Following the recent release of our groundbreaking video (which you can watch below) and investigative report on slavery in the mining industry in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Free The Slaves eagerly awaits the release of documentary film, Crisis in the Congo: Uncovering The Truth. The film, produced by Friends of the Congo, an advocacy NGO based in Washington D.C., describes itself as “a call to conscience and action”.
The documentary clearly locates the Congo crisis in its historical, social and political context and explains how the ongoing conflict, instability, weak institutions, dependency and impoverishment are a product of a 125 year-long experience of enslavement, forced labor, colonial rule, assassinations, dictatorship, wars, external intervention and corrupt rule. As Maurice Carney, Co-Founder & Executive Director of Friends of the Congo narrates, “all these 125 years must be taken into consideration to fully understand why Congo is in a weakened state today…what that does is destroy and eviscerate the Congolese institutions.”
With analysis from leading experts, practitioners, activists and intellectuals in the field, the film also seeks to expose the role that the United States and its allies, Rwanda and Uganda, have played in triggering the greatest humanitarian crisis at the dawn of the 21st century, which since 1996 has claimed an estimated 6 million lives.
As for prescriptions, “keeping in mind that the ultimate solution is going to come from the Congolese people themselves”, Maurice Carney explains, “our role on the outside is to make sure that we create the space for them to solve and address the challenges that they face…the situation in the Congo is not just a Congolese issue, is not just an African issue, but it’s a global issue.”
President Obama appears to understand the need for international pressure on Rwanda and Uganda to stop their destructive interventions in the Congo. For many years he has been an advocate for Congo, and as a Senator he co-signed a law that outlined a comprehensive strategy for Congo to realize justice.
Yet key elements of this 2006 law have not yet been fully implemented, and the USG still retains a dispersed approach to the Great Lakes region, with responsibility divided among a labyrinth of offices within the State Department, National Security Council, Department of Defense, USAID, as well as the various US embassies in central Africa.
Accordingly, Free The Slaves has been calling for the appointment of a US Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region, who can bridge divides among the various US agencies and embassies concentrating on the region. Reporting directly to the Secretary of State or the White House, this official would play an instrumental role in pushing forward a comprehensive policy for Congo.
A 26-minute version of the feature length production, which will be released in the near future, can be watched here.