Now That Katanga And Lubanga Convicted, ICC Must Focus On Gen. Museveni and Gen. Kagame, Sponsors of Congo Warlords
Uganda's Gen. Museveni
Uganda-trained Congo warlord Germain Katanga has been convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on four counts of war crimes and one count of crimes against humanity in a 2-1 ruling by judges.
If we are to use the drug business as an analogy, Katanga would be the street corner dealer -- Uganda would be the major supplier.
Without the training and arming by Uganda for Katanga and his militia the Patriotic Resistance Forces in Ituri (FRPI), the crimes would not have been committed. Since Katanga was convicted as an "accessory" for having provided the weapons that enabled the massacre of an estimated 200 villagers in Bogoro village in 2003 to take place; then surely, Uganda too is an accessory for having provided Katanga the weapons and the training.
Many human rights organizations and groups representing women's and children's rights are understandably outraged that Katanga was not convicted on charges that included mass rapes, and sexual enslavement of captives.
When the crimes occurred, Ituri region was actually under Ugandan occupation. Uganda trained several of the militias involved in the atrocities.
The Bogoro crimes of course pales in comparison to the overall atrocities in Ituri where an estimated 50,000 or more perished, and the more than seven million who have died since the original invasion of Congo by Uganda and Rwanda in 1996 and 1997.
Indeed, the International Court of Justice (The World Court) found Uganda liable for what amounted to war crimes in the Congo and awarded Kinshasa $10 billion in reparations; not a dime of which has been paid. Separately, the ICC also opened an investigation into Uganda's role in the Congo crimes. The Wall Street Journal reported June 8, 2006 that Gen. Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan ruler, presumably fearing criminal indictment, contacted then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and asked him to block the probe; the investigation must be allowed to take its course.
Last year, the ICC convicted Thomas Lubanga who headed Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) on crimes related to the training and deployment of child soldiers in the conflict in Congo's same mineral-rich Ituri region. Lubanga's victims were mostly Lendu.
Lubanga was trained by Uganda, but later supported by Rwanda after his falling out with Gen. Museveni; Rwanda should be held liable for his crimes. Another Rwanda-backed warlord, Bosco Ntaganda, is also being tried at the ICC. Another war lord, Laurent Nkunda, is harbored by Gen. Kagame.
At the time of the crimes committed in Ituri in 2003 there was conflict between the Lendu and Hema ethnic groups over land; both Uganda's and Rwanda's leadership promoted the fighting. The ultimate goal was ethnic cleansing, through mass killings and population dispersals through refugees' exodus. The gold and oil - rich region would then be controlled by Uganda and Rwanda.
In fact, Gen. Museveni and Rwanda's ruler Gen. Paul Kagame were so blinded by greed for Congo's riches that their respective national armies fought against each other in Congolese territory for control over mineral-rich regions and destroyed parts of the city of Kisangani resulting in an estimated 1,200 deaths. It was akin to two bandits breaking into a home and fighting over the loot while killing the owner and his family; in this case the house was a whole country.
Many Ugandan and Rwandan politicians and military officers became phenomenally rich from the blood of Congolese.
Katanga's conviction was this year; Lubanga's was last year. Now the ICC must not shy away from the obvious elephants in the room -- Uganda and Rwanda.
The court must continue investigating Uganda's role in the Congo crimes; if indeed it was halted when Gen. Museveni reportedly obstructed the course of justice it must resume.
In the case of Rwanda's role in the Congo crimes there is also sufficient evidence for a strong case. The United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International have compiled several well-documented reports dating back to the massacre of Hutu refugees in Congo to Rwanda's recent role in the M23 atrocities.
The victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Congo are watching.