A reading of the UN Mapping Report would be considered as the first step in bringing to bear a series of unfair and painful allegations. This has aroused a feeling of indignation and profound injustice in the minds of the Rwandan population, most especially the survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
This report carries very serious charges against the armed forces of numerous African states that were involved in the conflicts within the Great Lakes region from 1993 till 2003. In particular, the RPA (Rwandan Patriotic Army) and its allies of the AFDL (Laurent-Désiré Kabila’s Alliance of the Democratic Forces of Liberation) are particularly accused of acts aiming at, if they are established, could be qualified as ‘crime of genocide’.
The international experts who led the investigations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) claim that they were guided by the need to fight against impunity in view of crimes committed in total violation of international humanitarian law.
Have they advocated for justice in favour of the victims or alternatively; guaranteeing them the right of compensation for prejudice suffered? Unfortunately, we do have reason to doubt this.
There is much doubt and suspicion regarding the real objectives of these experts (investigators), as they consider themselves to be; more so given that most of the authors of this UN Mapping Report are native Europeans or from across the Atlantic.
They are representatives of a system bred by Western democracies. Accordingly, they have their own conception of violation of human rights.
They are heirs of a culture and history constantly punctuated by armed conflicts; with crimes against humanity, crimes of war, violation of human rights that seem to be stuck on the notion of crime of genocide.
If they had been willing to provide justice to the victims, they would have recognized the need to end the impunity enjoyed by the authors of such blatant violations. Since the authors of the report are members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), why couldn’t their backers begin investigations on similar events that were so vicious that they depopulated their own countries?
Before trying to ‘clean up’ in the African countries that were involved in this devastating conflict of the DRC, the most elementary logic should have been for these crusaders seeking to protect human rights to try and wipe out the stains marking the history in their countries of origin then their initiative would have been more credible.
The investigators who were asked to elaborate the UN Mapping Report are of European, American, Asian or Australian origin. Their countries and continents are known to have experienced armed conflicts, colonial wars, expeditions and slave trade – giving rise to many more victims than those created by the ten-year confrontation in DRC which has led to a report of a damning conclusion.
An important, rather obvious question should be asked. On which right and under which principles would the legitimacy of an investigation be based, i.e., an investigation that is sponsored by a UN Agency, when it is only limited to the inventory of violations of humanitarian rights committed in the region of the African Great Lakes?
Especially when we are exceedingly careful not to exercise the same searching glance on violations of a comparable nature, only with much bigger dimensions, that were committed during the last century and the beginning of the twenty-first century - by the armies of their own countries?
They should think twice before persuading us that the military operations during the Second World War, for example, were scrupulously mindful of civil populations. The bombing raids carried out by the Allied forces over Dresden in Germany made more victims - for the greater part civilians, women, children and elderly people - then the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In none of these cases was a British or American officer summoned to appear before any international courts; much less, before the courts of their own countries for violation of human rights. Given the facts as we know them, who would dare claim that all their victims had been military targets?
Similarly, they should not seek to remind us that these atrocities were committed well before the signing of the United Nations Charter, the Human Rights Convention and the Geneva Convention on Genocide.
The successive wars of Vietnam, the Algerian War, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, war in Iraq and in Afghanistan are strewn with horrors, not to mention violations of human rights suitably comparable to crimes of genocide.
It would suffice to mention, for the record, the massacres of Sétif and the kasbah of Algiers, during the Algerian War; the systematic slaughters in the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Chatila; as well as the American napalm bombardments of the village of My Lai, during the Vietnam War.
Were all these macabre exploits the subject of an investigation by the UN - that would eventually drag the officers and soldiers responsible for these large-scale massacres of a civil population in front of a court of justice? Furthermore, no single mention of such an initiative ever appeared on the agenda of the United Nations on Human Rights Council.
Are these really about atrocities, and violations susceptible to establish the crime of genocide? The question could always, at least in principle, be the subject of discussion among lawyers.
Should we refer to the systematic massacres of the Indians in North America, the slavery campaigns and the slave trade through the African continent, then there would be no doubt.
The American Indian population was initially estimated at 11 million at the time of the European conquests initiated by Christopher Columbus’ expedition. At the beginning of the twentieth century, there were an estimated 250 000 survivors among the Indian population, in what is known today as the United States
In France after the Liberation, the multiple settling of scores and the purge against the Collaborators were led by the Resistance. The retaliatory execution of German hostages was carried out by the local authorities - targeting prisoners captured and delivered by combat units.
It was the case in particular for 5 women, auxiliaries of the German army, hastily executed in the village of Saint-Cyr in Vienna in September, 1944. They had been arrested by a combat unit of parachutists, under the orders of a French lieutenant on August 13th, 1944.
The lieutenant had passed on the information through the ranks of the hierarchy, as confirmed by the archives of “Special Air Service” in London. We could continue listing similar violations of human rights on French territory and elsewhere in Europe.
In Spain, for example, the massacres of catholic priests or republicans also had an undeniable systematic character. Franco’s army fully participated in the killings. Today nobody thinks of demanding a judicial procedure against the authors of these atrocities within the Spanish army.
Nevertheless, the intention to exterminate a group of civilians due to their religious or political convictions does not leave room for any doubt. It precisely corresponds to the definition of the crime of genocide.
If crimes against humanity, Genocide in particular, are imprescriptibly; the states and individuals responsible for these atrocities could be always summoned to appear in court. Except that there is a paradox; the international community that wants to summon to court only state representatives of African countries for violations of international humanitarian law.
There has never been a case whereby the most senior public authorities of major powers, e.g., the former colonial powers have been concerned by investigations for violations of human rights. Would this be simple coincidence or the effects of a well prepared strategy?
In any case, the publication of the UN Mapping Report only serves to confirm the impression of an underhanded attempt within the family of the United Nations to surreptitiously introduce “double standards” into the process of repression and violations of international humanitarian law.
On one side, the major powers; the democratic countries of the northern hemisphere who enjoy a determining influence over the concert of Nations, can continue with impunity to breach the observance of fundamental human rights. They committed crimes against humanity, among which some could be even qualified as genocide.
This has not had unpleasant consequences for them with regard to the United Nations Human Rights Council. In normal situations, these crimes should be judged. They are not at all comparable, in any case, to the action of the Rwandan army in the DRC.
On the other hand, we have the poor states of the African continent that include Rwanda and its national army, the RPA, subjected to crushing the defeat ‘leaders’ of the Hutu refugee camps in the ex- Zaire hitherto transformed into military bases for the ‘génocidaires’.
The latter, openly and publicly prepared an attack against Rwanda armed with the tacit agreement and support of the UNO and some member states such as France. Now think of an army that protects the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa populations, crosses the border, dismantles the refugee camps and releases two million Hutus - till then taken as hostages by the genocidal forces - to lead them back to their country and reestablish them in their property. Is this reminiscent of a genocidal army targeting the Hutu? Or is it an act of liberation comparable to that of the Allied Forces during the Second World War?
The act of physical elimination of Nazis and the liberation of the European peoples were welcomed and celebrated as an act that benefited humanity as a whole. The act of RPA aimed at eliminating the genocidaires and the liberation of the Hutus, who had been taken as hostages in DRC, to lead them back to their country, should be welcomed and celebrated in the same way.
The charge against the RPA is thus inequitable, criminal and premeditated. It aims at ‘diluting’ and denying the genocide that targeted the Tutsi, by supporting the revisionist theory of the “double genocide” between two rival ethnic groups.
Finally, it is perfectly clear to the signatories of the present memorandum that the initiative of the UN Mapping Project in the DRC is simply a means of diversion. Its main purpose is to divert public opinion from the successive failures of MONUSCO.
The UN has proved to be incapable of insuring protection and guaranteeing the security of civilian populations in Eastern Congo. Now the family of the United Nations is attempting to ‘kill two birds with one stone’.
They are attempting to ruin the reputation of the Rwanda Defence Forces by accusing them of having committed the worst atrocities including acts of genocide in the former Zaire; the current DRC. All this in the hope that the World will forget that it was the RPA, the Rwandan Patriotic Army that halted the Rwandan genocide in 1994, where the troops of the UN had failed totally. As if this desperate act would restore, at the last minute, the lost prestige of the UN.
Worse still, as Eastern DRC continues to be subjected to bloody confrontations, it is largely because the international Community, the UNHRC, the ‘Operation Turquoise’ and the Mobutu regime gave consent to the ex- FAR and Interahamwe militias to settle down – arms, weapons and all - in North and South Kivu, which is not far from the Rwandan.
This was a blatant violation of existing directives issued by the UNHRC. Undoubtedly, the big family of the UN would not miss out on an opportunity to contribute towards destabilizing the Great Lakes Region in Africa.
Today, nobody in Africa and particularly in Rwanda has been duped into believing this story. The frontal attack of this Mapping Report against the armed forces of African States is a severe violation of the sovereignty of the concerned countries.
To the Rwandan troops who halted the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and has its troops in Darfur with a particularly effective contingent to fight genocide, the UN mapping report constitutes to slander.
The Drafting Committee
1- Rwagasana Gérard, Senior Lecturer, Researcher and International Consultant, Kigali, Rwanda. Email : email@example.com, Coordinator
2- Sebudandi Gaétan, Freelance Journalist, Germany.
3- Mukagasana Yolande, Writer, Belgium;
4- Tshondo Gilbert, Suisse; firstname.lastname@example.org
5- Mukunde Marie Goretti, Belgium ; email@example.com
6- Karara Chantal, Belgium ; firstname.lastname@example.org
7- Muligo Cyprien, Belgium ; email@example.com