STOCKHOLM - Rwandans in Northern Europe took to the streets of Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen in a series of simultaneous protests to express their anger at the UN’s report on the DRC released on Friday.
The protests were held in strategic locations such as the Swedish Parliament’s square--which is adjacent to the Parliament, the Royal Palace, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs while those in Norway and Denmark were held outside the country’s UN offices.
“The report is an affront to the intelligence of each and every Rwandan, inside or outside the country”, said James Gatsinzi, President of the Rwandan Diaspora in Sweden.
Protesters, who included locals and Africans from several countries, held banners, danced to Rwandan drums, distributed leaflets and expressed their feelings through megaphones.
Some of the banners carried messages such as “The UN again fails in the DRC, blames Rwanda; Genocidaires remain free, UN pursues brave troops; UN still owes Rwanda an apology and UN Congo report = bogus, false blame game”.
The Diaspora organisations of each of the three countries also sent open letters to the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navanethem Pillay.
The letter sent by the Diaspora in Sweden reads in part: “Among those watching as one of the worst atrocities in modern times befell Rwanda, was the UN. At the peak of the Genocide, rather than provide the modest increase in troops that ground commanders had indicated would be enough to stop the massacre, the UN pulled out many of its forces.
If some in the UN believe that this blot on the image of an organization created to prevent a repeat of the holocaust can be washed away, or even mitigated by diminishing the image of brave Rwandan troops that actually did something to stop the killings—they can rest assured that such manoeuvres only serve to strengthen the resolve of Rwandans and our friends across the world to highlight the failures of an organization that is in dire need for reform”.
The letter also questioned what it called the “disturbing timing of the release of the report” at a time when the UN was under intense scrutiny for standing by as more than 500 women were raped in the DRC only a short distance away from a UN military base that was supposed to protect them.