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Death Toll in Congo Whitewashed Yet Again

Posted on January 22, 2010 2:48 PM | Permalink | 1 Comment | Printer-Friendly View | Share This Article

Death Toll in Congo Whitewashed Yet Again

A Brief Assessment of the Hidden Interests and White Obliviousness of the Human Security Report Project

keith harmon snow

January 22, 2010

The western media is suddenly awash with reports claiming that the human mortality figures for the Democratic Republic of Congo have been greatly exaggerated or overstated. Challenging the already problematic estimates produced by the International Rescue Committee--which were low and incomplete to begin with, never too high--is a Canadian based think tank clearly covering up for western interests.

The International Rescue Committee certainly had a selfish motivation in producing counts of dead in Congo: the IRC, which is an intelligence agency, bills itself as a "humanitarian" agency involved with helping refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). The IRC in Congo does not actually help IDPs or refugees.

See for example:

Behind the Numbers: Suffering in Congo

keith harmon snow & David Barouski, March 2006.

The basis for the new claims of exaggerated death counts in Congo is a report by an obscure entity called the Human Security Report Project (HSRP), a think tank claiming to be "an independently-funded research centre based at the School for International Studies, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada."

Examination of their reports, their interests and their funders shows very clearly however that the HUMAN SECURITY REPORT PROJECT (HSRP) http://www.hsrgroup.org/ and its people are definitive and unabashed apologists for western capitalism and the huge for-profit misery (read: humanitarian) business sector.

They are not in any way independently funded (see below). What does "independent" mean when you get all your money for the system that you are apologizing for?

The HSRP claims that global violence saw a major down turn in or since the 1990s, and that this is due to the successes and expansion of the humanitarian relief agencies and the so-called not-for-profit aid and charity sector.

Here's one false premise of the HSRP and their many obtuse reports, including The Shrinking Costs of War (Report) and Estimating War Deaths: An Arena of Contestation.

The first Human Security Report documents a dramatic, but largely unknown, decline in the number of wars, genocides and human rights abuse over the past decade. Published by Oxford University Press, the Report argues that the single most compelling explanation for these changes is found in the unprecedented upsurge of international activism, spearheaded by the UN, which took place in the wake of the Cold War.

This is white supremacy in its purest form--absolute bullshit--apologetics for multinational corporations and their government keepers. International activism here would be credited to such specious groups as the International Crises Group, aise Hope for Congo, UNICEF, UNHCR, and so many others. These organizations have created major propaganda campaigns selling their efficacy, while on the ground in de-developed nations, including Congo, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Iraq, the realities are quite different, and horrible, for many people.

Anyone who wants to be honest and understand the truth would read Ward Churchill's A Little Matter of Genocide. In the past two decades there have been more genocidal conflicts that perhaps ever before. The new HSRP report includes a table showing "the most conflict prone countries" from 1946-2003 does not even list Rwanda. By what sleight of hand is that possible? By the imperialist slight of hand where definitions relegate US violence to a just "war on terror."

According to the authors, Rwanda was convulsed by tribalism and genocide and does not count as war. In fact, anyone who is not doing the bidding of the capitalist system and its media whores knows that what happened in Rwanda was a US invasion, a U.K. invasion, and a Ugandan invasion, and an internationalized war that soon crossed into Congo. In terms of conflict-years (a term the authors create which is different than calendar years) Rwanda should be very, very high on the chart for its war(s) in Rwanda and Congo. The information they do provide on Rwanda is absolute garbage based on the establishment narrative of Hutus slaughtering Tutsis.

As an example, they ignorantly opine: "In the case of Rwanda, for example, Uppsala estimates that fewer than 1000 people were killed in actual combat between government forces and rebels in 1994."

This is a cover-up for the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the "rebels" that bombarded the Habyarimana government (FAR) forces and positions, while also committing widespread massacres of civilians. It is also a cover-up for Canadian mining companies, western governments, and western consumers.

Again, in Southeast Asia, the authors attribute mass violence and genocide to the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979) without attributing genocide to the United States (in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, circa 1959-1975).

There is no mention of the genocidal campaigns ongoing against the San Bushmen in the Kalahari (South Africa and Botswana); against the Ogonis, Itsekeris, Ijaw, and others in southern Nigeria; against the Tuaregs in Niger; against the Penan people in Malaysia (www.bmf.ch); against the Aborigines in Australia, or the Hawai'ians and other native Americans; against the indigenous people of Namibia; against the Huarani in Ecuador; against the indigenous people of Congo and Uganda; against the Anuaks and Oromos and Ogadenis in Ethiopia; and against the indigenous peoples in Somalia, to mention a few of the more poignant examples.

On Somalia, where the US was deeply involved in atrocities in the 1990s, all that the authors have to say is this: "Other conflicts--Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan--involved the United States, a fact that alone ensured massive coverage by the US-dominated global media. The media focused on the new wars--largely ignoring those that were ending."

The inference is that the U.S. media coverage of Somalia was a good thing, that it raised and raises people's awareness of what is actually happening in the world, rather than doing the exact opposite--facilitating ignorance and inaction--as it is designed to do. The authors say nothing at all about the U.S. or Canadian involvement in war in Somalia, and, looking at their other references scattered throughout, if they did it would be to praise the US and Canada for their humanitarian actions. In fact, the media coverage is horrible propaganda, dishonest and mythological, accusing people of Congo of tribalism and witchcraft, or accusing all Congolese men of being rapists, part of a "rape-friendly" culture, and never, ever, ever mentioning Banro or Moto Gold or Mwana Africa or Maurice Templesman or Walter Kansteiner. 

What is perhaps the most telling indicator of the biases of the HSRP authors and its so-called "independently funded" center, is their assessment of international terrorism.

Their FIGURE 1.4 shows CASUALTIES FROM INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM 1982-2003 (p. 44), which, the authors note, shows a major spike in 2001 due to the World Trade Center attacks. There is no spike in 1990 when the US backed RPF invaded Rwanda; there is no spike in 1994, when the RPF assassinated the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi. And there is no spike for 1998 due to the Clinton administrations attack on the Al Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan (claiming it was producing biological weapons). Instead, the authors define that act of US terrorism as an "anti-terrorist measure", albeit, they admit that this had "unintended--and lethal--consequences." The peaks in 1998 on these authors' imaginative terrorism chart are due to the attacks against U.S. embassies in East Africa. A very handy definition of terrorism indeed: something that THOSE people do to US.

Of course, on the other side of the problem we have those who inflate death tolls to serve their narrow interests, including Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times 'journalist' who helped whip people into an inappropriate frenzy over Darfur, Sudan, and Dr. Eric Reeves, at Smith College, who like the academics of the HSRP seem to sit in their cozy offices pontificating on things they really have zero experience with. The Reeves and Kristoff figures on Sudan skyrocketed from 2003 to 2005 from a few hundred thousand dead to over 400,000 dead, but these numbers have been roundly criticized and shown to have been massive inflations: in this case however, the case of Darfur, the US and its partners want to overthrow the government of Sudan, and so it is O.K. to lie about the conflict, hide the involvement of the west, and inflate the death toll to demonize the government of Sudan--ostensibly (but laughably) dubbed the only party to the violence in Darfur.

This is the political economy of genocide and human rights.

The leader of the Human Security Report Project: "Andrew Mack is currently the director of the Human Security Centre at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Prior to this he was a visiting professor at the Program on Humanitarian Policy at Harvard University (2001) and spent two and a half years as the director of strategic planning in the executive office of SecretaryGeneral Kofi Annan at the United Nations (1998-2001).

All we have to do is look at the many unacceptable compromises and failures of the Secretary General's office during that period--Ugandan and Rwandan invasions in Congo, Rwandan government bloodshed in Rwanda, no critical challenges to the one-sided ICTR, US, UK and Israeli war crimes--to see where and how Andrew Mack is responsible for supporting genocide and war crimes.

This is a perfect example of a liberal think tank agenda designed to obfuscate and confuse, and skirt around the truth, in such a way that it satisfies the funding organizations, without really criticizing anyone, and certainly not holding or attempting to hold anyone to account. We are all responsible, except those victims who refuse to be victims and fight back--those terrorists who are against US. It is a perfect example of a report which talks about all the "right" things--child soldiers and the privatization of war--without saying anything at all that is responsible and true to those who have to suffer, live and die in the system these authors defend.

The Human Security Report Project is funded by the governments of Norway, Sweden Switzerland and the United Kingdom--not one of which has arrested or encouraged the arrests of any international war criminals through the International Criminal Court. The HSRP also received funding from: 

Department for International Development, United Kingdom (DFID)

Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD)

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) 

Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Previous Project donors have included:

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

The Rockefeller Foundation

It is clear that the HSRP is pro-capitalism, pro-"fair trade" that serves western interests, and pro-"human rights' that does not challenge western aggressors. They are supporting the kind of globalization that the Rockefeller Foundation is advancing: SMART GLOBALIATION. They support the misery industry, which creates misery to justify its perpetuation and feed its white patrons and interests. That is why, for another example, you will find Helen D. Gayle on the Rockefeller Foundation board of trustees, and also as President of CARE USA. Another one is Ann M. Fudge, Rockefeller Foundation trustee who is former Chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam, whose companies include Burson-Marsteller, which just happens to be involved with Barrick Gold Corporation through director Edward N. Neys. Ms. Fudge is also on the board of UNILEVER--one of Africa's greatest enemies and one behind Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni. Well, she is also on the board of Overseers at Harvard University--you know, those Tempelsman-Rotberg folks who whitewashed the blood diamonds trade by creating the Kimberley Process.

The Norwegian Government should investigate the militarization of the so-called non-government so-called humanitarian organization from Norway, Norwegian People's Aid, more amusingly known as Norwegian People's Army by aid workers in the field in Africa, because they are involved in shipping weapons under cover of humanitarian aid in Sudan.

This HSRP is, quite literally, another whitewash of white warmongering and corporate interests involved in depopulation and plunder everywhere. In order to bring some legitimacy to the failed system which operates on the basis of disaster capitalism and the shock doctrine, we have to have cheerleaders to convince us, through magic tricks and selective language and careful, obscure, disingenuous definitions, that all is well on the capitalist home front.

All is not well. Anyone with their head pulled out of the sand can see for themselves how unwell this system is and who it is hurting. People of color everywhere, but not only people of color, also poor white people.  

We can name a few of the most significant international war criminals, all coincidentally involved in bloodshed in Congo, from these countries, and see that all are free to operate in the world with impunity, never having to fear being named by the Human Security Report Project or its patrons.

Mark Rich--Switzerland.

John Bredenkamp--UK

Tony Blair--UK

Lundin Family--Sweden and Switzerland

George Herbert Walker Bush--USA

George W Bush--USA

William Jefferson Clinton--USA

Susan Rice--USA

Roger Winter--USA

Walter Kansteiner--USA

Maurice Tempelsman--USA

Andrew Young--USA

Billy Rautenbach--Zimbabwe & South Africa

Philipe De Moerloose--Belgium

Ettienne Davignon--Belgium

Dan Gertler--Israel

Moshe Schnitzer--Israel

Brian Mulroney--Canada

Arnold Kondrat--Canada

Edward Neys--Canada

While it is clear that a more detailed and exacting deconstruction of the HSRP might be desired, this author does not have the time or energy to do so, and believes that the HSRP has discredited themselves by their own work. Let them sink into obliviousness where they belong.

For the innocent victims and courageous survivors of our nasty system, and for the many other species subject to our violence and consumption and indifference, all over the globe, I am,

keith harmon snow


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Written by: keith harmon snow

Photography Credits: keith harmon snow

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1 Comment

Ali | September 17, 2010 2:53 PM

Very nice and wonderful post. Thanks for taking the time to share this with us.

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