Since Thursday 26/8/10, the news is massive evidence of atrocities including acts of genocide that the Rwandan Patriotic Army/ Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo-Zaïre (AFDL) committed against tens of thousands of Hutu refugees in the Congo forests during and after the period leading to the removal of Mobutu on 17 May 1997.
Jason Stearns published on his blog extracts of the referred to UN report titled, “Democratic Republic of Congo, 1993–2003: Report of the Mapping Exercise documenting the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed within the territory of the DRC between March 1993 and June 2003.”
Jason Stearns’ comment on the report:
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 refugee and Congolese Hutu could constitute a crime of genocide. This will be a bombshell for Paul Kagame’s government, which prides itself of having brought an end to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and have built their reputation and their appeal to donors on their promotion of post-genocide reconciliation. This report will rock the internet for months and years to come, its political improtance is hard to overstate.
A few words of caution. The report was not based on the same high standards of a judicial investigation, it was intended to provide a broad mapping of he most serious human rights abuses between 1993 and 2003.
Indeed, the report says that an international court will have to be the final arbiter whether the RPA/AFDL did 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, it was their mandate to documents crimes of genocide, and they were rigorous: In total, the team gathered evidence on 600 incidents of violence (not just on the genocide allegations). 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 the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon 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 I have even heard that they will withdraw from the UN all together, becoming “associate” or “observer” states. I imagine that it is to prevent such editing that the report was finally leaked.
On the conclusion of the report:
Paragraph 512 – The systematic attacks
Paragraph 513 – At the time of the incidents covered by this report
Paragraph 514 – Several incidents listed in this report point to circumstances and facts
Paragraph 515 – Several of the massacres listed were committed regardless
Paragraph 516 – The massacres in Mbandaka and Wendji
Paragraph 517 – The systematic and widespread attacks
Paragraph 518 – Nonetheless, neither the fact that only men were targeted…