355. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Congo1
1405. (a) Control of GDRC Forces at Stanleyville. Spotlight world opinion will be focused by all news media on Stanleyville after its recapture. Parallel to news of surviving hostages, search for others and conditions Stanleyville under rebels will be spot news on present events there. Should GDRC fail take effective steps control its forces or should it permit summary rather than proper judicial proceedings with respect trials, if any, of principal rebels for treason or offenses against Geneva Conventions, support for GDRC position will be further undercut and Tshombe’s African antagonists will have field day.
GDRC has two possibly advantageous reasonable courses it can follow (1) amnesty followed by consolidation support for central government; (2) proper judicial trial with all safeguards for dealing with all aspects problem of offenses of rebel leadership.
If GDRC indulges simple killings or improper trials, opens self to changes illegal and inhumane conduct and runs risk adding one or more Lumumbas to opposition’s pantheon.
Our position also vulnerable in absence reasonably effective restraints, good judicial procedures. US support humanitarian rescue mission will contrast sharply with its support of GDRC if latter pursues officially illegal and inhumane policies or tolerates atrocities or improper trials.
Concerting with Belgian Emb and others in its discretion, suggest Emb seek persuade GDRC adopt immediate and special precautions. Seek urgently through Belgian Ambassador utmost restraint by VDW of Katanga gendarmes. Primary requirement is presence in Stanleyville [Page 516] of responsible officials, Congolese or foreign, who understand problem and can exercise restraining influence on excesses.
(b) Adequate Courts. Dept recognizes that lack of capable judges and prosecution and defense lawyers will make reasonably fair trials difficult to expect. One possibility would be to assure that those available elsewhere in Congo be assigned Stanleyville for temporary judicial and legal service. In this matter, Emb requested give its views on other possibilities e.g. bringing in outside personnel especially African, calling upon UN for assistance, etc.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Schaufele and Runyon, cleared by Morris J. Amitay in EUR, and approved by Williams. Repeated to Brussels.↩