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KPFA's new am host and the Congo conflict
Los Angeles-based KPFK host Sonali Kolhatkar's displacement of KPFA's 8 am Morning Mix has been controversial to say the least. Kolhatkar's reporting on Rwanda and the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo also raises questions about Pacifica's commitment to peace. Contrast CIUT-Toronto's Phil Taylor's 2008 interview with UN investigator Michael Hourigan, regarding the suppression of evidence by Louise Arbour, Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, with Kolhatkar's 2010 interview with Louise Arbour herself.
The most serious complaint against yanking Pacifica's KPFA-Berkeley's 8 am Morning Mix off the air to replace it with Sonali Kolhatkar's Uprising, a syndicated show from KPFK-LA, is that she displaced racially and intellectually diverse local voices who are on the ground in local struggles in the station's Northern California fm signal area. Those voices include Richmond residents trying to keep Chevron from buying their next Mayor and City Council, cities and counties' trying to become clean energy buyers' co-ops, and the campaigns for justice for Andy Lopez, Alan Blueford, Alex Nieto, and other victims of police violence.
We should also note that Kolhatkar, in her coverage of U.S. wars in Africa, has consistently failed to understand them as such, despite her credentials as an opponent of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. She has repeatedly reproduced corporate and militarist narratives that mask U.S. involvement in African conflicts, particularly in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, which includes Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In 2010, on Pacifica's KPFK Radio-Los Angeles, Kolhatkar interviewed Louise Arbour, the President and CEO of the International Crisis Group (ICG). The ICG Board and Senior Advisory Group are composed of former top state department, UN, and military officials and top corporate executives from around the world, including former NATO Allied Supreme Commander Wesley Clark, and Canadian mining and oil baron Frank Giustra. Giustra became the most generous donor to former President Bill Clinton's foundation, after Clinton helped him secure exclusive rights to mine Kazakhstan's uranium.
Kolhatkar, however, did not identify any members of the International Crisis Group, and without question, allowed Arbour to characterize it as a "civil society group." She did not ask Arbour why, as the former Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, she protected Rwandan "President" Paul Kagame from prosecution for the assassination of his predecessor, Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira. Instead Kolhatkar presented Arbour as a leader and thinker qualified to propose peaceful solutions for DR Congo, not as part of the problem, even as Kagame covertly continued his catastrophic war and plunder there.
As the ICTR's Chief Prosecutor, Arbour suppressed the evidence delivered to her by UN Special Investigator Michael Hourigan and accused him of working outside his brief, even though he had been officially tasked with investigating the assassination of the two presidents with a missile that shot their plane out of the sky, as they flew home after signing a peace agreement to end the 1990-1994 war between the Rwandan Army and Ugandan army troops led by General Paul Kagame.
Hourigan later testified that he had submitted firsthand witness testimony that Kagame ordered the assassinations, but that Arbour had suppressed his report. The KPFA Evening News reported on Hourigan's death and the significance of his work in 2013.
After assassinating two African presidents and seizing power in Rwanda''s capital Kigali, Kagame and his mentor, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, invaded neighboring DR Congo, starting the First and Second Congo Wars and ongoing conflict that have cost well over six million lives. The U.S. backed those catastrophic invasions, which displaced France as the dominant power in the DRC, as even Newsweek reported in 1997, but Kolhatkar made no mention of that.
Information about the International Crisis Group and about Louise Arbour's role in protecting President Kagame is readily available online. Indeed, Arbour offered ICG's website, crisisgroup.org, to Kolhatkar and KPFK listeners.
This 2010 interview with Louise Arbour, former Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, is just one example of an collaborator and advocate for U.S. wars in Africa featured on KPFK-Uprising's airwaves after being introduced as an advocates for peace. Since the names of others are no more familiar to American audiences than Louise Arbour's, I can't simply list names and expect the list to be meaningful without context. That will have to be the subject of another, longer article, on Pacifica's broader trend toward advocacy of US wars.
I have no evidence that Sonali Kolhatker or any other Pacifica host has been intentionally promoting advocates for war as advocates for peace, but ignorance is no excuse, especially with so much information about any public figure now so readily available online.
And the Pacifica Radio Network is, by name, committed to peace.
Kolhatkar's 2010 interview with Louise Arbour is also available here, on the Internet Archive, segment #1, "Arbour," https://archive.org/details/DailyDigest-041510.