The Rwanda-DRC Conflict 101

The involvement of Rwanda in the ongoing war in The Democratic Republic of Congo is complex and difficult for most Americans to grasp.  Firstly, we have understand a lot of history to understand the harmful role Saddleback Church is playing in the conflict.  It will take time.  When most of us who have lived,  worked, or spent time in Rwanda talk to people in the America about Rwanda their response is usually one of confusion trying to figure out where Rwanda is. If they have any connections with Rwanda the response is “Is it bad there still?  I saw Hotel Rwanda.”  That’s usually all they can draw from, a Disney-fied retelling of the war and mass killing of 1994 that ended the lives of 800,000 to 1 million Rwandans.

Even if you have been to Rwanda for a short term missions trip, it is difficult to see past the clean streets, neatly trimmed grass, solar powered street lamps, and anti-corruption bill boards lining the road to the airport.  Rwanda is a hidden country, it takes work to find the truth about what is going on, but we have tried to make that easier for you here.

Our goal on this page is to help you move beyond that Hotel Rwanda simplified narrative of events legally enforced by the government of Rwanda.

Here are some links to videos and articles that will take some time and intestinal fortitude to watch and process.  They are disturbing, but they show how incredibly important it is for American Christians, especially Saddleback Church to be aware of these events.

Keep in mind that these events are complicated, the history is very controversial. However, it is our responsibility to do the hard work of understanding in order to do what is right before God.

The full film When Elephants Fight is currently available on Netflix.

Here are some articles for further reading:

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“By opting to launch his global transformation project, the P.E.A.C.E. Plan in blood-soaked Uganda and Rwanda, Rick Warren’s has embraced and co-branded himself with their authoritarian leaders who are accused of brutalizing their own countries and whose systematic military campaigns to plunder the natural resources of Democratic Republic of the Congo have been indicted, by both the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, for causing a more than one-decade long conflagration in Central Africa that has killed more civilians than any conflict since World War Two.”  Read the Full Article in the Huffington Post Here.

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“He acknowledged that some Rwandan churches have been sending money to Congolese rebels, as part of a Tutsi self-protection campaign. But Kagame’s critics say that is just a flimsy rationale for interfering in a country with glittering spoils that are easy to grab.”
Read the Full Article in the New York Times Here.

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“Kagame counts some fabulously famous and powerful people among his friends—people like Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Rick Warren. If those international elites truly value the welfare of Rwanda and its people, it is time they told Kagame to rein in the killing of his political opponents and respect human rights, or risk ruining his personal reputation and continued support for his country.”
Read the Full Article on PoliticoMagazine

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“The first sign was watching the RPA clear the villages and hills around it. People being forced out and as they ran… they were made to run, they would shoot them.”

He says the RPA (Rwandan Patriotic Army, under direction from Paul Kagame) were ruthless in their execution.

“They did it in a grotesque way. They’d shoot them in the leg and then they’d laugh at them and then watch them trying to get up and eventually put a bullet in their head or somewhere fatal.”

Completely surrounded by heavily armed and trigger happy RPA troops, the people in the camp had nowhere to run.

And as Jordan recalls, armed militias within the camp were also busy doing their own killing.

“The Rwandans had machine guns, they had mortars, and all set up to mow these people down; which they did.”
Read the Full Article on Austrailia’s SBS Network Here.

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Much of the world regards President Paul Kagame as a hero. But 20 years after he helped to stop his country’s brutal genocide, there are mounting allegations that he is silencing dissenters with violence.

A months-long, international inquiry by The Globe’s Geoffrey York and contributor Judi Rever has uncovered explosive testimonies from those who say they were recruited for assassinations – including an alleged recording of one job offer.
Read the full article on The Globe and Mail

David Himbara, a Rwandan international development advocate based in Canada, called the government’s justification for the closures bogus and said the “real reason … is fear and paranoia.” 

“Kagame tightly controls the media, political parties, and civil society at large,” Himbara wrote on Medium. “The churches constituted the last open space. Kagame knows this. The localized community of churches offered a slight space for daring to imagine and talk about change.”

Read the full article here on Religion News Service