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McKinney Calls on International Red Cross Inspections of "Tutsi Camps"

Decries Words of Hate Broadcast on Congolese Government Radio

August 13, 1998

WASHINGTON -- Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D. Ga.) who is keeping abreast of the war emerging in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRoC) today called on the Congolese Government to insure good treatment of the people it has rounded up and is holding in camps. "Even though my trip to the region was canceled due to escalating tensions I am keeping in touch with relevant persons on the ground on all sides of this troubling issue. As late as today I have learned that individuals are still being rounded up and placed in 'camps,' where their status is quite precarious. This ethnic rounding up of people is painfully reminiscent of the tragedy that wrought the massacre of nearly 1 million people in neighboring Rwanda in 1994. The Congolese Government would do well to allow the International Red Cross to assure the safety and protection of those being held captive," said McKinney.

The civilian camps in question in Kinshasa are Nkakolo and Tchapchi. In Katanga they are Kalemi and Vyura. McKinney has learned from government and non-government sources of executions of as many as 32 people. "The loss of one life is too many. The human rights of all Congolese must be protected," insisted the Congresswoman.

In addition, broadcasts over state-owned radio of hate words against the Tutsis, such as "massacre them without mercy" and "take revenge" certainly don't set the climate for peaceful, negotiated resolution of this crisis. "Amid ethnic roundups and hate radio broadcasts, the prospects for another genocide appear on the horizon. This must be prevented at all cost," remarked McKinney.

As disappointment with the worsening situation echoes around the world, McKinney, who sits on the International Relations Committee said, "I must remain hopeful, but I am always disappointed with failure and the loss of life; I continue to be disappointed with human rights abuse in any country. In the past, I have suggested that the US engage with Kabila in order to influence Congolese policy. I have very definite ideas about a solution that saves lives and begins the process of reconciliation. I'm also sure that I'm not the only one who hopes for quick and just resolution of this problem. However, my ideas are only relevant if the contending sides believe that reconciliation is possible and are open to it."

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