Editor’s Note: Portland-based activists Amanda Ulrich, Alysha Atma, and Robert Hadley recently joined forces to host Oregon’s One Million Bones installation at Portland State University. They talk about their advocacy for Congo and the work they continue to do to pass conflict-free resolutions in Oregon cities.
Here at Enough, we often swap emails with interesting articles and feature stories that we come across in our favorite publications and on our favorite websites. We wanted to share some of these stories with you as part of our effort to keep you up to date on what you need to know in the world of anti-genocide and crimes against humanity work.
More than 70 Heads of State will gather this week to attend the 21st Africa Union summit which coincides with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the continental institution. The summit’s theme “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance” will unfold with a call for Africans to “realize the dream of the founding fathers for a peaceful, prosperous, and united Africa”. Despite the backdrop of this celebratory atmosphere, discussions of the many challenges and conflicts taking place in several regions throughout the continent will also be on the agenda.
On Monday morning, the M23 rebel group and the Congolese army, or FARDC, clashed in the village of Mutaho, approximately six miles northwest of the provincial capital of Goma. The fighting comes after six months of relative calm between the warring parties following the 12-day occupation of Goma by M23 in November 2012.
The conflict-free movement is gaining momentum worldwide, with the newest development happening in Canada. In March 2013, New Democrat Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar introduced a comprehensive conflict-free mineral bill to the Canadian Parliament. Bill C-486 requires companies to regularly report how they obtain their supply of minerals such as gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum from Central Africa, particularly Congo.
Rumors circulated last week that the M23 rebel group reportedly signed an agreement with eleven other armed groups on April 21, 2013. The groups are said to include FAP-Nyatura, FDC, FPC-AP, FPD, Mai-Mai Cheka, MPA, M26, PARECO Lafontaine, PRM, URDC, and Vutura. They allegedly agreed on mutual defense – an armed attack against any one of them would be considered an attack against them all – in response to an attack by the forthcoming United Nations Foreign Intervention Brigade, or FIB.
I learned about the conflict in Congo because Javier Bardem was under the weather. Javier was supposed to join John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, at a screening of "The Greatest Silence," a film showcasing the use of rape as a weapon of war by militias in Congo, but he was too sick to attend. I was the last-minute replacement.