RUTSHURU – Elements of ex-Far/Interahamwe who recently voluntarily laid down arms and surrendered to the on-going Rwanda-DRC joint military operation are denouncing the rebellion and calling on others to follow suit.
The New Times late Monday evening met and interviewed several of them at Gahunga, a joint operations military camp north of Rutshuru where they awaited transportation to Rwanda and, they disclosed that many are fearful and hesitant but would come out if “they knew the reality out here.”
“I came voluntarily and I have here with me others who also came on their own will, but those still there haven’t seen the reality on the ground and they fear,” Capt. Samuel Nsengiyumva, alias Chance, told this reporter.
“Some are still resisting because of fear but there are others who have not got rid of the bad ideology in their heads,” he said.
The ex-Far/Interhamwe are masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda which cost the lives of over one million people, they later fled to eastern DRC where they continue to rape, kill and pillage. They are now grouped under the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
Chance, who says he hails from “Ruhengeri in Kinigi” stated that he denounced rebellion and was ready to go home and work towards the Nations development.
“To those back in the bush, all I can say to them is that there is no benefit staying there.”
“I would also like them to know that Rwandan soldiers received us well, none of our belongings, be it clothes or money were taken. They welcomed us like brothers, we are sharing with them their food and drinks,” he said.
“The ones still out there think that surrendering to Rwandan soldiers means automatic death. If only they could see how we are received here,” said Chance. He, however, insisted that he could not dare go back to try and convince others.
“Whoever went back couldn’t meet them physically but only talk to them on phone. You would be seen as an enemy and they would treat you as such,” he said, stressing that many others are willing to break away. The former rebel also narrated his escape.
“I called friends back home and asked them to link me up with senior soldiers in the Rwandan army so that I could speak with them myself, to sufficiently reassure me that I would not be harmed or my belongings taken,” he said.
“I then talked to General Rwarakabije and one other senior officer and they also put me in touch with the one directing military operations here,” he revealed.
Leonce Ngendahayo alias Nyiramirehe, came with the Captain. He too, stressed that apart from “suffering and getting injured for no good reason, we did not see any reason to be in the bush,” he said, adding that he would like his colleagues in “Sabena Battalion” like to return home too.
“I am so happy having left that bush and being well received by Rwandan soldiers,” he said.
The group also included a 17 year-old Congolese former rebel who said he had been enticed to join the rebels at 14, thinking it was a good lifestyle but later found himself trapped and helpless.
Sergeant Nzaboninka who had arrived earlier that same day pointed out that many others can easily come out the bush if local authorities in the DRC played their role.