Rwanda/ Democratic Republic of Congo: October 1st, 1990 and October 1st, 2010

Published on by KANYARWANDA

Call for Justice in Democratic Republic of Congo and Democracy in Rwanda at the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Patriotic Front invasion of Rwanda and ahead of the upcoming release of the UN report on crimes committed in DRC between 1993 and 2003.

On October 1st, 2010, survivors of wars that Paul Kagame imposed on Rwanda and the Great Lakes region will remember for the 20th time the invasion of Rwanda by the Rwandan Patriotic Front from Uganda. On the same anniversary date, the UN will publish its report on war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide committed in DRC between 1993 and 2003 by several military and militia forces including the Rwandan Patriotic Army and Alliance des Forces Demcratiques de Liberarion.

September 24th, 2010, Congolese, Rwandans and Ugandans are holding a demonstration in front of the Rwandan High Commission in London. The objectives of the public protest are to request from the international community, particularly UK, US and EU, an International Criminal Tribunal for Congo and a Transitional Government for National Unity in Rwanda. Protesters consider that without stopping ongoing impunity in Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, stabilizing the epicenter of violence in the Great Lakes region that Rwanda constitutes, through adoption of a serious democratization of political activities, instability is set to continue at the benefit of those who harvest in chaos and at the expense of indigenous populations and sustainable development.

For decades the Great Lakes region has been characterized by wars and social unrest. From the end of the 80s, war atrocities moved from Uganda to Rwanda, and then in 1996 expanded to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). During this whole period until today, the few who in the region and elsewhere have claimed an apparent climate of peace or prosperity are either part of those who benefit from ongoing situation or for personal reasons have to lie to themselves and  the rest of the world about the daily reality on the ground. Serial rapes and ensuing traumas for women are some of constant reminders of unprecedented crimes and insecurity RPF and its allies have brought to Eastern Congo and the entire DRC.

International Criminal Tribunal for DRCongo

The UN report on war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide committed in DRC by rebel and militia forces between 1993 and 2003 should be published as it stands in its version leaked on August 26th, 2010 to the newspaper Le Monde. Identical crimes should receive similar consideration. In 1994, the Security Council was quick to set up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda ICTR) to judge perpetrators of atrocities committed in the Rwandan genocide. The court failed in many regards by only investigating the vanquished and deliberately disregarding Kagame’s responsibilities in the tragedy. The International Criminal Tribunal for Congo which is many years overdue should learn from mistakes made in the Rwandan case.

Rwandans, Congolese, Ugandans and Burundians who survived Paul Kagame’s criminal activities, and particularly Congolese women who live in constant fear in Eastern Congo because of permanent uncertainty he has created in the region, are waiting to see those crimes publicly exposed and punished. Altering the initial draft of the UN report to satisfy the demands of the Rwandan genocide suspect president would equal to discriminate among Hutus and Tutsis in death as he does for the living and the dead in Rwanda.

Transitional government of national unity and fair and democratic elections for Rwanda

During the run-up to Rwandan elections held on August 9th, 2010, the repressive nature of Kagame’s government has been widely and overtly uncovered. Journalists and politicians have been assassinated. Newspapers were banned. Human rights activists, opposition supporters, and political leaders have been imprisoned. The outcome of the elections where the incumbent scored 93% is a testimony of serious and worrying lack of democracy in Rwanda.

Rwandan partners have been reluctant to work for Rwandans’ interests by shying away from making President Kagame accountable to his people and less oppressive. He has become synonymous of Rwandan institutions. There are no aspects of judiciary, executive, or legislation he doesn’t control directly or indirectly. The lack of respect for basic human rights in every area of people’s life undermines the prospect of a peaceful change in Rwandan political leadership. Political situation prevailing today in Rwanda is comparatively similar to pre-1994 at great extent, with social tensions at the brink of chaos.

To avoid a repeat of past violent political changes in Rwanda and their detrimental consequences in neighboring countries, EU, US and UK are urged to put pressure on President Kagame, to open up political space, free all political prisoners, form a Transitional Government of National Unity including the real political opposition which would, in the short term, set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and aim at preparing Free and Fair Elections.

Ambrose Nzeyimana
Africanist and Human Rights Activist
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