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“Leaked UN genocide report on DR Congo has no legal value”, says Rwanda

The leaked UN report in which Rwanda is accused of possibly genocide during years of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been received “very, very, very badly in Rwanda”. The director of a Rwandan radio station told Radio Netherlands: “This UN report has no legal value whatsoever!”

By Lula Ahrens and Sophie van Leeuwen.

“All these years the UN has failed in Rwanda and in eastern Congo. And now…”, Albert Rudatsimburwa, journalist and director of the Rwandese radiostation Contact FM, says, “Rwandans haven’t been asked one single question! Only NGO’s are quoted.”

In a fierce reaction, Rwandese minister of Justice Tharcisse Karagurama called the UN-report “worthless”. “An NGO-report with no basis”, the minister told the BBC. The draft report was published by French newspaper Le Monde on Friday. It outlines the findings of the UN project ‘Mapping Justice Congo’, which was launched two years ago.

In the report, the UN High Commissioner for human rights catalogues war crimes among Rwandan Hutus in the East of DRC between 1996 and 2003. They were jointly committed by current Rwandan president Paul Kagame’s forces and the Congolese rebel group AFDL. AFDL was sponsored by Rwanda and led by Laurent Kabila, the current DRC president. Up to 100,000 Hutu’s were reportedly killed in the attacks.

Two Rwandan invasions
The report covers two Rwandan invasions in East Congo. The first was carried out in pursuit of Hutu soldiers in Congo, who aimed to wage war against the new Tutsi-led government in neighbouring Rwanda after the Rwandan civil war. This invasion led to the fall of Zaire’s dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and the presidency of Laurent Kabila.

Rwanda carried out its second invasion in 1998, after the country accused Kabila’s regime of continuing to support Hutu rebels. This invasion evolved into a large-scale, five-year regional war involving eight countries and 21 rebel groups.

Genocide

The crimes committed among this group constitute genocide if proven in court, the report states. Although the Rwandan government allowed large numbers of Hutu refugees to return to Rwanda, that did not “rule out the intention of destroying part of an ethnic group as such and thus committing a crime of genocide”.

“The extensive use of non-firearms, particularly hammers, and the systematic massacres of survivors after camps were taken prove that the number of deaths cannot be put down to the margins of war. Among the victims were mostly children, women, old and ill people”.

Blow to Rwanda
The report is perceived as a major blow to the Rwandan government, which prides itself on putting an end to the Rwandan genocide and quickly modernising the country after the war. Rwanda is a close ally of the US and Britain.

It might also prove hugely embarrassing to UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon and the UN in general. The final version of the report, which according to a UN spokesperson is to be released “soon”, has reportedly been changed considerably under pressure from Rwandan president Kagame. Kagame is said to have warned Ban Ki-moon that Rwanda will otherwise pull out its peacekeeping troops in other African countries.

[Radio Netherlands Worldwide]

August 27, 2010   5 Comments

Vacant Position: Husband to first daughter Ange Kagame

by Mukiza Edwin

Ange Kagame, First daughter

The Rwandan first daughter and her brother.

Appearing for the first time in public, first daughter of Rwanda looks every bit the daughter of her mother.
Gracious and royality written all over her, this is the time for suitors to take their positions.
It won’t be easy as her Father is not the easiest of Father-in-laws one may wish for…
Imagine having the no nosense Kagame as your father-in- law!

Though that may not be the only hurdle to overcome.
Getting to her past the mean security around her is the main challenge,and that is practically impposible for the petit un-known Rwandan young man with no family connections. That disqualifies many potential suitors for good.

So that leaves the sons of the inner core circle cabal that may easily escort their fathers to state house and get the chance to introduce them selves to Ange Kagame. (as befell the Natasha’s of Uganda)
But those elite sons are known to be boring if not obese and lacking the Di-Caprio charm that we saw in the movie TITANIC.
You see God doesn’t give all, “he gave them the beef but denied them the teeth” as my friend puts it.

All in all the race has began, yours truly is happily disqualified by virtue of the un-fairness of the oath of monogamy. (An oath I would wish be repelled).
But I salute the eventual winner who will take the love of this Rwandan jewel.

Comment from Jeanne Jackson Uwimana:

She looks pretty. Who ever will take his position would be prepared to have a big shoulder on which his wife would be crying when the father in law (Kagame) will be imprisoned for life,…
Just to remind every one that Kagame kids are not involved in any crimes that their father has organised…and ordered.

[http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=449294358734&id=1245973998].

August 27, 2010   45 Comments

Rwanda Slams Leaked United Nations Report on Congo Genocide as ‘Malicious’

By Paul Richardson

Rwanda’s government said a leaked draft United Nations report accusing the country’s army of atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo was “malicious, offensive and ridiculous.”

The Paris-based newspaper Le Monde reported yesterday that investigators from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees uncovered mass human-rights abuses in Congo in the 1990s, including the possible genocide of ethnic Hutus by Rwandan forces. Rwanda’s government said in a statement today that the UN report was “immoral and unacceptable.”

“The report is a dangerous and irresponsible document that under the guise of human rights can only achieve instability in the Great Lakes region and undermine ongoing efforts to stabilize the region,” the government said. The Great Lakes nations include Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Uganda and Tanzania.

More than 1 million ethnic Hutus fled Rwanda in 1994, mostly to Congo, following a genocide in Rwanda in which 800,000 people died. Rwandan government forces raided refugee camps in the neighboring country, then known as Zaire, in their search for Hutu leaders who were believed to have carried out the genocide.

The UN report detailed massacres, rapes and looting by forces from various countries involved in two wars in Congo from 1993 to 2003, Le Monde said.

Methodology Questioned

Rwanda’s government said it hadn’t been consulted by UN investigators and questioned whether the comments of non- governmental organization representatives who had been interviewed should form the basis for war crimes or genocide allegations.

The draft report’s allegations were also based on “questionable methodology, sourcing and shockingly low standard of proof,” the government said.

Eastern Congo has been mired in conflict since the mid- 1990s, when the aftermath of the genocide spilled over into the Central African country. More than 5 million people have died in conflicts in Congo since the late 1990s, according to estimates by the New York-based International Rescue Committee, which goes into conflict areas to rescue refugees.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Richardson in Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.
[Bloomberg]

August 27, 2010   No Comments

Statement by the government of Rwanda on leaked UN report on genocide against Hutus in Congo

Kigali – The Government of Rwanda today described the leaked draft of “DRC Mapping Exercise” as malicious, offensive and ridiculous.

The timing of the leak of this draft report is quite revealing; it appears that the UN is attempting to divert international attention from its latest failure in the Great Lakes Region where recently hundreds of Congolese women were savagely raped under the watch of its peacekeeping force MONUSCO, a situation directly resulting from its failure to manage the post-genocide refugees crisis of 1994 in the then Zaire.

It is immoral and unacceptable that the United Nations, an organization that failed outright to prevent genocide in Rwanda and the subsequent refugees crisis, a direct cause for so much suffering in Congo and Rwanda, now accuses the army that stopped the genocide of committing atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” said Mr. Ben Rutsinga an official in the Office of the Government Spokesperson.

The report is a dangerous and irresponsible document that under the guise of human rights can only achieve instability in the Great Lakes Region and undermine ongoing efforts to stabilize the region, particularly at a time when unprecedented progress is being made in establishing peace, security and economic collaboration.

According to Mr. Rutsinga, “given the gravity of its mission, the Mapping Team’s failure to consult with Rwanda even though they found time to meet with over 200 NGO representatives is shocking and shows complete disregard for fundamental fairness. While NGOs are entitled to their opinions, their work should not form the basis of genocide or war crimes allegations against Rwanda or any other nation. Why such due diligence eluded a team of supposedly seasoned human rights investigators is hard to fathom.

The report makes extremely serious allegations – of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – based on questionable methodology, sourcing and shockingly low standard of proof.

“By its own admission, the Mapping Team “was not concerned with pursuing in-depth investigations or gathering evidence of sufficient admissibility to stand in court, meaning that they employed the lowest evidentiary standard to investigate these allegations.” said Mr. Rutsinga.

According to Mr. Rutsinga, the report fundamentally misrepresents the episodes it describes by failing to explain the circumstances at play during this difficult period in our history. “It is a fact that Rwanda’s intervention in the D.R.C. was a matter of survival and the direct consequence of the irresponsible and insensitive management of the refugee camps by the U.N. and the international community subsequent to the genocide. Rwanda, at great cost and sacrifice, managed to turn around a tragic situation and create new era of regional collaboration and increasing prosperity.

August 27, 2010   1 Comment

Bombshell UN report leaked: Kagame’s army committed crime of genocide against Hutus in Congo

by Jason Stearns.

Over a year after its completion, the UN mapping report has finally been leaked to the press. The report was mandated by the UN to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Congo between 1993 and 2003 in the hope that there could be accountability for the violence. To date, almost nothing has been done to bring those responsible to justice.

The report is huge, spanning 545 pages, and deals with war crimes committed by the security forces of Angola, Mobutu’s Zaire, Uganda, Chad, Laurent Kabila’s government, Joseph Kabila’s government, Zimbabwe, the ex-FAR and Interahamwe (and later the FDLR), the Mai-Mai and the many other rebel groups. I will speak at length about the massacres carried out by these forces in later postings. Here, I will speak about the most controversial claim: the massacres carried out by the Rwandan army (RPA) together with the AFDL rebellion (led by Laurent Kabila) against the Hutu refugees in 1996-1997.

The striking conclusion is that the crimes committed by the RPA/AFDL against Hutu refugees and Congolese Hutu could constitute a crime of genocide. This will be a bombshell for Paul Kagame’s government, which prides itself for having brought an end to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and has built its reputation and its appeal to donors on its promotion of post-genocide reconciliation. This report will rock the internet for months and years to come. Its political importance is hard to overstate.

A few words of caution. The report was not based on the standards of a judicial investigation; it was intended to provide a broad mapping of the most serious human rights abuses between 1993 and 2003. Indeed, the report says that an international court will have to be the final arbiter of whether the RPA/AFDL did actually commit acts of genocide. Verbatim: “The systematic and widespread attacks described in this report, which targeted very large numbers of Rwandan Hutu refugees and members of the Hutu civilian population, resulting in their death, reveal a number of damning elements that, if they were proven before a competent court, could be classified as crimes of genocide.”

Nonetheless, the mapping team’s mandate was to documents crimes of genocide, and it was rigorous: In total, the team gathered evidence on 600 incidents of violence between 1993 and 2003. Their standard was two independent sources for each incident. They interviewed 1,280 witnesses and gathered 1,500 documents. Many of the reports of killings of Congolese and Rwandan Hutu civilians were corroborated by eyewitnesses. While we always knew that there had been large massacres of Hutu refugees in the Congo, this is the first rigorous investigation, and the first time an international body has thrown its weight behind charges of genocide.

Another word of caution: This is the preliminary draft. The report is due to be released on Monday, but it has been leaked, I gather because Secretary General Ban Ki Moon – or othr UN officials – has pressed for the charges of “acts of genocide by the RPA/AFDL” to be removed. The Rwandan government has reportedly threatened to withdraw its troops from the AU mission in Darfur and the UN mission in Haiti. I imagine that it is to prevent such editing that the report was finally leaked.

On to the conclusion of the report.
[Congo Siasa]

August 27, 2010   3 Comments

Conclusion of the UN report on the genocide against hutus committed by Rwanda army in Congo

by Jason Stearns.

Here is the conclusion of the UN report on the genocide against hutus committed by Kagame’s army in Congo:

Paragraph 512.
The systematic attacks […] resulted in a very large number of victims, probably tens of thousands of members of the Hutu ethnic group, all nationalities combined. In the vast majority of cases reported, it was not a question of people killed unintentionally in the course of combat, but people targeted primarily by AFDL/APR/FAB [Burundian army] forces and executed in their hundreds, often with edged weapons.

The majority of the victims were children, women, elderly people and the sick, who posed no threat to the attacking forces.

Numerous serious attacks on the physical or pyschological integrity of members of the group were also committed, with a very high number of Hutus shot, raped, burnt or beaten.

Very large numbers of victims were forced to flee and travel long distances to escape their pursuers, who were trying to kill them. The hunt lasted for months, resulting in the deaths of an unknown number of people subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading living conditions, without access to food or medication.

On several occasions, the humanitarian aid intended for them was deliberately blocked, in particular in Orientale Province, depriving them of assistance essential to their survival

Paragraph 513.
At the time of the incidents covered by this report, the Hutu population in Zaire, including refugees from Rwanda, constituted an ethnic group as defined in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Moreover, as shown previously, the intention to destroy a group in part is sufficient to be classified as a crime of genocide.

Finally, the courts have also confirmed that the destruction of a group can be limited to a particular geographical area.

It is therefore possible to assert that, even if only a part of the Hutu population in Zaire was targeted and destroyed, it could nonetheless constitute a crime of genocide, if this was the intention of the perpetrators.

Finally, several incidents listed also seem to confirm that the numerous attacks were targeted at members of the Hutu ethnic group as such.

Although, at certain times, the aggressors said they were looking for the criminals responsible for the genocide committed against the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, the majority of the incidents reported indicate that the Hutus were targeted as such, with no discrimination between them.

The numerous attacks against the Hutus in Zaire, who were not part of the refugees, seem to confirm that it was all Hutus, as such, who were targeted.

The crimes committed in particular in Rutshuru (30 October 1996) and Mugogo (18 November 1996), in North Kivu, highlight the specific targeting of the Hutus, since people who were able to persuade the aggressors that they belonged to another ethnic group were released just before the massacres.

The systematic use of barriers by the AFDL/APR/FAB, particularly in South Kivu, enabled them to identify people of Hutu origin by their name or village of origin and thus to eliminate them.

Hundreds of people of Hutu origin are thus thought to have been arrested at a barrier erected in November 1996 in Ngwenda, in the Rutshuru territory, and subsequently executed by being beaten with sticks in a place called Kabaraza.

In South Kivu, AFDL/APR/FAB soldiers erected numerous barriers on the Ruzizi plain to stop Rwandan and Burundian refugees who had been dispersed after their camps had been dismantled.

Paragraph 514.
Several incidents listed in this report point to circumstances and facts from which a court could infer the intention to destroy the Hutu ethnic group in the DRC in part, if these were established beyond all reasonable doubt.

Firstly, the scale of the crimes and the large number of victims are illustrated by the numerous incidents described above.

The extensive use of edged weapons (primarily hammers) and the systematic massacre of survivors, including women and children, after the camps had been taken show that the numerous deaths cannot be attributed to the hazards of war or seen as equating to collateral damage.

The systematic nature of the attacks listed against the Hutus also emerges: these attacks took place in each location where refugees had been identified by the AFDL/APR, over a vast area of the country.

Particularly in North Kivu and South Kivu but also in other provinces, the massacres often began with a trick by elements of the AFDL/APR, who summoned the victims to meetings on the pretext either of discussing their repatriation to Rwanda in the case of the refugees, or of introducing them to the new authorities in the case of Hutus settled in the region, or of distributing food. Afterwards, those present were systematically killed.
Cases of this kind were confirmed:
● in the province of North Kivu in Musekera, Rutshuru and Kiringa (October 1996), Mugogo and Kabaraza (November 1996), Hombo, Katoyi, Kausa, Kifuruka, Kinigi, Musenge, Mutiko and Nyakariba (December 1996), Kibumba and Kabizo (April 1997) and Mushangwe (around August 1997);
● in the province of South Kivu in Rushima and Luberizi (October 1996), Cotonco and Chimanga (November 1996) and Mpwe (February 1997) and on the Shabunda-Kigulube road (February-April 1997);
● in Orientale Province in Kisangani and Bengamisa (May and June 1997);
● in Maniema in Kalima (March 1997)
● and in Équateur in Boende (April 1997).

Such acts certainly suggest premeditation and a precise methodology.

In the region south of the town of Walikale, in North Kivu (January 1997), Rwandan Hutus were subjected to daily killings in areas already under the control of the AFDL/APR as part of a campaign that seemed to target any Hutus living in the area in question.

Paragraph 515.
Several of the massacres listed were committed regardless of the age or gender of the victims.
This is particularly true of the crimes committed in
● Kibumba (October 1996), Mugunga and Osso (November 1996), Hombo and Biriko (December 1996) in the province of North Kivu,
● Kashusha and Shanje (November 1996) in the province of South Kivu,
● Tingi-Tingi and Lubutu (March 1997) in Maniema Province,
● and Boende (April 1997) in Équateur Province,
where the vast majority of victims were women and children.

Furthermore, no effort was made to make a distinction between Hutus who were members of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe and Hutu civilians, whether or not they were refugees.

This tendency to put all Hutus together and “tar them with the same brush” is also illustrated by the declarations made during the “awareness-raising speeches” made by the AFDL/APR in certain places, according to which any Hutu still present in Zaire must necessarily be a perpetrator of genocide, since the “real” refugees had already returned to Rwanda.

These “awareness-raising speeches” made in North Kivu also incited the population to look for, kill or help to kill Rwandan Hutu refugees, whom they called “pigs”. This type of language would have been in widespread use during the operations in this region.

Paragraph 516.
The massacres in Mbandaka and Wendji, committed on 13 May 1997 in Équateur Province, over 2,000 kilometres west of Rwanda, were the final stage in the hunt for Hutu refugees that had begun in eastern Zaire, in North and South Kivu, in October 1996.

Among the refugees were elements of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe, who were disarmed by the local police force as soon as they arrived.

In spite of everything, the AFDL/APR opened fire on hundreds of defenceless Hutu refugees, resulting in large numbers of victims.

Paragraph 517.
The systematic and widespread attacks described in this report, which targeted very large numbers of Rwandan Hutu refugees and members of the Hutu civilian population, resulting in their death, reveal a number of damning elements that, if they were proven before a competent court, could be classified as crimes of genocide.

The behaviour of certain elements of the AFDL/APR in respect of the Hutu refugees and Hutu populations settled in Zaire at this time seems to equate to “a manifest pattern of similar conduct directed against that group”, from which a court could even deduce the existence of a genocidal plan.

“Whilst the existence of such a plan may contribute to establishing the required genocidal intention, it is nonetheless only an element of proof used to deduce such an intention and not a legal element of genocide.”

It should be noted that certain elements could cause a court to hesitate to decide on the existence of a genocidal plan, such as the fact that as of 15 November 1996, several tens of thousands of Rwandan Hutu refugees, many of whom had survived previous attacks, were repatriated to Rwanda with the help of the AFDL/APR authorities and that hundreds of thousands of Rwandan Hutu refugees were able to return to Rwanda with the consent of the Rwandan authorities prior to the start of the first war.

Whilst, in general, the killings did not spare women and children, it should be noted that in some places, at the beginning of the first war, Hutu women and children were in fact separated from the men, and only the men were subsequently killed.

Paragraph 518.
Nonetheless, neither the fact that only men were targeted during the massacres, nor the fact that part of the group were allowed to leave the country or that there movement was facilitated for various reasons, are sufficient in themselves to entirely remove the intention of certain people to partially destroy an ethnic group as such.

In this respect it seems possible to infer a specific intention on the part of certain AFDL/APR commanders to partially destroy the Hutus in the DRC, and therefore to commit a crime of genocide, based on their conduct, words and the damning circumstances of the acts of violence committed by the men under their command.

It will be for a court with proper jurisdiction to rule on this question.”

[Congo Siasa]

August 27, 2010   2 Comments

Some atrocities detailed in the UN Report accusing Kagame troops of genocide

Some atrocities detailed in the UNHCHR document seen by Le Monde

(UNHCHR = United Nations High Commission for Human Rights)

Kinigi, 7 December 1996 “Elements from the AFDL/APR killed nearly 310 civilians, many of them women and children. The troops had accused the local population, mostly Hutu, of sheltering Interahamwe [Hutu paramilitaries, who] had already left the village. At first the troops sought to reassure the civilians [whom they gathered together] in several buildings, including the adventist church and the primary school. In the afternoon, troops entered these buildings and killed the villagers with hoes or axes to the head.”

Luberizi, 29 October 1996 “Elements from the AFDL/APR/FAB [Burundi’s armed forces] killed around 200 male refugees. The victims were part of a group of refugees told by the troops to regroup so that they could be repatriated to Rwanda. The troops separated the men from the rest of the group and killed them with bayonets or bullets. The bodies were then buried in mass graves [near to] the church.”

Bwegera, 3 November 1996 “They burned alive 72 Rwandan refugees in Cotonco (cotton company) headquarters, one kilometre from the village.”

[wpaudio url=”http://rwandinfo.com/audio/20100413-kagame-yigamba-ko-yarashe-impunzi.mp3″ text=”Listen- where Kagame himself proudly says his army shot refugees in Congo” dl=”0″]

Mutiko, December 1996 “Special units from the AFDL/APR started to hunt down refugees, killing several hundred. Once they had been intercepted at barriers put up by the troops, the victims were given food and told to get into UN lorries waiting at the exit of the village. The victims were then taken out on to the road, then killed with blows to the head with canes, hammers and axes. The troops encouraged the local population to take part in the killings.”

[Guardian]

August 27, 2010   2 Comments

UN report accuses Rwanda of genocide against Hutus in Congo

Unprecedented investigation by human rights commissioner says Hutu deaths ‘cannot be put down to margins of war’.

Hutu refugees in Goma

Hutu refugees at UN’s Goma camp The UN’s Goma camp in 1994. The Rwandan army attacked the camp, which was full of Hutu refugees, forcing hundreds of thousands deeper into Zaire. Photograph: Jon Jones/Sygma/Corbis

The United Nations has accused Rwanda of wholesale war crimes, including possibly genocide, during years of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

An unprecedented 600-page investigation by the UN high commissioner for human rights catalogues years of murder, rape and looting in a conflict in which hundreds of thousands were slaughtered.

A draft version of the report, revealed by Le Monde and expected to be published next month, says the abuses, over a period of seven years and two invasions by Rwanda, amount to “crimes against humanity, war crimes, or even genocide” because the principal targets of the violence were Hutus, who were killed in their tens of thousands.

Among the accusations is that Rwandan forces and local allies rounded up hundreds of men, women and children at a time and butchered them with hoes and axes. On other occasions Hutu refugees were bayoneted, burned alive or killed with hammer blows in large numbers.

It is the first time the UN has published such forthright allegations against Rwanda, a close ally of Britain and the US.

Related:
Rwanda: President Kagame proud to have killed Hutu refugees in DRC

● [wpaudio url=”http://rwandinfo.com/audio/20100413-kagame-yigamba-ko-yarashe-impunzi.mp3″ text=”Listen- where Kagame himself proudly says his army shot refugees in Congo” dl=”0″]

The Rwandan government reacted angrily to the report today, dismissing it as “amateurish” and “outrageous” after reportedly attempting to pressure the UN not to publish it by threatening to pull out of international peacekeeping missions. Rwanda’s Tutsi leaders will be particularly discomforted by the accusation of genocide when they have long claimed the moral high ground for bringing to an end the 1994 genocide in their own country. But the report was welcomed by human rights groups, which called for the prosecution of those responsible for war crimes.

The report by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) covers two periods: Rwanda’s 1996 invasion of the country then called Zaire in pursuit of Hutu soldiers and others who fled there after carrying out the 1994 genocide of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis, and a second invasion two years later that broadened into a regional war involving eight countries.

Rwanda’s attack on Zaire in 1996 was initially aimed at clearing the vast UN refugee camps around Goma and Bukavu, which were being used as cover by Hutu armed forces to continue the war against the new Tutsi-led government in Kigali.

Hundreds of thousands of the more than 1 million Hutus in eastern Zaire were forced back to Rwanda. Many more, including men who carried out the genocide but also large numbers of women and children, fled deeper into Zaire. They were pursued and attacked by the Rwandan army and a Zairean rebel group sponsored by Kigali, the AFDL.

The UN report describes “the systematic, methodical and premeditated nature of the attacks on the Hutus [which] took place in all areas where the refugees had been tracked down”.

“The pursuit lasted months and, occasionally, humanitarian aid intended for them was deliberately blocked, notably in the eastern province, thus depriving them of things essential to their survival,” the report said.

“The extent of the crimes and the large number of victims, probably in the several tens of thousands, are demonstrated by the numerous incidents detailed in the report. The extensive use of non-firearms, particularly hammers, and the systematic massacres of survivors after camps were taken prove that the number of deaths cannot be put down to the margins of war. Among the victims were mostly children, women, old and ill people.”

The report goes on to say that “the systematic and widespread attacks have a number of damning elements which, if proved before a competent court, could be described as crimes of genocide”.

The UN also adds that while Kigali has permitted Hutus to return to Rwanda in large numbers, that did not “rule out the intention of destroying part of an ethnic group as such and thus committing a crime of genocide”.

The Zairean army collapsed in the face of the invasion and Rwanda seized the opportunity to march across the country and overthrow the longstanding dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko. Laurent Kabila was installed as president. He promptly changed the name of the country to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Rwanda invaded again in 1998 after accusing the new regime of continuing to support Hutu rebels. The following five years of war drew in armies from eight nations as well as 21 rebel groups in a conflict that quickly descended in to mass plunder of the DRC’s minerals as well as a new wave of war crimes.

The UN report accuses Angolan forces of using the cover of the war to attack refugees from Angola’s conflict-plagued Cabinda province who had fled to the DRC. Angola is accused of “executing all those they suspected of colluding with their enemies”. Angolan soldiers also raped and looted, the UN investigation said.

International human rights groups welcomed the UN report and said it should be used to bring the accused to trial. “This is a very important report,” said Human Rights Watch. “We hope that it can form the basis for ending the impunity that has protected the people responsible for some of these crimes.”

The UN’s damning conclusions will prove hugely embarrassing to Rwanda, which is attempting to project itself as a rapidly modernising state that has put its brutal recent history behind it.

President Paul Kagame’s office attempted to dismiss the report. “It’s an amateurish NGO job, and it’s outrageous,” said a spokeswoman, Yolande Makolo. “Nobody reasonable believes that it’s helpful to anybody. The countries mentioned in the draft report have rejected it and will continue to reject it.”

Makolo did not comment on reports that Kagame last month warned the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, that Rwanda would pull its troops out of peacekeeping missions in Darfur and elsewhere if the report was made public. Le Monde said that threat was reiterated in a letter to Ban by Rwanda’s foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights, said the leaked draft was not the final version and the report to be published next month had undergone revisions.

“It’s only a draft from about two months ago and the proper final version will come up very soon,” he said.

But if there are substantial differences, the UN is likely to stand accused of bowing to pressure from Rwanda.

[Guardian]

August 27, 2010   5 Comments