So it seems that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is finally back in the lime light, and about time. In the past couple of years the coverage of the atrocities that have been ongoing there have meritted only the most glancing coverage in the world press, not least of which has been the coverage of the murder of Congolese Gorillas in Virunga National Park.
There are well over 4 million people estimated dead as a result of the rebel insurrection since 1998, with a further 1,200 per day dying, this is a stupefying statistic. Comically Gordon Brown has announced recently that DR Congo must not become another Rwanda, referring of course to the 1994 genocide that was largely ignored by the Western world until it was too late.
Firstly I would say, too little, too late Mr Brown and Mr Blair, you were all too busy pouring money and lives into fighting over oil in Iraq to pay any real attention, and we all know the UN is now a powerless entity after Bush rode roughshod over it to get to Iraq; indeed, the UN have been accused of merely being “tourists” in the DR Congo, despite it being their largest peacekeeping mission.
Secondly, the current news coverage describing the current increased fighting in the Eastern DR Congo would make it seem to some people that the conflict in DR Congo is somehow a recent thing! Whilst peace accords and on paper stability were announced around 2003, and again in January this year, the conflict has been allowed to brood for so long that we now once again find Rwandan Hutu rebels are able to re-enact violence towards Tutsis living in DR Congo, not to mention the numerous other ethnic groups living there.
As I have written before when reviewing Slavoj Žižek’s “Violence“, Žižek believes that we have a ‘will to ignorance’; Four million dead is beyond any mental boundary scale that we are able to deal with, nothing in our evolutionary development prepares us for dealing with numbers on these scales, thus we can’t approach a true reflection of emotion and outrage that smaller numbers would engender. Perhaps now, with renewed interest the West really will take note?
BBC’s Q&A on the subject.