As Rwandans, for the 21st time, mourn and honour the lives of over a million people killed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, a lethal agenda embraced by remnants of the perpetrators of the mass killings and the international community’s two-timing, remain a concern.
The continued maiming and acts of terror both in eastern DR Congo and Rwanda–whenever they attack–aside, the militia group continues to nurse a dangerous political dream to return to the country and cause ethnic mayhem.
To play to their sentimental value, the FDLR militia continue to deny and revise the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Dr Eric Ndushabandi, vice-dean of the School of Social, Political and Administrative Sciences at University of Rwanda, says FDLR’s radical ideology is a threat to genocide prevention mechanisms, and a regional threat to peace.
“They can’t surrender, not because there is no socio-political space for them in Rwanda, but because they consider the current leadership as a Tutsi government. They consider the current government as formed by ‘strangers and minority,’ the same arguments used during the Genocide,” Dr Ndushabandi said.
He warned that FDLR was spreading the same ideology in the region while playing the victim.
Their “genocidal agenda” persists, he adds, as they continue defining and dividing Rwandan society into a dichotomy of “Hutu – Tutsi.”
Hutuism, the FDLR‘s ideological orientation, is built on a kind of “ontological fear based on convictions such as: “we must kill them to make our long life possible” and “if you go back to Rwanda, you will die,” Dr Ndushabandi says.
These, he adds, constitute a serious threat to Genocide memory and prevention, especially when it is gaining more credit among some “naive people in Rwanda, and in the Diaspora.”
Humanity let down
Dr John Musemakweri, director of Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), a local think tank, said a basic solution for the FDLR problem would be if local, regional, and international law principles regarding perpetrators of crimes against humanity were respected and put into practice.
“Those guys (FDLR) are not special. They don’t operate in a vacuum either,” Dr Musemakweri said.
“There are external forces that make them something that they are actually not. There is hypocrisy at play.”
The best way to eliminate, for good, the group’s threat – particularly its genocide ideology – would be for the militia to lay down their arms and surrender, be ready to “be answerable for their crimes, and those found guilty be charged’ accordingly, he added.
Since Dr Musemakweri acknowledges that “you cannot get the solution overnight,” given the current situation whereby the militia refuses to surrender, he opines that the best alternative was for truth to do its bidding despite the obstacles.
“Sometimes, there will be people who don’t like the truth. More pressure, especially on their supporters, will be crucial. The world already knows about the group’s genocidal ideology but we need to increase the momentum,” Dr Musemakweri said.
He added that laws that abhor genocide ideology should also be enacted, not only by Rwanda, but the East African Community (EAC) and the African Union (AU).
“As such, we will all have one voice. The entire continental political bloc talking as one single entity, but it is a process. You are looking for criminals who are given sanctuary by others. There is a lack of truth because of their hidden economic interests and this is the biggest problem,” Dr Musemakweri said.
Genocide researcher Tom Ndahiro says the threat posed by FDLR, whose military wing is holed up in eastern DR Congo, is not necessarily in the military strength but the latter’s genocide ideology.
“Their genocide ideology is aided by their physical presence and this is evidence that they have support. They have support in places, including in America,” Ndahiro said last week.
“For instance, some people out in California still speak for them.”
Ndahiro said the failure to do away with the FDLR, was “failure of humanity, or failure of the international community, in addressing a threat to humanity.”
“The FDLR is not a threat because of its troop numbers but because of its genocide ideology. If Germany is now prosecuting them, it is because it has understood the danger it poses,” Ndahiro said.
FDLR political leaders Ignace Murwanashyaka and his deputy Straton Musoni are presently on trial in a German court.