|Peruvian Forensic Expert José Pablo|
The leak of the report coincides with the completion of the training of the first 40-member team of Congolese forensic science investigators from the Congolese police, which is being led by a renowned Peruvian forensic expert, Mr José Pablo Baraybar. “Thanks to this new report by the UN, we will be able to exhume the bodies that are spread throughout a country waiting for justice to be done for a community that has suffered a genocide, which has been silenced for over 10 years,” Baraybar to The Observer.
There is a long trail of genocide accounts around Mr. Kagame’s historic path from rebel leader to Presidency and, for an outsider to history of the African Great Lakes region; it is getting harder to know what account of genocide is referred to in debates. Kagame’s apologists are not making the task easier either. On one hand, Paul Kagame’s army is accredited to have stopped Tutsi genocide in Rwanda but on the other hand it is suspected to have carried out Hutu genocide in Democratic Republic of Congo and currently the same army is involved in peacekeeping mission in Darfur where other genocide is rooming.
Faced with allegations from a United Nations Agency Report for committing war crimes and probably genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwandan government spokeswoman, Mrs Louise Mushikiwabo, is often quoted criticising “the U.N., which deliberately turned its back on the Rwandan people during the 1994 genocide, to accuse the army that stopped the genocide of committing atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
FILIP REYNTJENS, Professor of Law and Politics, Universities of Antwerp, on his last interview with the BBC Africa, found it troubling “that an army that is accused and that is actually suspected of having committed those massive allegations under international humanitarian law should be keeping the peace in a place like Darfur at all.” A leaked report from the UN high commissioner for human rights says that after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Tutsi-led Rwandan troops and their rebel allies killed tens of thousands of members of the Hutu ethnic group inside the Congo. The Rwandan government reacted furiously to the UN draft last week.
It is not new to many in United Nations circle in general and in UN International Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in particular that actually Tutsi genocide planning was part of the military strategy of the RPF. Was Kagame inspired by what had taken place in the neighbouring Burundi six months earlier in 1993 when a Hutu President M. Ndadaye was assassinated? The first democratically elected Hutu president was assassinated in a military mutiny in Burundi in October of 1993. More than two hundred thousand people died as a result of uprising in the country. Around half a million Burundi people fled into Rwanda. Robert Flaten, then US ambassador to Rwanda knew that same could happen in Rwanda if the country’s president was also killed. Robert warned Kagame that the chief rebel would be responsible for massive killings in the country should he break the ceasefire and resume the war. Two months later, the plane carrying two Hutus presidents was shot down, touching off mass killing as predicted.
The “mapping exercise” report by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) accuses Kagame’s army of “crimes against humanity, war crimes, or even genocide” primarily directed to unarmed civilian members of Hutu ethnic group who posed no direct threat to any military party. “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”
Should accusations of possible genocide crimes still appear in the final report, and then it will be for a competent court to make a decision on the issue. It is worthy to mention that the authors of the report indicated that they were concerned that the language of “genocide” may be watered down before the official publishing of the document; therefore they felt it necessary to leak the report to safeguard the integrity of the report. The genocide allegations carries a heavy weight in international law that once mentioned, action has to be taken.
Kagame’s government argues that during both Congo Wars, its army repatriated thousands of Hutu refugees back to Rwanda. Proof that his army was not engaged in war crimes mentioned by the report. The U.N. says the report’s release will now be delayed until October 1, to allow countries cited in it the time to append their comments.
Early 2003, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels started a protest against the Sudan government’s policies, accusing Karthoum of discriminating black Africans population in favour of Arabs. Protests were then met with air raids by government aircraft into the mostly black populated areas of Sudan. Air raids were often followed by attacks from the Janjaweed, a pro-government militia, riding on horses and camels, slaughtering men, raping women and looting Fur people.
UN investigation team in 2005 concluded that war crimes had been committed on black African population by pro-government militia but there had been no intent to commit genocide. However International Crimes Court attempted to add genocide to charge against president Omar al-Bashir. The court’s pre-trial chamber has now been ordered to reconsider genocide charges.
Kagame’s army, under the auspice of the UN and African Union, are taking part in peacekeeping mission to prevent genocide in Darfur. Following the leak of the UNHCHR “mapping exercise” report, Kigali has threatened to withdraw its 3500 troops from the UNAMID force in Darfur and from other peacekeeping missions around the world immediately if the report is published by the UN.
UN Secretary General, Mrs Ban Ki-moon told reporters in New York last week that “President Kagame and I agreed that it is extremely important for Rwanda to continue its role in peacekeeping operations,” But the threat remains.