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  • Writer's pictureWhat is Happening in Congo?


Oftentimes people will ask how they can be of assistance in the efforts against Paul Kagame and his tyrannical regime. In a situation as complex as the one in the African Great Lakes region, there isn’t a simple answer. First and foremost, outside of feigned and chosen ignorance, there are those who are truly unaware of the situation in the Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo and just how heavily implicated Paul Kagame, Museveni and their respective countries of Rwanda and Uganda are. For the most part the latter country and their dictatorial leader, Yoweni Museveni are heavily scrutinized. The same cannot be said of Paul Kagame. It is for that reason that we advocate for those who feel compelled to not sit back and watch a two decade long genocide continue in the DRC to denounce it. It may seem repetitive, it may be bothersome and even considered a waste of time but the war of information is just as important as the war fought on the ground. This is something Kagame has understood and continues to fight very hard to control the narrative surrounding him and his country.

Beyond the stamp of approval Paul Kagame has received from the likes of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair who described him as a “visionary leader” and friend after coming to his defense when Kagame was being questioned about his war crimes or the one he received from Bill Clinton; Kagame has worked tirelessly to present himself as the new face of Pan-Africanism and the pinnacle of African leadership, all while being behind the mass murder, rape and displacement of eastern Congolese nationals.

"One of the greatest leader of our time" - Bill Clinton on Paul Kagame"

One of the ways in which Kagame has managed to control his narrative and enchant the international community is with the government launched campaign of Visit Rwanda. The Visit Rwanda Campaign, although innocent at first glance, has been used to undermine the regional instability caused by the Kagame regime. In actuality, the campaign serves as a multimillion dollar smokescreen for Rwanda to draw in a steady stream of foreign investments and attract tourists while they continue to fund and arm militia groups like the M23 and Red Tabara who rape, pillage and steal mineral resources in the DRC. Whilst Kagame enacts siege warfare in the two Kivu provinces to siphon minerals like coltan, his campaign works overtime to paint a heavenly image of his Rwanda. Although Kagame, although guilty, cannot be the only one berated, the companies that support this campaign need to be held responsible for the role they play in the matter.

The Visit Rwanda Campaign was launched on May 23, 2018 as they announced their partnership with Arsenal FC. In a contract that is still active, Arsenal has been receiving 10 million pounds yearly in exchange, their team sports Visit Rwanda on their kits. This is a team that has a fanbase of around 113 million that are then encouraged to support a country that infringes on the rights of their neighbours and is responsible for the death of more than 6 million Congolese nationals. How can Rwanda be held accountable of their human rights violations when they’re swept under the rug when a team like Arsenal works alongside them to present a false image to the rest of the unassuming world.

Visit Rwanda’s partnerships aren’t limited to Arsenal FC. The French team, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) has also chosen to compromise their morals and get into bed with Visit Rwanda. The deal PSG has signed with Visit Rwanda is a lot more intimate in nature in comparison to the one with Arsenal. In 2019 they signed a 3 year sports partnership with Visit Rwanda. PSG signed up to promote tourism in Rwanda and support the exportation of “locally sourced” goods. PSG also sports “Visit Rwanda” on their training kits. They also pledged to set up a PSG youth football training academy in Rwanda. Marc Armstrong, PSG’s Chief Partnership Director, stated “This multifaceted collaboration will showcase all Rwanda has to offer and create powerful partnerships to contribute to Rwanda’s impressive growth.”. Does Mr. Armstrong not realize that Rwanda’s growth is contingent on the deterioration of the DRC?

Outside of sports teams, Visit Rwanda has managed to garner partnerships with manufacturing companies that have a need for the minerals they have been illegally mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Volkswagen and Siemens who have invested in Rwanda to set up an electrical battery plant have had their investment in Rwanda used as a part of the Visit Rwanda campaign. VW established Rwanda’s first car assembling plant and launched a pilot electric mobility project. The VW partnership is heavily promoted on their page. Prior to the deal VW signed with Rwanda, the company was shopping for mineral contracts with Canada, another nation heavily implicated in benefiting from the conflict minerals mined in the DRC. The deals signed between VW and Rwanda involve minerals like lithium that aren’t locally sourced but can be found in Congo. Although minimal tantalum is found in Rwanda, the country still manages to be named a top exporter of coltan, in comparison to the DRC that has the largest coltan reserves. Rwanda made approximately $516 million on “their '' mined minerals that includes coltan in 2021. In the hunt for the minerals they use to draw in foreign investment, Rwanda has been involved directly and indirectly in the killing, displacement, and sexual violation of C0ngolese nationals.

A simple tourism/ investment should be enough to bury the crimes committed by Kagame and his regime. In 1996, Paul Kagame invaded the DRC without impunity under the pretense of pursuing the FDLR. The RPF made a target of Congolese women and children. Rwanda also continues to fund and support the M23 militia group who have been terrorizing the eastern region of the DRC.

Continued support of “Visit Rwanda” is to uphold and positively reinforce a nation with a President that has not only leveraged the lives of Rwandan people who dare oppose him but also dehumanize Congolese people, reducing their lives to collateral damage in an attempt to gain access to their land and minerals. The companies and teams that have partnered with “Visit Rwanda” have loudly and unashamedly given their stamp of approval to a regime that participate in the killings and rapes of Congolese nationals and the theft of their minerals.

As a global community there isn’t much we can do, we can’t all bare arms and march to the frontlines however that doesn’t mean we are completely helpless. A method that has been tried and tested for decades are petitions. In this era of social media, where hashtags like #CongoIsBleeding, #WhatIsHappeningInCongo have spread like wildfire, there is no reason for a petition unmasking the PR scam that is Visit Rwanda to not go viral. As a global community that is directly and indirectly affected by what is happening in Congo, it is our duty to do our part, especially if it’s as simple as signing a petition and sharing it with everyone we know. To remain quiet is to buy into the farce and silently support this oppressive regime.

In an attempt to call into question those who have supported Visit Rwanda, the #DONTVisitRwanda petition was launched by WHDRC. This petition gives an opportunity to those who have wanted to assist in the efforts that aren't limited to retweeting tweets on twitter and liking posts on Instagram. Arsenal, PSG, VW and other partners of Visit Rwanda need to revisit their deals today and not a moment later. Kagame has renewed his war efforts in the DRC with his support of M23. His terrorizing of the DRC cannot continue to be swept under the rug and hidden behind the illusion of this supposed utopia he’s making of Rwanda.

Please visit to sign and share the petition. Our voices will matter, we have to make sure of it.

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