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The Civil War in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The DRC has been plagued by a disastrous civil war for nearly five years. It has been a bloody, brutal conflict that has cost more lives in such a short period than any other on the globe in recent history. The weapons of mass destruction employed have been mutilations, rape, and starvation. Terrorists in military uniforms from various lands have carried out strikes daily on innocent civilians, murdering, torturing, plundering and destroying. Children, some as young as seven, are given a mix of Kalashnikovs, machetes and drugs to make them effective killers for rival armies. Yet somehow, unlike regions in Western and Central Asia with key oil reserves or Eastern European atrocities of ethnic cleansings that threaten region stability, the DRC's War and the snuffing out of 2.5 million citizens of the global community has gone remarkably unreported over the years. In the US, neither Democratic nor Republican administrations seem to have given it much attention. The news media has only become interested when sensationalist stories of ritualistic cannibalism appear that help the notions of "Darkest Africa" to flourish. And with everyone's focus on taking stances for or against Operation Iraqi Liberation (catch the acronym), the horrors in the DR Congo have gone unnoticed. Either the world has turned a blind eye to the region, or its victims have merely been emitting silent screams.

Millions Already Gone: Who Hears Cries for The Congo?

By Morpheus Reloaded (May 25th, 2003)

More atrocities - maiming,killing, rape - plague the Northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. These victims were hacked with machetes.

This week's news from the Democratic Republic of Congo was much as it has been for the past five years. Once again, evidence of atrocities in the vast African state was reported. This time the culprits were rival ethnic militias and fragmented rebel factions in the northeastern region. Aid workers found over 200 bodies on the streets of Bunia. Many of them were women and children, some decapitated, a few with their hearts, livers and lungs ripped out.

If those figures and acts shock you, be sure to add the recent dead to the 1,000 people in nearby Drodro and surrounding villages who in early April were raped, maimed and hacked to death. Don't forget to take into account the near 50,000 who suffered a similar fate in the past few years. And to get the full effect and staggering horror of it all, throw these few thousand bodies in with the 2.5 million men, women and children that have died from the violence in the DRC since 1998.

And you thought your block was hot huh?

The DRC has been plagued by a disastrous civil war for nearly five years. It has been a bloody, brutal conflict that has cost more lives in such a short period than any other on the globe in recent history. The weapons of mass destruction employed have been mutilations, rape, and starvation. Terrorists in military uniforms from various lands have carried out strikes daily on innocent civilians, murdering, torturing, plundering and destroying. Children, some as young as seven, are given a mix of Kalashnikovs, machetes and drugs to make them effective killers for rival armies.

Within the many factions that have fought in the DRC, child soldiers proliferate. Many are kept in a drug-induced state to help them carry out their brutal acts.

Yet somehow, unlike regions in Western and Central Asia with key oil reserves or Eastern European atrocities of ethnic cleansings that threaten region stability, the DRC's War and the snuffing out of 2.5 million citizens of the global community has gone remarkably unreported over the years. In the US, neither Democratic nor Republican administrations seem to have given it much attention. The news media has only become interested when sensationalist stories of ritualistic cannibalism appear that help the notions of "Darkest Africa" to flourish. And with everyone's focus on taking stances for or against Operation Iraqi Liberation (catch the acronym), the horrors in the DR Congo have gone unnoticed. Either the world has turned a blind eye to the region, or its victims have merely been emitting silent screams.

The more remote roots of this conflict can probably be traced back to the arrival of Europeans in the region, and the resulting slave trade that not only sent millions of black bodies to the New World, but also caused mayhem, displaced peoples and destroyed cultures. Or maybe we can begin with the DRC's time as a colony, when the Belgian leader Leopold II's brutality caused the death of millions and exacerbated ethnic hatreds. Or perhaps the DR Congo's seeds can be seen in the US sanctioned, Belgian-planned, and Western-led overthrow/assassination of the country's democratic leader Patrice Lumumba in 1961, one of many Cold War casualties for Africa. Yet the more modern trail properly begins with the downfall of the US backed and Western-propped up dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997.

Patrice Lumumba, First and only Democratic Leader of the modern state of Congo (Zaire) 1960, overthrown by Mobutu Sese Seko and Joseph Kasavubu 1960, assassinated in 1961, with Western backing.

It was supposed to be a people's revolution. The ousting of the strongman Mobutu, who had been involved in the plot that killed Lumumba and had for so long plundered and tormented his own people at the behest of Western backers, was to signal a Renaissance. His palace was ransacked. The rebels were celebrated. The name Zaire was even changed back to Congo, the Democratic Republic. But things didn't work out as planned.

Laurent Kabila took control of the vast nation with many promises of freedom and prosperity. Yet during his brief reign he outlawed opposition groups and shut down the press, making a host of enemies. He failed to implement meaningful reform to the shattered country's infrastructure and did nothing to remove some 40 million Congolese from abject poverty, in a nation literally teeming with resources. Worse yet, his blocking of UN probes into reported massacres during his rebellion against Mobutu made him an international pariah. But Kabila's greatest problem, and the beginning of his country's nightmare, turned out to be the friends he kept.

The Late President Kabila

Kabila's toppling of Mobutu was not a singular act or even that of just the people, but came with the backing of nearby Rwanda. The Rwandan army remained in Congo with the claim that they were there to train the newly liberated nation's defense forces. But when asked to leave, the Rwandans not only refused but helped spark rebellion among a faction of the DRC's army. Worse still, the Rwandans brought their own Hutu-Tutsi nightmare with them (the horror the world watched unfold in 1994 that claimed close to one million lives), citing the need to seek out threats to its own security (namely Hutu militias that operated in DR Congo's lawless frontier). Laurent Kabila soon found himself looking at not only a revolt by a section of his army, but much of the eastern part of his country that was ethnically aligned to Rwanda, all of which could result in a Hutu-Tutsi orgy of genocidal violence.

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