Speaker addresses tragic war and mass death in the Congo


    By Chrislyn Barnes

    While six million people have died in the region of Congo in the last six years, most of the worldwide public is unaware of the tragic war at the root of these fatalities.

    Rigobert N. Butandu, an international consultant for human rights, spoke to students and faculty Tuesday about the war in the Congo in a lecture hosted by the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies.

    Butandu said the lack of awareness regarding the war in Congo is striking when compared to international attention given to Middle Eastern conflicts.

    ?The number of people being killed in this war is far more than in Kosovo or Iraq combined,? Butandu said.

    ?The death of one person is too serious. Why should we have a double standard policy? Why should the war in Kosovo matter more than the war in Congo??

    Recommended by BYU law professors, the lecture was drawn from Butandu?s book ?Forgotten War: The Criminal Invasion of DR Congo.? The book details his belief in the conspiracy involved in the war and presents ideas for the public to help stop these tragedies.

    Butandu addressed an audience which he said closely resembled the world?s population because only about five percent had heard of the African First World War.

    The war began in August of 1998 when the countries of Rwanda and Uganda initiated an attack against the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    The desire for power and control by Rwanda and Uganda are a few of the reasons this war originally began, Butandu said.

    He said after troops of the two countries entered Congo, the Congolese, left with no resources to defend themselves and no outside support, became victims of the troops.

    Butandu shared the history of these countries and explained that this war is a conspiracy because while the troops claim they are invading Congo to help a corrupt government, they want to gain political power, as well as control over the natural and mineral resources of the region.

    ?A conspiracy is an agreement, verbal or written, between two people to commit an unlawful act,? Butandu said.

    To illustrate the significant impact of this war, Butandu closed with a comment from his friend John Prendergast, a member of the International Crisis Group, who referred to this war as the second Holocaust in history and the first Holocaust of the 21st century.

    Butandu told the audience they can make a difference in this tragedy by electing the right representatives in Washington, D.C., and making their voices heard by those representatives.

    As a part of the Global Lecture Series, this lecture aided in the effort to expand the world of BYU students and faculty, said Cory Leonard, assistant director of the David M. Kennedy Center.

    ?We try to bring in speakers that the students and faculty normally wouldn?t hear, and that would help broaden their perspective,? Leonard said.

    For further information on this lecture or upcoming lectures, visit www.kennedy.byu.edu.

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