by Ann Garrison
Genocost, a U.K.-based Congolese advocacy group, commemorated Congo Genocide this week on Aug. 2. Aug. 2 is the day that U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo, starting the Second Congo War in 1998. Though a peace treaty was signed in 2003, the violence, displacement and mass killing continue. War epidemiologists working with the International Rescue Committee estimated the death toll at 5.4 million during just 10 years of the nearly 20-year old conflict.
Genocost asks that nations formally recognize Aug. 2 as Congo Genocide Commemoration Day. I spoke to Genocost spokesperson Sylvester Mido, a Congolese British IT professional and activist. His family fled Congo in 1999, when he was 16 years old.
Ann Garrison: Sylvester, why does your group want to “commemorate” a genocide that is ongoing? Aren’t genocides and other tragedies usually commemorated in retrospect?
Sylvester Mido: We want to commemorate the genocide in Congo because Congo has a history filled with forgotten tragedies. There are no commemorations for the 10 million Congolese killed under Belgium’s King Leopold II’s reign of terror. King Leopold II wiped out half our population at that time – over a century ago – for the sake of rubber, ivory and gold.
In other nations, monuments would be built to such a tragedy, books would be written about it and its history would be taught in…
click here to read more.