Kambale Musavuli, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a human rights activist, Student Coordinator and National Spokesperson for the Friends of the Congo. Mr. Musavuli’s professional activities, publications, and public engagements reflect his unflagging commitment to realizing peace and justice in the Congo.
Mr. Musavuli has written for The Washington Post, Foreign Policy in Focus, The Huffington Post and numerous other academic and news publications. He has also been interviewed on National Public Radio, Democracy Now, ABC News, Al Jazeera English Television, Radio France International and a number of other radio and television programs. He has been profiled in publications such as “Christianity,” “News and Record,” and a few other newspapers around the world.
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington.With all the controversy about the viral video Kony 2012, which calls for U.S. military intervention in Uganda and support for the Ugandan military, there's another piece of context that's not being talked about very much, and that's U.S. support for the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, who was elected in what most people think was a very fraudulent election, but recognized by the United States. Now joining us to talk about that election and current situation in the Congo is Kambale Musavuli. He's a human rights activist originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He's also the national spokesman for Friends of the Congo. And he joins us now from Washington. Thanks for joining us.KAMBALE MUSAVULI, SPOKESMAN, FRIENDS OF THE CONGO: Thank you, Paul.JAY: So talk about what happened during the elections and the whole U.S.-Congolese relationship.MUSAVULI: Yes. November 28, the Congo held its presidential and legislative elections. And this electionâthese elections were marred with a lot of what the Carter Center calls "irregularities". But all know it was very fraudulent. We had places that voted that had more than 100 percent voting. We had polling stations who were not counted. You know, in example, one of the key city, Kinshasa, 2,000 polling stations were not counted. And there was very oppressive push to stop the people from speaking up. You know, I'mâand I'm speaking about the Congolese police actually, you know, shooting at civilians who were protesting peacefully without any guns.So, unfortunately, the Congolese institutions, you know, the commission for the electoral process, announced that Kabila, the current president, won the election. And that has created a situation where, on the ground, the people do not believe that the government represent them, and they have literally checked out of the democratic process, and they have been protesting.Now, what is very interesting to know is, unfortunately, the United States is supporting that government. And they did it in a very shady way. You know, after the elections, when we had the provisional results, the world was watching, trying to find out what the U.S. position is going to be toward the elections. Hillary Clinton put out a very soft statement online about how they were concerned with the elections on the ground, which was not similar even to what happened in Russia, and she put out a statement. The world's trying to watch what the U.S. will do. They never even said it publicly. They actually went into hidingâthat's how I portray itâthat the ambassador, the U.S. ambassador to the Congo, James Entwistle, had a press conference in Kinshasa where not many media were there. You know, we did get the information, what he stated. Let me be clear. The U.S. position toward the Congo is that the United States recognize President Kabila as the president of the Congo for the next five years. And that's very dangerous, because the people on the ground have called for some sort of a truth of the poll to be known. So they are organizing to get the truth of the polls, while the United States is supporting an oppressive regime which is using the support we're giving them to oppress the people.So let me get some context for you. On November 15, 2011, which is actually on the U.S. Embassy's website, the United States provided $500 million worth of police equipment to the Congolese police. On November 26, in front of the international media, the Congolese police shot at civilians and killed them, shot. And the video can be found online where you're seeing unarmed civilians running away from the police shooting at them, almost looking like the killing in Soweto. No international condemnation, no one has been held accountable.And one will ask: where did the Congolese police get these weapons? But the embassy said it already: we're providing you with the equipment to crush your population if they ever rise up against the result of the election. And that's unfortunate.And this is [incompr.] Congolese, because Congolese and people around the world look to America. Why? Because of the American principles of democracy. Not only that, in the case of the Congo we have a law to support democracy in the Congo. So whenever we look at the U.S. steering away from democratic principles and supporting oppressive regime, that's very concerning to us [crosstalk] to the American people.JAY: Well, I guess U.S. policy essentially is, if there's a pro-American government, the objective is stability, and if it's not a pro-American government, then there's some talk about democracy.MUSAVULI: But the American people do not know that, unfortunately. You know, this is why whenever we were discussing "Kony 2012" in a previous segment, we have millions of people, without any context, realizing actually the situation within that region is because of U.S. foreign policy. I mean, that's very serious to see that.When the Congolese are organizing, they took it to the street. A good example: Congolese women went to the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa in December. They staged a sit-in for two days. They took over the U.S. Embassy. The ambassador met with them. They gave their demands, and one of the demanders say that do youâAmerica does not need to support strongmen in the Congo. That was in the letter they gave to the ambassador. Two days later, while they were at the U.S. Embassy, the Congolese police came, beat the women, arrested some of them, and removed them from the embassy, which is considered an international territory. Do you know what the U.S. Embassy did? Nothing. No statement notsoever. The only way we got information from the State Department about what happened at the embassy is to get the congressmen to send them a letter, say, what happened to the Congolese women while they were at the embassy. And their response was that they were removed with some form of force.So when you see, even to that extent, that the Congolese women have been raped, some have said, in millions, they have been mistreated, they saw how the elections in the country were stolen from them, and decided, we are going to plead to America and go to the U.S. Embassy, and even on U.S. soil, the U.S. Embassy, they are being mistreated, and the U.S. does not even address it, the American people do not know that. This is the message [incompr.] bring to the American people, for them to know what United States government is doing overseas, because there is a difference between the United States government and the American people. The American people are not aware. When they are aware, they will hold the government accountable, as they held them accountable when the U.S. government was supporting apartheid in South Africa.So that's the challenge Congolese are facing right now. They have an illegitimate government that's ruling them, that, since they've been in power in December, have been signing contracts, you know, gave Total, a French company, gave them a oil block. And Total was very happy. You know, SOCO oil now getting into the Virunga Park, very happy as well. And we've seen more and more [incompr.] giving away the assets to Chinese. And we've seen that the support to that regime is for the resources the Congo has as long as it's giving unfettered access to Congo's resources. The United States say, good boy, we want you to be our president so that Freeport-McMoRan, an American company, can get copper out of the Congo regardless of what the Congolese people are doing.And the will of the Congolese people right now is they want the truth of the polls, they want the person they voted for to be the winner, rather than having a sham election, as they witnessed on November 28.JAY: Alright. Thanks very much for joining us, Kambale.MUSAVULI: Thank you.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
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