Trying to understand and give some context to the renewal of conflict in the DRC is extremely difficult. I recently spoke briefly with DieudonnÃ© Wedi who is a DRC national and a human rights defender who has written on the violence perpetrated on women and children, for his thoughts on the present crisis.
SE: What is your thoughts on the origins of the conflict?
DW: When in 1996, the Rwandese president Paul Kangame backed the rebellion led by the Laurent Desire Kabila who latter overthrew Mobutu one of the former Congolese president and become president, the reason was that Rwanda was backing Laurent desire Kabila in order to eradicate the presence of those responsible of genocide in 1994 in Rwanda, but later on it was shown that Rwanda was looting Congolese natural resources.
Indeed, Rwanda with RCD a rebellion backed by Rwanda occupied the Eastern DRC for three years where those responsible of genocide are based but they could not eradicate them because they (Rwanda and RCD) were more busy looting natural resource than fighting those criminal. Thus the real origin of the conflict is the need of access and exploitation of the mineral resource and the land occupation.
SE: Do you think the mining multinationals have any contribution to the conflict
DW: Yes, indeed, many reports released by ONGs and UN panel have confirmed the involvement of multinational and mining,
SE: What are your thoughts on the UN – the reports we get is that they are not doing enough by far:
DW: The current problem of the UN peacekeeper is the mandate. Instead of being a peacemaker force, the current is a peacekeeper. Those who are supposed to make peace in DRC case are those who are fighting and none of them are willing any peace. Indeed, peace in Eastern seems not to be a common concern. The conflict allows the looting of Congolese natural resource, traffic of weapon and other illegal practice through which multinational, arm groups, neighbouring countries as well as individual are earning a lot of money. Thus, instead of waiting for those involved in conflict to make peace the better way will be for international community to oppose peace because the main objective of those who perpetuate conflict in Eastern DRC is to keep this area in state of a no man land..
SE: You have written many times child soldiers and violence such as rape against women. Are these kind of violence still taking place in the present conflict?
DW: Unfortunately once again sexual violence remains a weapon in conflict in eastern DRC. The impunity is one of reason encouraging the practice ; The recruitment of child soldier is one of the worse thing happening in conflict in DRC. But we have to distinguish two kinds of recruitment of child soldier.
Those who abduct children as soldier and those who recruit them through promise of money and other advantage they can get by being soldier. But all those recruitments have to be condemned and those responsible prosecuted.
SE: Do you think this is a problem from the Tutsi fighting the Hutu in DRC or more complex
DW: The problem is more complex than Tutsi fighting Hutu because the real reason of conflict is the looting of natural resource of DRC and the research to occupy the land .The current rebellion is backed by Rwanda which is interested by land and natural resource of DRC. Of course there are those who committed genocide in Rwanda but their presence becomes a pretext for Rwanda to explain his presence in DRC because the same Rwanda and the previous rebellion backed by Rwanda the RCD had occupied the eastern DRC for three years where are based those responsible of genocide without ending their presence.
In my opinion, Nkunda is just playing a role: To create and maintain a state of conflict in Eastern DRC in order to allow Rwanda to loot and try to gain a piece of land which will be one day claimed like Kosovo was. The RCD, the previous rebellion played the some role.
DieudonnÃ© Wedi is an expert in the transitional justice field. He is research and publishing peace building, conflict resolution, reconciliation and implementation of democracy.