Almost 200 women and young boys were gang-raped less than 20 kilometres from a U.N. peacekeeping post in the Congo.
The attacks, which included the brutalization of a one-month-old baby boy were carried out by Rwandan FLDR and Mai-Mai rebels who are fighting with the Congolese army over control of mineral resources. The eastern congo is very mineral-rich, but everyone wants a piece of the windfall. Systematic rape is considered a valid privilege of fighting in an area where shame is a weapon and women and children are seen as property.
The UN peacekeeping force numbers a mere 20,000 and has often been criticized for protecting goods instead of civilians. During the 4-day occupation and war-crime session, peacekeepers did indeed manage to protect people while they traveled to a commercial truck conveniently located near a mine. Somehow they also claim to have been powerless against the mob of rebel rapists. It is no wonder that the Congolese government wants the UN out.
Adding fuel to my ire is the fact that IMF spokesman Will Cragin issued this comment: "There was no fighting and no deaths, just lots of pillaging and the systematic raping of women."
Just the pillaging and raping? Just? There is no just nor justice here. The looting was given equal or greater importance over the gang-raping. I know I'm not a man living in a small Congolese town, but I'm pretty sure that every one of those guys would give up every material possession to ensure the safety of their wives and children. Just gang-raping of women and children by armies of AIDS-infected soldiers? As for no deaths, there will certainly be loads considering that only 3 people where given the post-exposure anti-infection regimen. If 60% of these soldiers are infected with AIDS , as some estimates suggest, this becomes a de facto genocide by rape. Pat yourself on the back for not fighting with these scumbags if you wish, but there will most certainly be deaths.
So what to do? People must be told about this situation and UN forces increased. If people were aware of the thousands of people systematically tortured and given death sentences, they would actually volunteer to protect others. Also stop protecting mines . The Congolese army can and will protect their natural resources. They've said it all along that they only need the UN to help them combat atrocities against humans. Moreover, gold is a product- it has no thoughts or feelings. The lives of innocents are far more important than something from the ground that man thinks is worth something when it is really just a rock.
Let the little boys fight over their pretty stones and protect civilians from very real terror. When Lester Pearson designed the modern peacekeeping force the mineral was not given a place above man; in fact it was the opposite, and for very good reason.
Victims of war crimes are not only numbers, they are living, breathing, feeling entities crying out for our help.
We must place the health and welfare of everyday people over trinkets. And some of you may think we have no place to be involved, that these people are somehow alien to you, inferiors, or savages. For you I have one question:
What would you want done if it was your life and the lives of those closest to you were given a lesser value because of the discovery of baubles in your backyard?
Click HERE for more information on how you can help innocent victims of the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.