|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Religious Leaders on Democratic Republic of Congo
“Enough is enough,” said Dieudonné Mbaya Tshiakany, National Moderator of l’Eglise du Christ au Congo, referring to the conflicts that had killed 6 million Congolese, at a Headquarters press conference, entitled "Peace is still possible within the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda".
Mr. Mbaya Tshiakany was among the representatives of a wide range of Congolese religious organizations — including Catholic, Protestant, orthodox and independent churches, as well as Muslim communities — who had come to New York to drum up support for a petition they brought to the United Nations.
Joining him at the press conference sponsored by the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Mission to the United Nations were the Church’s President, Monseigneur Pierre Marini Bodho, along with Reverend Elebe Kapalay, Representant legal Suppleant de l’Eglise Kimbaguiste.
The petition, he said, had three key messages: First, that Rwanda had created the M23 mutineers and provided weapons and logistical support to the militia; second, that the neighbouring country was behind rapes and killings of Congolese and had tried to alter the demographic makeup of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in an attempt to annex it; and, third, that Rwanda had not respected the United Nations Charter.
Noting that men, women and children from all tribes had been killed, he said that religious groups had come together to appeal to humankind about the “forgotten crisis” in his country.
Expressing frustration over the inaction, he said that women had been treated in an inhumane fashion and that his country had become known as the “capital of rape”. Women were even forced to have sex in the presence of their own children, he said. The Congolese Government was doing its job, but the religious community wanted to “cry out” for civil society from the bottom up.
The United Nations had issued several reports, which had indentified Rwanda’s involvement in the conflicts and named the perpetrators, but there had been no follow-up, he said. “Nothing has been done and the press has not responded,” he said, calling on United Nations Member States to take action against Rwanda, and on the media to convey the voices of the Congolese. He warned of new massacres and said the death toll was rising.
Asked about Rwanda’s candidacy as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, he declared that Rwanda should not seek a seat for several reasons, including its invasion of his country and its violation of the United Nations Charter. Africa had more than 50 countries and another in his subregion should have an African seat in the Council chamber, he added.
On the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), he said it should have a new mandate beyond its role of observing so it could protect civilians. His country had also asked the African Union to create a neutral force. On M23 and other rebel groups, he said Rwanda was behind all different rebels and militias, including the Mai Mai force.
Replying to a question about natural resources, he said Rwanda was listed as a producer of diamonds and other minerals, but none were found there, which indicated that the neighbouring country was stealing wealth from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Wars had been waged by outsiders seeking control of the natural resources, he said, when asked about root causes of the conflict.
Counting the number of the dead was not enough, said Mr. Marini Bodho, calling for action by the international community. He explained that the Congolese religious community’s intention was not to incite hatred against Rwanda, but he also warned against the theft of his nation’s natural resources and underscored the need for norms and standards to stem exploitation of gold, silver and other minerals. “Unacceptable methods have been used,” he said.
He informed correspondents that representatives from the religious community planned to take their message around the world in a journey that had begun at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
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