Time and location

Wednesday, 29 October 2014, 19:00 - 21:00
Diplomatic Academy, Favoritenstraße 15a, 1040 Vienna

Program

Jean-Pierre Mbelu
political scientist and priest, DR Congo/Belgium

Emmanuel Mbolela
activist, author, refugee, DR Congo/Netherlandes

Chair
Claudine Mamona Cullin
trainer, interpreter and Congo activist

Opening: Franz Schmidjell, VIDC

Languages: French and German with simultanious interpretation

Congo: War and Peace

© iStock
© iStock


Background

“All peoples shall freely dispose of their wealth and natural resources. This right shall be exercised in the exclusive interest of the people. In no case shall a people be deprived of it” (African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Article 21(1), Nairobi, June 1981).
After two decades of militant dispute over the natural resource-rich eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo there is once again hope for peace. The end of 2013 was heralded by a peace plan with the—openly supported by Rwandan experts—rebel group March 23 Movement (M23). The Hutu-affiliated FDLR (Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda) announced that they would lay down their weapons. Other rebel groups also went on the defensive during the approach of UN-troops and the Congolese army.
The origin of the First Congo War (1996-1997) is closely tied to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The Second Congo War involved not just Congolese troops, but also troops from Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia, Angola, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Chad, and Sudan, and lasted from 1998 to 2003 (the “Great War of Africa”). Another motive for this war lay and still lies in the amount of natural resources in the Congo. Rebel armies and private militias were and continue to be financed by the earnings from the coltan-, copper-, gold-, and diamond-trade. The conflict was solved by neither the peace treaty of 2003 nor the election of 2006. The third war in the Congo (the Kivu-Conflict), which lasted from 2006-2009, concerned mainly the province of North Kivu. In January 2009 a ceasefire was called and the rebels were integrated into the government army. Two years later numerous officers deserted and founded the M23.
After three wars and millions dead, is there a chance for lasting peace? Can the riches of the land be used for the welfare of its citizens? How can the judicial system and security forces be reformed to end the lack of punishment for crimes against humanity? What roll does the Congolese Diaspora play?

Speakers

Jean-Pierre Mbelu

is a political scientist and priest of the archdiocese Kananga, Kasai Occidental, Democratic Republic of the Congo. He taught at the seminary in Kabwe, Kasai Occidental. Jean-Pierre Mbelu studied philosophy at the catholic University in Kinshasa and is a graduate of the University Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium. He is a member of the social-politically engaged “Groupe Ephiphanie”, a group of Congolese theologians in Belgium. Jean-Pierre Mbelu currently oversees a parish in Nivelles, Belgium.

Emmanuel Mbolela

studied in Mbuji Mayi and had to flee to Brazzaville for political reasons in 2003. The short-term exile became a five-year-long odyssey across Africa all the way to Morocco and Europe. He has lived in the Netherlands since 2008. In 2014 his book, Mein Weg vom Kongo nach Europa: Zwischen Widerstand, Flucht und Exil [My Route from the Congo to Europe: Between Resistance, Flight, and Exile], was published by Mandelbaum Verlag. In the forward Jean Ziegler writes, “Emmanuel Mbolelas Buch ist deshalb so beeindruckend, weil es nicht nur ein Buch der mutigen, detailgenauen Brandmarkung ist, sondern auch ein Buch der unausrottbaren Hoffnung. Ein Buch des Widerstandes, des Aufstandes und des Gewissens“ [Emmanuel Mbolela’s book is so impressive because it is not only a book of courageous, detail-oriented stigmatization, but also a book of ineradicable hope. A book of resistance, insurgency, and conscience].


Claudine Mamona Cullin

studied African Studies, French, and Political Science at the University Pantheon-Sorbonne, Sorbonne-nouvelle and INALCO (Institut des Langues et Civilisations Orientales) in Paris. She works as a translator, moderator, and trainer in the intercultural field. She speaks Lingala, among other languages, and is an activist in the fight for democracy and justice in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She has worked in the Congolese Diaspora for 20 years. Cullin oscillates between Vienna, Paris, and Brussels.