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Hillary Clinton Called to Voice Need for Accountability and Support of DR Congo.Alysha Atma Salem-News.com African Affairs Correspondent
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - It is a sad day for humanity when the very essence of our existence is overlooked. The ability to mutilate not only physically, but also mentally; people and families is deafening. Humanity is not American, it is not Asian, it is not African; it is human!” said Stephen Atma, Chairman of OkoNGO.
He added, “OkoNGO, will not stand for the inaction by the world’s powers to bring to justice, the perpetrators that caused such devastation. It is time to take action, and realize that each and every human deserves the right to protection against merciless acts. We must demand the same impartiality be provided to each child, woman and man impacted in the DR Congo just as those people would garner under the rights of major economic powers. Further, that we stand up for the victims whose lives were destroyed in an instant and hold those accountable that consumed so many lives.”
A Dear Colleague letter has been circulating the political offices of D.C. for the last several weeks. Leading the initiative is Congressman Wu’s office, “We must bring justice where justice is due, we are doing what we can and will continue to work as advocates to the best of our ability.”
The letter will be delivered to Secretary Clinton with the signatures of 20 Congressional leaders in support of urgent policy changes and humanitarian assistance. An enormous ground swell of DR Congo Activists have spent these weeks calling and knocking on the doors of many, in hope of raising the level of awareness, and, increasing the political will and participation in this international crisis.
Please join me in sending the following letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging renewed action to end violence against women and children and resolve the ongoing conflict in eastern Congo.
Last month, the United Nations reported on the systematic rape of over 500 women by armed combatants in eastern Congo during the month of August. The report further details how the U.N. Mission in Congo learned of attacks around the village of Luvungi days after they took place and were unable to provide protection to the civilians in the region. These horrific acts must not be tolerated.
The nature of the increasing violence in Congo, in particular violence against women and children, demands a renewed response from the United States and the international community. While the United States continues to provide humanitarian and other assistance to support the country’s transition to democracy and its healthcare and education infrastructure, there is more we can do to help stop the violence in eastern Congo.
I hope you will join me in asking Secretary Clinton’s assistance in implementing this set of measures to protect civilians, disarm and reintegrate militias, stop the flow of conflict minerals and bring an end to the conflict in eastern Congo.
With warm regards,
Member of Congress
October XX, 2010
Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton
Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton,
We write to you to express our concerns over the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and to request renewed action from the State Department to prevent further violence against women and children.
We were shocked and dismayed to learn of the mass rapes and violence that took place in eastern Congo and in particular around the village of Luvungi during August 2010. Furthermore, we are disappointed by the recent report from the United Nations on September 9, 2010, that details how the U.N. mission in Congo learned of the attack on Luvungi days after it took place and was unable to provide protection for the civilians in the region.
We appreciate the work you have done to support the country's transition to democracy and to strengthen its healthcare and education systems. In addition to the humanitarian assistance that the United States currently provides, we support the Fiscal Year 2011 Economic Support Funds to support the government of Congo's stabilization and recovery program, as well as the International Military Education and Training program to train Congolese officers. However, the nature of the increasing violence in Congo, and in particular the violence against women and children, demands a renewed response from the United States and the international community. Toward this end, we respectfully request action on the following items.
First, the U.S. should coordinate with donor governments and the Congolese government to spearhead a comprehensive security sector reform (SSR) plan for the Congolese army, as part of a package to include training of multiple battalions; payment reform; barracks construction; and streamlining of large, unwieldy battalions. The time is ripe for such reform due to donors’ improved SSR coordination mechanism and the Congolese government’s welcoming of an increased U.S. role in SSR.
Second, the U.S. should help devise a targeted strategy to disarm the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FLDR). The FDLR is responsible for much of the most horrific violence in Congo, while providing an excuse for the existence and criminal behavior for nearly every other armed group in Eastern Congo. A focused effort is needed to target senior FDLR leadership, reintegrate mid-level FDLR officers, and arrest and sanction FDLR leaders and funding sources abroad.
Third, the U.S. should help create a multi-stakeholder certification process for conflict minerals, in partnership with the governments of Congo and Rwanda. Following the passage of legislation on conflict minerals as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill, a certification process with independent monitoring is the necessary next step to stop the flow of conflict minerals that continue to provide funds to the FDLR and other militias.
Last, we believe that the administration should appoint a Special Envoy to the Great Lakes to work directly with heads of state in the region on a regular basis to address the key security issues of the region.
We understand that it will take a sustained effort from the international community on multiple fronts to resolve this conflict and are committed to ensuring that the United States lives up to its role as the world's leader on human rights. As members of Congress, we look forward to working with you to implement these measures and bring hope to the innocent women and children of eastern Congo.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. We look forward to your response and renewed focus on this issue.
With warm regards,
· Oregon Congressman David Wu
· Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer
· Oregon Congressman Peter Defazio
· Oregon Congressman Greg Walden
· California Congressman Bob Filner
· Connecticut Congressman John Larson
· Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney
· Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez
· Massachusetts Congressman John Olver
· North Carolina Congressman G.K. Butterfield
· North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller
· North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Foxx
· North Carolina Congressman Mike McIntyre
· North Carolina Congressman David Price
· South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis
· Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee
· Texas Congressman Ted Poe
· Virginia Congressman Jim Moran
· Washington Congressman Jim McDermott
· Washington Congressman Adam Smith
Learn more, visit: OKONDA NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION (Oko.N.G.O.)
Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the beleaguered people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media's radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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