Open Letter to President Obama

Petition to the White House:

We, members of the Congolese Studies Association, congratulate president Obama on his election and look forward to the changes that his new administration will usher in.

The past eleven years have been difficult for the Congolese nation, the past year even more so. Since 1996, more than 5.4 million Congolese have died, more than 250,000 Congolese have been displaced, and the Congolese nation has been traumatized. We hope that the new administration will implement policies that will allow the DRC to heal its wounds, live in peace, and enjoy the fruits of its land.

For numerous years the American media, Human Rights, and United Nations reports have exposed the trauma of the Congolese women. The massive scale of rape has destroyed the social fabric of the Congolese nation through humiliation and trauma. The stigma and the high prevalence of HIV infections resulting from the rapes have maimed these females for life as much as they have destroyed families and communities in eastern Congo and the Congolese nation. We hope that the new administration will use its power to make those who commit these abominable crimes accountable, so that Congolese women can claim their right to life like any other women in the world.

The December 12, 2008 United Nations Security Council report—detailing the various participants in the Eastern Congo crisis (economic in nature)—places Rwanda at the center of the tragedy. The report ascertains that children are recruited in Rwanda to wage war in the DRC, that Rwandan troupes cross its borders to take part in the hostilities, and that through its allies and agents Rwanda continues to finance the ongoing war. Like anywhere in the DRC, the Kivus are home to dozens of ethnic groups and not all of these minority groups are represented in the government or the army. Nor do they feel that the nation seeks their extinction.

We hope that the current administration will strongly discourage Rwanda from continuing to wage war against the Congo and that the Congolese people will be allowed to freely determine the course of their own future. We hope that the sovereignty and integrity of the Congo will be respected and that the violence and rape against Congolese women and girls will be an issue of major concern for the new administration. We also hope that the recruitment of children will cease. We hope the DRC can be granted the peace it deserves and be a country where the rule of law prevails and its territorial integrity preserved.

January 25, 2009

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