Congo Symposium Declaration

Congo Symposium Declaration

Convened at the Sheraton Hotel, Indianapolis, Indiana, May 21-22, 2010:

[1]”WHEREAS, throughout the past two centuries, for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, global presence and witness have been the core of God’s mission through the church; and

[2]WHEREAS, since 1996 Global Ministries has been a unique common witness of the Division of Overseas Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and of Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ; and

[3]WHEREAS, Global Ministries continues to walk with 270 global partners in some 68 countries discerning together priorities of critical presence and action with the sole purpose of timely and appropriately meeting God’s people and creation at the point of deepest need: spiritually, physically, emotionally and/or economically; and” (cf. Resolution: Be a Global Mission Church, 2009 General Assembly, page 216)

[4]WHEREAS, the “Symposium on Resource Wars in D.R. Congo and their Impact on Women and Children”, convened in Indianapolis, IN, from May 21-22, 2010, revealed in eloquent details that the Congo, home of 62 protestant denominations united under the ecumenical umbrella of “Eglise du Christ au Congo” (the Church of Christ in the Congo), continues to suffer the “same old story” of brutal and unmitigated exploitation of its immense resources after 125 years since the creation of the Congo Free State (CFS) as a fiefdom of King Leopold II of Belgium; and

[5]WHEREAS, empirical research presented at the Congo Symposium revealed that the continued greed of global corporations for precious and strategic raw materials from the Congo and the hypocrisy of the international community on the plight of African victims since the advent of Congolese independence on June 30, 1960 – 50 years ago, has led to the failure of the Congo state (cf. Nzongola-Ntalaja 2010 a-b) where corruption of and by politicians has become endemic, and kleptocracy the norm since the CIA-supported regime of the late President Mobutu Sese Seko (1965-1997); and

[6]WHEREAS, the series of invasions of the Congo by proxy states Rwanda and Uganda that commenced in 1996 to replace Mobutu by Joseph Laurent Desiré Kabila and to facilitate unfettered access to Congolese natural resources by greedy international corporations and their internal collaborators in the Congo have not only undermined severely the democratic advancements made at the National Sovereign Conference (“Conférence Nationale Souveraine”) of 1992; but have also cost the lives of an estimated 6,000,000 Congolese; have subjected “up to a half million Congolese women and girls … [to violent rape, including sexual mutilation] by multiple armies from Congo” (Mukenge, et al., 2010), Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi; have increased dramatically the incidence for HIV/AIDS among women and girls thus creating a time bomb with dire consequences for the Congo; and

[7]WHEREAS, an estimated 1,250 Congolese reportedly perish daily in Eastern Congo, especially in the Oriental, North Kivu, and South Kivu, as a direct or indirect result of the militarization of mines by elite networks of militia supported by business interests in the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, and the industrialized world at the detriment of Congolese socio-economic development and liberation (Global Witness report, 2003/2004); and

[8]WHEREAS, these criminal behaviors are orchestrated and maintained in order to gain unfettered access to Congolese strategic natural resources (e.g., coltan, cobalt, tungsten, cassiterite, nobium), among others (diamonds, gold, copper, uranium, oil, timber), to benefit enormously the West and other industrialized nations, they have subjugated the Congolese people to a historic abject poverty, suffering, slave labor, and human trafficking in the midst of their own scandalous natural resources; and

[9]WHEREAS, the so-called international community, including the U.N., has turned a blind eye to these documented crimes against humanity, thus demonstrating a double standard in the application of international justice because of financial greed and disregard for the value of Congolese people; and

[10]WHEREAS, the Community of Disciples of Christ and the Church of Christ in the Congo (“Eglise du Christ au Congo”) have been working behind the scenes to capacitate its member churches to meet their local and regional daily needs in the absence of functional state and national governments, and yet have remained largely silent in the face of these crimes and injustices in the past 50 years while the National Episcopal Council of the Congo (CENCO) has been vocal in its periodic denunciations of these crimes at least since 1978; and

[11]THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED in accordance with the final paragraph of the 2009 General Assembly’s resolution that is further informed by the determination of the Congolese people to develop a democratic and economically robust nation under the rule of law, and thus benefit from their own immense resources, that Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ commit themselves “to hear the cries of people around the world [especially those of D. R. Congo]; to find the energy and enthusiasm to reach out and respond with grace [on their behalf]; to proclaim the joys as well as denounce the suffering of God’s people [in D.R. Congo]; to seek wisdom and guidance in building global connections in the life of all settings of the church[es in D.R. Congo]; and to be immersed in” these churches’ work for the recovery of democracy and peace in D.R. Congo according to the wishes of the participants to the Congo symposium; and

[12]BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ maintained a critical presence, as the Rev. William Henry Sheppard and the Rev. William Morrison of the American Presbyterian Congo Mission (APCM) did in the denunciation of King Leopold II’s brutal colonization of CFS (1885-1908), against the wars of natural resources and crimes against humanities by devoting appropriate sessions at their biennial assemblies on the struggle of the Congolese people for socio-economic justice, and by recognizing “a Congo Week” in their respective annual worship calendars; and

[13]FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, working together with CEREC (Center for Research on the Congo) and other friends of Congo’s organizations, carry out their peaceful advocacy across the globe for the Congo to governmental, non-governmental organizations, including the United Nations, and multinational corporations via petitions, letter-writing, and teach-ins or symposia until the recovery of Congolese democracy and sovereignty.”