Thursday, January 29, 2009

A reflection from the Congo: Standing on the wall as it crumbles.

Cliff Kindy is working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Christian Peacemaker Teams. His blog for Jan. 23, the day after the arrest of Laurent Nkunda, who led the rebel group National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), reflects on positive changes in the country. Members of the CNDP and previous armed groups led by Nkunda are accused of war crimes and human rights abuses by the UN and human rights organizations. Allegations include the recruitment and use of children as soldiers, unlawful killings, and systematic rape. Following are excerpts from Kindy’s blog (go to for more):

"It feels as though we are standing on the Berlin Wall as it crumbles beneath our feet. Nkunda’s CNDP rebel group had been pushing through the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) military lines this they were ready to sweep into Goma. They had support from Rwanda with US backing.

"DRC civil society has been building a new foundation patiently and at great risk for years. Last December the Group of Experts in its report to the UN Security Council accused...CNDP of dire human rights violations with support of Rwanda and the DRC military. Sweden and Belgium stopped aid to Rwanda and the US pulled back from Nkunda support, though aid to Rwanda still flowed from US, according to a US spokesperson in Goma....

"Nkunda conceded (news of his arrest today) and two days ago Christian Peacemaker Teams passed through Rutshuru region as DRC military by the hundreds moved north and CNDP troops filed south peacefully. This was no longer rebel-held territory.

"As we drove through, and out of Rutshuru, there were cheering crowds. Local people had already returned to abandoned fields. Homes that had been neglected were being remudded and rethatched. In the midst of the changes, more than among civil society partners, CPT saw the optimism.

"But it is the hard work of (nonprofit groups such as) Pax Christi, Synergie de Femmes, CREDDHO, and Ebenezer Peace Center that built this changed spirit. As the Berlin Wall, the Apartheid Wall, and the Cold War walls fell, the underlying spirit needed to be replaced, and that is what civil society has been occupied with.

"The focus is change, from what I can get for myself, to what I can do for others. If that new spirit takes control in people’s lives, then there will be a new thing that can be a model for the world. Congo can lead the way."

Source: 1/29/2009 Newsline

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