Former senior members of the FDLR genocidal militia have disclosed the group’s relationship and ways of collaboration with the Congolese armed forces amidst the worsening insecurity in the vast country’s eastern region. The FDLR is a UN sanctioned genocidal force formed by the masterminds of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. ALSO READ: Belgian lawyer on why genocide ideology doesn’t dissolve three decades after dispersion of genocidaires The former FDLR first vice president, Straton Musoni, a former militia Colonel, Joseph Gatabazi, and a former spy of the genocidal group’s armed wing, ‘Col’ Augustin Nshimiyimana, are among the hundreds of the militia group’s former political ideologues and fighters now at the Mutobo demobilization camp in Musanze district. They are among those who have willingly returned or were captured and then forcefully repatriated to Rwanda, between December 2019 and February 2020. The FDLR and its splinter groups continue to pose a serious threat to Rwanda, especially during the currently strained diplomatic relations between the DR Congo and Rwanda. ALSO READ: Anger as Congolese minister Muyaya absolves FDLR terrorists The genocidal militia has been identified as the largest illegal foreign armed group operating in DR Congo. The UN’s group of experts has also confirmed that FDLR collaborates with FARDC. Apart from Kinshasa’s protection, the strength of FDLR comes from the fact that it is located in a natural resource-rich area. This enables it to amass wealth by illegally exploiting and transporting resources such as gold, timber, poaching and taxing the local population in areas it controls. ALSO READ: DR Congo crisis: Understanding FDLR’s source of funding During a visit to the camp in Mutobo, on Thursday, February 23, the former senior FDLR members told reporters that they have no doubt about the continued strong ties between the genocidal militia and Congolese authorities. Musoni, a former FDLR vice president and founding member, said: “It is public knowledge that since its foundation, on May 1, 2000, the FDLR has collaborated with FARDC [the Congolese army]. We founded FDLR in agreement with the Congolese political and military leadership, especially as a solution to the security problem in the Congo at the time, that is the RCD rebellion and other opponents of Laurent Desire Kabila’s rule. “After the inter-Congolese peace agreement and the disarmament deal of Sun City in South Africa, Congolese leaders decided to work with ‘the ones we have been working together with'. These were especially our militia fighters whom they called special forces; the ex-FAR soldiers. They included generals, and other troops who worked at the time with the Congolese government and army.” For almost three decades, he noted, their relationship with Kinshasa has been on and off and, even though they worked together, other times they fought each other. “But, frankly, whatever the number, the former soldiers of Habyarimana’s government have remained in the Congo and have worked with the government and its army all the way through the years.” ALSO READ: Germany deports FDLR's Straton Musoni to Rwanda In October 2022, Musoni was quietly deported to Rwanda after completing an eight-year sentence in Germany. He arrived in Kigali on Friday, October 21. In September 2015, the former FDLR leader, Ignace Murwanashyaka, and his deputy, Musoni, were sentenced to 21 years in jail collectively by a court in Germany after a four-year trial in connection with their roles in war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the FDLR. Musoni was sentenced in 2015 and, almost immediately, released early, having already been in pre-trial detention for almost six years. He was restricted to his home in Germany, while fighting deportation. The German Federal Court of appeal rejected his appeal in December 2018. Before his arrest in Germany, he used to, among others, do fundraisings for the militia. He regularly got reports about everything going on in DR Congo while in Europe. “It happened many times. Kinshasa collaborated with FDLR-FOCA to help us secure our refugees in need of safety. It is a fact that they work hand in hand. Congolese authorities used to contact us for support whenever their army was attacked or threatened,” Musoni said. Gatabazi was returned to Rwanda in 2019. He had been operating from the Masisi region of North Kivu province. “They [FDLR] most often do not have enough equipment and the only way they get it is when there is insecurity in DR Congo. Whenever there is a security crisis, the Congolese government equips them so that they work for them,” Gatazi said. “Nowadays, you will find that they have rekindled their relationship. Some of our colleagues whom we communicate with through Facebook testify that M23 is harassing them, and they are seeking any assistance they can get.” According to other former militia members who spoke to The New Times, many of their colleagues remain in the DR Congo jungle due to their superiors' tight grip and misinformation. According to those who have returned, many of their former colelagues also still have a bad mindset and genocide ideology, believing that they will come back to forcefully remove the government in Kigali and reclaim the country. However, graduates discharged from Mutobo, including Jeannette Mukamuhire, appreciate having learnt a lot of positive things ever since they returned to Rwanda. “We used to destabilize this country but today we’re ready to commit for its safety,” she said. The Chairperson of the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission, Valerie Nyirahabineza, said they should all return home, peacefully, as no Rwandan should suffer or die in the Congolese jungle. “Whoever willingly returns on their own will is welcome and we encourage people to receive them,” she said. According to the demobilization Center, more than 12,000 ex-combatants including members of the genocidal militia group have already passed through the center in Mutobo.