The UN: the millstone around Rwanda’s neck
Has the English language changed these days or does the UN have its own English? In the English I learnt, when you “leak” out some information, it means you give it out clandestinely. A “report” is an account or opinion you give after investigation. You call somebody an “expert” when they show special knowledge of something or they have special skills. It’d seem as though these words no longer hold those meanings.
Last week your ears must have been assaulted by a cacophony of noises over a UN report by a “Group of Experts” on Rwanda’s alleged involvement in DRC. In truth, though, the noises were not so much on the report as on the report’s “addendum”. That, again in my old English, means a small addition at the end, an appendix. The buzz was at ear-splitting decibels because the ‘by-the-way’ – the small addition leaked out as a report – was on Rwanda’s involvement. The noise was that its contents were not being made public.
But when those contents were finally made public, it seems no one noticed. How could anyone, when the UN actually put the findings in the addendum out in the public even before their report was put together? The “report”, which is not a report, anyway. When you say “One person said he saw this, another person said he saw that”, who would take that to be a report?
Every right-thinking person would say you are giving out reports from other people’s mouths. In which case, who’d be the expert, if not the one from whose mouth you picked your ‘wisdom’? That ‘wisdom’ is not backed by any investigation, all right, but at least they’d be talking about seeing. In my old English, reproducing what’s heard is called “hearsay”. I’ve never heard of anybody who became an expert because of their special skills at reproducing hearsay.
Now for the noise the UN has generated, see the problems it has caused. People are being killed in the name of that “report”. Anybody that has the slightest connection to Rwanda is being hunted down. And, remember, the same happened after a “Mapping Report” that died in its ‘leaking’ infancy. A “mapping” report that’d had nothing to do with mapping and had been no report, either.
All this while, none in the UN is giving a thought to the true source of the woes in the DRC. No one remembers that there used to be a country called Zaïre that enjoyed some level of peace. That peace was shattered the moment a certain strong member of the UN offloaded the génocidaires of Rwanda onto the Zaïrian soil. If the UN has dollars to burn, it should burn them on experts who can remember to find out this simple truth. Then the dollar-guzzling UN ‘stabilising’ forces on the ground can begin to do what they are supposed to.
Otherwise, getting experts who only enumerate the dizzying multitude of rebel outfits in the DRC does not help anybody. Ndumba Defence of Congo (NDC); Forces pour la défense du Congo (FDC); Local defence forces at Busumba; Coalition des Groupes Armés de l’Ituri (COGAI); Union des Congolais pour la défense de la démocratie (UCDD) and on.... These, in addition to FDLR and then their object of focus, M23.
I’m surprised these experts did not unearth a rebel outfit called UGALI (United Gangs Against Little Initiatives). At least these would’ve shown our experts that DRC was not a land for idlers.
I can imagine these experts presenting their report in our dear Gacaca courts, now already being missed. Opening with: “Pursuant to its oral briefing presented to Inyangamugayo on 13 June 2012 and in fulfilment of its commitment to provide timely information on genocide atrocities to this same Committee, the Group of Experts presents this addendum to its report (S/2012/348)”.
After such a solemn pledge, the experts would go on to explain how somebody told them that he was told people saw footprints that must have been made by a group of genocidaires. Somebody else told them that he was told that Bishokoro Hotel in Kinigi belonged to the chief Interahamwe and a brother. Another was told that somebody was told there were genocide tools freely being moved across Rwanda......
And, with a flourish, the experts would conclude: “In light of the serious nature of these findings, the Group has adopted elevated methodological standards.....while the Group’s standard methodology requires a minimum of three sources......it has raised this to five sources when naming specific individuals involved in these cases....”. I can picture the gathered populace staring at the group of experts in disbelief, then bursting out in laughter.
But I can imagine an even better forum: the National Dialogue (Umushyikirano). This is one of the major platforms at which all Rwandan leaders meet to discuss issues of national importance and work out appropriate solutions. It is attended by all and sundry and is transmitted and streamed live. Or the National Leadership Retreat, where all leaders bury themselves in reviewing their performance of the past year, in solving national problems, and planning for the next.
Present your trash of a report in any of these forums and you’ll be ‘laughed into exile’! But at least the UN will get a chance to accuse Rwanda of something she’ll have done.
Contact email: butapa[at]gmail.com