The Student News Site of The Morgan School

The Morgan PawPrint

The Student News Site of The Morgan School

The Morgan PawPrint

The Student News Site of The Morgan School

The Morgan PawPrint

Africa: Genocide, Civil War

A Continent Purged for Centuries. Death Tolls are Rising.
Africa%3A+Genocide%2C+Civil+War
Aasiya Bajwa

Genocide:

Definition (Dictionary.com): The deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.

Genocides in Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, Myanmar, Yemen, Armenia, and other countries are largely ignored by Western media despite the violence. Killing, torture, mass rape, exploitation, and incarceration of innocents occur without a second glance by the American population. Conflicts are growing. Death tolls are rising. Little to no humanitarian aid has been given. The United Nations and multiple other peacekeeping organizations are being silent about the situation. In an age where humanitarian aid can only be protested, never received; the effects of the genocides and wars will only worsen as time goes on.

As the United States continues to profit from other countries’ declines, the Western media is more oblivious than ever. The more exploited Africa and Asia are, the more ignorant the American population gets. Why does this death and destruction continue? The answer lies in colonialism/imperialism and exploitation.

Here is an in-depth breakdown of the history and continuation of the genocides, civil wars, and mass killings happening at this very moment. The Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda are continuing to face the challenges of their previously intersected genocides. In Sudan, rebel groups controlling the entire country continue to target specific ethnic groups that have been the subject of ethnic cleansing in the past.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Colonialism and Dictatorship

As of right now, the Congo Genocide is one of, if not the biggest humanitarian crises. According to the Council of Foreign Relations (Global Conflict Tracker), 6 million people have been pronounced dead since the start of the first Congo war in 1996. Like many modern-day conflicts, its roots begin in colonization. The Belgians, under the rule of King Leopold II, colonized the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 52 years of colonization led to the death of 10 million Congolese, as well as the systematic rape of millions of women and men, by Leopold’s private army by the time of its independence on June 30th, 1960. A month later, civil war threatened the short-lived peace when Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba, was executed by firing squad.

Patrice Lumumba sought military assistance from the Soviet Union since the Congo’s military was left in complete disarray after the Belgians left. He was then deposed and killed by the Congolese military with ties to the Belgian, British, and US governments. After his death, General Mobutu, the leader of the coup against Lumumba, seized power. He promised democracy to the people of Congo in a time of violence. Instead, for the next 3 decades dictators ruled while the nation’s resources were sold at a rapid rate causing poverty among the citizens to grow to an extreme. Factories, mines, and farms were nationalized, giving Mobutu full control over the nation’s wealth. The country was renamed Zaire after this.

The Cold War

In the years following the Cold War, communist-backed rebels attempted an uprising. Mobutu defeated the rebels with funding from the United States, Belgium, France, and Morocco. The West saw Mobutu as a hero for defeating communist allies. as a heroic act and strengthens its relations with Zaire. The Cold War was one of the main factors that caused the Congo Crisis: a series of conflicts that involved various factions, including the government, rebel groups (such as the Simba Rebellion and the Congolese National Movement), and foreign powers. It was caused by multiple power struggles that occurred after Mobutu rose to power.

Another main cause was resource exploitation. Gold, copper, oil, diamonds, uranium, and cobalt, were abundant in the fertile land of Congo. Various factions and foreign powers exploited these resources leading to corruption, forced labor, and economic inequality further fueling the conflict.

The number of casualties during the Congo Crisis is difficult to determine precisely. Mass graves are still being discovered. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives. These issues continued for decades.

Rwandan Genocide Intersects

In 1994, the Rwandan Genocide caused a mass immigration of refugees into Zaire. The refugees formed a rebellion against the Rwandan government. The rebellion included citizens of Zaire who were opposed to Mobutu’s dictatorship. In response, the Rwandan government organized an attack against the militants in Zaire. This led to the First Congo War in which an additional tens of thousands of refugees in Eastern Zaire were killed.

The Rebel force, known as the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL) gained power across the country as Mobutu’s army fell. 6 months after he was overthrown he flew to Morocco, putting an end to his rule. Laurent Kabila, leader of the AFDL becomes the new president. He ended all political parties in Congo and promised an election, renaming the country the Democratic Republic of Congo. He expelled all foreign soldiers, most of them being rebels who assisted him in overthrowing Mobutu. In response, Rwandan rebels invaded the DRC again. This started the Second Congo War where 6 countries fought on Congolese land. The DRC, along with Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe fought against the Rwandan, Ugandan, and Burundi militaries. Kabila was assassinated by his guards amid the chaos in 2001. The perpetrators were imprisoned by Kabila’s son, putting an end to the Second Congo War. It resulted in the death of over 3 million people by 2004.

Present Day

A new rebel group arose in the 2010s: The March 23 Movement (M23). It was previously part of a different group called the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) that laid arms after being integrated with the Congo army. A portion of the CNDP denounced this decision and broke off into a separate group, M23. Shortly after their formation, they suffered a huge defeat by the Congo military, forcing them to flee and halt any further actions. This continued until 2021 when they resumed the attacks. Mass murder, rape, and incarceration occurred and resulted in the displacement of over 1 million people since March of 2022. Sexual violence has been prevalent, with many reports of women and girls getting raped while searching for food after being displaced. Girls as young as 8 have been repeatedly raped by members of M23. Innocent civilians, mostly men, have been incarcerated and beaten to death. Areas under control of M23 force the citizens (who are already impoverished) to pay heavy taxes, not only does this further impoverish the citizens but also directly funds M23 helping them stay in power. Groups who oppose M23 are only worsening the situation. They, too also committed large amounts of rape and murder. The Rwandan army directly deployed troops to assist M23 in its expansion for the rest of the DRC. If they are successful, the majority of the Congolese population will surely be wiped out. The death toll of 6 million including the additional 10 million under Belgian colonization is higher than the number of victims of the Holocaust in which 6 million Jewish people and 5 million others were killed by the Nazi Party. America is a large consumer of products from Congo. Copper, zinc, and cobalt are all mass imports to the U.S. fueling the fire of poverty in DRC. The U.S. and other Western countries exploitation of natural resources is continuing to worsen the situation. These conflicts only started due to the demand for these resources. The West has irrefutably turned one of the richest countries into one of the poorest, violent, and unstable.

Rwanda

The Rwandan Genocide is the mass killing of those who are ethnic Tutsi, a group of people who live in primarily Rwanda and Burundi, making up about 9%-14% of the population. The majority of the population is made up of Hutus, a people of Nilotic origin (those indigenous to the Nile Valley). The Tutsis arrived in Rwanda and Burundi in the 14th century and established dominance over the Hutus due to being more advanced as a civilization. The Tutsis were known to be a lot wealthier than the Hutus; so much so that an ethnic Hutu who was wealthy could be considered a Tutsi. Vice versa: a poor Tutsi could be assimilated into being a Hutu. In 1884, the country was colonized by Germany, and the hierarchy between the Tutsis and the Hutus remained the same. However, after the First World War, Germany lost possession of the territory, and it was given to Belgium. In November of 1959, rumors of Tutsis killing a Hutu leader sparked the Hutu Revolution. Hundreds of Tutsis were killed and 550,000 were displaced. This revolution ended the previous system and induced tensions between the 2 ethnicities.

In 1962 when Rwanda gained independence from Belgium, many Tutsis fled to neighboring countries such as Congo (Zaire) and Tanzania. Tutsis in these areas began to form groups and carry out attacks on Hutus, wishing to regain their land in Rwanda. These attacks led to a much larger retaliation that took more Tutsi lives. By the end of the 1980s, 480,000 Rwandans became refugees primarily in Tanzania, Uganda, Zaire, and Burundi. The refugees were not able to return due to economic instability and the population was too high, according to President Juvenal Habyarimana.

In 1988, a group called The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was formed in Uganda by Tutsi radicals. In 1900 the RPF led out an attack that displaced thousands of people. Any Tutsi, even those who had no relation with the RPF at all were considered an accomplice. This increased the ethnic discrimination against innocent Tutsis further. On April 6, 1994, President Habyarimana and the President of Burundi were killed in a plane crash after rockets were fired at the plane. The RPF was said to be responsible. This is the leading cause of the genocide. Brutal systematic massacres and rapes were carried out against anyone who was of Tutsi blood. 1 million people were killed. Up to 250,000 women and girls were raped. Men and boys were raped as well, but the number is obscure. The RPF was continuing to spread across Rwanda and taking control of land. This fueled the fire for more killing and rape. In 1996, millions of Hutu fled to Zaire in fear the RPF was going to kill them. This started the First Congo War.
To this day the RPF inflicts terror in Congo working alongside several Congolese rebel groups committing murder, rape, torture, and more. Though the genocide is said to have ended, Tutsis and Hutus continue to both face and inflict oppression on each other. Mass graves are still being found. Refugees are continuing to have to fight to survive as justice has not been given. Though most of the deaths of the Rwandan Genocide occurred in less than 100 days in 1994, this conflict is far from over. Until humanitarian aid and international justice is given to the victims, Rwanda will never know peace.

Sudan

The genocide in Sudan refers to the mass killings and violence that occurred in Western Sudan against various ethnic groups in the region including the Fur, Zaghawa, and Masalit people as well as other non-Arab ethnic groups. The central government of Sudan committed the atrocity. A series of civil wars resulted in the deaths of over 2 million people. More than 10,000 have died since November in the ongoing conflict with an additional; 5.6 million displaced. Those who have been displaced have fled to equally dangerous countries such as South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Chad. The current conflict is primarily a series of battles between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and a paramilitary force (an unofficial military not supported by any country) known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The 2 groups are battling for control of the country and its vast supply of natural resources. Africa is no stranger to exploitation. However, this conflict goes deeper than just wealth.

Inequality and Division of Wealth

In the beginning of the 20th century, Sudan, like many African and Asian countries, was under control of the British. After decolonization in 1956, Sudan was left in disarray. It was not only surrounded by some of the most dangerous African countries but there was an extreme division between the north and the south. The northern region was composed of wealthy Muslim Arabs while the south was home to Christians and some Animists. The south was very underdeveloped and impoverished compared to the north. This division of wealth and religion was the starting factor of 2 civil wars. The First Sudanese Civil War took place in 1955. The Southern Sudanese Liberation Movement (SSLM) fought against the central government, backed by Great Britain and the Soviet Union. The conflict went on for 12 years and resulted in the estimated death of around 500,000 people. The Second Sudanese Civil War was an even bloodier conflict between the central government and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA: also known as the South Sudan’s People Defense Forces).

The terms that ended the First Civil War were violated as multiple atrocities were committed. The non-Muslim people were punished by law. Child soldiers were commonly used and still are. Many of the child soldiers have not even reached the age of puberty. Famine led to starvation and death. 2 million people died in the 22-year conflict. This conflict split the country into two states: Sudan and South Sudan. During the 2 wars, a genocide arose.

Darfur Genocide

The Darfur Genocide was the systematic killing of non-Arabs/Muslims. The people of the Fur, Maslit, and Zaghawa tribes were killed in masses. Entire villages were burned. Any supplies were looted. Wide-spread rapes were carried out. The region of Darfur in Western Sudan is an abundance of mass graves still being discovered to this day.

The Darfur war was overseen by President Omar al-Bashir. His dictatorship led to the creation of multiple paramilitary groups in his support. One of the most prominent groups is the Rapid Support Forces . The RSF is an Arab-armed group that was funded by Bashir in order to fight in the Darfur War and repress rebels. In 2019, the leader of the RSF seized control of the nation’s gold mines. This brought great wealth and power to the RSF, The RSF then became close allies with the Sudanese Armed Forces.

In 2019, the RSF and the SAF expelled Bashir and took control of Sudan. They chose Abdalla Hamdok to be the next prime minister but quickly resigned due to his inability to maintain peace. Since his resignation, there has been no formal prime minister. The 2 forces are currently disputing over power of the nation.

In 2023, both sides agreed to negotiate with U.S. and Saudi powers. However, neither side agreed to cease violence. The SAF broke the agreements with the U.S. and Saudi. The Joe Biden Administration attempted to hold those involved in the conflict accountable. On June 15 Khamis Abbaka, the governor of West Darfur was assassinated, most likely by the RSF. Since then, at least 68 villages have been burned.

In November, the RSF killed 800 people in Darfur in an ethnically driven rampage against the Masalits. 4 million people in the region were displaced. Hospitals and other buildings have been destroyed in the attacks. The United Nations stated that the conflict is “spiraling out of control”. 1 million refugees have taken to the surrounding countries such as the Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and other unstable countries where humanitarian aid is scarce.

Tensions between the 2 groups are continuing to rise as more and more attacks are being carried out. This ethnic cleansing has been an issue since the decolonization of Sudan. If humanitarian aid isn’t given immediately and a ceasefire between the 2 groups isn’t called, these minorities may not exist in the coming years.

Sources:

https://www.history.com/topics/africa/rwandan-genocide
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2014/4/14/timeline-how-rwandas-genocide-unfolded
https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2023/country-chapters/rwanda
https://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/rwanda/historical-background.shtml#prior-to-colonial-era
https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/power-struggle-sudan
https://www.hrw.org/news/2023/11/27/sudan-new-mass-ethnic-killings-pillage-darfur
https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/violence-democratic-republic-congo
https://www.cfr.org/timeline/eastern-congo-legacy-intervention
https://www.easterncongo.org/about-drc/history-of-the-conflict/

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Aasiya Bajwa, Reporter, Editor, Photographer
Hi, my name is Aasiya. I am a sophomore. This is my first year in Journalism. I look forward to writing and publishing this year.

Comments (0)

The Morgan PawPrint intends for comments to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Profanity, personal attacks, and inappropriate language will not be posted. Comments are moderated to make certain they adhere to these standards. The Morgan PawPrint does not permit anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. Email addresses will not be displayed.
All The Morgan PawPrint Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *