A Project Censored Award Winner, 2001-2002
part two:Central Africaby keith harmon snow
GENOCIDE IN RWANDA – capital “G” for its omnipotent grounding in the American psyche—is said to have killed 1,000,000 people in 1994. It is said that hard-line Hutus, which held a monopoly on power for decades, slaughtered minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus. There is some truth in this. Like the 1996 and 1998 “rebellions” in Zaire and its nemesis the Democratic Republic of Congo, this Genocide was attributed to tribalism: “An African conflict by Africans themselves,” wrote the western media. That part is pure fiction.
There has been another genocide – small “g” for its service to globalization—and this contre-genocide was orchestrated by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) -- the 1994 victors in Rwanda—to consolidate power. That the RPF may have been Tutsis is incidental.
“Rwanda was invaded by Uganda,” says one Genocide investigator. “These were powerful Ugandans and their job was to grab the place. This pack of terrorists didn’t give a damn whether 1,000,000 fellow Tutsis were killed. And I don’t believe it was one million—that’s the standard number of dead Africans they need to get Americans to pay attention. Before the RPF invaded there was an army of 5000 in Rwanda. The United States gave them all the support they needed. Now there are 60,000 soldiers and all the money that goes into ‘helping the victims of Genocide’ goes for war. All hell has broken loose. There’s blood all over the place.”
The Genocide was thrust into the public eye through day-to-day blanket media coverage kicked-off by the April 6, 1994, assassination of the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi. It was a media propaganda front sympathetic to the RPF. By selling the conflict in Rwanda as a “sudden and unexplainable orgy of violence,” and by focusing disproportionately on Hutus, the media launched a cover-up, which to this day continues to seal the fate of millions of people in Central Africa. The world remains blinded by the fog of “sympathy” for the Tutsi survivors, and by the outrage of “Genocide” committed by the Hutus.
Former President Bill Clinton and the George Bushes have business interests in Congo. Senator Howard Baker and Brian Mulroney, former Prime Minister of Canada, are two of their many partners. These people’s interests in Congo, as everywhere in Africa, revolve around raw materials: diamonds and gold; Congo coffee; and strategic minerals, including tantalum, columbium-tantalite (coltan), niobium, uranium, copper and tungsten. While all are vital to globalization, militarization and the control of space, none are as critical as cobalt, an element essential to military-industrial superalloys, found in quantities in Congo as nowhere else. Cobalt’s crucial role in tank armor, spacecraft, furnaces, refineries, mining, submarines, locomotives, nuclear reactors, and nuclear weapons dictates that access to Congo cobalt is a major Pentagon prerogative. As everywhere, the spoils include phenomenal reserves of oil and natural gas.
Behind local African warlords are the real players: Exxon, Unilever, Branch Energy, Bechtel. These are secretive corporations who, with the support of the US, UK and French governments, fund, arm and train private mercenary armies. Players include Hans Van Lujik and Bernard Legrand of Royal Dutch Shell; General Ed Soyster of Military Professional Resources Inc. (Washington); CIA agent Lawrence Devlin; even covert US forces. With their secret backers and alliances, African “leaders” like Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni, and their many jungle warlords, have waged war-as-cover for private profit. These proxy armies are depopulating Africa. Popular writers like Philip Gourevitch [We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda, 1998] are covering it up.
GRUESOME IS THE SUFFERING IN CENTRAL AFRICA. It is hard to believe that Congo could be worse now than it was as Zaire under Mobutu. It is. Heartbreak brings me to tears again and again. Ten minutes later adrenaline boils my blood as a battle-scarred tank rumbles by. It’s heading away from Congo. It crosses my mind that I should jump aboard, run away for self-preservation. I am working, ignoring my sixth bout of malaria, and I’m tired of sorting through the lies and propaganda of warring factions and spineless diplomats and western media to get to the truth. But a refugee has met me at this grungy hotel, in Fort Portal, Uganda’s wild, wild west, and I don’t want to let him down – he has less than nothing already.
His name is David (39). He is eating a plate of ugali – tubers boiled and mashed—and beef, which I bought him for a buck fifty. It is the only real food David has had, he says, for a week. His bones show it. David’s family is holed up in a shack while David scavenges food. His children are sick with dysentery, his father has died, and his mother is crippled with hunger. They have been in the forest, on the run for a week, skirting military patrols, eating bugs and roots, crossing the Ruwenzori mountains. Few people can or will help them. Suffering, deceit and violence are endemic here. Survival is a selfish matter.
Ugandan and Rwandan soldiers perpetuate war in nearby Congo, which they invaded with US backing. They stir the pot of ethnicity and arm rebel factions. They arrest, torture, “disappear” people, wipe out villages, rape women and girls. They brutalize the citizenry, steal everything, steal it again, and then they tax and punish people for their poverty. They run protection rackets and loot the environment. It is chaos and decay by design. “Humanitarian” organizations are involved in this inhumanity. These are people with no possessions, nowhere to go, no one to turn to. Disease and death are a way of life. It is so bad that even Coca-Cola thinks twice about working Congo. Basic health, medicine and foodstuffs are absent in rural Africa. Coca-Cola is always there.
All sides attack civilians – people who never did anything to anyone. That is how soldiers came to David’s house. “It was at around 10:30 at night, a gang of thirteen or fifteen soldiers,” he says, choking with anguish. “They came to our small hut and they knocked on the door and we were forced to open and some entered. We were sleeping but we were told not to come out and then my wife was separated from us...”
It is hard for David to share his trauma. “They told her to lie down and they started sleeping on her one by one…I counted five of them…and that thing was really very, very… very, very difficult for us. And we could never understand if these were Interahamwe (Hutu militias), or UPDF soldiers from Uganda, or Kabila’s soldiers because some of them were talking languages we can’t understand. And many, many people are fighting because of money…gold and diamonds. When the soldiers finished they stole all our money and went out. But they always came back so we decided to run away in the bush.”
David believes that I am Congo’s savoir. His unsteady voice echoes the despair of a million innocent human beings torn apart by outsiders. It is the collective scream of Congo:
“SO WE ASK ALL THE PEOPLE WHO CAN REALLY TRY VERY VERY HARD TO SEE IF THEY CAN STOP THE WAR IN CONGO BECAUSE MANY MANY PEOPLE ARE LEFT BEHIND IN VERY CRITICAL CONDITION BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO AND THEY CAN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO TO SAVE THEIR FAMILIES AND TO SAVE THEIR VERY LIVES.”
David’s family fled their home near Bunia. Refugees told me that Ugandan soldiers guard the nearby Kilo Moto gold mines of Barrick Gold Corporation. An Israeli General controls another mine – his reward as one of the military advisors for the ’96 rebellion, which unseated Zaire’s President Mobutu. The Ugandans have their own mines. Barrick Gold is the Congo connection to the George Bushes, partners Baker and Mulroney, and Edward Neys, whose connections to Burson-Marsteller, the world’s largest and most secretive public relations firm, insure that public perceptions will be properly managed. Barrick exploits Congo, Niger, Tanzania, and Mali (Argentina, Chile, Peru, Nevada, Ontario).
While I was in Central Africa (fall 2000), the Congo Peace Accords were signed in Zambia. UN Blue Helmets were supposed to arrive—peacekeepers and all that nonsense. The media plugged the Accords. Troops were pulling out they said. But the war is so bad that even Uganda and Rwanda fell to blows. Conspiring for a decade for the new order in Central Africa, greed got the best of them. Uganda amassed troops on its southern border, readied to attack Rwanda. Under the internationally advertised peace, and while I was there, three fresh Ugandan battalions were sent to Congo.
My friend David the refugee returns next morning. He is very patient while I battle the fever and apathy of malaria. Sharing the local breakfast, David explains how his seven-year-old daughter Rebecca died during the night. He stifles a sob. His face cracks and tears run over it and drip. David thanks me for helping his family. I give him money. He shocks me to tears with his profound humility and gratitude.
This is David’s story. It is one man’s horrible story. I consider him lucky. His daughter Rebecca is one of over 1.7 million victims of this western syndicated war. David is one of the survivors. At least, he was then. He may be dead by now.
GUNS & GOONS & GOLD: THE ARKANSAS CONNECTION. Refugees proliferate. Elephants are crossing out of Congo. There are no big male tuskers: Thugs in Congo are shooting them for their ivory. Renegade troops are poaching tuskers from Ugandan National Parks. Foreign and local profiteers pay protection fees to the soldiers, then strip and ship the rainforests through to Mombassa, Kenya, where tankers depart twice weekly, loaded. Ugandan soldiers coming out of Congo have spread the Ebola virus. (Until you understand the hidden symbols, please ignore the recent (February, 2001) New York Times Magazine cover-up: “When Ebola Came to St. Mary’s.”)
One of the biggest arms dealers in Central Africa is the United States. Exxon, Chevron, Heritage Oil & Gas, Fina, Elf and Gulf are dug in. They are insatiable. Groups like World Wild Life Fund support them, and vise versa. Indeed, Lonrho Corporation is as entrenched in Africa as McDonalds is in America and – like WWF – these are the private interests of Prince Charles and Buckingham Palace and other ignoble British.
The entire coast of the Gulf of Guinea has long since been conquered by big oil and for that the people are enslaved. Repression is constant and brutal under dictators like General Gnassingbe Eyadema (Togo), Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria), Paul Biya (Cameroon) and Omar Bongo (Gabon). These places are in complete media whiteout. In Congo’s darkest heart, huge chunks of forest are allocated to corporations like Trillion Resources and Heritage Oil & Gas – the later now raping Lake Albert and the Semiliki Basin, on the Uganda border.
Note that the 1996 US Presidential election outcome was irrelevant to the Zaire-Congo invasion. Coincident with Mobutu’s licensing of the Kilo-Moto (Bunia) gold mines to Barrick, the invasion began near Bunia in August 1996. (Of course, Mobutu’s days were numbered.) At the time, George Bush phoned Mobutu for Swedish financier Adolph Lundin – the Lundin Group and Tenke Mining—also a major player mining the Kolwezi mines in Congo. Meanwhile RPF henchman Paul Kagame was in Washington briefing the Pentagon and checking battle plans for his imminent attack against Mobutu and the Hutu refugee camps in eastern Congo. Attacking these camps, the RPF alliance in Congo then hunted and massacred tens and more probably hundreds of thousands of unarmed men, women and children.
But mining in Congo is subject to the whim and purchase of the current thugs. The Kolwezi mines were at one point controlled by American Mineral Fields International, based in 1995 in Hope, Arkansas, aligned through powerful business proxies to Bill Clinton. One AMFI Clintonite is Jean Raymond-Bouelle, also involved in the criminal syndicate called Sierra Leone. Mining engineer Pierre Baracyetse, who says he was in the know in Congo, claims that AMFI was incorporated (1995) after the RPF seized Rwanda and before the US sponsored alliance invasion of Congo. Linked to Caleb International, a Uganda company run by President Museveni’s half-brother General Salim Saleh, AMFI also has ties to South African mining giant Anglo-American Corporation (Oppenheimers): four AMFI directors were formerly with AAC. Curiously, but no surprise, amongst AMFI’s biggest partners are Barrick Gold.
One of the later lover’s of Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis, Maurice Templesman in October 1996 met with US National Security Director Anthony Lake – who now lives in Ashfield, MA—and secured Lake’s influence in gaining US Ex-Im Bank and US Overseas Private Investment Corporation backing for multimillion dollar diamond projects in war-torn Angola and Congo. Templesman’s interests in Zaire were peddled through Lawrence Devlin, long-time former CIA station chief in Zaire, who helped to negotiate the assassination of Congo nationalist intellectual Patrice Lumumba (1960’s) and the coup of a junior US trained officer named Mobutu Sese Seko. Devlin retired in 1974, but intervened with Mobutu’s gang to insure the prosperity of Templesman’s diamond syndicate. Unremarkably, amongst the 99-person entourage who accompanied Clinton to Africa in 1998 was Maurice Templesman. Provided full cover by the media, Clinton, CEO of the United States of America, was reviewing his diamond investments in Africa.
A Rwanda company called SONEX works with Anglo-American Corporation, which has its own mining monopolies in Congo. AAC’s equipment has been flown in to Congo on South African registered C-130 Hercules planes. Local thugs control these operations, fronting for top Rwanda Government officials. Lebanese firms are also fronting for Ugandans. Banro Resources (Canada) and Anvil Mining control gold mines near Burundi. Human rights activists in Uganda claim that mining equipment and weapons for Congo have been flown in through Entebbe, Uganda.
Halliburton, and its subsidiary Brown & Root, are two military intelligence contractors, closely aligned with the George Bushes, which provide “infrastructure support” in Rwanda, Congo and Angola. These companies enabled the RPF to launch two American supported invasions of neighboring Congo. Now U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney was Chairman of the Board and CEO of Halliburton in 1994. Halliburton is teamed with Gulf, Chevron, Mobil, BP and Amoco to prop up ruthless dictators and insure the free flow of oil from Africa. Halliburton’s “integrated solutions” are awash in Central Africa’s blood.
The diamond capital in Congo, Mbuji-Mayi, alone produced some $750 million in diamonds in 1999. But international outrage over “dirty” or “conflict” diamonds fueling the killing in Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia or Angola, is meant to target very specific interests hostile to the criminal western agenda—like peasant movements and true liberation struggles. This smokescreen helps legitimize established organized crime syndicates like de Beers, Barrick Gold, AMFI, Branch Energy, and the Hoge Raad voor Diamant – the Diamond High Council in Antwerp (legendary for its links to organized crime). Forget for a moment their drugs, guns and money rackets: These syndicates have expropriated Africa’s natural resources. They are getting away with murder.
GRANT NEITHER TRUST NOR TRUTH TO NEWS MEDIA. Since coming to power in 1994, the Rwanda government of current President Paul Kagame has incessantly sung the “Tutsi victims of Genocide” refrain. Indeed, to question the Genocide against the Tutsis—as I do here – is to be accused of Genocide, or at least supporting “the Genocide.” This is a scary and effective deterrent to truth and it effective. Meanwhile the RPF has slaughtered over 500,000 people.
The Hutu plans for Genocide against Tutsis were known by UN, US and French officials months in advance. No matter how loud UN Assistance Mission to Rwanda General Romeo Dallaire screamed, no one on the other side of the Atlantic seemed to hear. (Dallaire is literally insane today.) But this was not, as President Clinton told a crowd of Genocide survivors in Rwanda in1998, because “the US Government did not know what was happening at the time.” Clinton could not have told a more blatant lie, and the Rwandans knew it. The RPF made it clear that they would attack UN forces. Thus when Commander Kagame and his government scream that “the UN did nothing” – it very neatly makes victims out of terrorists. UN General Dallaire was outside the loop. He was dispensable.
Arms continued to pour into Rwanda. As the Genocide unfolded, the UN Security Council and the administration of US President Bill Clinton took steps to insure that no intervention would disrupt what, today, can be seen as a long-range business plan to extract personal profit from the Great Lakes region. But the Hutus obviously knew what the US government and its faithful media wouldn’t tell: The RPF terrorists and their US-backers were about to storm Rwanda.
By the conventional wisdom, Paul Kagame and the RPF stopped the Rwanda Genocide. In fact, the RPF killing machine – facing the Hutu hard-line government and allied French forces under cover of a UN “peacekeeping” called Operation Turquoise—committed untold atrocities and massacres. Meanwhile the western media portrayed the RPF as an equitable and highly disciplined military force. Human rights experts sympathetic to the US or the RPF helped frame the conflict. The Clintons and Bushes watched from the wings.
It is true that the Hutu Genocidiares very systematically eliminated enemies, both perceived and real, with no attempt to conceal the trails of mutilated bodies and massacres. These were hundreds of thousands of innocent people caught in the crossfire of international corporate terrorism and their war-making agenda. The RPF, on the other hand, was careful to control access to areas where RPF soldiers perpetrated massacres on thousands of combatants and innocent and mostly unarmed civilians – a policy which mirrors US military restrictions or selective access to the killing fields like Iraq.
The RPF-UPDF-US Congo alliance forces have used School of the Americas tactics. Indeed, they share some of the same trainers. Tactics include disguising themselves as the enemy and committing massacres against innocent, unarmed people, and then using these attacks as grounds for counter-insurgency operations, for scorched-earth campaigns of reprisal and elimination. No matter the scale or frequency of atrocities they commit, the Rwanda Congo alliance and its US covert forces continue to enjoy muted international criticism, at best. Mostly there is this uncanny silence. The human toll from this Central African contre-genocide alone may exceed 1,000,000. That’s the magic number that should wake you up, make you pay attention.