One of FDLR victims in Rutshuru (2nd May 2009)
The Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR, has been the main source of insecurity and are responsible for committing atrocities against the innocent people in the Great Lakes Region. The main objective of this rebel outfit is to topple the Rwandan government and possibly complete the 1994 Tutsi genocide agenda.
The UN Security Council has on several occasions demanded that all members of the FDLR, ex-FAR/Interahamwe operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo immediately lay down their arms and present themselves without any further delay or preconditions for their eventual disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration. UN Security Council adopted several resolutions to this effect including 1804 which was passed on 13th March, 2008 and 1896 of 30th November, 2009.
The UN Security Council’s promise to implement financial and travel sanctions against the FDLR leaders needs to be reinvigorated. The arrest of Dr. Ignace Murwanashyaka, Musoni Straton and Mbarushimana Callixte should be applauded, but more leaders of this rebel outfit should be apprehended to curtail their mobilization network especially abroad.
At different occasions and in different locations, the Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR has continued to commit many war crimes, crimes against humanity and other acts of terrorism. Some of the documented crimes include the following:
Crimes against Humanity (Hard Facts)
According to African Rights report entitled “Rwanda: The Insurgency in the Northwest”,
On 18 March 1997, ALIR/FDLR killed 5 students and one guard and twenty others were injured at Nyange Secondary School in Ex- Kivumu District (former Kibuye) province;
On 27 April 1997, 22 people including 16 students were massascred by ALIR/FDLR in the dormitory of Muramba Secondary School, in Ex-Satinsyi Commune (Gisenyi). The Director of the School, Griet Bosmans, a 62 year old Belgian was also killed;
On 26 May 1997, 14 people were killed by ALIR/FDLR in Kibuye (Kivumu);
On 29 May 1997, the same group killed 9 civilians at Bulinga in Gitarama;
During the night of 01 June 1997, 34 civilians were killed by ALIR/FDLR in Ex-Mutura Commune (Gisenyi);
On 10 June 1997, they killed 10 people in Ex-Nyamutera Commune (Ruhengeri);
On 18 August 1997, 15 survivors of the 1994 genocide living at the centre of Gahenerezo, in Mutura Commune, Gisenyi were killed by ALIR/FDLR. (African Rights: Rwanda, the Insurgency in the Northwest”, page 147)
On 21 August 1997 ALIR/FDLR attacked Mudende Refugee Camp and killed 148 refugees; (African Rights: Rwanda, the Insurgency in the Northwest”, page 151)
On 1 January 1998, ALIR/FDLR attacked a bus of Bralirwa and killed 34 people of different nationalities;
On 6 February 1998, Up to 60 people were killed by ALIR/FDLR at a settlement of displaced persons at Byahi, Gisenyi. ; (African Rights: “Rwanda, the Insurgency in the Northwest”, page 198;
On 4 February 1998, 34 people were killed in Jenda, Nkuli (Ruhengeri) by ALIR/FDLR. ; (African Rights: “Rwanda, the Insurgency in the Northwest”, page 197;
On 22 June 1998, a bus travelling from Kigali to Kibuye was ambushed at the border between Kivumu and Mabanza Communes by ALIR/FDLR. About 40 passengers were killed and many others badly wounded in the incident (African Rights: “Rwanda, the Insurgency in the Northwest”, page 201);
On 1 March 1999, at Bwindi in the Gorilla Park covering parts of Uganda and DRC, 8 tourists were killed by ALIR/FDLR. These tourists were of different nationalities (Americans, British, Australians, and New Zealanders were particularly executed for speaking English);
On 17 June 1998, ALIR/FDLR attacked the Nkamira Transit Camp. A total of 51 persons were killed and 62 injured ;( African Rights: “Rwanda, the Insurgency in the Northwest”, page 186)
In August 1998, ALIR/FDLR killed at least 110 persons in Buheta and Raba;
In December 2003, Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR elements raped a woman called Evelyn and other girls in Masisi, North Kivu;
In the night of 13 August 2004, Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR with FNL, Mayi Mayi massacred at least 152 Congolese Tutsi refugees from South Kivu and injured more than 100 at a UNHCR Transit Camp in Gatumba, Burundi.
The Gatumba massacres by the Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR, FNL and Mayi-Mayi were further confirmed by different human rights organisations and researchers such as one Burundian Rutamucero Diomède, the chairman of the PA-Amasekanya Movement, in his book entitled “Contre l’extermination d’un people, le front non-violent contre le genocide des Tutsi au Burundi, au Rwanda, et au Congo,” page 67-68.
In November 2004, several rockets were detonated in Rwerere Commune by Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR and one person was injured.
On 23 May 2005, 19 civilians were hacked to death in Nindja, near Kaniola, by Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR elements.
On 9 July 2005, Ex-FAR/Interahamwe FDLR killed 100 civilians in Mamba, Kanyola and Ihyembe (South Kivu Province);
As reported by the US Department of State, the FDLR committed the following crimes in 2007 (US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2007 - DRC):
In 2007, the FDLR continued to be led by individuals responsible for fomenting and implementing the Rwandan genocide. Between 6,000 and 8,000 FDLR fighters remained in the provinces of North and South Kivu. FDLR fighters continued to commit abuses against civilians, including killings, abductions, and rapes.
In a series of attacks between January and April 2007, the FDLR militia killed 10 of the 75 villagers they abducted in South Kivu Province.
On May 26 and 27, 2007, the FDLR and Rasta militia (one of the FDLR satellites operating in South Kivu) killed at least 29 villagers near Kanyola, South Kivu Province, injured 27, and kidnapped at least 18. Militia members used machetes, sticks, knives, and hammers to kill victims in their beds, leaving notes claiming the killings were in reprisal for campaigns against the FDLR by the FARDC.
FARDC soldiers later recovered eight kidnap victims and located the remains of four others.
In July 2007, the FARDC rescued 40 civilians who had been kidnapped by the FDLR.
FDLR also fired three rockets and hundreds of rounds of machinegun ammunition on the territory of Rwanda on 3 March and 30 September, 2007 respectively.
During the night of 1-2 June 2007, FDLR elements allegedly attacked the village of Kakunda - 75 km west of Bukavu - in the territory of Kalehe, abducted four persons (two men, a woman and a child) and carried them into the Kahuzi-Biega forest.
The dead body of one of the men was allegedly found by some Kakunda villagers the following morning 5 km from the village. The assailants also looted the village taking away livestock and household items.
During the night of 3-4 June 2007, in the territory of Kalehe, this time in Mamba/Chamusi - 75 km northwest of Bukavu, a group of FDLR allegedly killed one man, abducted two women and five men and took them into the Kahezi-Biega forest. Two men managed to escape and later returned to the village. The assailants also allegedly looted the village.
On 23 June 2007, an elderly man was allegedly killed and over 30 houses were looted in Bunyereza - 3 km north of Shinda - by nine FDLR. Five civilians were beaten up during the same attack. On 13 June in Mbolu - 15 km of Bunyatenge-, a farmer was allegedly killed by the FDLR.
The victim had allegedly attempted to prevent the assailants from looting his farm. FDLR elements continued to kill, abduct and harass civilians and loot villages in many parts of the North Kivu Province.
On the night of 1st July 2007, in the village of Mutanda – 6 km southwest of Kibirizi, over 40 houses were allegedly looted by the FDLR. The localities of Bwuma and Kiwazi, in the Groupement of Binza, collectivity of Bwisha – 4 km of Kisharu – were allegedly burnt by the FDLR. A civilian was allegedly killed during the FDLR attack.
On the night of 12 July 2007, in Ndolera, Groupement of Itara/Luvungi, in the territory of Uvira, four civilians, including the Chef de Localité, were abducted and subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by the FDLR. The victims were accused of providing information on the FDLR to the 10th Military Region.
On the night of the 21-22 July 2007, three FDLR/RASTA elements attacked the village of Nyabishaka – 60 km South-West of Bukavu – looted several houses and also abducted two women. The attack caused panic among the local population who remember quite vividly the 26-27 May massacre in Kanyola Groupement perpetrated by the FDLR/RASTA in which 17 villagers were killed.
On 13 September 2007, the interim Locality Chief of Nyamilima, 45 km northeast of Rutsuhuru in North Kivu was killed by FDLR. Exactly one month earlier, the previous Locality Chief had been killed by the FDLR.
On the night of 17-18 September 2007, the village of Kakenge- 41km north of Bukavu, South Kivu Province, was reportedly attacked and pillaged by a group of around 8 FDLR combatants. Two villagers were injured during the attack. Another group of FDLR elements also attacked and pillaged two villages in the territory of Mwenga- 175 km south-west of Bukavu. The assailants reportedly abducted 8 villagers who were used to carry the looted items.
On the night of 31 October-1 November 2007, in South-Kivu, three civilians were allegedly abducted and taken to an unknown destination and a local clinic was looted during an attack carried out by the FDLR in the village of Kabushwa/Katana – 42 km north of Bukavu.
On the night of 5-6 December 2007, a woman was allegedly raped by FDLR combatants in the locality of Tongo.
On the night of 9-10 December 2007, in the villages of Miriki, Luofu – approximately 160 km south of Butembo – Mbughanyinywa, Kasingiti, Masika, Karambi, Kanyatsi and Mbingi. A priest was also reportedly summarily executed by FDLR combatants in Kayna – 150 km south of Butembo.
On 20 December 2007, four women were allegedly arbitrary executed by FDLR combatants in the village of Kisharo – 27 km north of Kiwandja – Territory of Rutshuru. All victims were killed on the pretence that they had “eaten” the girlfriend of an FDLR combatant.
On 25 December 2007, a civilian resident of the village of Bukama, near Kyavisogho – southwest of Cantine – territory of Beni – was allegedly killed with machete by the Mayi Mayi from the Baraka group. The victim had resisted extortion of his livestock. The same sources indicated that several women were allegedly raped by the assailants.
In December 2007, the southern part of Lubero territory, the security and human rights situation deteriorated allegedly due to the intensification of criminal activities by both FDLR combatants of the RUD (Ralliement pour l’Unité et la Démocratie) and Mayi Mayi combatants of the Lafontaine group.
On 4 January 2008, in Mabenga, north of Rutshuru two civilians were allegedly killed while four others were injured during an ambush set by FDLR elements.
On 6 and 7 January 2008, in the locality of Kisharu, UN Police reported that armed men identified as FDLR elements reportedly pillaged civilian properties. During the incident, one civilian was allegedly killed whereas another was seriously injured.
In South-Kivu, on 7th January 2008, a 68-year-old man was allegedly extorted and shot in his right leg by a FDLR combatant in the locality of Lemera. The victim was admitted to the local hospital.
On 24 January 2008, the chief of Kilali village (Groupement of Bakano, Collectivity of Wanyanga, 35 km southwest of Walikale) was allegedly shot dead by the FDLR. Local sources indicated that the FDLR had accused him of providing information on their location to the FARDC 85th Brigade. Three of the alleged perpetrators were arrested.
On August 7, 2009, the FDLR opened fire at civilians at Nyamutiri which is situated 12 kilometres south west of Luvungi and they killed a civilian and injured two others,”
Atrocities still continue to take place in eastern DRC. A particularly brutal attack that occurred in early August 2010, when more than 200 women and children were raped in Luvungi- Walikale, Masisi territory. Victims identified members of the FDLR as being responsible for the mass rapes.
Acts of Terrorism
On 18 January 1997, ALIR/FDLR attacked 3 NGOs namely Médecins sans frontiers (MSF), Medicos Del Mundo and Save the Children Fund and killed 3 people (Sirere Fortuny Maria Flores, Louis Val Tuena Gallego, and Madrazo Osuna Manuel). All the deceased were Spanish. These NGOs were also looted by the FDLR/ALIR.
On 2 February 1997, Guy Pinard, a Canadian Priest was killed by the ALIR/FDLR in Ex-Kinigi Commune of Ex-Ruhengeri Province.
On 4 February 1997, five members of the UN Human Rights field operation for Rwanda (UNHRFOR) were shot dead by ALIR/FDLR in Ex-Karengera Commune in ex-Cyagungu Province. The deceased are:
Agrippin Ngabo, a Rwandan national;
Aimable Nsengiyumva, a Rwandan national;
Graham Turnbull, a British national;
Jean Bosco Munyaneza, a Rwandan national;
Sastra Chim Cham, a Cambodian national.
On July 9, 2006 about 40 civilians - mainly women and children - were burnt to death in Eastern DRC in an attack by Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR rebels who allegedly wanted to punish locals for backing a UN offensive against them.
Regional Security Dimension
The Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR committed atrocities not only in Rwanda targeting Tutsis but also continue to perpetrate them in foreign countries where they live. They continue to kill Congolese civilians and a catalogue of abuses, including mass rape, murder, forced recruitments, recruiting child soldiers, using slaves to illegally exploit minerals.
The group has been since 1994 at the centre of unending conflicts in DRC, which at one time involved six states and scores of numerous rebel groups, and is accused of continuing to target and kill Congolese civilians.
The Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR presence has been a chronic source of instability in the region. Over the past four years, renegade General Laurent Nkunda justified his rebellion by citing the need to protect Tutsis living in eastern DRC from attack by the Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR.
Since late 2006, fighting involving DRC government forces, Nkunda’s troops, the FDLR and DRC militia groups, has resulted in the displacement of more than 800,000 civilians.
Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR elements commit atrocities against the Congolese local population and have created terror, frustration and fear wherever they operate. The Congolese population in the FDLR’s area of operation are forced to cooperate with them by paying taxes for fear of being killed.
The fact that Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR elements continue to operate freely in the eastern DRC poses a great threat not only to Rwanda and the DRC (as seen above) but to the entire Great Lakes Region. The FDLR are used as mercenaries in toppling legitimate governments in the region.
They fought along side UNITA prior to the peace deal in Angola, they were involved in the Central African Republic conflict that pitted Ange Félix Patassé and the incumbent President Bozizé, and FDLR fighters took part in the Republic of Congo conflict (Congo Brazzaville) in 1997. FDLR is currently collaborating with a faction of PALIPEHUTU-FNL to destabilize Burundi.
The Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR was blacklisted by the US government as a terrorist organization and branded a negative group by the Tripartite Plus, a regional four-nation political forum for resolving the problem caused by the continued presence of the rebel militias in Eastern DRC. The Ex-FAR/Interahamwe/FDLR was recognized as a “genocidal military organization” by the 9th November 2007 Nairobi Joint Communiqué.
As of recent, the FDLR are in close contact with Rwanda renegades; Kayumba, Karegeya, Rudasingwa and Gahima and they have worked out a political deal to attack Rwanda.
According to reliable information, there are several telephone contacts between emissaries of Mudacumura the over all commander of FDLR and the group of four renegades. This unholy alliance has led to loss of life in Kigali city as a result of grenade explosions that are masterminded by these terrorists.
According to UN Security Council Resolution 1373(2001), it calls upon states to prohibit their nationals or persons or entities in their territories from making funds, financial assets, economic resources, financial or other related services available to persons who commit or attempt to commit, facilitate or participate in the commission of terrorist acts.
The resolution further directs states to refrain from providing any form of support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts; take the necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist acts; deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, commit terrorist acts and provide safe havens as well.
The FDLR are a source of harassment, violence, destruction, rape in eastern Congo and a security threat to the Great Lakes Region in general, the international community has a responsibility to disrupt the command and control of FDLR leadership over combatants on the ground.
This leadership includes exiles living in the United States and Europe. First, the U.N. Security Council should expand the list of individuals for targeted sanctions, the freezing of their financial assets, limiting lines of communication, and imposing travel bans. The U.N. member states must aggressively enforce those sanctions as contained in all adopted UN Security Council resolutions on FDLR.