AfroAmerica Network has obtained a briefing report given to the UN Security Council on September 7, 2010 by the UN Deputy Head of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations , Mr. Atul Khare (see the report here). The briefing follows the trip in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to investigate the mass rapes of Congolese women in Walikale area.
In the report Atul Khare accuses the Rwandan Hutu rebels of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) and the congolese Mai-Mai Cheka of being responsible for raping more than 500 women and men, including minors. The report particularly singles out a FDLR unit under the command of Colonel Seraphin and Mai-Mai Cheka commanded by Colonel Mayele.
Curiously Mr. Atul Khare’s briefing outlines several elements that may contradict his findings or at least cast a doubt on the findings of the report:
- 1)He said he talked only to FARDC senior operational officers, apart from the Government officials, but never to the Mai-Mai Cheka or FDLR commanders or officers. What else could he expect?
- 2)The victims seem not to confirm who, among the FARDC on the one side and the Mai-Mai Cheka and FDLR, are responsible for the rapes. They instead state that they have been in peaceful contact with FDLR before and the Mai-Mai Cheka who hail from the region
- 3)Most of the reported rapes and looting happened following attacks by the FARDC troops, not before;
- 4) FARDC, FDLR, and Mai-Mai all wear the same uniforms.
AfroAmerica Network has also received information from people on the ground in the Kivu including congolese and members of NGO that challenge the allegations contained in the briefing by Mr. Atul Khare.
In fact they all confirm that the crimes of massive rapes and looting were committed by FARDC, especially the 112th and 111th brigades composed of former CNDP troops.
Here is the version of the facts as reported to AfroAmerica Network:
- *On 18 July 2010, a coalition of FDLR and Mai-Mai Cheka attacked the 112 the brigade of FARDC in Kibua killed several FARDC troops including a major and other officers and destroyed the headquarter;
- *On 25 July 2010, the 112th brigade of FARDC was reinforced by the 111th brigade FARDC and launched a counter attack, forcing the FDLR and Mai-Mai Cheka to abandon their positions. They FARDC managed to capture the areas of Pinga, Kibua, and Mpofi. However, given that their headquarters and bivouacs were burned to ground in the preceding week, they occupied the homes of the villagers and forced the adult males out, alleging security concerns. Once the male were out of the villages, the FARDC troops of the 112th and 111th brigades sealed the villages, creating a security cordon around the occupied areas;
- *From 25 July 2010 to August 5, 2010, the FARDC troops of the 111th and 112th brigades occupying the homes in the villages raped the women who had stayed in these villages after the adult and teenage males were out;
- *On August 5, 2010 the villagers who managed to pass through the security cordon alerted MONUSCO and NGOs.
- *After learning that MONUSCO and NGO were alerted, the FARDC commanders also reported the rapes but accused the FDLR, and later the FDLR and Mai-Mai Cheka.
During the briefing, Mr. Atul Khare recommended sanctions against the perpetrators of the mass rapes. The US also said they will push for the sanctions. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters after the meeting:
“From the U.S. point of view, we will take up the mantle of leadership… in ensuring that the perpetrators of the violence are held accountable, including through our efforts in the sanctions committee — to add them to the list that exists and to ensure that they are sanctioned,”
Mr. Atul Khare recommended the “ imposition of targeted sanctions on the leaders of FDLR both within and without the country, if a chain of command is proven.”There is no doubt that perpetrators must be found, brought to justice and pusnished accordingly. The question is: why the rush to blame FDLR when most of the facts point to FARDC, especially the 111th and 112th brogades composed of former CNDP led by General Bosc Ntaganda, an alleged war criminal and responsible for systematic similar and worst crimes in the past?