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UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon about the report on Rwanda-led genocide against Hutus: “We are interested in establishing all the facts”

Kigali – The United Nations asked Rwanda to submit its concerns by the end of this month about a leaked report that accuses the country’s army of atrocities in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

“These concerns will be released simultaneously with the report,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters today in Kigali, the Rwandan capital.

Ban, who arrived in Kigali last night on an unannounced visit, said he held talks today with Rwandan President Paul Kagame about the leaked draft of a mapping report by the UN refugee agency.

Le Monde, the Paris-based newspaper, reported on Aug. 26 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 on Aug. 27 that the report was “immoral and unacceptable,” and threatened to recall its forces from UN peacekeeping missions if it was published unchanged. The UN postponed releasing the report until October.

We are interested in establishing all the facts regarding the mapping exercise,” Ban said. “We discussed in depth and I have listened very carefully to serious concerns.”

The Rwandan Patriotic Front army entered Congo in 1994 in pursuit of the perpetrators of a genocide that left 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead, according to the government.

Rwanda’s government “will not allow Rwandan defense forces to be accused of genocide,” Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said at the briefing with Ban today.

[Bloomberg.net]

September 8, 2010   4 Comments

UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon defends UN report on Rwanda-led Genocide against Hutus in DR Congo

Kigali – UN Secretary General on Wednesday calmly defended the controversial report which Kigali has attacked in the strongest terms so far including that it is “malicious”, “ridiculous”, “outrageous and damaging”.

Mr. Ban told reporters at the Kanombe International Airport as he prepared to leave that the United Nations was interested in establishing the facts relating to what took place in Zaire and now DR Congo during the 1990s.

The report will be released after U.N. members and interested parties have had an opportunity to respond, said Ban.

The UN chief arrived in Rwanda on an unannounced visit Tuesday night in an attempt to defuse a row over the draft report. He met with Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo late at night, and on Wednesday mid-morning met with President Kagame.

Details of the discussions between the two leaders were not released, but from the sound of Mushikiwabo, Rwanda is in this for a long haul. Mr. Ban immediately left Village Urugwiro for the airport in the afternoon accompanied by Mushikiwabo.

At the airport he pleaded with Rwanda not withdraw its 3550 troops and police from Sudan.

“I have asked President Kagame to continue with that contribution around the world and in particular when we are going to see a referendum in Sudan in January next year,” Ban told journalists.

Mr. Ban also said he and President Kagame shared the disappointment with leaking on the document and the letter which Mushikiwabo sent him.

“…the president and I are disappointed” that the draft of the report was leaked, Ban told journalists.

For the Mushikiwabo, Rwanda still stands by its position – pointing out that her government will take strong action if the 545-page report is not amended. She did not say specifically which aspects she wants removed.

Mushikiwabo said: “Rwanda will never accept that the Rwandan Defence Forces be accused of crimes they are not guilty of and that is the bottom line.”

The 22,000-strong joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur at the center of withdrawal threats is commanded by Rwandan, Lt. Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba.

Rwanda also has nearly 300 troops and police serving in the more than 13,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in semi-autonomous southern Sudan. They are enforcing a 2005 agreement with the government that ended Africa’s longest civil war — a key mission ahead of a January referendum on independence for South Sudan.

Government also has had police officers in Haiti.

[ARI-RNA]

September 8, 2010   2 Comments

RPP-Imvura slams Rwanda govt over UN report on Rwanda-led genocide in DR Congo

by John V KARURANGA.

Our Ref: RPP-LM/5/UN07/ME-03/09/10/JVK

London, 03/09/2010

Ms Louise MUSHIKIWABO
Minister of Foreign Affairs & Cooperation
P.O.Box 179, Kigali
RWANDA

Dear Ms Louise MUSHIKIWABO,

RE: Mapping Exercise

I write to you as the President of RPP – IMVURA. I have had sight of your letter to Mr Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations. ref-No.0482/01.01/Cab.Min/2010. I would like to raise seven specific questions to which I expect specific answers.

1. Why have you gone public with your comments on the leaked UN report? Could you not have waited for the official document to be released by the UN before making an official response?
In my understanding you were well aware of these accusations against the RPF about the DR Congo and the fact is that, the Human Rights Reporter in Rwanda was expelled from Rwanda by the RPF government. It is irresponsible for any responsible government to respond to a leaked report publicly without verifying its final and official contents. You were presented with this Draft Report by the UN in confidence and you were only asked to give your own government’s explanations and accounts of the allegations but instead you decided to go public with it. I think this is very irresponsible to come from a government and it shows systemic failure in your governmental procedures and ethics.
Your knee jerk reaction has given fire to this report and as I write to you now, the major media channels in the UK like the Guardian newspaper and the TV STATIONS LIKE Al Jazeera and many others have had packed full days of carrying the story. So, what have you achieved?

2. Why did you not investigate these alleged reports of atrocities and human rights abuse by RPF against Hutu refugees and Congolese civilians?
You instead launched attacks against the Humans Rights organisations that were making credible and verifiable accusations against your government. These are reputable organisations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International; remember these Human Rights and UN agencies have no special reasons or hidden agendas, nor do they want to gloss over or damage their reputations.

3. Why has your government refused to cooperate with the international organisations which are respected world-wide? Why did you expel the Researcher from Human Rights Watch from Rwanda just before the elections?
Human Rights Watch does not work on behalf of any government, so why were you so frightened by actions of an independent organisation? Is it because you were preparing to rig the recently concluded elections in which your candidate, Paul Kagame won an incredible, but predictable 93% of the vote in a contest against himself?

4. Would it not be reasonable to assume that your reaction to a draft document, which was circulated for consultations, is a demonstration of your fear and trepidation about crimes and gross inhumanity committed against a foreign people, and neighbour who posed no threat to our country?
These are people with whom we should be having cordial, trade and bilateral relationships with. Do you realise that the action of your government has caused long term damage to the relations between Rwanda and the DR Congo which only a new government in Rwanda can repair?

5. Why did you not take action to investigate the allegations that Rwandan soldiers committed crimes of genocide in the DR Congo between 1993 – 2003?
The draft report makes allegations of genocide committed in the DR Congo over various phases since 1993. Your lamentable excuse is that the UN presented you a 535-pages report which was a fait accompli but WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO INVESTIGATE these allegations?
Above all, these are allegations of egregious and the most reprehensible crimes which are said to have been committed by humans against fellow human beings, and that is genocide. You are well aware of the genocide that took over 1 million lives of Rwandan people. If such a crime is alleged to have been committed by Rwandan soldiers against other people, why not at least investigate, instead of blame the UN as your letter to the UN Secretary-General clearly indicates?

6. Using legalistic arguments is not going to save your government from the opprobrium of the international community. Your best option is to stop all acts of aggression against the Congolese people who have never invaded or caused harm to the Rwandan people. It is ridiculous and irresponsible of you and your fragile regime to blame the UN peace-keeping force in the DR Congo for the crimes of rape and other mistreatment of the Congolese people just because you are being investigated by the UN body. This is just a diversionary tactic. The UN, I believe has dealt with these allegations and some of the soldiers involved have been recalled and dismissed or severely punished. Your raising of this is therefore a diversion which is clearly opportunistic and nonsense. The UN draft accusation against the RPF is that RPA committed crimes against the Congolese people. Do not divert the argument madam and stick to the issues. On behalf of the RPP-IMVURA, I beg you not to divert the argument but to confront the UN Draft Report of allegations of crimes of genocide that your party and army may have committed against Congolese people and Hutu refugees.

7. Our party is seriously very concerned about your threat to withdraw Rwanda from the international community because of a credible Draft Report by the UN Human Rights Commission.
This threat damages the reputation of Rwanda as a nation and is very irresponsible of your government to even think of isolating Rwandan people from the international community. The accusations labelled against your government should not be attached to the Rwandan people. The soldiers acted on the orders of president Kagame, the RPF/RPA leadership and yourself as Foreign Minister and it behoves on you and your party to collectively accept and take full responsibility for these alleged crimes. Rwandan people have nothing to do with them. Therefore you have no right to withdraw the Rwandan nation or people from associating with the international community, especially humanitarian workers. In fact we as a party will totally ignore this nonsensical threat because it is simply intended to blackmail well meaning people in the international community who have supported the Rwandan people since the genocide of 1994.

It is a tragedy that genocide happened in our country and to our people in 1994. This is a wound that will heal but the scars will never disappear. A blanket of darkness clouds over us now and generations for many years to come. However painful, it is the undeniable the sorrow we endured cannot be justified by the RPF action to export Rwandan man made human tragedies or use it as a pretext to commit atrocities to our neighbours or elsewhere in the world. It is therefore reprehensible, shameful and irresponsible to always blame others for our failures. We Rwandans should not shrink away from our responsibilities even if we are faced with despair. It was immoral, reckless, insane and unspeakable what happened in Rwanda in 1994. It should not have happened in the first place and should not be allowed to be repeated anywhere in the world.

Why should we ignore the fundamental issues which have afflicted our people and our nation since 1959 and created conflicts that our people did not contribute to and can not be held accountable for? There was a chance to dissect and address the fault lines and the reasons for the tragedy that befell our nation and people. Instead we suppressed the truth and the pain of Rwandans inside Rwanda and in the Diaspora. This was the foundation of the indescribable tragedies of 1994. This was the harvest of seeds of hatred sown by the previous regimes since 1960. We must therefore have the courage to move forward to solve our conflicts in a more civilised way and not emulate actions of the previous regimes.

We have chilling reports of how Rwandan refugees in many parts of the world are being deliberately subjected to horrendous daily attacks by RPF external operatives. There are substantiated evidences of assassinations, kidnappings, mysterious disappearance and harassments by the Rwandan government officials both inside and outside Rwanda. The detailed accounts cannot be exhausted; but they include:

• 1995: Journalist Manasseh Bugaboo disappears in Kigali has not been seen again;

• 1996: First post-genocide Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga and businessman Augustine Bugirimfura; shot dead in Nairobi;

• 1998: Journalist Emmanuel Munyemanzi disappeared from Kigali; body spotted in city but not returned to family;

• 1998: RPF MP and government intelligence chief before the genocide Theoneste Lizinde assassinated in Nairobi;

• 2000: First post-genocide President Pasteur Bizimungu’s adviser, Asiel Kabera, shot dead in Kigali,

• 2003: EX-RPF officer and top judge Augustin Cyiza and magistrate Eliezar Runyaruka and opposition MP Leonard Hitimana disappeared from Kigali and have not been seen again;

• 2010: Ex-RPF officer Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa shot and wounded in Johannesburg;

• 2010: Journalist Jean-Leonard Rugambage gunned down in Kigali

• 2010: Denis Semadwinga gunned down in Gisenyi;

• 2010: Andrew Kagwa Rwisereka – beheaded in Butare

• 2010: Mme Emeritha Munyeshuri, a 60 years old woman, shot down at Rwanda – DR Congo border

• 2010: Deo Mushahidi kidnapped from Burundi currently in torture house in Rwanda;

• 2010: Reporter Dominique Makeli survived abduction in Kampala-Uganda;

• Dozens of Journalists including Jean Bosco Gasasira – lives in fear of abduction in Kampala, and John Karuranga of RPP – IMVURA is living under constant threat in the UK.

Hon. Minister, are you also suggesting that the above listed horrendous and indescribable atrocities, committed on fellow Rwandans should also be blamed on the UN and its agencies? These are just a few examples of your victims who are well known or prominent. But what about those voices that cannot be heard because they are poor and powerless? I give to you the example of the Rwandan destitute children currently confined on the Island of IWAWA (notoriusly know as the “Island of Rwandan Unwanted Children”) against their will and against international law.

Our position at RPP-IMVURA is that you should resign because of the irresponsible manner in which you handled the UN Draft Report and so should your boss Mr. Paul Kagame and your RPF government. You have clearly given a new meaning to the word PATRIOTIC. Our party regards you as TRAITORS to the Rwandan people and we ask you to stop using the word “PATRIOTIC” as part of your party name. You should allow a transitional government to take over so that positive efforts can be made to repair relations with our neighbours in the Great Lakes region, the UN and international human rights organisations.

Hon. Minister, allow me to remind you and your government that the crimes committed in the DR Congo hangs a dangerous rope around the necks of our children and grand children for many decades to come. This rope can only be untied from the necks of our children if the alleged crimes committed are thoroughly investigated and those individuals responsible are punished. It would be a very grave mistake to yet again leave these complex issues to be resolved by our children who bear no responsibility for the conflicts that have occurred inside and outside of Rwanda since colonial times.

Can I also remind you and your fragile regime that the Habyarimana’s regime was not overthrown by the RPF but it was overthrown by his selfishness and failures to relate with his fellow Rwandans and work in their interests? It is this selfishness and repression that led to the 1990 civil war which ended with the 1994 genocide. These are the same mistakes President Kagame is engaged in which has destroyed the RPF regime and the possible collapse of the RPF as a party and political force. We have advised the RPF continuously but have not got any positive response. The RPF has made its bed and is determined to sleep in it. Its demise and total defeat will come as no surprise. It is a party and army that are imploding from within and without and nothing can save it now.

We strongly oppose your ill thought idea to even consider pulling Rwandan troops out of any credible International obligations because that will not wash away the alleged crimes. It is totally wrong to link Rwanda’s international commitment to actions of atrocities committed in the DR Congo by the Rwandan army as a condition to extricate yourselves from these crimes. We at RPP – IMVURA party strongly condemn the atrocities committed by both the RPF, MONUC and/or by any organisation/institution against the civilians in the DR Congo. We are very much aware of the failures of the international community to prevent the Rwandan genocide in 1994. However, the UN should not condone atrocities anywhere else because we know it failed to stop the Rwandan genocide. The International community should send a clear warning to any individuals or country that the 1994 Rwandan tragedies should NEVER be allowed to happen again.

As a party, we support a full and thorough investigation into allegations of genocide and atrocities committed by President Kagame and the RPF/RPA against innocent Hutu refugees and Congolese civilians. But we also argue that Kagame and his dictatorial regime can not carry out such an investigation, which must be fair and seen to be fair.
In the meantime, we reiterate our demand for Mr Kagame to resign to allow a transitional government to take over to carry out these investigations, repair Rwanda’s relations with the international community and organise free and fair elections in two years time.

I am copying this letter to President Kagame, the UN Secretary General, The Leaders of the Five Plus One group, Diplomatic Missions acredited to the UK, The Commonwealth Secretary General, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other worldwide organisations for their information.

Please, take this matter seriously, and my party looks forward to your immediate response to my seven questions outlined above.

Yours faithfully,

John V KARURANGA, President

RWANDA PEOPLES PARTY – IMVURA

C.c:

H.E. President Paul KAGAME,
Urugwiro
Kigali

H.E. Ban Ki-Moon
Secretary-General of the United Nations
Executive office of the Secretary-General (EOSG))
New York

Office of the United Nationals High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Geneva

Commonwealth Secretary-General
London

President, Human Rights International
New York

President , Human Rights Watch
New York

President, Amnesty International
New York

The World Media

The author John V KARURANGA is President of RWANDA PEOPLE’S PARTY – IMVURA

Contact:
RWANDA PEOPLE’S PARTY – IMVURA (RPP-I)
email1: rppimvura@rwandapeopleparty.org
email2: rppimvura@yahoo.com
www.rwandapeopleparty.org
Tel: 00447985663922 1

September 8, 2010   1 Comment

Is peacekeeping being used by African states to deflect criticism?

Nairobi: Troop contributions for UN peacekeeping missions are helping African nations build a buffer against criticism over democratic and human rights failings, analysts said Monday.

Reacting to a leaked United Nations report last week that its forces committed war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda threatened to pull out its soldiers from Darfur if the document is published.

Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said the UN cannot have it both ways: “You cannot accuse our army… and want the same army to be a disciplined moral army to protect civilians around the world.”

Providing some [3500] peacekeepers for the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur and the United Nations Mission in Sudan may be spreening Kigali’s international image, but could also be providing a shield against scrutiny, observers said.

“It’s clear that by contributing troops to peacekeeping missions, Rwanda wants to get a positive image at the international level,” said Carina Tertsakian, a Rwanda researcher for the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

“I do think they hoped that because they are appreciated at the international level it may mean they get less criticism of their human rights record back home or elsewhere,” she told AFP.

Not only does withdrawing troops fail to address the allegations of crime, but it would portray Kigali as attempting a cover up.

“We can understand that Rwanda is sensitive to the allegations that crimes were committed by its troops in DRC, but we think that this kind of threat and intimidation is really not helpful and even counterproductive.

“It would give the impression that Rwanda has something to hide by preventing the publication of this report,” said Tertsakian, whose visa Rwanda refused to renew in April.

While on her first tour of sub-Saharan Africa in 2007, German Chancellor Angela Merkel asserted the need for political freedom and respect for human rights in Ethiopia, which has been criticised for such failures.

Instead of tackling Merkel’s concerns, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who addressed a joint press conference with his guest, pledged to send 5,000 troops for the Darfur mission.

Uganda, which provides the bulk of troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia, had come under stinging attack in 2005 by Johnnie Carson, the current US assistant secretary for Africa.

Carson lambasted President Yoweri Museveni for clinging to power.

But five years on when he attended the African Union summit in Kampala in July this year, just days after Somalia’s Shebab militia claimed a suicide attack there, Carson said Museveni was no dictator but “duly elected in a free and fair elections” in comments in Uganda’s state-run daily New Vision.

Despite lamenting the opposition boycott of Burundi’s June elections, European Union monitors however praised their conduct. The opposition had stayed away in protest over alleged goverment rigging of previous local elections.

Like Uganda, Burundi has also deployed troops to Somalia, although its security forces have repeatedly been blamed for arbitrary arrests, torture and other violations.

“We have noted that the United States, and more so the EU are turning a blind eye regarding the numerous political and human rights violations as well as corruption in Burundi,” said an official with the Great Lakes Human Rights League.

“Is this linked to Burundi’s troop deployment in Somalia? I cannot affirm that, but it seems very possible,” said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But seeking to deflect international criticism may not be the key reason states deploy peacekeepers, said Ej Hogendoorn, a Nairobi-based analyst with the International Crisis Group.

Financial benefits and military experience are among other the motivations, he added.

“Countries contribute forces for a variety of reasons,” Hogendoorn told AFP. “One of them is to generate goodwill with the international community.”

September 8, 2010   1 Comment