What is #Bosco2012?

Last week I learned and wrote about “Kony 2012” – here and here.  Today, I learned about Bosco Ntaganda from Congo.  Have you heard of him?

Here is a great article talking about this still-at-large-but-already-indicted-warlord.  Excerpts of the article, from Tony Gambino and Lisa Shannon, follow (emphasis added):

Like Kony, Bosco has commanded the abduction of children in broad daylight, rape, and systematic massacres. Evidence against him includes videotape of his 2008 command of the door-to-door execution of 150 villagers.

There is one key difference between the two war criminals. Kony’s precise whereabouts are unknown … Bosco, on the other hand, lives openly in the eastern Congolese city of Goma, nesting comfortably in a luxury villa. The provincial capital serves as a major hub for the largest United Nations peacekeeping operation in the world. While the US military aids in the search for Joseph Kony in remote forests, Bosco Ntaganda eats dinner in Goma’s finest restaurants …

It is relatively easy to grasp why Joseph Kony remains free. It is much more difficult to comprehend why, six years after his indictment, Bosco is permitted to live in luxury in a major Congolese city.

How can this be? Bosco serves as a senior commander in the Congolese Armed Forces. Congolese government officials say, absurdly, that they cannot arrest Bosco because he is important to keeping peace in volatile eastern Congo. Perhaps the real issue is that the feckless, corrupt, and predatory Congolese Army and its other security forces have no serious military capacity (other than Bosco’s own troops). Hence, even if the Congolese government decided to arrest Bosco, it wouldn’t be able to neutralize him and his thousands of dedicated, heavily armed, professional fighters.

Also, in a complicated set of relationships, Bosco is linked to the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. Kagame remains concerned that some of his former allies and enemies could come together in a military alliance in eastern Congo, and sees Bosco as his first line of defense against this contingency.

Western and United Nations diplomats … when pressed, they suggest that they are helpless, that the sovereign Congolese government has the responsibility to arrest Bosco. If the Congolese won’t do it, these diplomats lament, the rest of the world is powerless.

Are we to believe that the U.S. government is concerned and committed enough about brutal war criminals in central Africa to send 100 of our soldiers as advisors in the effort to get Kony, yet does not have sufficient diplomatic tools to find a way to pick up Bosco – perhaps as he dines in one of Goma’s lakefront watering holes– and transport him to await trial in The Hague? This nonsensical situation must come to an end. We cannot tolerate Bosco going free literally in the midst of thousands of United Nations troops.

Yes, international diplomacy is required to convince the Congolese and Rwandan governments that Bosco must be arrested. But, to date, international diplomats have meekly accepted the argument that Bosco is key to central African stability. Instead, they must insist on finding a way to arrest him.

Invisible Children’s viral video has generated huge interest in the case of Joseph Kony. Their campaign calls for Kony to be captured this year. If the U.S. and others in the international community were really committed to tracking down and punishing war criminals, Bosco could be captured tomorrow. It is time for the U.S. and others to commit to putting Bosco behind bars. In Bosco’s case, “soon” should mean that he finds himself in prison within months, long before the end of 2012.

So, now that we know a little more about Bosco, what are we going to do about him?  Maybe a campaign of awareness is needed – #Bosco2012?  Look what’s happened in bringing awareness to Kony.

I know there is a big dispute about American policing the world.  However, the question needs to be asked, why do we only go after “threats” that benefit us, and not all threats that truly bring about peace and hope in people’s lives?  Ridding Africa of Kony and Bosco really only helps Africa, not the U.S., but isn’t that enough reason for us to get involved?

We didn’t really think twice about getting involved in the war we’re currently in.  Why do we need to think twice about this?

Beyond military action, of course, is the question for the Church: what will we do about this injustice?  We are called to bring justice – fight for justice – in an unjust world.  What are we doing?


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