who was Romeo Dallaire’s right hand man, about the realities on the ground. We have been talking to professors and a lot of NGO’S. And we have our petition up so sign it!

J: Tell me generally about what your coalition hopes to establish.
A: In our letter we have established three points which are humanitarian aid; basically increasing CIDA’s funding, training personnel about sexual violence and ending the misdoings of Canadian companies in the region.

J: Are women’s issues important in this conflict? What is the connection between rape and the conflict?
A: I believe the situation in the DRC has incited the UN to declare rape a weapon of war. You really have to think about what that means. It’s not just a matter of semantics. It’s impactful to me that humans are used for sex and then they’re further stripped of their dignity. The rapists of a lot of women put a gun in their vagina in a way that they don’t die. I think that this is trying to send a message of threat. All forms of sexual violence can be found in this conflict. I think that’s so unfair.

J: What can UBC students do to support your cause?
A: Sign our petition and join our Facebook group. Talk to your politicians, friends and politician friends. Come out to our day of action on Thursday November 27 at 10:55am outside the SUB.

Source
I think this is wonderful that students, take the time to build awareness to this crisis.

Every Voice makes a difference.

Human crisis overwhelms Congo rebels – seasoned fighters have no idea how to govern

Doctors Without Boarders Providing Assistance in North Kivu, DRC

Sierra Leone: A mission for MSF(Doctors Without Borders)

How the mobile phone in your pocket is helping to pay for the civil war in Congo

3,000 more peacekeepers needed in Congo: UN chief

Congo ‘worst place’ to be woman or child

Human crisis overwhelms Congo rebels – seasoned fighters have no idea how to govern

November 23 2008

By Jeffrey Gettleman

CONSIDER it the capital – the rebel capital, that is. From the cracked concrete steps of an expropriated government building, Jules Simpeze Banga looked out at a mass of hundreds of freshly displaced people last week and delivered one of his first speeches as the new, rebel mayor of this town.

“People,” he said to the crowd, his voice gaining a little more confidence with each word. “We want to help you, but you need to talk to your chiefs. Talk to your chiefs first, have them write down your names and then we will distribute food.”

A loud cheer. The crowd broke up. And Banga exhaled as if he had just ducked a bullet.

Banga is the closest thing in war-ravaged eastern Congo to a white-collar rebel. And like his cohorts, he is clearly under prepared and overwhelmed.

The humanitarian needs here in rebel-controlled territory are staggering, after weeks of heavy fighting and wave after wave of displacement. But administrative resumés are thin. Most of the senior rebels seem much more comfortable in swamp boots than in suits.

Though the rebels have espoused national ambitions – “We will keep fighting until Congo is liberated!” sang a truckload of boisterous soldiers cruising through Rutshuru – they seem to be having a hard enough time just governing the few muddy little towns they now control.

Laurent Nkunda, a renegade army general who leads the rebels, is trying to refashion himself from a military man into a national political leader. But it is not clear if he has the professional rank and file to get him to higher office.

An elderly woman with thick glasses and beer on her breath presented herself as “the secretary” for Rutshuru’s mayor and playfully attacked a group of foreign journalists who walked through their office door. She punched one of the journalists in the back, cackled and then spun around and did a sloppy little dance.

Inside his office, Banga sat at a desk behind a rising stack of paper, listing residents by neighbourhood. Rutshuru and nearby Kiwanja are home to about 150,000 people in all, the largest population area in eastern Congo under rebel control.

“Hoes and seeds,” he said. “That’s what we need. We want to get these people back to work.”

But Banga, a former power plant engineer who said he joined the rebel army “for revolution”, said his new administration was short of cash.

Not surprisingly, rebel soldiers have begun tax collection – at gunpoint, demanding the equivalent of £80 from each truck that passes through their checkpoints. Aid workers say that the rebels seem more serious about providing security than Congolese government troops, who are notorious for raping and plundering, but that the new taxes are hampering the emergency efforts.

There are new rebel stamps saying “Unity, Justice, Development”. And even a new rebel police force, distinct from the bush fighters, with officers wearing stolen government police uniforms.

“What’s the difference between us and soldiers?” said one young police officer, too young to shave. “We protect people.”

But many of their new subjects are not so sure. “At night, they invade our homes, looking for money,” said Kavuo Anatasia, a 17-year-old mother. “Kill us, no. But they beat us.”

Several aid officials have said the rebels are press-ganging hundreds of teenage boys into their army.

“The truth is, children are critical to their operations,” said Jaya Murthy, a spokesman for Unicef. “Children are used as porters, as spies, as sex slaves and as soldiers. Many have been fighting on the front lines.”

Most of that fighting has died down since the rebels declared a ceasefire last month after routing government troops from several strategic towns.

They began pulling back troops from a few towns to give aid workers better access to the hundreds of thousands of displaced people huddled in huts made of dried banana leaves that are no match for torrential tropical rains.

“There’s no excuse for a country as rich as ours to be living like this,” said Mwiti Ngashani, a rebel administrator in Rutshuru.

When asked what his position was, he said, “minister of justice”. Then he paused.

“And human rights.”

Another pause. “Oh, and of aid organisations, too.”

Congo has been in turmoil for more than a decade. But this round of fighting seems different from the scattered battles in the past several years over strategic sites like gold mines and airfields. This time, the conflict seems broader and more focused politically, with the rebels’ leader, Laurent Nkunda, talking at times of marching to the capital and toppling the government.

In Kibumba, a village at the edge of rebel territory about 20 miles north of Goma – the provincial capital the rebels were poised to seize before declaring a unilateral cease-fire late last month – hundreds of children have been turned into desperate street hawkers because their schools were looted last month and no authority has decided what to do about it.

One boy named Severai, who said he was 12 but did not look much more than eight, was scampering after the few trucks that passed through Kibumba on Tuesday, trying to sell their drivers armloads of onions for the equivalent of 20 cents.

“Haven’t sold one yet,” he said, smiling shyly. “But I’ll keep trying.”

The land around here is amazingly fertile. It is the rainy season, and everything seems green and ripe.

Many people are refusing to go back home after fleeing the recent fighting. Kahombo Sebeyeko, a 50-year-old farmer with six children, stood in the rain on Tuesday at a camp for displaced people. Behind him, for miles, stretched tents, lean-tos and little domes made from dried banana leaves, the same type of flimsy structures in which hundreds of thousands of people across eastern Congo now live.

“We are waiting for the order to go back,” he explained.

From whom? A blank stare.

“The government,” he said, in a way that was less an answer than a question.

Source

Published in: on November 23, 2008 at 5:02 am  Comments Off on Human crisis overwhelms Congo rebels – seasoned fighters have no idea how to govern  
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Fighting continues in Congo despite rebel promises of ceasefire

Fighting continues in Congo despite rebel promises of ceasefire

By TODD PITMAN

November 17, 2008

KANYABAYONGA, Congo – Villages in the mountains of eastern Congo that once housed tens of thousands of people were nearly deserted Monday after Congo’s army clashed with rebels in some of the worst fighting in a week.

The battles north of the eastern provincial capital of Goma came even as rebel leader Laurent Nkunda promised a United Nations envoy he would support a ceasefire as well as UN efforts to end the fighting that has displaced 250,000 people since August.

The few people remaining in Kanyabayonga were preparing to leave Monday, packing yellow jerry cans and bedrolls before setting off on foot. Congolese army soldiers also were seen fleeing the rebel advance.

The two sides battled Sunday night about 15 kilometres from here in Rwindi. About 150 people took refuge outside a UN peacekeeping base, huddling beside a shipping container as mortar shells and artillery fire rained down.

“These blue helmets would not let us inside, but it’s better than nothing,” said Clement Elias, 20, referring to the UN peacekeepers. He said he heard 100 explosions Sunday night.

There was no immediate word on casualties, according to UN peacekeeping spokesman Col. Jean-Paul Dietrich.

“Everybody is trying to push the other side back,” Dietrich said. “It’s very regrettable that they could not respect the ceasefire.”

On Monday, Rwindi was quiet but rebels were seen walking freely, carrying generators and boxes of ammunition. The town is tiny, housing little else but a headquarters for Virunga National Park and a peacekeeping base, which is surrounded by barbed wire and sandbags.

Dozens of civilians were sitting under trees Monday, listening to the radio for news. Rwindi is about 125 kilometres north of Goma.

The Central African country has the world’s largest UN peacekeeping mission, with some 17,000 troops, but the peacekeepers have been unable to either stop the fighting or protect civilians caught in the way.

On Sunday, the UN envoy, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, met with Nkunda for the first time, after speaking with President Joseph Kabila.

Nkunda launched a rebellion in 2004, claiming to protect ethnic Tutsis from Hutu militias who fled to Congo after Rwanda’s 1994 genocide left more than 500,000 Tutsis and others slaughtered. But critics say Nkunda is more interested in power and Congo’s mineral wealth.

Source

Sierra Leone: A mission for MSF(Doctors Without Borders)

Congo rebel backs U.N. peace plan, fighting persists

Doctors Without Boarders Providing Assistance in North Kivu, DRC

Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 5:11 am  Comments Off on Fighting continues in Congo despite rebel promises of ceasefire  
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Congo rebel backs U.N. peace plan, fighting persists

November 16, 2008
By Finbarr O’Reilly
JOMBA, Congo

Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda agreed on Sunday to support a U.N. peace plan for eastern Congo, including a body to oversee a ceasefire, but fighting between the army and rebels raged on in one zone.

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (L) stands with rebel leader Laurent Nkunda as they meet in the village of Jnomba in eastern Congo, November 16, 2008. (REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly)

After talks with United Nations special envoy Olusegun Obasanjo at Jomba in Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, Nkunda said he had agreed to three requests from him — to respect a ceasefire, open a humanitarian corridor to aid refugees, and support the U.N. peace initiative.

“We agree,” Nkunda told reporters in French.

But he had asked Obasanjo, a former Nigerian head of state, to tell Congolese President Joseph Kabila’s government to also respect a suspension of military hostilities.

“We support his mission … he has got support from the international community … we are behind him and we are going to do our part so we can get on with this peace,” Nkunda, wearing a grey suit and carrying a cane topped with a silver eagle’s head, said in other comments in English.

Obasanjo met Nkunda at his home village in the foothills of the Virunga mountains, close to the Rwandan and Ugandan borders. After their talks, the two briefly danced with rebel fighters and children outside the church compound where they met.

But as they met, U.N. peacekeepers reported heavy fighting on Sunday between Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) rebels and Congo’s army near the village of Ndeko, 110 km (70 miles) north of the provincial capital Goma.

The U.N. troubleshooter, who held talks on Saturday with Congolese President Joseph Kabila, is seeking to prevent the fighting in North Kivu from escalating into a repeat of a wider 1998-2003 Congo war that sucked in six neighbouring states.

Obasanjo, who flew back to the North Kivu provincial capital Goma, said the talks with Nkunda went “extremely well”.

“Nkunda wants to maintain a ceasefire but it’s like dancing the tango. You can’t do it alone,” Obasanjo said.

He said later in Goma Nkunda had agreed to a tripartite committee to monitor ceasefire violations, but on the condition that the U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo was not involved. Nkunda says the U.N. peacekeepers are biased against him.

Weeks of combat between Nkunda’s Tutsi rebels and government troops and their militia allies have displaced around a quarter of a million civilians, creating what aid agencies call a “catastrophic” humanitarian situation in east Congo.

ROCKET AND MORTAR BATTLE

U.N. military spokesman Lt-Col Jean-Paul Dietrich said the Ndeko combat did not help the peace process: “The army is firing rockets. The CNDP is using mortars. It’s not a good sign if they continue to fight while the special envoy is holding talks”.

Nkunda played down the latest fighting, saying it was “not a problem” and he had contacted the government to try to end it.

The United Nations said it was impossible to say who had started the clashes and at least six government soldiers had been wounded.

The roots of the North Kivu conflict stem from Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, when extremist Hutu militias killed about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus before fleeing into Congo.

That led to two wars and a humanitarian crisis that killed more than five million people, mostly from hunger and disease.

In 2004, Nkunda rejected peace deals that ended the last war. He accuses Kabila of arming and using a Rwandan Hutu rebel group, the FDLR, which includes perpetrators of the 1994 genocide, to fight with the weak and chaotic Congolese army.

The Congolese president accuses Rwanda, whose soldiers fought in Congo’s last war, ostensibly to hunt down the Hutu militia, of supporting Nkunda’s rebellion.

Nkunda spokesman Bertrand Bisimwa blamed the government for Sunday’s fighting. “The army attacked us this morning,” he said.

But he insisted this would not derail the peace talks. “He (Obasanjo) is not blind. He will see who is responsible for the clashes. While he talks peace, the government attacks us.”

The Congolese army was not available for comment.

Nkunda initially took up arms saying he was fighting to defend fellow Tutsis in Congo from attack by the Rwandan Hutu FDLR. But, after marching to the gates of Goma last month, he is now calling for unconditional direct talks with the president.

Kabila has so far rejected negotiations.

(Additional reporting by David Lewis in Kinshasa, Emmanuel Braun in Jomba and Hereward Holland in Goma)

Source

Search for peace ‘doomed’ by scramble for minerals in Congo

Doctors Without Boarders Providing Assistance in North Kivu, DRC


Published in: on November 16, 2008 at 7:29 pm  Comments Off on Congo rebel backs U.N. peace plan, fighting persists  
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Doctors Without Boarders Providing Assistance in North Kivu, DRC

From Médecins sans Frontière (Doctors Without Boarders)

November 13 2008

Since 1998, civilians in the North Kivu province of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been caught in the middle of a battle for control between local and foreign militias, the Congolese army, and UN forces. In late 2007, new waves of fighting caused more massive displacements of an already weakened population.

In August 2008, the situation became even more severe with heavy, sustained fighting. The population has had to flee again, without adequate shelter, water, medical care, or food, and under the continuous threat of insecurity. MSF is running projects throughout North Kivu province, providing emergency medical assistance, as well as primary and secondary health care, water and sanitation assistance, and distribution of essential items such as shelter materials and blankets.

DRC: MSF Continues to Treat Displaced People in North Kivu

November 13, 2008

MSF remains very concerned about the many people still fleeing the ongoing violence. Many displaced and local residents are in urgent need of food, clean water, healthcare, and basic items such as blankets and shelter materials.

Displaced People in Congo Remain in Urgent Need of Assistance

November 10, 2008

MSF teams are continuing to work in Goma and in other towns and villages in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The organization remains very concerned about the many people still on the move after fleeing recent fighting. While some displaced people are returning to their places of origin around North Kivu, many of the displaced and local residents continue to be in urgent need of food, clean water, healthcare and basic items like blankets and shelter materials.

There are many more reports at the site.

Médecins sans Frontière (Doctors Without Boarders) do wonderful work.

These are men and women with a lot of courage and hearts of gold. They risk their lives to help others. What they do is incredible.

They work in about 60 countries around the world, helping those in need. Their time, dedication and love makes a difference in the lives of many.

This is a small glimpse into the help they provide to those who are suffering in dire need.

Médecins sans Frontière

How the mobile phone in your pocket is helping to pay for the civil war in Congo

Congo ‘worst place’ to be woman or child

Published in: on November 15, 2008 at 3:06 am  Comments Off on Doctors Without Boarders Providing Assistance in North Kivu, DRC  
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How the mobile phone in your pocket is helping to pay for the civil war in Congo

By Mike Pflanz
November 8 2008

One hundred feet beneath the green slope of a steep hill in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a man lying flat on his front in a narrow tunnel chips at a rock face with a hammer and chisel.
After two hours, drenched in sweat, he tugs on a cord tied to his waist and is pulled back to the surface, carrying with him a 30 kilogram sack of raw columbium-tantalite ore.

Few people have heard of this rare mineral, known as coltan, even though millions of people in the developed world rely on it. But global demand for the mineral, and a handful of other materials used in everything from cellphones to soup tins, is keeping the armies of Congo’s ceaseless wars fighting.

More than 80 per cent of the world’s coltan is in Africa, and 80 percent of that lies in territory controlled by Congo’s various ragtag rebel groups, armed militia and its corrupt and underfunded national army.

Despite Friday’s ceasefire summit in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, and visits to Congo by earnest international politicians and diplomats, there will be no peace until the economic forces driving the conflict are addressed, experts warn.

“Until now, this question has been avoided on the basis that it is too sensitive or could derail peace talks,” said Patrick Alley, director of Global Witness, a British charity which has investigated the militarisation of Congo’s mineral trade.

“That is a short-sighted view. If international dialogues continue to ignore this critical aspect of the conflict, they will not find long-term solutions.”

In Congo’s North Kivu province, scene of the current bloody conflict, the supply chain that links the sweating miner to the mobile telephone in your pocket starts around Masisi district, the rebel-held area 110 miles northeast of the provincial capital, Goma.

Back up on the surface again, the miner hands his sack of ore to his shift boss, who pays him less than a dollar per kilogramme. Some mines also use child labour, often for no pay at all.

The rocks are then packed into even heavier 50kg loads and passed to porters, who hoist them on to their backs and set off, in flip flops or Wellington boots, for the two-day walk through the mountains to the town of Walikale.

There, the ore is sold once again, now for just over a dollar a kilogramme, to a middleman known as a negociant. He consolidates several loads and calls in an aircraft to land at the town’s grass airstrip, collect the rocks and fly them to Goma.

Dotted across Goma, behind high walls and locked gates, there are hundreds of small-scale traders called comptoirs. Men in dusty overalls sit with large piles of rocks in front of them, using a trained eye to scan scan for the chunks likely to yield the best-quality product, samples of which they then grind to assess its coltan purity and how much to pay the negociant accordingly. In an office to the rear, the comptoir director sits in front of his laptop, scanning coltan and cassiterite prices on the internet site of the London Metal Exchange.

“Things have progressed a bit today because we are able to see what is the best price instantly, rather than having to guess as we did before the internet,” said Joseph Nzanzu, a comptoir director in Goma.

“But still the process, the negociants, how they come to us with the ore, how we grade it and argue over the price, this is the way it has been for decades.”

Gathering hundreds of kilogrammes together, the comptoir loads the ore on to trucks which set off for Mombasa on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast, five days’ hard driving away through Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.

From here, cargo ships carry the coltan to processing plants in the Far East, although it is also traded as a commodity on the London Metal Exchange and in Belgium, Congo’s former colonial power. The ore, still hunks of rock just as it was when it came out of the mine, is ground down and refined to extract tantalum, a heat resistant powder which is sold to firms making the capacitors which are found in mobile telephones and other electrical devices.

Finally, the equipment manufacturers buy the capacitors, without which their goods would not work. From North and South Kivu, a total of 428 metric tonnes of coltan was exported in 2007, according to the provincial ministry of mines, worth around £2 million. But these figures are notoriously inaccurate, and take no account of illegally smuggled minerals, likely to make up almost as much again.

There is nothing illegal in buying or using coltan, despite concerns that some of profits from the trade in the Congo helps fund its myriad armed groups. All of the big electronics manufacturers say that they make every effort to ensure that the components in their products are from legitimate mines, either in Congo or in other coltan-producing countries including Brazil and Argentina.

But in Congo’s anarchic environment, it is impossible for customers to know for sure that the tantalum in their mobile phone, DVD player, PlayStation or desktop computer did not come from a rebel-held mine. Buyers say that ore from these mines is mixed with that from legitimate mines, and they cannot tell which is which. There is no equivalent of the Kimberley Process, the international system which certifies that diamonds are from conflict-free areas.

The links between Congo’s vast riches and its blood-stained history stretch back to the Belgian colonial era, when King Leopold II forced labourers onto his rubber plantations and ordered his agents to chop off the hands of workers who failed to fulfil their harvest quotas.

But throughout the latter half of the 1990s and the beginning of this decade, as Congo descended into two wars, its mineral wealth began directly to stoke its conflict. At the height of a coltan price boom in 2001, the UN estimated that rebel groups were earning $20 million a month from mineral exploitation, though the market price has since fallen.

A 2003 United Nations investigation into the illegal exploitation of natural resources accused both Rwanda and Uganda of prolonging their armed incursions into Congo in order to continue their plunder. Peace was supposed to have come to the region that year. But in the east, the rebels and armed militia remained and proliferated, extending their reach into the mines opened by a series of state mining companies and then abandoned as war swept the country.

Today, these armed groups earn their money either by directly controlling the mines themselves, or by taxing lorries as they pass through their territories. Alongside them, Congo’s own army runs various mines and its officers pocket the profits.

There have been calls for an international embargo of the trade in the country’s minerals. But that would only hurt its poorest citizens, who have little else to do to earn money, said Mr Nzanzu.

Instead, according to Mr Alley of Global Witness, buyers must double efforts to ensure that they do not trade in any mineral tainted by contact with any of Congo’s armed groups.

“For as long as there are buyers who are willing to trade, directly or indirectly, with groups responsible for grave human rights abuses, there is no incentive for these groups to lay down their arms,” he said.

“It is not acceptable for buyers to claim they do not or cannot know where the minerals come from. They have a responsibility to find out exactly where the minerals were produced and by whom.

“If there is any likelihood that they have passed through the hands of armed groups or army units, they should refuse to buy them.”

Source
3,000 more peacekeepers needed in Congo: UN chief
Congo ‘worst place’ to be woman or child

Published in: on November 13, 2008 at 1:01 am  Comments Off on How the mobile phone in your pocket is helping to pay for the civil war in Congo  
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3,000 more peacekeepers needed in Congo: UN chief

November 11 2008

The head of the United Nations is requesting 3,000 more peacekeepers to help allay the conflict in Congo, calling it a “very serious and dire situation.”

Speaking at a news conference in New York Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the deteriorating situation in the east African nation demands more troops.

“I have requested, on an urgent basis to the Security Council, for additional resources and manpower,” he told reporters.

“I’m still concerned that even with a strong joint statement by the African leaders, we have 250,000 displaced persons.”

Thousands have been driven from their homes in eastern Congo since August, when fighting intensified between the Congolese army and rebel forces led by Laurent Nkunda.

Nkunda, a former army general, has said he is fighting to liberate all of Congo from a corrupt government, and to protect minority Tutsis from Rwandan Hutu militants who participated in the genocide before fleeing to Congo.

Although Nkunda declared a unilateral ceasefire on Oct. 29, recent clashes have undermined the fragile declaration.

Ban on Tuesday called for a new ceasefire agreement between government and rebel forces so aid workers could provide emergency assistance to “at least 100,000 refugees” cut off from basic necessities in rebel-held areas north of Goma, the provincial capital.

“This is a very serious and dire situation,” he said.

The UN Security Council was meeting Tuesday evening to consider Ban’s request to bolster the 17,000-strong UN force already on the ground in Congo.

The European Union has rejected the idea of sending its own force into the region, after France failed to win agreement from other nations Monday on a proposal to deploy a 1,500-member battle group alongside UN peacekeepers.

The announcement came amidst reports that Congolese soldiers were raping women and pillaging homes in and around the town of Kanyabayonga, about 100 kilometres north of Goma.

Soldiers involved in rampage

Between 700 and 800 soldiers were said to be involved in the rampage, which spread through several villages, UN peacekeeping spokesman Col. Jean-Paul Dietrich said Tuesday, speaking by phone from the national capital Kinshasa.

About 75,000 have already fled the Goma area because of fighting.

“There is a big tension because there are so many people there and it’s so close to Goma,” Dietrich said, adding that the UN has begun investigating the violence with the Congolese army.

Meanwhile, aid workers were trying to gain access to the towns of Rutshuru and Kiwanja, both 16 kilometres south of Kanyabayonga in rebel-held territory, where residents are believed to be without access to food.

Aid workers seeking to assist civilians trapped on rebel-held territory would be guaranteed safe passage, according to a rebel spokesman.

“If there are NGOs who want to come to Rutshuru, they are welcome to come,” said rebel spokesman Bertrand Bisimwa.

In the Kibati refugee camp just outside of Goma, a spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross said the organization is scrambling to distribute necessities.

Cholera on the rise

“In the moment we are distributing foods, but from the next day we will try to start a new distribution for essential items like blankets, like tarpaulins, like soap and other things because it’s true people here are missing everything,” said Olga Miltcheva.

At least 90 cases of cholera have been recorded around Goma since Friday, according to relief officials. Seven more cases were diagnosed at a Kibati clinic Monday night.

The conflict in eastern Congo is fuelled by lingering tensions from the 1994 slaughter of a half-million Tutsis in Rwanda, and Congo’s civil wars from 1996-2002, which attracted neighbouring countries to Congo’s mineral riches.

Nkunda, who defected from Congo’s army in 2004, claims the Congolese government has not protected ethnic Tutsis from the Rwandan Hutu militia that escaped to Congo after helping slaughter a half-million Rwandan Tutsis.

He and his fighters are ready to lay down their arms, Nkunda has said, if the government agrees to disengage with “negative forces” from neighbouring countries such as Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda and hold direct talks with Nkunda under the guidance of a neutral mediator.

The administration of Congolese President Joseph Kabila has indicated it is open to discussions with all rebel and militia groups in the region, of which there are several, but will not meet solely with Nkunda’s group.

Source

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Timeline

Congo ‘worst place’ to be woman or child

Search for peace ‘doomed’ by scramble for minerals in Congo

Published in: on November 13, 2008 at 12:34 am  Comments Off on 3,000 more peacekeepers needed in Congo: UN chief  
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Congo ‘worst place’ to be woman or child

An displaced woman receive a bucket from the Red Cross as they distribute non food items  in Kibati, just north of Goma, in eastern Congo, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008. (AP / Karel Prinsloo)

An displaced woman receive a bucket from the Red Cross

as they distribute non food items in Kibati, just north of Goma,

in eastern Congo, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008. (AP / Karel Prinsloo)

People carrying their belongings flee fighting in Kiwanja, 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Goma, eastern Congo, Friday, Nov. 7, 2008. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

People carrying their belongings flee fighting in Kiwanja,

90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Goma, eastern Congo,

Friday, Nov. 7, 2008. (AP / Karel Prinsloo)

November 12 2008

Government officials in Angola say they’re mobilizing troops to send to Congo, a country one aid worker is calling “the worst place” in the world to be a woman or child.

The mobilization is raising fears that violence in that country would spread through the region.

Angolan Deputy Foreign Minister Georges Chicoty said the troops will support the Congo government in its fight against rebels led by a former Tutsi general. Congo had asked Angola for political and military assistance last month.

However, there are concerns that neighbouring Rwanda may see the presence of Angolan troops, which will not act as a peacekeeping force, as a provocation.

There are also worries that tensions between Tutsis and Hutus — who escaped to the Congo from Rwanda during an ethnic genocide in the 1990s — will increase. The current conflict is fuelled by concerns by Tutsi leaders in Congo that they’ll be targeted by Hutus who participated in the genocide and then fled to the country.

Earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said 3,000 more UN peacekeeping soldiers were needed in Congo to bolster a 17,000-member UN force.

Ban also called for a ceasefire so aid workers could get help to at “at least 100,000 refugees” cut off in rebel-controlled areas.

“The conditions in (the refugee camps) are as bad as I have seen them anywhere in Africa,” World Vision spokesperson Kevin Cook told CTV’s Canada AM on Wednesday morning.

Displaced people are in urgent need of water, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition and other supplies and protection from escalating violence.”

Cook said aid workers are also concerned about the spread of diseases such as malaria, cholera, measles and diarrhea. He also noted that he is not sure how long relief workers would be able to stay in the country if the situation worsens.

UN officials have noted that both sides in the dispute have committed crimes against civilians, including rapes.

“This is probably the worst place in the world to be a woman or a child,” Cook said.

Source


open cast mining in the DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most volatile parts of the world and also one of the most mineral-rich.

That provides an explosive combination.

The United Nations says illegal mining operations are providing funding for the rebel groups behind the renewed conflict, including the forces of the rebel general Laurent Nkunda.

Many people have died in the latest eruption of violence, and over 250,000 people have fled their homes.

Blessing or curse

International efforts to bring peace to the region are increasingly focussed on the way that factions in the region have been using its mineral wealth to buy arms.

Workers toil to extract diamonds, gold, copper and cassiterite in the thousands of open mines which litter the contested eastern region.

The untapped wealth of the forested landscape is worth billions of dollars but only a tiny fraction of that reaches the pockets of ordinary citizens.

The recent battles in the eastern Kivu region partly stem from the same Hutu-Tutsi rivalry which prompted the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s but crucially, the fighting is financed by Kivu’s buried treasure.

Many people complain that the natural riches of the region are the main cause of their misery.

Blood money

Rebel groups, as well as the Congolese army, trade in the minerals and that provides the money to enable them to keep fighting.

For some armed groups the war has become little more than a private racket with the minerals themselves providing the motive for carrying on the fighting, according to Carina Tertsakian of the international campaign organisation Global Witness.

The region accounts for 5% of the global supply of cassiterite, the primary ore of tin and a crucial element of all kinds of electronic circuitry, and is worth $70 million a year.

“To reach the world market the ore is flown to the regional capital of Goma and then, via Rwanda and Uganda, it reaches to east African ports of Mombasa in Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania,” says Harrison Mitchell of the Resource Consulting Service.

The ore is then shipped to smelters who buy tin on the open market.

Located predominantly in India, China, Malaysia and Thailand, these smelters sell tin to component manufacturers.

Provenance required

Public pressure has forced the diamond trade to monitor sources and Mr Mitchell says the same should now apply to the trade in cassiterite.

“We talked to some high profile electronic companies and we found that the final end-users of tin were generally unaware of where the product was coming from,” he says.

There are many legal mining operations within the Democratic Republic of Congo but in the contested Eastern region, there are now proposals to limit the illegal trade.

These range from calls for a total ban, to the idea of chemically identifying the varieties of tin coming out of each area, which would allow exporters to filter out the worst sources.

Campaigners say that any indiscriminate ban will severely hurt the long-suffering and impoverished local population.

Source

Also see

Search for peace ‘doomed’ by scramble for minerals in Congo

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 11:47 pm  Comments Off on Congo ‘worst place’ to be woman or child  
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Coalition divided on Dutch Congo role


November 7 2008

The coalition parties are divided on the position foreign affairs minister Maxine Verhagen should take on sending European troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo where thousands have fled their homes fearing violence from rebel militias.

Labour and the orthodox Christian CU party want the minister to push for European troops to be deployed as part of the UN mission in Congo, reports ANP news service. But the senior coalition Christian Democrats feel the Netherlands should not get involved if it is not prepared to provide troops itself.

The Netherlands cannot offer military support for Congo as it already has soldiers serving in Chad and Afghanistan, says ANP.

Source

Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 5:36 am  Comments Off on Coalition divided on Dutch Congo role  
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Search for peace ‘doomed’ by scramble for minerals in Congo

Rebels reject ceasefire until demands are met

November 8, 2008

By

Efforts to avert all-out war in eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo are doomed as long as negotiators ignore the role of the area’s lucrative mineral trade in fuelling the violence, according to anticorruption advocates and development officials.

They say that the deployment of thousands more United Nations peace-keepers to the region would be fruitless if armed groups continue to profit from the illegal trade with the connivance of international corporations.

Armed groups, including the Congolese Army and Tutsi rebels led by General Laurent Nkunda, have profited from the illegal trade of minerals such as coltan and tin ore for years, with British, Canadian, American and Belgian companies among their best clients.

Efforts to break that link have been stymied by Western governments unwilling to loosen their grip on the trade and made more difficult by the emergence of China as a big economic player on the continent. Rebels under General Nkunda’s control dismissed ceasefire calls made at yesterday’s emergency regional summit in Nairobi because, they said, it failed to address any of their demands – including the cancellation of a $9 billion (£6 billion) mining and infrastructure deal between China and the Congolese Government in Kinshasa.

The European Union said it regretted that the summit did not adopt measures to curb illegal mining. The Chinese deal gives China access to vast reserves of copper and cobalt in return for a project to link eastern Congo to Kinshasa by rail for the first time. General Nkunda complained that the deal would “line the pockets of a few politicians while the Congolese people would see no benefit”.

But advocates say that a host of foreign companies and governments are complicit in fuelling the violence by continuing to profit from the trade.

A 2002 UN investigation to name and shame companies involved, and consider sanctions until the trade could be cleaned up, foundered on international reluctance to lose a foothold in the trade. “Governments have been ignoring the issue and doing their best to paper over the war economy, to dampen down criticism of their companies and keep the minerals flowing,” Patricia Feeney, of the British-based lobby group Rights and Accountability in Development, said. “Unless we are willing to disrupt the supply chains, this remains a self-perpetuating illegal war economy.”

Britain is the only country to have censured companies – Afrimex and DAS Air – for unethical conduct in breach of international guidelines after intense pressure from the anticorruption group Global Witness and concerned MPs. At least another dozen identified by the UN have gone unrebuked.

The US has refused to examine any of its cases, while Belgium has exonerated its companies. German and Austrian companies, among others, remain accused of continuing to source minerals from mines in eastern Congo controlled by armed groups. China, the most recent entrant to the scramble for Africa, remains outside international guidelines on ethical trade.

Source

Seems the Corporations are in part responsible for much of the war doesn’t it?

And for What profit. When people are being killed for minerals and the Corporations buy them illegally they should be punished and stopped. Minerals of any type should only be purchased from any country legally.

I guess we have more corporate criminals. They should be treated as war criminals. Charged with crimes against humanity. They are in fact contributing to the deaths of many. They are in essence funding the war.  Maybe they should do some jail time as well. Murder is against the law. Conspiracy to commit murder is as well.

Cause and affect.

Take away the funding that pays for the war and the war could be brought under control. It could and should be ended.

Corporate profiteers such as this deserve to be in jail.

Someone should get out a roto router, ferret out these companies and find a way to stop them.

Published in: on November 8, 2008 at 8:11 am  Comments Off on Search for peace ‘doomed’ by scramble for minerals in Congo  
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