Can Mr. Rapp in all consciousness continue giving credit to UN reports?
US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues, Stephen Rapp, in a recent interview while visiting Rwanda, said he had no evidence of mass killings or rapes perpetrated by the M23 Congolese rebel group and would, as such, not be bringing any charges against them at this point in time.
None will be brought against any Rwandan official, he added, for the very same reason: not one shred of evidence of any support from Rwanda to a “criminal” rebel group… none to be spoken of!
Quite the contrary to what was claimed by one Chris McGreal, reporter at the Guardian, who quoted Stephen Rapp as saying the exact opposite; it turns out his words- Mr. Rapp- were misquoted and taken out of context.
Even though he did mention that Rwanda was yet to be cleared of these suspicions, this new turn of events makes it a whole different ballgame than the one initiated by the Guardian, the Financial Times and others…
Coming back to Mr. McGreal, a former BBC correspondent, this is far from being his first attempt at this kind of exercise. He is, by any stretch of the imagination, a ‘repeat offender’. Making indicting revelations about Rwanda by leaking draft UN reports about Congo is definitely his cup of tea; and he doesn’t stand alone in this fight.
Through a rather well mastered dissemination strategy, mainstream media were able to propagate a leak from the UN, without taking a critical look at it, as if to say that the UN could not possibly be wrong in its analysis of anything African.
This attempted smear campaign became the perfect occasion to air out some of the, otherwise, withheld grudges and ill feelings kept in the darkest corners of the hearts of many a stakeholder towards the current leadership of Rwanda.
How else could one explain the unwillingness of so many analytical minds to take a second look and, why not, consider the other side of the story – Rwanda- before recycling the same old accusations against President Kagame and his regime; funny how the world changes but still remains the same… I hate to pull the race card, but if the cap fits... let them wear it.
Even more worrisome is the fact that this international body, upon which we place much hope for peace and justice, would put in charge of the gathering of such a report a world-renowned revisionist advocating for the FDLR terrorist group in DRC and promotes racism amongst the Congolese.
In one of the many papers he has published for various NGO’s, he stated in no uncertain terms that the ‘Rwandophones’ in North and South Kivu had to clear a higher bar of citizenship than other Congolese nationals. His support of the FDLR, an organization on the terrorist list of the UN and the US, is a secret to none.
Most troubling to me is the Western Donors Community’s chosen approach to the crisis in the Eastern Congo. After hastily freezing some of its foreign aid and warning the Rwandan government over unsubstantiated allegations, will these “Donors” avoid further embarrassment and correct their stance on Rwanda?
Can Mr. Rapp, today, as a representative of this Donors Community and who was at the center of the first “hit” against Rwanda, in all consciousness, continue giving credit to these reports now that he knows the truth about Steven Hege and his controversial views on the issues at hand? Has he confronted Rwanda’s refutation with the so-called Experts’ account?
By trying to shake-off the guilt factor that the Western “Donors” Community has been accused of for so long in the media when it comes to Rwanda, that Community is lending an unfortunate hand to genocide deniers, revisionists and anti-Rwanda militants.
The fear being, of course, a reproduction of the same scenario as in the nineties when they focused on the wrong reports and abandoned the victims in the cruel hands of their aggressors. Stephen Rapp came to Rwanda and was able to meet with the Congolese refugees.
He had all the time to listen to their testimonies and now surely needs to come up with his own report. Yes, as a matter of fact, crimes of war have been committed against the Kivu populations, in particular the Rwandophones. Who were the perpetrators, if not the M23? Steven Hege and the UN know, just like in 1994. The refugees unanimously pointed Ambassador Rapp in the right direction: the FDLR and the FARDC.
The International Community has voiced great concern on numerous occasions about the M23 insurrection in Eastern Congo. Did they bother to know about the Congolese victims’ fate?
Do they realize that the more than 30,000 refugees in just two months, topping up on the older waves of victims from the last decade, are the victims of a racist reign of terror targeting Congolese nationals of Rwandan decent?
By constantly putting the blame on Rwanda for the troubles of the DRC, the UN, through its reports, is contributing in a major way to a climate of xenophobia and calls for violence against Rwandans and Congolese Rwandophones alike.
As a Rwandan who knows all too well where this rocky road leads, these events have the bitter taste of déjà vu. Once the poisonous seeds of genocide are planted in a country’s collective consciousness, it brings an otherwise peaceful people one step closer to blood spilling madness.
The onus is now on Ambassador Rapp to bring a stop to all this unnecessary tension between two Nations that can only stand to cooperate and live together as peaceful and friendly neighbors. The last thing the DRC or Rwanda needs is to be pulled back into a whirlwind of never ending violence; both our people have suffered enough.
Albert Rudatsimburwa is an Editor and Political Analyst Great Lakes