Over 300 combatants of the FDLR genocidal militia last week surrendered after their base in DR Congo’s South Kivu province was destroyed by FARDC.
The development, which saw the militia hand over their weapons to the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), was as a result of sustained operations by the Congolese army against negative forces operating in the country’s eastern regions, which include a myriad of Rwandan groups such as the FDLR, FLN and RNC.
It followed successive blows to the armed groups, including the killing or arrest of their top commanders, particularly in the course of this year. The new government in Kinshasa has since made clear it will not tolerate continued violence against Congolese civilians by these groups and the latter’s attempts to destabilise the region using Congolese territory.
Photos of captured ragtag fighters made rounds on social media over the weekend as FARDC confirmed the surrender of the combatants after they had been isolated and surrounded by the Congolese army.
The pictures show shabby-looking militiamen of all ages, including elderly ideologues, as well as middle-aged and young combatants. Heartbreakingly, there are a few children in their company – which partly explains how FDLR and all its splinter groups have continued to recruit and radicalise youth into their ranks over the last quarter a century.
Elderly combatants, mostly haunted by the crimes they committed both during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and subsequent years of wanton criminal abuses against Congolese civilians, have been the custodians of genocide ideology, which lies at the heart of their evil mission.
As such, they have done everything possible, including peddling falsehoods that any combatant or refugee who returned to Rwanda is killed or detained on arrival, threats, blackmail, summary executions, and forced recruitment of children into militia ranks, to keep their deadly ideology alive.
This even as millions of Rwandans have returned from the Congo and across the region over the last 25 years and were warmly welcomed, many going on to successfully integrate in society. Some went to school and won highly competitive scholarships to prestigious varsities abroad, some have since become major industry and business leaders, while others are politicians at the top level.
Notably, among the returnees are more than 12,000 ex-FAR/FDLR combatants who have since been reintegrated either in the Rwanda Defence Force or in their communities – and are working with other Rwandans to develop their country.
We call on all those militias still holed up in Congolese jungles to abandon the path of hatred, extremism and genocide ideology, and return home peacefully.
No Rwandan – and no human for that matter – deserves the kind of rogue, hopeless life in this militia captivity. Much less children. Indeed, no Rwandan should still be succumbing to the propaganda and schemes of those who pursue selfish ends.
Rwanda will always be happy to receive her sons and daughters, even those that have tried to plot against her.