News / Africa

US Activists Bring Attention to Congo's Plight

Congo's recent history has been marked by conflict and competing armed groups, Oct 2010
Congo's recent history has been marked by conflict and competing armed groups, Oct 2010

Multimedia

Audio

Activists in the United States are organizing events this week to bring attention to the ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The efforts are part of a wider movement to help victims and try to bring about change from a distance.

Kanda Bongo Man, a musician from the Democratic Republic of Congo, kicked off events this week in Harlem, New York, as part of what is being called "Breaking the Silence: Congo Week."

The student coordinator of a group called Friends of the Congo, Kambale Musavuli, explains the importance of dozens of events across the United States and in other countries that will range from running races to conferences.

'Breaking the Silence'

"I think it is a responsibility for humanity to care for one another, that is one basic reason," said Musavuli.  "A second is that it is the greatest conflict in the world since World War II, the deadliest conflict since World War II.  It will take the support of ordinary people around the world, especially the United States, because it has a lot of leverage in bringing about peace in the Congo and we know that ordinary people can do that since they did it 100 years ago."

Activists in the United States are spending the week organizing Congo-related protests, Oct 2010
Activists in the United States are spending the week organizing Congo-related protests, Oct 2010

Musavuli points to the historical role of Americans like author Mark Twain and former American slave Booker T. Washington as precedence.  In the early 1900s, they helped lead a mass movement to end atrocities in the Congo.  At the time, Belgium's King Leopold had made the Congo his private property and had built a fortune through rubber plantations.

In 1908, the Belgian parliament compelled the king to cede Congo to Belgium, and the worst of the atrocities ended.

Musavuli said today regular Americans can ask their local councils to write resolutions for peace in the Congo, while starting their own Internet campaigns.  That way, he said, the issue will be on everyone's mind.

'Congo Week'

The week-long activities come amid growing activism by U.S groups pointing out how the sale of cellphones and laptops, made with some of Congo's minerals, helps fuel Congo's conflict.  They also have protested against the use of child soldiers and widespread rape.  Between five and six million people are estimated to have been killed in Congo's war in the past 14 years, which also has involved neighboring countries.

In eastern Congo, the region where war persists, different armies, militia groups, rebels and companies have been competing to profit from the region's mineral wealth, while local populations try to survive in dismal conditions.

One U.S. group has been organizing a tour of campuses and coffee shops - called "Falling Whistles" - to advocate for peace.

Advocacy coordinator Monique Beadle says the whistles are a double metaphor to bring attention to child soldiers too young to hold weapons who are sent to the frontlines wearing only whistles, and to so-called whistleblowers in Congo, who refuse to remain silent.

"There are brave women and men on the ground who are risking their lives everyday and standing up for peace in their own communities so we blow this whistle in protest against the war and also in solidarity," said Beadle.

Shedding light on the conflict

Beadle calls on participants who attend Congo protests to start their own protests, and use whatever skills they have to bring attention to the conflict.  "Falling Whistles" sells replicas of the whistles child soldiers are forced to wear, and sends proceeds to rehabilitation programs in the Congo.

Beadle said she believes activism from outside eventually can help those trying to make a difference from within the Congo prevail.

"A lot of times we hear from people that it is an intractable problem and there is just no way that Congo can be at peace," said Beadle.  "It is too big.  But we simply don't believe that it is the case.  We have met too many Congolese people, some visionaries, civil society leaders, reformers, who really have the potential and the vision and ideas to make for peace on the ground, and all that they really need is our awareness and our support and solidarity."

Other suggestions that activists have been making are for the United States government to cut aid to neighboring countries found meddling in the Congo, as well as devoting more diplomatic energy to ending the conflict.  They also want to see all companies selling electronic goods in the United States certify their products are free of conflict minerals.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs