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Will Hillary Face Down Congo's Kabila? Or Will He "Crush" Her Also?

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Kinshasa for a two day visit in Congo that will take her to Goma. The city of lava and points north are the epicenters of sexual violence and civilian "collateral" damage that has exponentially intensified since the start of joint military operations between Congo and Rwanda in January 2009. Operation Umoja Wetu was dubbed a spectacular failure. UN peacekeepers (MONUC) have since been backing Congolese military operations, known as Kimia II, against the Rwandan Hutu rebel group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Umoja Wetu was intended to eliminate Rwandan Hutu rebels (FDLR), but failed miserably when Rwanda abandoned the operation due to negative public opinion and open, bitter hostility from a Congolese parliament that was in opposition to Congolese President Joseph Kabila's pact with Rwanda's President Paul Kagame.

Image: MONUC north of Goma in 2007

In interviews with the African press and in her State Department blog, Clinton says that she will urge Congo's Joseph Kabila and his government to address the "root causes" of the conflict in the war-ravaged eastern Kivu Provinces and stop the use of women and children as "weapons of war."

Not much has changed since I took this photo in 2007 in Goma. There are hundreds if not thousands of broken and dead babies in eastern DRC.

This is why I supported Clinton for President. My feeling has always been that she understands foreign policy and especially Africa, more than anyone. Her popularity ratings are currently above those of President Obama's and there is no better time than now for her to finally get the message across to Americans about the "root causes." Unfortunately, she is in talks with Joseph Kabila today, and he has been cited time and time again by human rights groups as the source of the current disaster. (I at first typed "holocaust" and then changed it to "disaster"...take your pick) I hope she has the stamina to put diplomacy aside and tell it like it is to Kabila.

I will be pressing very hard not just for assistance to help those being abused and mistreated ... particularly the women who are being turned into weapons of war through the rape they experience ... but also for ways to try to end this conflict.
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I am going to Goma to speak out against the unspeakable violence against women and girls in eastern Congo. It is the worst example of man's inhumanity to women, and women are being used in conflicts.

We are going to press on working for ways to create broader political legitimacy and credibility by his government across the country.

I hope she remembers and heeds Kabila's words which have been quoted in a Human Rights Watch Report that he will "click here

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IMAGE: Torture victim of Kabila's secret police in 2007...crushing fingers is one way to send a message.

A note came in yesterday from a former Congolese rape Counselor who is now out of country and recovering from extreme post traumatic stress.

I was just thinking about writing to you, just two sentences to encourage you when I saw the letter you just sent to Mme Hilary (sic) before she travels to the Congo. I almost jump in the sky... I am thinking about all these people passing hard time in camps and all of these hundreds thousands of refugees in their own home land.

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota, New Orleans and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill (more...)

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