•Calls on Murwanashyaka, Mudacumura to release hostages
Lt. Col. Michel Habimana, alias Edmond Ngarambe, the spokesman for the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) gave himself up Wednesday, dealing a heavy blow to the ex-Far/Interahamwe elements in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Ngarambe is the latest of many other fighters of the FDLR who have surrendered recently in the wake of the ongoing joint military operations conducted by Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) and the FARDC (Congolese army) against the group.
He is the highest ranking member of the rebel group so far to have turned himself in and was also one of the most vocal and virulent genocidal propagandist.
Speaking to reporters after his surrender, the former rebel commander revealed that he has also served as FDLR special envoy to Belgium, Zimbabwe and Tanzania at various times.
Col. Habimana has for a long time been the mouthpiece of FDLR, in which role he has articulated some of the most extremist and hate statements.
He is on record declaring that he would never live in Rwanda as long as there is still any Tutsi population and was also one of the senior FDLR leaders responsible for indoctrinating young recruits with the Genocide ideology.
Speaking to journalist Chris McGreal of the Guardian May last year in Sange, eastern DRC, Habimana was unapologetic about his genocidal views and the fact that children are being brainwashed with hate: “Schoolboys are coming to us... They come to us because they know who the enemy is. It doesn’t matter how young they are if they don’t have their freedom. They will not be free so long as the Tutsis control Rwanda,” he was quoted as saying.
Chris Mcgreal observed that; “he (Habimana alias Ngarambe ) denies the genocide was planned, even though the international tribunal for Rwanda has established that there was an extensive conspiracy at the highest political and military levels of the Hutu regime to exterminate the entire Tutsi population.”
“Colonel Ngarambe has three children of his own now, the eldest just eight years old, all born in exile. He would like to see them settled in Rwanda but only on the terms he has in mind - a Rwanda where politics is defined by ethnic domination. If not, Ngarambe says his children will carry on the fight,” wrote McGreal in his article ‘We have to kill Tutsis wherever they are’.
The FDLR is made up of the architects of the Rwandan 1994 genocide against Tutsis. They have not only caused much suffering to the DRC population – raping and killing with impunity, but they also controlled and illegally exploited mineral deposits.
But this scenario has recently changed and many have voluntary and forcefully been repatriated as the joint Rwanda-DRC forces hunt them down in the jungles of eastern Congo and Habimana admits as much: “Congo which has hosted us all this time has decided to collaborate with Rwanda in ending war in this region,” Habimana emphasized, also noting that the Congolese population which formerly hosted them had turned against them.
He also revealed that the Rwanda-DRC alliance was an unexpected development that has virtually destroyed their organisation.
“It is self evident. The population distanced itself from us and they joined their army (FARDC) and the Rwandan army to hunt us down. Right now as I speak to you, FOCA leaders have been displaced from their bases in Masisi,” he underscored, noting that the joint forces were also sweeping through another region – Walikale.
“I can also point out Lubero and Rutshuru. In all these places, our fighters have been removed from their bases and all soldiers have scattered into the jungles.”
Habimana advised FDLR leaders, especially their German-based head – Ignace Murwanashyaka to give up their genocidal activities and return home.
“Let me especially request Ignace Murwanashyaka and Major General Silvestre Mudacumura and all the political and military leaders on the list of extremists to desist from stopping FDLR from returning home,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Silvestre Mudacumura is the rebels’ military commander.
“If they really love their soldiers and the civilians in FDLR,” he challenged, “they should not allow blood to be shed or for these people to wander in the bushes while their own families live comfortably in Europe and elsewhere.”