The Honorable Mr. Bill Clinton

President of the United States of America

Mr. President

Weeks and months pass, and thousands of human beings continue to die in Zaire, Rwanda and Burundi, victims of a barbaric and absurd violence, victims of hunger and illness. The mass media has virtually forgotten them, and the false idea that the conflict has been resolved condemns them anew to an unjust and unpardonable death.

The harsh words of His Holiness John Paul II, spoken on Christmas Day, continue to depict a reality that is both cruel and sad: “in the very heart of Africa, in the region of the Great Lakes, this continent is suffering one of the cruelest humanitarian dramas of its history amidst the general indifference of the international community. Thousands and thousands of people, our sisters and brothers, roam the region, prisoners of terror, hunger and illness. No-one can remain indifferent to this scandal of which words and images can offer only a pale reflection”.

The United States and Canada, together with Europe, are obliged before humanity and before history to achieve a stable peace in this region, firstly because we have more than sufficient means with which to do so, and secondly because we ourselves are by no means exempt of guilt in this vast and apparently unending tragedy. EUROPE IS IMPLICATED BY ITS SERIOUS HISTORICAL AS WELL AS RECENT COMPLICITIES, the United States for the latter, at the very least.

Mr. President, you are presently in the privileged position of being able to pass into history as the leader of a new world order in peace and progress, increasing the influence and prestige of your nation throughout the world. But if measures are not taken soon to remedy the terrible open wound that our planet suffers in the area of the African Great Lakes, you and your people will pass into history with the stigma of passive complicity, at the least, in this huge genocide of our century. This would be a terrible stigma for a great people like those of the United States who consider themselves as great defenders of peace, democracy, and human rights in our world.

This is the reason for bringing to you today our pressing plea that you listen and give your support to three voices of great moral authority now being raised in Europe. In Brussels, those of Commissioner Ms. Emma Bonino and of the European Parliament, presided over by Mr. José Maria Gil-Robles, and in Geneva, that of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. José Ayala Lasso. The following are the three petitions that we address to you today:

1) An immediate response to the reiterated appeals of Ms. Emma Bonino, European Commissioner, concerning the URGENT NEED FOR AID TO THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF REFUGEES AND DISPLACED PERSONS roaming the interior of Zaire, and that the UN High Commission for Refugees honour the mandate for which it was created, ensuring a safe place of refuge for all those who, with undoubted reason, are afraid of being persecuted in their country of origin.

2) An immediate response to the petitions of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. José Ayala Lasso, concerning the need to INCREASE SUFFICIENTLY THE NUMBER OF INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS in Rwanda and Burundi, and to ensure their independence.

3) Immediate steps to apply at last the recent Resolutions of the European Parliament. In particular the application of the Resolution of 12-12-1996, which denounces the absence of political will in the United Nations Security Council as well as in the European Union, and requests that once and for all concrete measures be adopted without delay in order to secure a GLOBAL POLITICAL SOLUTION AND A STABLE PEACE in the Great Lakes Region.

We are fully in agreement with the Resolution of the European Parliament on the need to undertake a series of measures to attain stability in these countries. We consider the following to be indispensable and urgent:

1) The realization of one or more PEACE CONFERENCES with the participation of all the parties implicated in the conflict, jointly convoked by the UN and the OAU.

2) That the granting of ECONOMICAL AND TECHNICAL AID BE CONDITIONED on respect for human rights. This aid should go to programs focused on reconciliation and development for all.

3) The ACTIVATION OF A JUDICIAL SYSTEM with independent and impartial tribunals that end impunity and administer justice for everyone, condemning the guilty and guaranteeing freedom for the innocent. It is essential to provide the possibility of a worthy defense and to eliminate any trace of vengeance.

4) A GLOBAL ARMS EMBARGO in the region without any unilateral lifting of this embargo for certain governments and a general embargo for Burundi until the military junta gives up its power and the rule of law has been restored.

We hope that your firm decision can overcome all the obstacles that hinder peace and the respect for human rights, and inflict so much pain on our African brothers and sisters. Please acknowledge our respectful greetings.

Brussels, January 29th, 1997


Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (Peace)

Rita Levi-Montalcini (Medicine)

Betty Williams (Peace)

Jean-Marie Lehn (Chemistry)

John Charles Polanyi (Chemistry)

His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Peace)

Joseph Rotblat (Peace)

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (Peace)

François Jacob (Medicine)

Rigoberta Menchu Tum (Peace)

Mairead Corrigan Maguire (Peace)



Pauline Green – Party of European Socialists

Wilfred Martens – European People’s Party

Jean-Claude Pasty – Union for Europe

Alonso José Puerta – European United Left

Claudia Roth – The Green Group in the European Parliament

Magda Aelvoet – The Green Group in the European Parliament

Catherine Lalumière – European Radical Alliance