Diaspora delegation left in shock by FDLR ex-combatants’ testimonies

Musanze -A delegation of Rwandans from the Diaspora were, On Monday, left in shock after hearing testimonies from former combatants attending a demobilization training at Mutobo Demobilization and Reintegration Centre in Musanze District. The Diaspora delegation are in the country under the auspice of ‘Come and See’ programme designed to give Rwandans living abroad the true picture of their country, something that has been misrepresented by detractors and some sections of the media.

Musanze -A delegation of Rwandans from the Diaspora were, On Monday, left in shock after hearing testimonies from former combatants attending a demobilization training at Mutobo Demobilization and Reintegration Centre in Musanze District.

The Diaspora delegation are in the country under the auspice of ‘Come and See’ programme designed to give Rwandans living abroad the true picture of their country, something that has been misrepresented by detractors and some sections of the media.

During the visit, the ex-combatants in the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) called upon the Diaspora community to become Rwanda’s ambassadors by disseminating accurate information about the development the country has attained.

Speaking on behalf of the over 350 ex-combatants currently at the centre, Lt. Col Ellie Mutarambirwa said the militia were held back by false information peddled about Rwanda.

The FDLR, based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, comprises of perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The Group has been labelled a terrorist organisation by the UN.

“There are people in the Diaspora who encourage and support the FDLR activities. They tell them to carry on, and  have inculcated in them a divisive ideology that dates back to the1950s of,” Mutarambirwa said.

Mutarambirwa, who was the Brigade commander in Rutchuru, in the Eastern DRC, said that most of his colleagues fled towards Mozambique, Zambia and Congo Brazaville especially after the Umoja Wetu operation.

Umoja Wetu, a military offensive launched against the militiamen, was jointly carried out by Rwanda Defence Forces with their Congolese counterparts.
The visiting members from Diaspora were shocked by the testimonies of the child soldiers who were forcefully recruited by the FDLR.

‘’This visit has been successful because we have seen for ourselves the great achievements in our country, we have understood that people from Congo are brought here to be educated not to be imprisoned, as we had been told,” said Eugenia Umwari, from Congo Brazaville
Claude Birasa, a youth leader from the Diaspora in Canada, said that they will go back with a clear message of development, peace and security in the country.

The delegation also visited one of the model villages in Muhoza Sector, which was established to accommodate several categories of people including the Genocide survivors, the historically marginalized group, disabled ex-combatants from DRC, and other vulnerable groups.
Robert Masozera, the Director General in charge of Diaspora, in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, told The New Times that the delegation would hold a two-day retreat to discuss what they had seen, and submit their views, adding that  the visit had filled a gap of lack of accurate information among people from the Diaspora.

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