Child soldiers have been part of the ongoing war in Congo for decades. Some of these children are too small to carry the large guns that arm older boys. So they're sent into battle on the front lines, armed only with whistles. Their job? Alert their comrades of an impending attack, and then act as tiny human shields. Falling Whistles is one organization fighting to end the child soldier epidemic in Congo. And they're asking President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to do their part by appointing a Special Envoy to Congo.War has been waged in Congo for decades, and many activists believe that as long as there is a war, there will be child soldiers forced to fight in it, with guns or whistles. And there will be the mass killing, rape, unrest, and disorder that comes with a decades-long conflict. So the key to ending the abuse of child soldiers in Congo is ending the war. And the key to ending the war is creating a government the Congolese people accept. That means the first step to helping children trafficked as child soldiers is creating free and fair elections in Congo.
On November 27, 2011, Congo will host elections. These elections will only be the third in the country's long history. Previous elections have failed to yield a fairly-elected leadership able to maintain power. For example, the current president took over after his father was assassinated, who had overthrown the previous dictator in a coup, who had himself assassinated the previous leader and so on. If these elections are free, fair and bloodless, they could usher in a new era of peace for Congo, including an end to the child soldier epidemic.
That's why Falling Whistles is leading a coalition of organizations asking President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to appoint a Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region of Congo. The envoy would raise international funds to offset the high costs of fair elections, keep pressure on the Congolese government to enact electoral reform, and coordinate U.S. policy in Congo. An envoy would be a powerful tool to help ensure the Congolese people are able to freely elect their national leader. Ironically, this should be an easy ask of President Obama, since he suggested appointing an envoy to Congo as a freshman Senator. The bill, which was passed and signed into law, was co-sponsored by then-Senator Clinton. All that remains is for the law to be enacted.
So far, over 11,000 Change.org members have signed the campaign to appoint a special envoy to Congo. Will you be a whistle blower for peace and join them?
Photo credit: hdptcar