In a long letter dated 25/11/13 and addressed to Mary Robinson, U.N. Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Martin Kobler, U.N. Special Representative and Head of MONUSCO and Russ Feingold, U.S. Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Paul Rusesabagina who inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda is asking for caution and wisdom in dealing the FDLR issue, this after the military defeat of M23.
Please read below excerpts from the letter.
“6. A careful examination of both FDLR and M23 clearly suggests that these are two different groups in terms of origin, history, cause, nature and composition, and consequently the two groups should not be equated or handled in similar fashion. On one hand, there is FDLR, a group of Rwandan refugees who include women, children and the elderly, and who, like all of us refugees, demand to be granted their full rights to return to their motherland without being threatened, and to enjoy their basic freedoms as citizens of their country, Rwanda.
In many ways, today’s FDLR is an exact replica of the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) rebel group that invaded Rwanda from Uganda in 1990, waged war with the Rwandan government over 4 years before taking power in July 1994.
The only difference is that the RPF was a Tutsi rebel group, while the FDLR is a Hutu rebel group. On the other hand, there is M23, a mixed group of Congolese and Rwandan outlaws and criminals, run by warlords from within the upper echelons of the RDF (Rwanda Defense Forces) and fully funded logistically, militarily, and financially by Rwanda to occupy and exploit the resources of eastern DRC, as documented by the U.N. Group of Experts on DRC’s Interim Report (S/2012/348).
A majority of these M23 outlaws and criminals have been granted a safe haven by Rwanda almost a month after their defeat by the FARDC. That is why recent public statements by multiple U.N. officials that FDLR will be attacked, disarmed and dismantled like M23 appear misguided, because the two groups are simply not the same. A different approach would seem best indicated in dealing with the fundamental issues at the root of the FDLR rebellion, a primarily Hutu organization being targeted for elimination by a predominantly Tutsi minority military dictatorship in Rwanda. There is a real ethnic component to this issue that cannot be ignored or over-simplified.
7. As MONUSCO’s Force Intervention Brigade, in collaboration with all countries and partner organizations involved, prepares to disarm and dismantle the FDLR in the broader context of the peace process in eastern DRC, the Great Lakes Region of Africa and in Rwanda in particular, we think it would be wise to look carefully at the contours of the evolving political realities inside Rwanda today.
Since recently, there appears to be a growing radicalization of the RPF regime in Kigali against Hutus in a possible desperate effort to rally all Tutsi faithful around the regime and ward off a potential internal cracking of the ruling Tutsi coalition.
In a speech at a Youth Konnect event June 30, 2013, President Kagame openly asked Hutu youths nationwide to apologize for all killings committed “in their name” by Hutus against Tutsis during the 1994 genocide, despite the fact that criminal responsibility is personal rather than collective. Similarly, following a recent two-day cabinet retreat on the theme “I am Rwandan” (Ndi Umunyarwanda) that ended Saturday November 8, 2013 in Kigali under the leadership of President Kagame, members of government made the resolution that “The genocide against Tutsis was carried out in the name of Hutus, and so, for the sake of healing the Rwandan society, it’s necessary for those in whose name genocide took place to apologize to those against whom it was carried out”, according to a press release issued by ORINFOR (Rwanda Information Office).
Unfortunately, these do not appear to be edicts that can speed up reconciliation and encourage the average Hutu refugee to go back to Rwanda, let alone FDLR members whom the Rwandan government regularly accuses of “harboring the ideology of genocide” and of wanting to “finish the job of genocide”. Rather, the general fear is that there is a re-engineering of Rwandan society underway, with a very troubling un-confessed goal of creating a generation of second-class subservient citizens bound down by the eternal shame and guilt of genocide.
All this is in addition to a well-documented situation of gross human rights violations that include persecution of political opponents whether real or perceived, arbitrary arrests and imprisonments, torture, disappearances, the stifling of the press, the hunting down of opponents in their countries of exile using death squads, etc. Clearly, this is not the kind of positive political vision that can heal scarred hearts and lead to a new united Rwanda.”
Source: Ikaze Iwacu