KIGALI - Anti-genocide campaign should be Africa’s number one priority, Rwandan leaders have appealed.
The call was echoed yesterday by several top Rwandan leaders during presentations to delegates attending a high-level continental security and intelligence meeting in Kigali.
President Paul Kagame’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Ambassador Richard Sezibera said: “We must agree, at a continental level to start with, on the menu for action in case of the threat of genocide.
What non coercive measures to take, the threshold for intervention, and the operational principles in the case of intervention in advancement of human security.”
He was presenting a paper on the implications of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.
Participants from 46 African countries, members of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (Cissa), are attending the five-day workshop at Prime Holdings in Kimihurura.
“We must determine that genocide is a threat to our collective security, and give it the priority it deserves in our institutional security architecture at national, regional and continental level.
We must move it from the margins of the security agenda to the centre, and mobilize the requisite resources for it,” Sezibera observed.
He said that elements that committed the Rwanda Genocide continue to harbour the same ideology, with the intention to accomplish their mission.
He said genocidal forces ex-Far and Interahamwe, which have over the years adopted various names, continue to operate from several countries particularly the neighbouring Democratic Republic Congo (DRC).
He said that the Genocide force, now known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), shouldn’t be considered as “just another armed group” since its mission is to extermination and having Rwanda devoid of a section of people.
He gave a historical overview of the Genocide, showing how pervious regimes had demonized Tutsis by referring to them as cockroaches and snakes to prepare masses psychology ahead of the killings.
He said those negative elements continue to propagate such dehumanizing labels, giving an example of ex-FAR/Interahamwe’s first attack on Rwanda in 1995 when the group codenamed their offensive “Insecticide”.
“In other words, they were saying ‘we are spraying ‘cockroaches,’ he said.
He said whereas FDLR’ s military activities were mainly in eastern DRC, some Genocide masterminds were active in Diaspora politics in “many African countries including, the Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Zambia, Malawi, Cameroon, Kenya, to mention but a few.”
“Their continued armed and non armed activities constitute a danger to the security of Rwanda, and many African states…… the ideologues of hatred, exclusion and genocide try to build alliances and coalitions, most temporary, with groups and individuals either intent on overthrowing the legitimate governments in the region, or who they think may help them in returning to leadership in Rwanda to complete the Genocide.”
The workshop is seeking to develop “practical tools and mechanisms as early as possible” to detect and prevent mass killings, including genocide, from happening anywhere on the continent.
Members of Cissa’s Panel of Experts are attending and the outcome will be presented to Cissa’s Conference (security and intelligence chiefs) meeting in May, 2008 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Sezibera appreciated the fact that several regional economic communities were already engaged in developing early warning mechanisms against genocide, saying that such initiatives should later become integral part of the continental early warning mechanisms.
He said the 1994 Genocide perpetrators continue to deny that Genocide occurred, “or if it did, they impute it to some malevolent nature of, or action by, the victims.”
The Secretary General of the National Security Service Dr Emmanuel Ndahiro said that in some countries where ethnic related tensions have broken out, they have assumed genocide proportions.
“The recurring crises across the African continent and the Rwanda Genocide serve as minders of what could happen elsewhere if it is not prevented in advance.
Members of the international community share a moral responsibility to ensure that it is prevented, and that those who could encourage it are condemned,” he stressed.
He put the number of FDLR fighters to more than 10,000, adding that the force is still bent on accomplishing Genocide and has “exported and continue to propagate and spread the genocide ideology in the DRC and elsewhere.”
Justice minister Tharcisse Karugarama called on African governments to facilitate the arrest of the several Genocide suspects still at large on the continent.
Presenting a paper titled ‘Ramifications of the Rwanda Genocide,’ Karugarama said that the fugitives need collective effort to uproot.
“These are elements that have caused two wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo and another one in Burundi, this year alone, they have already attacked Rwanda twice,” he said.
“Apprehend these negative forces who may be in your countries and if you cannot, at least play a role in their arrest,” he pleaded.
Scores of Genocide fugitives are reportedly staying in several African countries, mostly in southern African states.
A few months ago, the Prosecutor General’s Office sent over ten indictments to Mozambique requesting for apprehension and extradition of some of the fugitives.
The Executive Secretary of Cissa Denis Dlomo told reporters that participants will discuss and reach a consensus on indicators of genocide and appropriate measures to prevent it.
He said that already a step had been taken at regional level as most Cissa regional blocs had developed joint working papers that will be used during the conference.
He said that Cissa’s role was to establish early warning mechanisms on security threats and advise the continent’s political leaders as to which most appropriate action should be taken.