Poor souls....


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Tens of Thousands Said Raped in East Congo

2 hours, 26 minutes ago World - AP

By BRYAN MEALER, Associated Press Writer

KINSHASA, Congo - Militiamen and renegade soldiers have raped and beaten tens of thousands of women and young girls in eastern Congo, and nearly all the crimes have gone unpunished by the country's broken judicial system, an international human rights group said Monday.

AP Photo

Hundreds of new rapes are reported every week, but only 10 soldiers and militants have been convicted of rape in relatively lawless eastern Congo since the end of the country's devastating war in 2002, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report.

"Perpetrators of sexual violence are members of virtually all the armed forces and armed groups that operate in eastern Congo," according to the 52-page report.

"The Congolese justice system has to date failed to address the egregious problem."

Rape is often a preferred weapon of armed groups fighting the east's myriad battles, as it was during the 1998-2002 war Monday's report quotes a World Health Organization (news - web sites) study that documented over 40,000 rapes in two eastern provinces during the conflict.

Marauding gunmen gang-raped children as young as 3-years-old, and often raped women and young girls some to the point of death as their families helplessly watched, the report said.

At least 10 women were being raped every day in the tiny, embattled town of Bunia as recently as October 2004, according to the report.

Warring ethnic Hema and Lendu militia continue to terrorize Bunia kicking down doors in the night and snatching girls in the fields despite the presence of thousands of U.N. peacekeepers based there.

Peacekeepers in Bunia have also been accused of raping young girls living in the town's sprawling camp for those displaced by fighting, or trading sweets and pocket change for sex.

The United Nations (news - web sites) reported Saturday that Lendu militia in the northern Ituri province had kidnapped thousands of people and used many of them as sex slaves.

In some cases, even boys and men were being raped by armed groups.

In all, the report states that "tens of thousands" of rapes had been reported, and many more are believed to have gone unreported.

Despite the creation of a transitional government in 2003 that ended Congo's five-year war, the long arm of the law has yet to reach the troubled east.

Outdated rape laws, lack of police and criminal courts, and widespread failure to see rape as a crime make it impossible for the few prosecutors to pursue rapists, said Juliane Kippenberg, researcher and spokeswomen for Human Rights Watch.

"Prosecutors rarely have the support or the funds to properly do their jobs," said Kippenberg. "Most of these cases eventually get thrown out. The justice system is failing these people."

Kippenberg said many young girls are also too afraid or embarrassed to report rape to their parents, or to military authorities in the region. Many die from lack of medical attention after being raped, and some commit suicide rather than seek help.
On the Net: hrw.org/reports/2005/drc0305/ (external - login to view)

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Hard-Luck Henry
That's sickening: What makes it more so, if that were possible, it that this war is being perpetuated by those who want to exploit Congo's mineral wealth, most notably diamonds. This is happening because people attach an obscene value to wearing shiny stones you dig out of the ground. I'm over-simplifying, but it makes me so f*cking angry.
Rick van Opbergen
Absolutely sickening, like Hard-Luck Henry said. What is even more sad is that for example in Darfur - where women are being raped on a large scale as well - women are often not accepted anymore in a family after she has been raped. So she becomes a double victim: she is raped, and after that left by her family. Very sad
Reverend Blair
Something that nobody talks about about is the complicity of developed nations in all of this. It is the Security Council that has dragged its feet on the Congo and several other African wars. Corporations are making a lot of money in Africa (it is less diamonds than other minerals now due to the blood diamond ban, but diamonds still play a major role) and they put pressure on their governments to keep interference to a minimum.
Where is old "W" and his freedom fighters? Why isn't "W" bringing "freedom and Democracy" to these people?

Oh. Could it be oil is worth more than diamonds? And since "W" has always been an oilman wannabe...........
Reverend Blair
Dubya has a major problem with the International Criminal Court because he lives in terror that he might be held accountable for his crimes one day.

That attitude has kept a UN resolution to try Sudanese government officials and Janjaweed militia members at the ICC from making it through the Security Council. Trial at the ICC is one of the few things that the Sudanese government actually fears.

It is not directly affecting the situation in Congo yet, but if those doing the raping were hearing about others being prosecuted for the same crimes it would make them think twice. In the future, Bush's fear of the ICC will have a direct effect on the DRC because the US will oppose international law again.
Rick van Opbergen
Should the UN be more active in its approach, or will that only have a countereffect? Meaning that the conflict is so complex, that the actions of the UN can relatively easy be misinterpreted by the different parties?
Reverend Blair
The UN should be more active. At the very least they should be guarding refugee camps to stop the rape and murder of civilians.

The people who hold the keys to the UN actually doing anything are the problem.

Look at the Security Council and then look where the corporations are based. France and the US don't mind the situation in Africa...it's making them money. France has been improving since Rwanda, but they haven't stopped taking advantage of things like this yet. The US has been getting worse, not better, for the last five years or so.

Russia and China don't give a rat's *** either way. This is a non-issue to them...something that can be bargained for favours on things they care about.

Britain has a history of backing the US on these things.
Rick van Opbergen
Have you seen the movie Hotel Rwanda? Well, I haven't, but I've seen parts of it, and at one time, the Canadian officer who is one of the main characters in the movies says to the Rwandan hotel owner (well, I don't remember the exact words, but it's something like this): "You are nothing. You are nothing in the eyes of the West, Africans". I think that sums it up: the West does not want to mangle into the African conflicts because there is nothing to gain; they are "just" Africans, and it seems an African life is has a lesser value than the life of a Westerner. I mean, just look at the tsunami, it was all about the lives of the killed Westerners. Or the Madrid bombings. I do not mean to portray these events as not important or something like that, but where are the reports about the millions that have been killed in the Congolese civil war of the last 6-7 years?
Reverend Blair
I've talked to some aid workers who have been to Africa. Nobody likes to say it out loud, but they feel that it really is race-based. Not just things like the Congo, but the AIDS pandemic and malaria, and just the over-all treatment that Africa gets from the west.

If those were little blonde kids suffering over there it would be on the front pages every day. They are little black kids though, so it barely makes the papers at all.
It is always about politics, money and power.It is sickening the pocketbook has to come before people. Were all the same carbon based life forms no matter where we live, we need to get rid of petty politics and power and start to help each other out, not just token dollars here and there.The planet has enough resources to feed, provide medicine and necessities of life for all, regardless of what country we live in. But the politicians don't care. It is all about profit and power and that is what will cause the end of mankind.

We need to learn to share and we need to abolish the need for money. Personally If I could I would abolish all forms of currency.
Hard-Luck Henry
I read a Reuters report which states that the Asian Tsunami received more coverage in 6 weeks than the top 10 "forgotten crises" did in a year. Not surprisingly Africa features heavily in this top 10, notably the conflicts in DRC, Uganda and Sudan. There's no doubt that the tsunami was a tragedy, indeed it's an ongoing one, but the devastation in Africa is said to amount to 2 tsunamis a month.

As a Briton, the situation in DRC is especially shameful - the main protagonist is clearly Rwanda, a frail, weak country which is dependent upon aid. One third of Rwandan aid comes from the UK - the British government could end this crisis right now.
Reverend Blair
You'd find the British money replaced pretty quickly, I think. It has to be a joint effort for such actions to be successful because other interests will just move in otherwise.

Interesting thing about the tsunami...there are that many AIDS deaths in Africa every couple of weeks. More children have died in Africa after being forced to be child soldiers than many tsunamis combined could have killed. There is little media coverage and very few drives for aid for those things though.
Maybe the UN can save them...oh wait, they are part of the problem, seeing as though some members of that org. are the perp's who are raping the kids, women, and in some cases, men.
Reverend Blair
Yeah, blame the UN, Jamie. That's the easy way and, best of all, it makes it somebody else's responsibility. No need to worry, it is all the UNs fault.
I'm not saying it's all their fault. Read the article, man, I didn't make it up.
Reverend Blair
I've read the article, Jamie. I've also read several others about action the UN has tried to take. You see, most of these "UN workers" are actually working for their own governments or NGOs. The UN has no real power over them and cannot enforce laws. All they can really do is report it to the home country of the offender. If that country doesn't do anything about it, then the practice continues.

Kofi Annan has done more to stop this kind of abuse than any previous Secretary General and he has clearly stated that he would like to do more but needs the cooperation of the member states, especially the Security Council.

There seems to be a fallacy on the right that the UN is some sort of world government that has complete control where ever it operates. That isn't even close to reality.

The biggest single step towards stopping this kind of abuse right now would be the US signing on to the ICC and supporting it in such a way that anybody...aid worker, soldier, local warlord...caught breaking international laws was dragged off for trial. The US not joining, in fact actively working to undermine, the ICC sends a message that anything goes in lawless areas.
Sorry rev but jamies telling the truth about the U.N. in the congo iIsaw a program I think it was dateline and they showed how the un workers were having there way with the women of the congo a bunch of them were fired and reassigned for running prostitution rings . the un is pretty dirty organization I.E. food for oil scandal in Iraq We still haven't been told the truth about that either

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