Since the UN mapping report was deliberately leaked to the media, the Government of Rwanda, civil society, researchers, and some foreign government officials have expressed disgust.
A delegation from Rhineland-Platinate, Germany who are visiting projects in which they are development partners, added their voice to the criticism of the report when on 18th October the head of delegation Karl Peter said the report was unimpressive and not properly researched.
What the German delegation said has been a subject of intense discussion in Rwanda since 1st October when it was officially released. In Parliament last week after a marathon session which was facilitated by experts, in military matters, International law and journalism, a number of facts were revealed. To my understanding, given the deliberations and previous debates on the issue, the report was ill motivated.
It seems some enemy groups have infiltrated the United Nations Organization and have been able to pose as experts on the Great Lakes Region and champions of human rights, to serve ulterior motives. How else could any well intentioned organization conceive such allegations as are pedaled by the FDLR?
That the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) in 1996/7 repatriated three million Rwandans from the jungles of DR Congo where they had been held in bondage by extremist Interahamwe and Ex -FAR who used civilians as human shields and a bargaining chip to attract donor assistance is an established fact.
How could RPA have a motive to kill and save at the same time! When two lady Members of Parliament who had experienced camp life and been repatriated by the RPA took the floor to contribute to the debate, they could not hold their emotions.
How could anybody accuse the RPA which had saved lives to be killers? For these soldiers who carried the sick, provided medical care and transport to their homes and provided security in the aftermath of genocide, were revenge killings truly an option?
When I remember former President Pasteur Bizimungu , his entire government and international community receiving the returnees at Gisenyi, I cant help but call the report an insult to Rwandans and a negation of human intelligence.
As Brig.Gen. Rutatina rightly said, the RPA was never a tribal militia but a disciplined army and its non-partisan character has laid a firm foundation on which the post-genocide Rwanda society has thrived. It is this sense of non-partisanship that has not only held the country together but has also led to a citizenry that is confident, nationalistic and understandably outraged by negative initiatives to destabilize their country.
One of the MPS who was a refugee in DRC rubbished the allegations that as they were returning from refugee camps, they were scrutinized to establish their ethnicity. She wondered how that could have been feasible since if one said one came from a particular commune, it was not enough to identify one’s ethnicity. This just demonstrates how the so-called experts get it wrong and are prone to manipulation.
Why did the report authors not consult the likes of MPS Suzanne Mukayijore and Anne Marie Musabyemungu who lived through those traumatizing times? The United Nations in re-evaluation of the report could benefit from their testimonies.
Recently Eastern Congo traditional leaders, including King Kadogo from Rucuro , gave their revealing testimonies and wondered why the UN researchers had not consulted them.
They are eye witnesses, who readily talk about the atrocities committed by the Interahamwe, Mai Mai and MAGREVI in the region during the period under review. The said militias had killed Rwanda refugees and Congolese citizens and continue to kill, rape and loot. Why has the UN failed to address that issue instead of wasting resources on malicious projects?
The report as Senate President Dr. Vicent Biruta suggested could have aimed at causing further conflicts in the region, and not peace building. This, however, is not to suggest that wrongs committed should go unpunished. What is required is evidence, rather than ridiculous allegations that only cause more harm than good.
One understands the outrage with which some Rwandans reacted to the report. Deputy Jean Batiste Rucibigango, who no doubt had studied the voluminous report, wondered, “the whole report does not mention even one RPA/RDF soldier who killed a person”, leading many to reasonably conclude that the mission of the researchers was to come to those preconceived conclusions, regardless of the evidence they gathered. Evidence of omission and commission abound from reports by experts referred to above.
The report came at a time when Rwanda`s relations with its neighbours especially the DRC had improved tremendously and governments were working towards a comprehensive strategy to restore peace and security in the region, especially Eastern Congo where UN forces have failed to deliver.
The report, like other negative reports from various quarters, however, should not derail us from our noble goals of building a just and prosperous nation. One takes heart, when prominent international statesmen like the former president of Ghana and current Chairperson of Inter-Peace Governing Council praises Rwanda’s progress in peace building. On his last visit to Rwanda on 18th October, President Kufuor defined Rwanda as a model for peace for having registered impressive achievements in restoring peace since the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
It is my contention that the UN as an organization has a problem with Rwanda. Its many organs have cooperated in our development and have published a number of positive, objective reports on Rwanda’s achievements.
Who are these individuals misusing the good offices of the august body to tarnish our country? As we ponder this problem, let us go about our usual business and let our diplomats use quiet diplomacy to dismiss the malicious allegations.