Friday, July 31, 2009

Reaction of the FDLR on the International Crisis Group report of July 9, 2009

By Callixte Mbarushimana
Executive Secretary of the FDLR
July 23, 2009
Paris, France

The Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) are up against the conclusions and recommendations made by the ICG in its report dated 9 July 2009 about the causes of insecurity in the African Great Lakes Region and solutions to it.

For many years, the ICG has never ceased to advocate openly for the dismantling of the FDLR by force of arms and demand the heads of the FDLR leaders. All military actions launched by the FARDC on the one hand, and by the coalition RPA/FARDC and MONUC on the other hand, have always been preceded by reports of so-called independent experts on the African Great Lakes Region working for the ICG and advancing the war as the only way to solve the problem of the existence of the FDLR and put an end to the immense suffering of civilian populations in the African Great Lakes Region.
The reasons advanced by the ICG have never changed of one iota. These "experts" accuse the members of the FDLR to be “genocidaires”, to be the major obstacle to the consolidation of peace in the African Great Lakes Region in general and in the DRC in particular, to be the origin of extreme violence perpetrated against the people, to loot the resources of the DRC, to prevent the Rwandan Hutu refugees to return to their country and of being holocaust deniers or revisionists. All these reasons put forward by the famous "experts" do not stand up because:

The FDLR is an organization that fights for the liberation of a people languishing under the yoke of a bloodthirsty dictatorship which is the primary responsible of the Rwandan genocide. The FDLR has nothing to do with the genocide that took place several years before its creation. Moreover, the FDLR remain convinced that criminal responsibility is an individual matter that must first be proven before a neutral and fair court, not by a government or a political organization, and is not a collective matter that one can put on the head of an entire group or on any ethnic group as the ICG seems to suggest. The presumption of innocence applies not only to the dignitaries of the Kigali regime, as the ICG tends to believe, but to all Rwandan citizens, including members of the FDLR.

The FDLR are not the source of the present insecurity in eastern DRC. Everyone, with the exception of the ICG, is aware of those who ignited not only the eastern DRC but also the entire African Great Lakes Region which was until the 1980s an island of peace throughout the continent. The FDLR was created not only to liberate the people of Rwanda but also for the protection of defenceless civilian populations both Rwandan and Congolese who were abandoned by the international community to their own fate, having found that millions of people among which were hundreds of thousands of Rwandan refugees were massacred by the criminal Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPA) of Kagame, the AFDL and their sponsors in the Congolese forests under the indifferent or accomplice eyes of the international community. Today, some influential members of the international community do not want any witnesses of the genocide committed in the guise of some powers of the International Community on the Congolese people and the Rwandan Hutu refugees in eastern DRC.

The FDLR are not responsible for various serious human rights violations committed in DRC that they have repeatedly condemned and still condemn firmly. The FDLR have never ceased to demand the establishment of international and independent commissions of inquiry to look into these crimes so that the real perpetrators are identified and brought to justice. According to reliable information at our disposal, the armed groups which commit human rights abuses in eastern DRC are groups created, posted, maintained and/or remotely controlled by the Kigali regime for committing atrocities in the DRC and to blame FDLR in order to tarnish their reputation.

The FDLR have never had any ambition to plunder the resources of the DRC; they seek only to fulfil their noble mission to liberate the Rwandan people from the yoke of fascism of the RPF and the peoples of the African Great Lakes Region who are victims of a plot by a group of international criminals to bring them and take ownership of their enormous wealth. Therefore the FDLR fully understand the virulence of some powerful international lobbies which until now have been unable to completely put a hand on the wealth of the African Great Lakes Region and for which the FDLR are a major obstacle to achieving their macabre project.

The FDLR have never prevented anyone from returning to Rwanda . The assessment of the political and security situation within Rwanda is an individual matter which in the past years led to regular movements of Rwandans of all ethnicities fleeing massively Rwanda since 1994. In the other direction, MONUC regularly publishes a list of Rwandans who have returned to Rwanda . In addition, the Rwandan diaspora is scattered across the globe including an impressive number that is found in Western countries in Europe and in in America . Is it the FDLR that prevent the thousands of Rwandans who are in U.S.A, Europe, Canada and in Asian countries to return to their country? Even women, parents and children of senior dignitaries of the Kigali regime prefer to live abroad with refugee status rather than to return to Rwanda .
The ICG should understand that neither sanctions nor armed attacks, or unfair prosecution, or other macabre plans to sow divisions within Abacunguzi, will never make them abandon their goal of restoring dignity to the people of Rwanda .
The ICG should leave the mantle of think-tank of the criminal Kigali regime that it has never ceased to bear if it wants to remain credible and contribute to genuine reconciliation of the Rwandan people with itself and with its neighbours.
Those who call themselves “experts” of the African Great Lakes Region should understand that war has no place not only in the West but also in Africa and especially in the African Great Lakes Region, and the principle of self-determination of peoples is valid both in the West and in Africa .
The disarmament of the FDLR can not provide a solution to the problem of oppression, lack of democracy, terror, the culture of lies and debauchery, segregation, exclusion and poor governance hat characterize the current regime in Kigali .
The only way to disarm the FDLR is to accept without preconditions a genuine and frank dialogue between the FDLR and the Rwandan authorities to find compromise on the future management of their homeland.
The ICG and all warmongers that advocate for putting fire on the African Great Lakes Region should be aware that the war they preach can not put an end to the immense suffering of civilian populations as they claim, resolve the political problem of Rwanda, bring democracy and good governance in Rwanda or stop the looting of the resources of the African Great Lakes Region, and that sooner or later they will have to answer for their role in these wars that they have initiated directly or indirectly in the African Great Lakes Region.

Related Materials:
Ending the World's Deadliest War in Eastern Congo

UN: The Joint Military Operation Against The FDLR Has Failed

Congo: A Comprehensive Strategy to Disarm the FDLR

DRC: Comprehensive strategies critical for Kivu peace, ICG says

DR Congo: Five priorities for a peacebuilding strategy - ICG report


ICG: Conflict Risk Alert, DR Congo

Oxfam criticises UN for joining Congo war

Rwanda dismisses calls for FDLR negotiations

Beyond the Myth Ex-FAR/Interahamwe and the Congolese Tragedy

Doubt: A professor, a genocide, and NBC's quest for a prime-time hit

By Andrew Rice
The New Republic
July 28, 2009

One Monday last December, a stranger presented himself at the office of Sanford Ungar, the president of Goucher College, located in a suburb of Baltimore. He introduced himself as Charlie Ebersol, a television producer. A handsome, affable, and royally confident young man--he was sometimes pictured in the gossip pages with his girlfriend, the tennis star Maria Sharapova--Ebersol explained his visit by saying he was doing research for a new prime-time show on NBC. Beyond that, he was cryptic, Ungar recalls. "He said, 'We're going to come back tomorrow and tell you about somebody who works here who's done some very, very bad things.'" The meeting, Ungar says, left him totally baffled. Ebersol remembers the encounter somewhat differently. "Literally five minutes into my going into conversation," Ebersol told me, "he said, 'Are you talking about Leopold Munyakazi?'" ....
Read Full Story »

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Open letter to Sanford J. "Sandy" Ungar, President of Goucher College with regard to Dr Leopold Munyakazi's case

Viewpoint: Goucher unfair to accused professor


By Alexandre Kimenyi [From Impuruza No. 17 ] December 12, 1990 Photo: -Dr. Alexandre Kimenyi (Right) -General Fred Rwigema (Left) The following is an English translation from the original Kinyarwanda of the poem "NSINGIZE GISA UMUSORE UTAGIRA UKO ASA" published in Impuruza No.17 on December 12, 1990. ===================================================
By Alexandre Kimenyi
December 12, 1990

It was the first day of October
The month after beautiful September
You responded positively to our call for war
As army Chief of Staff
You proudly led the front
Assisted by Bayingana and Bunyenyezi
Shinning like stars
You were ready for a major undertaking
To lead an invasion of Rwanda [October 1, 1990]
Troops and ammunitions were gathered
At dawn you crossed the Rwandan border
And quickly took your positions
Ready to open fire
During the late morning hours the fighting began
The wild boars [Hutu soldiers of the Rwandan Armed Forces]
Had the jitters when the brave soldiers [Tutsi, RPF] opened fire
Victory seemed certain.

After you witnessed their bravery
You said good‑bye to your soldiers
You told them: we are finally home [ Rwanda ]
It is time for me to hand over the torch
Do not show yourself unworthy of my sacrifice
It is our tradition to sacrifice one’s life for the sake of the progeny and the deprived
This tradition was initiated by King Bwimba [a Tutsi monarch]
It was carried on by Gihana [a Tutsi warrior whose life was sacrificed to save the monarchy]
Now, it has become a sacred ritual in the Country of Gihanga [mythical Founder of Rwanda].

Be courageous and stay away from disgrace
Fight ardently so that the name Inkotanyi [those who use a sword to kill; in feudal Rwanda , "INKOTANYI" meant "hired killers"; they were a sort of commando unit used by Tutsi Kings to kill at will, often as a ritual] inspires terror
Fight bravely to bring peace to the country
So that the fifty‑niners [Tutsi refugees of 1959] can return home with no fear or anxiety.

At noon, soldiers gathered for the final farewell
They roared: annihilators of the schemers
No high jumper will ever beat your record
Join our ancestors and receive your Medal of Honor
I praise you Gisa, you are a brave soldier, your beauty is indescribable.

Your fame and beauty have earned you name recognition abroad
Teenager girls get distracted gazing at your beautiful face
It is not surprising that you took the lead in sacrificing your life To free us from the greedy wild beasts [Hutus] To save the Drum [symbol of the Tutsi monarchy] from the bad guys [Hutus]
And you did it all in style
The real reason for your death is your praiseworthy kindness
A birthright that you share with those you are joining [Tutsi ancestors]
There is an origin to every quality
You inherited your good character from our ancestors [Tutsis]
You could never tolerate living under the orders of anyone and the humiliation of living an unsettled life abroad [Tutsi Diaspora]
You are veritably venerable and meritedly the highest ranking Inkotanyi.

We proudly accept the challenge to reach the goal that you set for us
We are Noble [Tutsis believe they are noble]
And we have the means to achieve that goal
Scores of recruits are joining the battle
We are all bravely following your footsteps
Bad news for the enemy [Hutus]
You instigated courage in all of us and nobody will ever take it away
The brave fighters [Tutsis] will drive the termites [Hutus] out of the country

[Note: The following paragraph contains some nerve‑racking insults that are close to impossible to translate into a non‑native language*]

You are a bullfighter who launched a war to free the Nobles [Tutsis]
Since you decided to use the entire arsenal
The termites [Hutus] will run out of the country
Just a few days after the first shell has landed
Those wild rats, corrupted crooks [Hutus] are already panic‑stricken
They are looters, hooligans, and killers [Hutus]
I see those traitors with bloated cheeks [Hutus] running in panic and disarray
Those thieves [Hutus] are troublemakers.

Those ugly creatures [the Tutsi mythology preaches that people of Hamitic origin are generally handsome whereas people of Bantu origin are generally ugly] are insane and furious
They are the enemies of Rwanda
They are nothing but a bunch of dishonorable dirt
Those cretins cannot think of anything but their bloated stomachs
God knows they should lose their entire progeny [this constitutes the most offending insult to a Rwandan because it is interpreted as a wish for extinction of the genetic heritage]
They are perverted damned and suckers
They are frightened by our firepower
They are losing their minds
I hear them barking like dogs
They are begging White people [French and Belgians] to protect them
And prevent us, the Nobles, from evicting or enslaving them
You omnipotently have come to our rescue
Your reward is waiting for you in the Royal Palace
Today, our children are tortured as soon as they leave their mothers’ backs [Rwandan mothers carry babies on their backs]
People waist their time working at Umuganda [self‑development community services people were doing to compensate the scarcity of technology] on roads
The Hutu King [President Habyarimana] forces our people to plant useless trees [several reforestation projects existed throughout the country before the start of the October 1, 1990 invasion]
The business community is losing its wealth taken forcibly by some stupid people [Hutus]
Under your command, we took up arms and waged a fierce war that scared the enemy.

Your watchwords and plans will be with us for ever and we will never be tired of them
Today we all are prepared for war.

You are an honorable man that admirers swear by
You are a magnificent, admirable, and great person
Those rapacious vultures [Hutus] have nothing on their minds
But to fill their stomachs just like Ngunda [a greedy person in the Rwandan mythology] or pigs
Those thugs [Hutus] destroy pastures reserved for shepherds [Tutsis]
You gave the order to make those bandits [Hutus] disappear from Rwandan villages and fields
So that noble people [Tutsis] can live there free and under self‑rule Rwigema, you are our almighty advocate There is nothing to fear; there is no doubt that we will make you happy
We are already celebrating our recovered dignity
There is no more reason to be sad, the enemy cannot laugh at us anymore
Beloved son of the Kingdom of Mutara [a Tutsi monarch], you are our guiding light
On the eve of the D‑day you got together with your assistants
You asked young fighters to be brave You made the return of the fifty‑niners possible
And now noble intellectuals [Tutsis] are going to help our country reclaim its past prestige
Now the horizon is clear and beautiful
We shall go home proud and patriotic
We shall leave all the misery abroad
We shall unit our forces to develop the country of our ancestors
You are a good‑hearted individual; a cow mother could not do better
As any good shepherd you took good care of your herds
Now that your corpse is lying in the pastureland reserved for the majestic Inyambo cows [Rwigema died in the Mutara prairie that includes the Akagera National Park and a vast area of pastureland, home of Inyambo cows, characterized by their majestic long horns; in feudal Rwanda, they constituted an exclusive property of Kings]
Let us drink your blood out of the chalice
So that our veins become so strong that we will never bleed again
Our muscles will be stronger as well
We shall always win We shall fight on and clear Rwanda of dirt [Hutus]
You were created to help and enlighten us
You are the great pillar that our homes can stand on and our precious jewels hang on
We shall follow you and never be lost under your guidance
Your remembrance shall be institutionalized by law
Live in everlasting happiness at the Royal Palace
We shall always praise your heroism Rwigema, the Courageous, the Great; you will always live in the minds of us all
As the greatest combat troops commander who wins wars and reserves special rewards for bravery Gisa, your wife and children are going to take over the lead to get us out of exile
You are a stunning warrior; there are lots of things to praise you about
But let me conclude with a promise that time and muse allowing
I shall write more poems for you, I shall create a large repertoire of poems
For the Great, Charismatic, Supernatural, and Extraordinary Man you are.

[…] : Comments added during the translation.

Impuruza was the first newspaper of the Rwandan diaspora.
Founded by Alexandre Kamenyi in the US, the title was well chosen to describe the spirit of retaking by force of arms that political power which was lost.
In Kinyarwanda, Impuruza is the traditional drum used before colonial times by the Tutsis as a call to war.

General Fred Rwigema was the leader of the October 1, 1990 invasion of Rwanda the RPF rebels.

Dr. Alexander Kimenyi is a Rwandan national, Professor of Ethnic Studies at the California State University at Sacramento , USA .

Related Materials: The Acronym IN.YE.NZI: A Symbol of Bravery
The honours: Rwanda decorates foreign dignitaries A tribute to the Late Maj. Gen Rwigyema

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rwanda: Draft Penal Code to Broaden TIG

By Gilbert Ndikubwayezu
The New Times-Kigali
July 28, 2009

Kigali — A draft Penal Code now in the pipeline would compel more culprits serve their punishments under the Travaux d'Interet General (TIG) a sort of community service in lieu of imprisonment.

Since its inception, TIG has been performed by prisoners found guilty of genocide crimes, and has registered tremendous successes in producing community oriented services.

Now that the country's judiciary is under course reforming the over 30-year-old Penal Code, the TIG punishments are likely to befall on even those who are found guilty of crimes other than genocide related ones.

Parliament on Tuesday started open discussions and completed endorsing close to 100 of more than 600 articles that make up the new draft Penal Code, among which article 46 calls for the extension of community works as a punishment to culprits of all crimes.

The chairperson of the Political Affairs Committee in the Lower Chamber, Bernadette Kanzayire told her fellow lawmakers that the move is intended to benefit national interests since the prisoner is not going to remain seated in jail but managed in such a way that he contributes to the community's development.

Her remarks were also supported by Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama, who maintained that this may come as either an alternative to serving punishment in prison or an addition to other punishments pronounced against the offender.

"This is a way of reducing congestion in prisons, cost of living and help in building strong community development," Karugarama commented after the session, explaining that a strong exception will be made to those found guilty of embezzlement of public funds. According to the new Penal Code, these will first have to pay back the amount embezzled on top of facing justice.

The system governing TIG servers stipulates that they first serve half of their sentence in confinement while another half is spent in community works that have so far been ranging from roads construction to building terraces for agricultural purposes.

The draft code that has been under the scrutiny parliamentary committee, was initiated after a special team from the Ministry of Justice carried out a survey among citizens in late 2006, only to find out that the majority of Rwandans wanted the Penal Code revised.

Parliament will resume further discussions on Thursday July 30.

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Rwanda: Economic Growth Sustained Through Free Labor

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ending the World's Deadliest War in Eastern Congo

The international community must abandon its piecemeal approach to conflict management in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, home to the world's deadliest war since World War II, argues Enough's latest report on the conflict. The report, by Co-founder John Prendergast and Enough's Kinshasa-based researcher, Noel Atama, calls for a renewed emphasis on civilian protection, the implementation of an effective counterinsurgency strategy against the FDLR rebels, ending the trade in conflict minerals, and promoting peace and accountability.

Find here the full report (pdf) and here the activist brief (pdf).

Ending the World's Deadliest War in Eastern Congo
By John Prendergast and Noel Atama
Enough Project Report[i]
July 16, 2009

The world’s deadliest war and most pronounced use of rape as a weapon continue to rage in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. For 13 years, the people of eastern Congo have been ensnared in a tangled web of armed groups—from foreign rebels to the Congo’s own army—who prey on Congolese civilians and, with collaboration from governments and multinational corporations, strip the country of its immense natural wealth. This conflict can only end when the international community abandons the piecemeal approach it has adopted to deal with this multilayered and immensely complex conflict and takes a holistic approach to peacemaking.

A revamped approach requires a careful combination of all the tools available to policymakers, from aggressive multilateral diplomacy and conditioned foreign assistance to targeted sanctions and, in rare cases, carefully planned military action. Yet it is abundantly clear that generating the political will to leverage these tools effectively also requires action from activists and concerned citizens. Congo’s stain on our collective conscience is deep, but so too is the connection between our daily lives and those of Congolese people fighting to break the cycle of conflict and misery. Citizen pressure on policymakers and the corporations that benefit from the trade in conflict minerals—including American and European cell phone, laptop, and jewelry manufacturers—is a critical element of a worldwide effort to end the crisis in eastern Congo once and for all.

Tragically, the international community spends well in excess of $2 billion a year treating the symptoms of the Congolese crisis through international peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance. By our calculations, roughly one-tenth of one percent of what we spend on aid and peacekeepers is spent on dealing with what has become a principal driver of conflict in Congo: the trade in conflict minerals.[ii] Mineral wealth did not cause the war in Congo, but it sustains armed combatants and fuels ongoing atrocities. Just as with the “blood diamonds” of Sierra Leone and Angola, until there was a change in the way the world purchased diamonds, there was little chance for peace in those countries. Similarly, there will be little chance for peace in Congo until the world figures out a way to purchase that country’s minerals without fueling horrific violence.

Startlingly, most diplomatic efforts seem not to acknowledge that the conventional image of Congo as a failed state is at variance with a dark and little-acknowledged reality: that the Congolese government often promotes insecurity and lawlessness to allow its top officials to enrich themselves in the illegal smuggling of Congo’s natural resources. Nor do policymakers fully acknowledge the continuing role that neighboring governments—particularly Rwanda and Uganda—play in fuelling violence and profiteering from Congo’s state weakness and chronic conflict. Overcoming this policy blind spot and tackling the underlying complexities of the crisis head on requires a paradigm shift for policymakers under pressure from informed and concerned consumers and activists.

The situation in eastern Congo is poised to get much worse in the coming weeks and months. A new offensive by the Congolese government army, backed by United Nations peacekeepers, against Rwandan FDLR rebels based in North and South Kivu,[iii] has predictably led to a major spike in human rights violations, in particular violence against women and girls, the abduction of children as soldiers or sex slaves, the burning of houses or entire villages, and the systematic looting of civilians. As the saying goes, “when you are in a hole, stop digging.” The international community should call on the Congolese government to suspend the operation and work with it and key actors in the region to adopt a new approach that focuses on five basic tasks: protecting civilians, implementing an effective counterinsurgency strategy against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, ending the trade in conflict minerals, promoting regional peace and economic cooperation; and, promoting accountability.

Eastern Congo aflame

The situation on the ground remains catastrophic. The humanitarian crisis has deepened dramatically in the Kivus, with at least 400,000 newly displaced by the operation since the beginning of 2009, due primarily to the wanton criminality of Congolese forces deployed for these operations and vicious counter-attacks on civilians by the FDLR.[iv] An equally appalling situation has unfolded in northeastern Orientale Province, where the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, continues brutal attacks on civilians in the aftermath of a failed Ugandan-led offensive.[v]

Clearly, the current international approach to the crisis in eastern Congo, and indeed the Great Lakes region more broadly, is failing. And the cost of this failure is disastrous for civilians living on eastern Congo’s 500 mile long battlefield.

Congo and Rwanda: A delicate détente

On the surface, there has been a sea change in Congolese and regional politics as a result of the unprecedented deal struck between the Rwandan and Congolese governments late last year. The agreement led directly to the arrest of Rwandan-backed Congolese warlord Laurent Nkunda and a time-bound Rwandan army incursion into North Kivu. The stated purpose of the joint Rwandan-Congolese army was to target the FDLR, a Rwandan militia led by some of the architects of the 1994 genocide and frequently backed by the Congolese government to counter Rwandan influence. The military impact of the joint Rwandan-Congolese operation was limited, displacing the FDLR from some of the mines that it had controlled in North Kivu and putting Nkunda’s former forces in control of those areas, but leaving the FDLR’s chain of command and international network intact. The political impact was far greater, providing a unique opportunity to improve relations between Kinshasa and Kigali, a deadly feud that has been central to the cycle of conflict in Congo since the mid-1990s.

Improving ties between the two capitals led directly to an agreement reached on March 23, 2009, between the Congolese government and the National Congress for the Defense of People, or CNDP, Nkunda’s Rwandan-backed rebel group.[vi] Under the agreement, CNDP fighters and combatants from other Congolese militias joined the Congolese government army in preparations for a second offensive against the FDLR. As a result, thousands of fighters have been “integrated” into the Congolese government army in a hurried, unstructured fashion that has in some places created even more instability. The already disjointed efforts to reform the Congolese army have been complicated, and even compromised, by the disorganized nature of this integration, as internal divisions and indiscipline within the army intensify. Several war criminals have been knowingly integrated in the government army command structure, which itself has numerous commanders with horrific human rights records. Bosco Ntagana, the new de facto military leader of the CNDP and an indicted International Criminal Court, or ICC, war criminal, is just the tree that hides the forest of major human rights abusers who are now in command positions. No vetting whatsoever has occurred in the process of integration. “How can you stop impunity when you have these kinds of people in command positions within the Congolese army?” asked one official from an international.

The haphazard integration is breaking down in some areas due to lack of payments and inadequate follow-up to address related organizational issues. Whole units are deserting as a result in some locations, and looting, rape, and other abuses by Congolese forces are increasing. Many Congolese soldiers travel to the front lines with their dependents and then turn to looting and illegal commerce to provide for their families. The CNDP and Rwanda have expanded their role in mineral smuggling in the Kivus, an area the size of Oregon that is isolated due to extremely poor roads. The integration process left the command and control of many CNDP units intact. Even though they are wearing Congolese army uniforms they continue to pursue their own agenda. Some lightly integrated CNDP units in North and South Kivu were sent to the front lines and are focusing on pushing the FDLR out of mineral producing areas or keeping them out of areas the Rwandan army expelled them from earlier this year.

With parallel chains of command, the CNDP elements are doing much of the fighting against the FDLR and, along with their commercial allies, take advantage of new mining, taxation, and smuggling opportunities. These commercial allies include Rwandan officials and businesspeople, a relationship documented in detail by the U.N. group of experts.[vii] “Rwanda struck the deal for business,” said one observer of military affairs in the Kivus. Another long-time observer concluded, “Now Rwanda can exploit minerals with open Congolese government complicity.” This despite popular Congolese sentiments in the East, which remain very anti-Rwandan, as encapsulated by a group of internally displaced civilians we met in North Kivu who can’t go home because their villages have been occupied by the FDLR. One of the leaders of the community told us, “All of the problems we have with this war are caused by the presence of Rwandan soldiers, both government and rebel. The Rwandans originally were fighting over power, but now they are here searching for minerals.”

Kimia II: The Congolese-U.N. offensive against the FDLR

The ongoing operation against the FDLR is code-named Kimia II (Kimia means “calm” in Kiswahili). The offensive was designed to occur in three phases: deployment of Congolese forces, securing civilian areas, and offensive operations to push the FDLR away from strategic locations, such as mines. Starting in June, newly “integrated” Congolese brigades, with logistical support from the United Nations Mission in the Congo, or MONUC, launched attacks on FDLR positions. As U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary General in the Congo Alan Doss told us, “No sovereign state can permit a foreign armed group to control a strategic swathe of territory within its borders.”

However, the Congolese government army is structurally incapable of sustaining coherent military operations against the FDLR. In many places, government army units actively collaborate in commercial dealings with the FDLR, sharing mines and taxation and smuggling opportunities. And according to sources within MONUC, the FDLR still procure arms and ammunition from Congolese army units. As Kimia II heats up, FDLR units are allegedly being tipped off in advance of government army attacks in some locations, allowing them to melt into the forest and wait for more propitious conditions to return. The predatory and fragmented nature of the army even further undermines the military operation, strains the coalition building effort between formerly warring parties, and further terrorizes the civilian population.

Some of the Congolese Mayi-Mayi militia fighters that had integrated into the government army after the March 23 agreement are even defecting and now fighting alongside the FDLR. One long-time observer and resident of Congo called the Congolese army a “collection of marauding militias,” whose officers live off the embezzlement of salaries and the minerals trade. A human rights official concluded, “The irony is that the government army was deployed to protect civilians in this operation, but is in fact the biggest abuser.”

The dense rainforest terrain in the Kivus is exceptionally demanding terrain for military operations. Poorly planned and executed attacks on FDLR positions—a near certainty with the Congolese army—will push the FDLR into a familiar operating environment. The FDLR have lived in this mountainous area of 90,000 square miles—an area that houses two national parks and thousands of miles of sparsely populated forest areas that are only accessible by footpaths or poor roads—for nearly fifteen years. Because they have had to remain hidden from other armed groups away from towns, they have come to know this difficult terrain well—better than almost all other armed groups. As one community leader explained, “The CNDP, those who are now supposed to be pursuing the FDLR, don’t know the terrain here. The forest is very deep, and the FDLR know it much better.”

As the military operations unfold, the FDLR’s campaign of reprisal attacks against civilians is intensifying. Like the Lord’s Resistance Army, the FDLR uses asymmetrical warfare, focusing its military attacks largely on civilian populations.[viii] One FDLR commander explained to us, “During the joint operation, many Congolese civilians provided information to the Rwandan army. The FDLR leadership was very unhappy, and retaliated on civilians because they betrayed us. We were instructed to attack civilians for revenge and in order to force the Congolese government army to pull back from our positions.”

A central question must be asked of international support for Kimia II: Does the endgame—removal of the FDLR—justify the means, with so many displaced, raped, looted and killed directly and indirectly resulting from a poorly planned, premature, and limited military-only strategy? The answer is no. There is widespread opposition to these operations from Congolese civilian populations and civil society organizations, as well as the international humanitarian community. It is incumbent on policymakers to force changes that minimize the damage of Kimia II and begin to lay the groundwork for addressing the structural causes of the ongoing violence in a more effective way, including through renewed efforts at political dialogue and a genuine effort to break the war economy.

The creeping toll of sexual violence

Systematic rape has evolved over the last dozen years of war in the Congo as a tool of retribution, social control, or collective punishment against civilian populations deemed supportive of opposing armed groups. As one Congolese woman activist told us, “When they rape the women, they send a message to the men and the community that they have the power and the control. It is designed to humiliate, and to spread HIV/AIDS. And if they capture an area that was under the control of a competing group, they rape and say they are punishing the women because they were spies.”

The United Nations reports that rape cases have spiked since January, coinciding with the beginning of military operations against the FDLR. The main perpetrators are the government army, with a surge of integrated units with infrequently paid ill-disciplined fighters, as well as the FDLR, which has escalated its revenge attacks on areas that it alleges civilians have collaborated with Congolese or Rwandan armies. As a result, rape has become increasingly perpetrated by civilians as well. The cycle of impunity is so ingrained now that violence against women and girls is becoming a way to demonstrate power relations in parts of Eastern Congo.

There are many short-term measures that can be taken by Congolese and international actors to marginally increase the protection of women in Eastern Congo, and these should be fully explored and supported. But we need to be realistic about the limitations. In one of the areas of highest concern regarding sexual violence, Shabunda territory, United Nations officials told us that there are a little over 100 MONUC personnel and a handful of humanitarian officials in an area roughly the size of Rwanda. “MONUC simply doesn’t have the capacity to protect civilians,” one high ranking U.N. official on the ground told us.

Ultimately, a durable peace is the only way to significantly reduce violence against women and its main accelerator, rape as a tool of war. Even women in rehabilitation centers in the East are clear about this. As one survivor told us, “We are dreaming of a stable place to go farm. We fear we will lose all that we are gaining from these programs if there is no peace.” Accountability must go hand in hand with peace, or else the seeds will be planted for the continuation of one of the worst crises of violence against women and girls in the world.

Conflict minerals: fuel for unending war

To understand why conflict in eastern Congo continues to boil with devastating consequences for civilian populations, we have to follow the money trail. The connection between the illegitimate trading and taxation of minerals on the one hand and the deadliest war in the world on the other is direct and undeniable.[ix] Grievances surrounding land and identity—particularly vis a vis Congolese of Rwandan descent—help organize the factions, but greed ensures these conflicts remain violent and unsettled. The government army, rebels, paramilitary militias, and neighboring armies and rebels who double as mafia outfits jockey for control of the mines, trading centers, tax routes, customs rackets, and smuggling opportunities. They fight for the self-imposed right to fleece Congo’s population and natural resource base. One local official told us it is akin to “taxation without administration.”

In Congo, a failed state has been hijacked and is cultivated by a predatory mafia element where what should be state revenue is diverted into personal political and economic fiefdoms. Mineral exploitation pits state-sponsored and militias against each other in competition for the extraordinary rents that accrue to the best positioned. Deep-seated land and identity rivalries create a life or death edge to the jockeying for territorial control. Having access to mines, taxation, transport and smuggling provides the resources for self-defense or offensive actions that ensure “ethnic homeland security.” These rivalries are exploited by governments and militias in Congo and the region in order to recruit or mobilize for offensives. Some of the most violent attacks are linked to land and territorial acquisitions and ethnic rivalries. There is a pre-existing structure of conflict that is fuelled by the mineral business.

The Enough Project has focused to a great extent on the so-called 3 Ts—tantalum, tin and tungsten—that are essential to most of our electronics products. But the illegal trade in gold is also tremendously lucrative for some of the armed groups in eastern Congo. Gold is easy to transport and smuggle, and as its value has gone up on the international market, its attractiveness to armed groups has increased. One FDLR officer told us, “Gold is the easiest way to make money and finance our activities. It is small and easy to buy, transport and sell, and it is impossible to detect.”

By the Enough Project’s reckoning, the armed groups raked in more than $180 million in 2008 through extortion, taxation and smuggling associated with conflict minerals. Instead of drugs and prostitution, these mafia outfits are largely focused on minerals extraction and arms purchases (although some groups have diversified into trafficking charcoal, cannabis, and other commodities). The whole trading chain in minerals is hugely lacking in transparency, making it easy for the shadowy networks to operate and enrich armed groups, and control the trade. Major problems include the following:

No public map of where the mines are or who controls them: It is difficult to challenge traders who claim their minerals are conflict free.

No proper list of who trades in the minerals: Only an estimated 1 out of every 10 negociants , or traders who take the minerals from mines to the major cities, have an official license.

Little transparency around who is regulating the trade: Mining inspectors admitted to us that they knew which sacks of minerals came from FDLR-held mines, but had not been paid for months, so had no incentive to stop this trade.

Opaque pricing: the comptoirs, or minerals exporters, form an oligopoly to control prices, leaving the rich few to gouge profits from the thousands of miners and smaller traders.

While the government makes some attempt to control the trade, there are clearly serious loopholes that are far greater than in other mining countries. As long as the process remains non-transparent, this largely unregulated trade provides huge opportunities for personal enrichment at each step along the way. The state has become a huge tent in which anyone with the entrance fee is allowed to do business, including war criminals, militias, and white collar predators. You pay, you play.

The illegal mineral trade has a self-sustaining rationale, in which the status quo of insecurity and criminality is maintained in order to maximize profit. “For people around Kabila, the war is a way to make money,” one Congolese observer told us. “They are linked to some of the companies doing the mineral trading, transport and smuggling. They give high level army assignments in Eastern Congo with the expectation that these commanders will send a certain percentage of their profit back to Kinshasa,” thus bypassing state coffers. On the other side of the border, businessmen connected to the regimes in Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi invest heavily in mineral smuggling operations from the Congo. Inconsistencies in regional taxation schemes further incentivize illegal exports, as export taxes in Congo are significantly higher than in neighboring countries.

The extraordinary deal between Rwanda and Congo was in part a result of the Rwandan government’s desire to displace the FDLR from the mines in the western part of North Kivu and allow the integrated CNDP units within the government army to head up operations against the FDLR and secure these mines. This represents an informal experimental alliance between Kigali and Kinshasa to work together to profit from mineral extraction. The former CNDP does the bulk of the military work against the FDLR in the East, within the context of the government army, the minerals are exported out through Rwanda, the FDLR is slowly dealt out of the game, Rwanda’s involvement becomes more accepted—at least by the Congolese government—and the former state of open warfare is removed, comforting donors that had begun questioning whether to send aid to Rwanda.

Everyone seems to win in this scenario, except, of course, the Congolese people. The FDLR is attacking civilian populations, the same privatized extractive mining operation continues—albeit without the FDLR in some locations—the government army remains predatory, and the people continue to be looted, raped, and exploited.

Congo’s chronic conflict and the constant threat of violence ensures a pliable labor force, a malleable state, and international aid agencies that bring in hundreds of millions of dollars of food and medicine every year to sustain the population. The Congolese government thus shoulders little of the burden to care for its own people takes advantages of further opportunities for private enrichment in the form of rents, transport contracts, and other services. The Congolese people, on the other hand, continue to shoulder the burdens of a horrifying status quo. Until there is shock to this system in the form of greater due diligence at the local, national, regional, and international levels, conflict in Congo will grind on.

The FDLR: still turning a profit

The FDLR remains firmly entrenched in eastern Congo with a presence of about 5,000 to 7,000 fighters and thousands more civilian dependents. The organization continues to finance its activities primarily through the mining of gold and tin, and secondarily through the smuggling of charcoal, the production of marijuana, the taxation of populations in areas it controls, and support from the Diaspora FDLR leadership. We spoke to FDLR officers who confirmed the centrality of mining and taxing minerals to the FDLR’s continued existence. “We could not sustain ourselves without the mineral trade,” one FDLR officer told us. “To survive, the FDLR must have logistics. Minerals are the best way to sustain logistics,” he told us. One Western official in the Kivus explained, “The FDLR claims that it won’t go home because it fears arbitrary justice in Rwanda, but privately the control of resources is their motivation to stay in Congo.”

FDLR officers explained to us that they used the money from the minerals to buy weapons, mostly from the Congolese government army. One officer told us that even after the Rwanda-Congo deal, local Congolese army commanders in the East still provide FDLR units with weapons and ammunition. “The government army wants insecurity to get money,” said one FDLR officer. We also visited village markets in which minerals from mines controlled by the FDLR were being purchased alongside minerals from mines controlled by the government army. We also visited some of the small buyers in Bukavu and Goma where business is done in little shacks and minerals are again purchased without reference to where they originate. There is a whole underground economy that is buying from the FDLR. No statistics or note of origin accompanied these minerals, so right there at the local market the challenge begins to disaggregate which minerals come from which mines of origin.

The Rwandan-Congolese operations at the beginning of 2009 displaced the FDLR from their control of major mining areas in North Kivu, some of which they were able to move back into when the Rwandan government army withdrew. In South Kivu, they continue mining largely untouched by the slow-developing Congolese military offensive, and they have even expanded to control new mining areas.

Five tasks to end the deadliest conflict in the world

The Enough Project believes that a comprehensive international strategy to halt atrocities and end the conflict in eastern Congo must focus on five basic tasks: Protecting civilians, ending the trade in conflict minerals, removing the FDLR, peacemaking at the local and regional level, and promoting accountability.

1. Protect civilians:

Improved efforts to protect civilians and improve security on the ground must be at the forefront of a comprehensive strategy in eastern Congo. Meaningful progress on other tasks will be consistently stymied while civilians are systematically targeted by various armed groups. Necessary actions include the following:

Donors and governments with military expertise should work with the Congolese government to forge a major multilateral, diplomatically supported, highly human rights conditioned, decade-long commitment to help reform the Congolese army so that it becomes a source of security to the civilian population rather than one of predation. One Congolese civil society leader told us, “If our government and army were stronger and more responsible, then neighbors and corporations couldn’t take advantage of Congo. If we paid our soldiers and fought impunity, no neighboring country would invade or try to take our mineral resources.”

Recent lessons learned from army reform endeavors in Iraq and Afghanistan should be applied to the Congo. MONUC should further embed personnel in government army units directly, which if systematic can help lay the groundwork in the East for future reform efforts. And given China’s massive stake in the Congolese mining sector, Beijing should be engaged to become a major supporter of army reform efforts, as its contracts will be unstable in the long term without the security a reformed army would afford.

The U.N. Security Council should focus MONUC’s capacity specifically to protect civilians in the most vulnerable areas of the East. With the support of the U.N. Security Council and donor countries, MONUC is attempting to increase its civilian protection efforts in the context of Kimia II. The UN is forming “Joint Protection Teams” to bring together different U.N. civilian units and deploy them to vulnerable regions. Because of limited resources and multiple missions, and the enormity of the human security crisis in Eastern Congo, these efforts are in large part a drop in the ocean of need. Ultimately, if civilian protection is going to be the centerpiece of the mandate for MONUC, there has to be a reset on how the mission is deployed, a major increase in the resources it is given to do its job, and a unified interpretation of the mandate and rules of engagement throughout the chain of command.

2. Implement a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy for the FDLR:

The costs of Kimia II far outweigh the potential benefits. To succeed, civilian damage has to be reduced, the Congolese government army’s discipline and performance has to improve dramatically, the mines have to become subject to the rule of law and transparency, and the military gains against FDLR positions need to be made sustainable. All of these goals are outside the reach of the present Congolese government-MONUC effort. What is needed is a rapid re-think of how to deal with the FDLR, and the creation of a comprehensive counter-insurgency strategy that involves a number of elements that go far beyond the current military-only strategy. It is indeed essential to remove the FDLR from Congo, to reduce human rights abuses there, to restore Congolese sovereign control of its territory, and to remove any pretext for further direct and indirect intervention by Rwanda. Elements of such a strategy are the following:

The United States and other donors should work with the Rwandan and Congolese governments and MONUC to co-opt moderates within the FDLR.[x] Donors must increase pressure on the Rwandan government to state publicly and precisely which members of the FDLR are wanted for genocide. This information, as well as a greater understanding of the FDLR’s inner-workings, is a prerequisite to an effective strategy to negotiate exit options with individual FDLR commanders. Offers could include resettlement inside Congo—or, potentially, a third country—non-combat positions within the Rwandan army, enhanced livelihood packages, etc. The effectiveness of negotiation would be greatly enhanced if the Rwandan government relaxes restrictions on political activity, and donors should pressure Kigali to make genuine moves in that direction.[xi]

The international community should fulfill its obligation to sever support to the FDLR inside Congo from its political leaders in the Diaspora. The FDLR has an international network of support, including Diaspora FDLR commissioners, fundraising, and international money transfers.[xii] These and other leaders need to be prosecuted domestically (Europe and the U.S.) and internationally (the International Criminal Court) using every possible legal angle (war crimes, terrorist
financing, money laundering, etc.) until Diaspora support for the FDLR becomes so costly that it dries up forever. At a minimum, the United States and other countries should more robustly support the U.N. Group of Experts on the Congo by equipping them with access to necessary personal information held on Diaspora suspects, such as bank accounts, phone numbers, etc.

The Congolese government should suspend Kimia II and the international community should work with Kinshasa and with MONUC to plan for more effective military pressure on the FDLR command and control structure. Ideally, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. should plan and mount this operation. Generating the political will for this will be extremely challenging, and less ideal options should also be considered. Although fraught with political risk for the Congolese government, further joint operations by the Rwandan and Congolese armies, this time with the full and active involvement of MONUC and donors, would be more effective in dislodging FDLR from areas it controls. However, effective military pressure without substantial involvement from the United States and European governments remains unlikely until Congo has a more professional, disciplined, and regularly paid army, and there are legitimate concerns that further Rwandan military involvement in Congo will only encourage further cross border
adventurism and further entrench illicit Rwandan economic interests in Congo.

The international community must help the Congolese government to secure and legitimize former FDLR mining operations. Where military operations are successful in displacing the FDLR from individual mines, conditions have not changed dramatically on the ground when the trade remains opaque.

3. End the trade in conflict minerals:

The mines in eastern Congo ultimately need to be secured for legal and transparent exploitation. This will be the main engine of Congo’s economic development. A more integrated and open supply chain—from buyers in Congo (negotiantes) to exporters (comptoirs) to foreign buyers to smelters to electronics and jewelry manufacturers—that demands conflict-free minerals would change the incentive structure away from violence and illegality toward security and rule of law. Only when it becomes more profitable to exploit the minerals legally will there be a sufficient incentive for the peaceful development of the mineral sector. A recent Enough Project strategy paper provided an overview of a comprehensive policy to end the trade in conflict minerals, incorporating corporate responsibility, security measures, governance reforms, and livelihoods initiatives.[xiii]Although this overall approach remains crucial, meaningful change to the mining and minerals trade in eastern Congo must come from the actors within the supply chain. Consumers and companies should demand three necessary steps to enable a transparent trade that benefits the Congolese people:

Trace: Companies must determine the precise sources of their minerals. Electronics companies and other end-users should support efforts already underway by smelters, metals traders, and other middlemen to develop rigorous means of ensuring that the origin and production volume of minerals are transparent and traceable.

Audit: Companies should conduct detailed examinations of their mineral supply chains to ensure that taxes are legally and transparently paid to the Congolese government and guard against bribery and fraudulent payments. Beyond financial auditing, companies should monitor social and environmental conditions with the objective of improving these conditions. Companies and trade associations should develop means to engage credible third parties to conduct audits.

Certify: For consumers to be able to purchase conflict-free electronics made with Congolese minerals, a certification scheme that builds upon the lessons of the Kimberley Process will be required. To be effective and sustainable, such an effort must be owned by the Congolese government, but inclusive of both the private sector
and civil society groups. Importantly, Congo and its neighbors have already agreed to support certification under the Protocol against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural
Resources of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region. Donor governments and industry should provide financial and technical assistance to galvanize this process.

4. Promote regional peace and economic cooperation:

The ongoing violence in eastern Congo is in large part a lingering by-product of the war that engulfed the region starting in 1998. Although an internationally-backed peace process led to the official end of the war and Congolese elections in 2006, relations between Congo and it neighbors—particularly Rwanda—have until recently remained severely strained. The delicate détente between Kinshasa and Kigali is the product of a convergence of interests: negotiations between the two capitals that occurred without mediation and absent direct coordinated external pressure.[xiv] What is needed now is deeper diplomatic engagement by the United States and European Union aimed at the further improvement of the relationship between Rwanda, Congo, and other states in the region. Because of its unique position of having strong relations in both capitals, the United States should heavily invest in supporting continued rapprochement between Rwanda and Congo and ensuring a modus vivendi between the two governments, as well as with other neighbors in Kampala and Bujumbura.

Discussions also must occur between regarding regional development issues. Rwandan exports of tin and Ugandan and Burundian exports of gold continue to climb, demonstrating that the trend is toward increased smuggling and extraction by the neighbors. In the short run, a shift toward legal, peaceful production would require harmonization of the export duties among countries in the region, so that Congo’s higher rates don’t by definition drive most commodities across borders illegally into other countries for them to export. And further discussions could occur on a voluntary division of labor between extraction and processing that might leave some room for the neighbors in processing Congolese minerals. A regional economic framework governed by the rule of law is a prerequisite for lasting stability in Central Africa.

5. Promote accountability:

Eastern Congo is, in the words of one MONUC official, an “accountability free zone.” The same could be said for much of the rest of the country. The inability of the Congolese government to adequately investigate, arrest, try, convict, and imprison individuals responsible for crimes against humanity has led to some of the worst atrocities committed anywhere in the world, including systematic and conscience-shocking sexual violence. The problem is immense, and the following steps must be urgently taken:

Donors should increase investment in the long-term reform of the Congolese justice system so that it prosecutes the warlords who use rape, village burning, and other attacks on civilians as tools of war. This should include both civilian and military justice.

The U.S. and European Union should make ending violence against women and girls a central part of their diplomatic engagement and aid conditionality with the governments in Congo and Rwanda, instead of stove-piping the issue into a gender programming category. The Congolese government should be held accountable by donors and diplomats for its army’s abuses of women and girls, and Rwanda should be as well for its abuses of civilians – particularly women and girls—in the context of its incursions into Congo and its support for Congolese proxies like the CNDP.

The International Criminal Court should further target its investigatory efforts on
sexual violence in the Kivus, focusing on the command structure in the various
armed combatants who encourage rape as a weapon of war.

The U.N. Security Council and countries with influence such as the United States should focus on countering the incentives for violence as the means of achieving wealth and power in the Congo through the application of sanctions, asset freezes, ICC prosecutions, targeted military operations, diplomatic isolation, focused arms
embargo enforcement, and resource export control mechanisms. This should apply to the leadership of non-state armed groups as well as key officials in the Congolese and neighboring governments that continue to undermine peace and protection objectives in the mineral-rich east for their economic enrichment.

Consumer campaigning and activism to drive change

The “blood diamonds” case provides a crucial precedent for activists. Until there was general consumer uproar about the effect Western demand for a precious commodity was having on the people of Sierra Leone and Angola, those conflicts continued to burn, with Western consumers providing all the fuel necessary to keep the wars going indefinitely.

The Congolese buyers (negotiantes) and exporters (comptoirs) have been spooked by the U.N. Group of Experts reports and the possibility of sanctions, which has led them to be more willing to be part of more transparent supply chain procedures if they are introduced. One leading negotiante in South Kivu told us that if he took us to the gold dealers on camera it would cost him his life. A recent report from IPIS, “Culprits or Scapegoats: Revisiting the Role of Belgian Minerals Traders in eastern DRC,” concludes, “… there are indications that the traders under scrutiny are willing to contribute in a more pro-active manner to a sustainable solution to the issue of conflict related minerals. This creates a window of opportunity for all stakeholders to become involved in a concerted effort to enhance transparency and accountability in the mineral sector in the eastern DRC.” The Belgian trader Traxys decided to suspend its mineral purchasing from Congo, something that has greatly upset the local comptoirs and led some of them to proclaim that they would be cooperative in the development of any transparency mechanism. Given this level of concern, now is the time to press for reforms and transparency right down to the mine of origin.

[i] This report results from a trip we took with a CBS 60 Minutes crew to North and South Kivu during June 2009. Ongoing research by Enough Project staff will result in further reports that develop some of the themes in this overview report more deeply. The 60 Minutes episode will run in the fall of 2009. Our visit took us to Bukavu, Burunyi, Walungu, Twangiza mine, and Maroke mine in South Kivu and Goma, Kanyabayungo, and Kiwanja in North Kivu. All of the quotes in the report come from interviews during this trip.

[ii] The cost of humanitarian and peacekeeping assistance to the Democratic Republic of Congo last year was approximately $1.6 billion, while the United Nations Group of Experts looking into support to armed groups cost less than $1.7 million.

[iii] For background on the FDLR, see “Past Due: Removing the FDLR from Eastern Congo,” Enough Strategy Paper by Rebecca Feeley and Colin Thomas-Jensen, June 3, 2008.

[iv] See “Mounting concern as civilians’ plight increases”, International Committee of the Red Cross press release, July 8, 2009.

[v] To learn about Enough’s strategy for ending the LRA insurgency, see “Finishing the Fight Against the LRA”, Enough Project strategy paper by Julia Spiegel and Noel Atama, May 12, 2009.

[vi] The United Nations Group of Experts report from December, 2008, contains substantial evidence of Rwandan support for CNDP, as well as Congolese support for the FDLR. The report is available here.

[vii] Ibid

[viii] See “DR Congo: Massive Increase in Attacks on Civilians”, Human Rights Watch, July 2, 2009

[ix] To learn more about conflict minerals and their connection to atrocities, including sexual violence, in Congo, see Enough’s two strategy papers: “Can You Hear Congo Now?: Cell Phones, Conflict Minerals, and the Worst Sexual Violence in the World,” by John Prendergast, April 1 2009; and “A Comprehensive Approach to Conflict Minerals,” by The Enough Project Team with the Grassroots Reconciliation Group, April 24, 2009.

[x] We have drawn on email correspondence with a noted Great Lakes expert in drafting this section.

[xi] See the work of Human Rights Watch documenting the political situation in Rwanda, including “The Power of Horror in Rwanda”, by Kenneth Roth, April 19, 2009.

[xii] The president of the FDLR, Ignace Murwanashyaka, lives in Germany. He allegedly helped coordinate the FDLR military operations after February 2009, ordering the troops to retreat in the face of the Rwandan army’s January 2009 intervention and then attack civilians when Rwandan forces returned home. Jean-Marie Higiro is the U.S.-based president of the RUD, an allied organization of the FDLR. He is in frequent contact with FDLR generals in the field.

[xiii] See “A Comprehensive Approach to Conflict Minerals.”

[xiv] See “Congo’s Dangerous Crossroads,” Enough Project Statement, January 30, 2009.

Related Materials:
Rwanda: Pressure for FDLR-Government Talks Mounting

Congo: A Comprehensive Strategy to Disarm the FDLR

Prosecutorial Policies in the ICTR : Ensuring Impunity for the Victors

By Filip Reyntjens
Institute of Development Policy and Management
University of Antwerp, Begium
July 9, 2009

[An international conference on the self-evaluation of the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) took place in Geneva-Switzerland from July 9 to July 11, 2009. Professor Filip Reyntjens, an internationally recognized specialist of the Great Lakes region, was invited. Please find below the text of his speech in English. The French translation of the article can be found here==MK/HTPJ]

UNSC Resolution 955 (1994) of 8 November 1994 establishing the ICTR states in its preamble that “the prosecution of persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law would enable (the aim of ending impunity) to be achieved and would contribute to the process of national reconciliation and to the restoration and maintenance of peace”. Although it was clear that the RPF had committed crimes that fell squarely within the mandate of the ICTR[1], the risk of impunity for the victors was apparent from the early days of the tribunal’s operation. During a conversation with the first Prosecutor, Richard Goldstone, in July 1996, I asked him whether he intended to prosecute RPF suspects. Irritated, he replied he saw no reason for doing so. When I told him that there was compelling prima facie evidence of these crimes, he got even more irritated and stated emphatically that there was no such prima facie evidence. That was the end of our brief conversation. Clearly, the OTP was not starting its operation with an open mind, and this mindset has handicapped it ever since.

In April 2003, towards the end of Carla Del Ponte’s term as Prosecutor, I was in Arusha together with Alison Des Forges to run a seminar for OTP staff. We were brought in contact with the so-called “special investigations” team, put in place to work on the “second mandate”, the one related to crimes committed by the RPF. The team wanted to discuss evidence and strategy. We were quite impressed by their work: they had assembled extensive data on between 15 and 20 massacres by the RPF. As it was unlikely that all these could be prosecuted, we exchanged on selecting files that could as a priority be formulated as indictments; and we agreed on four cases: Butare (in particular the killings at the agro-veterinary school and in the arboretum) upon the arrival of the RPF in July; the regional stadium of Byumba in April; Giti, an atypical municipality as no Tutsi were killed there, also in April; and Gakurazo, where the RPF killed bishops, other clergy and civilians in June. For all these cases, there is a great deal of evidence and the suspects are known. At the end of our meetings, we felt confident that indictments could soon be issued. More than six years later, nothing has happened.

What we did not realise then was that the US, under the stewardship of Pierre-Richard Prosper, the former member of the OTP turned American Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, were busy burying the special investigations. The deal was that RPF suspects were not to be tried by the ICTR, but that Rwanda would take care of them. This never materialised. During the same period, Carla Del Ponte was replaced by the current Prosecutor in circumstances that I do not need to recall.

When I returned to Arusha in September 2004 to testify in the Bagosora case, I had the opportunity to talk to Prosecutor Jallow. I referred to the work done by the special investigations team, and asked him whether he intended to prosecute RPF suspects. A year after his appointment, he told me textually: “I am reviewing the evidence, and I’ll make a determination when the time has come”. He was to sing this refrain in the years to come, up to the present day, including when asked this question by the press. For instance, a year after our meeting, he stated to the Hirondelle News Agency that he was still reviewing the evidence before proceeding any further[2]. In February 2007, Jallow stated that he “will decide by the middle of the year whether or not charges will be brought against members of the RPF”[3]. In the middle of 2007, nothing was however heard of him, except a new delaying exercise before the Security Council, where he stated: “Investigations of the allegations against members of the RPF, which we had hoped to conclude by now, need to be continued…”. That was almost three years after my conversation with him, and during his presentation to the Security Council on 4 June this year, he seemed finally to admit that he had given up: “[M]y office does not have an indictment that is ready in respect of these allegations (against the RPF) at this particular stage”[4]. I shall return later to the “strategy of rotting” practised by the Prosecutor since he assumed office.

As I was worried about the perspective that nothing would happen, and having in mind the Tribunal’s completion strategy[5], I contacted Jallow again in December 2004 to inquire about his intentions, but I again received an evasive answer. On 11 January 2005, I sent him a letter announcing that I suspended my co-operation with his office “unless and until the first RPF suspect is indicted”. I told him that “[u]nder these circumstances, the ICTR risks becoming part of the problem rather than of the solution. While I remain committed to the cause which is at the heart of the mandate of the ICTR, on ethical grounds I cannot any longer be involved in this process”. During the following years, my concern was obviously reinforced by the Prosecutor’s delaying tactics.

He embarked on the same strategy again from mid-2008. Pushed by allegations that the ICTR was practising victors’ justice, and at the same time refusing to prosecute RPF suspects himself, Jallow announced that “[i]t has been established that in June 1994, RPF soldiers had killed 13 clergymen and two other civilians”, and that the Rwandan Prosecutor General “had said that he would shortly indict the implicated soldiers”[6]. While he pointed out that the suspects would be prosecuted for war crimes (that fall within the ICTR mandate), they were tried for murder and complicity to murder only. Although this was to be expected, as the Rwandan regime systematically denies that its soldiers have committed violations of international humanitarian law[7], this in itself would have justified recalling this case. Jallow did not do such thing, despite his pledge to reporters that “[i]f the trial is badly conducted, we have the competence to take the case to the Tribunal”[8].

Hardly two weeks after Jallow’s initial announcement, four men faced trial before a military court in Kigali. Two captains pleaded guilty to murder, a major and a brigadier general pleaded not guilty to complicity to murder. The two captains were sentenced to 8 years in prison, a sentence reduced to 5 years on appeal, while the senior officers were acquitted, a decision confirmed on appeal. Clearly the captains were sacrificial lambs and the trial was a sham; in a letter to Jallow dated 26 May 2009, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch wrote that it was “a political whitewash and a miscarriage of justice, betraying the rights of victims’ families to obtain justice for their loved ones”. On 1 June 2009, an open letter by dozens of academics stated much the same thing, arguing that “[t]his domestic trial was a completely inappropriate substitute for ICTR prosecution”. However, despite the Prosecutor’s pledge to assess the Rwandan proceedings and to recall the case to the ICTR if the trial did not meet international standards, he remained silent over the issue, thus resuming his “strategy of rotting”. There was no response to my repeated demands to the Prosecutor and to William Egbe, the member of the OTP in charge of the file, and the last email I received from Egbe on 14 April 2009 read: “I have forwarded your request to Prosecutor Jallow for his further information and attention”. I haven’t heard from the OTP since. In the meantime, despite all evidence to the contrary, Jallow seems content with the Rwandan procedure. On 4 June 2009, he indeed told the Security Council that the trial “was an open and public trial (…). The report of my monitors indicates that the standards of fair trial were observed”[9].

Of course, the Prosecutor has a very large degree of discretion in deciding to prosecute or not to prosecute. The way in which the current Prosecutor has analysed this discretion in a journal article[10] defines prosecutorial discretion as almost tantamount to prosecutorial arbitrariness. He is right in the sense that there is no legal redress in case a Prosecutor makes an abusive use of this discretion. But his argument and his prosecutorial practice also places the responsibility for the emergence of victors’ justice squarely in his office. With the exception of Carla Del Ponte, who paid a high price for it, none of the successive Prosecutors have had the courage to fully assume their mandate, and –as Jallow rightly pointed out in his article– no one else could do it in their place or force them to do it.

The grave consequences of this failure appear when measured against the aims the ICTR was supposed to achieve, which I have recalled at the beginning of this presentation. First, ending impunity. It is precisely because the regime in Kigali was given a sense of impunity that, during the years following 1994, it has committed massive internationally recognised crimes in both Rwanda and the DRC, where the RPA massacred tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of civilians. Next, contributing the national reconciliation. When, in a deeply divided society like Rwanda, the suffering of the victims on one side is recognised, but not that of the victims on the other side, and when perpetrators on one side are tried, but not those on the other side, then the side whose perpetrators are tried and whose victims are not recognised accumulates frustration, resentment and even hatred, all the more so since the domestic judicial system shows a similar bias. These feelings are exactly the opposite of what national reconciliation needs. Finally, the restoration and maintenance of peace. The feelings just described among many Hutu result in major structural violence that will eventually lead to renewed acute violence. In addition, the sense of impunity has led the Rwandan army to twice invade Zaire/Congo, and to engage in widespread human rights abuse and looting of resources. So the way in which justice has been miscarried in the ICTR has not contributed to peace in Rwanda and in the region. Maybe it is not too late. The Prosecutor can still seek indictments for these serious crimes. In the words of the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch in his letter of 26 May 2009: “Failure to do so will undoubtedly taint perceptions of the Tribunal’s impartiality and undermine its legitimacy in the eyes of future generations”.

[1] This was already unequivocally stated in the May 1994 report of special rapporteur René Degni-Segui.

[2] “Le TPIR a bouclé ses enquêtes pour le génocide des Tutsis”, Arusha, Fondation Hirondelle, 30 September 2005.

[3] “RPF alleged crimes: Prosecutor to decide mid 2007”, Arusha, Hirondelle News Agency, 8 February 2007.

[4] United Nations, Security Council, 6134th meeting, S/PV.6134, 4 June 2009, p. 33.

[5] The ICTR was to conclude first instance trials by the end of 2008, hardly four years after I met with Jallow.

[6] “UN Prosecutor admits of RPF atrocities during 1994 genocide”, Arusha, Hirondelle News Agency, 6 June 2008.

[7] Not a single of the 32 RPA elements prosecuted in Rwanda for acts committed in 1994 have been charged with war crimes or crimes against humanity (See Human Rights Watch, Law and Reality. Progress in Judicial Reform in Rwanda, 25 July 2008, Annex 2).

[8] “ICTR can retract a trial, says top prosecutor”, Arusha, Hirondelle News Agency, 12 June 2008.

[9] United Nations, Security Council, 6134th meeting, 4 June 2009, S/PV.6134, p. 33. According to the 26 May letter of Human Rights Watch to the Prosecutor, he “sent an observer for only two preliminary detention hearings, one trial day, closing arguments, and the verdict. That cursory presence did not constitute diligent monitoring”.

[10] H.B. Jallow, “Prosecutorial Discretion and International Criminal Justice”, Journal of International Criminal Justice, 2005, pp. 145-161.

Related Materials:

UN Security Council in 2008: “The Dangerous Del Ponte/Hartmann ICTY/ICTR Memoirs Must Be Suppressed, and the Authors Prosecuted!”

ICTR: Stop biasness, Rwanda Tribunal told

Rwanda: Academic Scholars Call for ICTR to Fulfill Mandate and Prosecute RPF/RPA Members

Letter to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Regarding the Prosecution of RPF Crimes

Rwanda: Tribunal Risks Supporting ‘Victor’s Justice’

Rwanda threatens to close cooperation with it's ICTR's activities


Rwanda: law, justice and power

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Museveni's Bashir Arrest Dilemma And the ICC

By Asuman Bisiika
East African
July 27, 2009


Nairobi — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir decision not to come to Kampala to attend the Smart Partnership Conference on July 26 gave Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni a way out of a situation that can only be described as the Devil's Alternative.

He would have been damned if he arrested Bashir, and damned if he didn't.

Despite the African Union's position on his indictment by the International Criminal Court, sensing that not all of its leaders will stand by him all the way, Bashir has limited his travels to countries not party to the Rome State under which the ICC was created.

In all honesty, one has to have the eccentricity of Libya's Muamar Gaddafi or the "international acceptance" of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak to dine with Bashir now.

When Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC's chief prosecutor, came to Kampala and insisted at a news conference at the Uganda Media Centre that Uganda had a legal obligation to arrest President Bashir if he came to Kampala, he might as well have added that it had a moral and historical obligation as well.

Uganda has a special relationship with the ICC because it was the first country to refer a case to the court.

The indictment against Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and the four top leaders of the rebel LRA was the ICC's first case, although Congo rebel leader Thomas Lubanga was the first to be arraigned before the court.

Uganda is the current chair of the UN Security Council and diplomatic etiquette enjoins it to act in a manner consonant with international public opinion -- where "international" means the Western powers. And the West wants Bashir put away.

On the other hand, Libya for example has a sizeable investment portfolio in Uganda and recently Museveni asked Iran to develop an oil refinery in the country.

These are the countries with which Uganda shares membership in the Organisation of Islamic Conference.

Arresting Bashir would have earned Museveni the wrath of the African Union and Muslim World.

Yet even if Museveni only considered his country's interests alone, he would have been reluctant to arrest Bashir.

Sudan is in the midst of implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between Khartoum and the Government of Southern Sudan.

There are fears that a new leader could be reluctant to implement the CPA, leading to the resumption of war in Sudan.

Museveni knows only too well what it would mean for Uganda: Trouble.

This is not the first time the ICC has caused "problems" for Uganda.

The indictment of Joseph Kony -- and the court's refusal to withdraw it --is still blamed for the failure of the Juba peace talks with the LRA rebels.

It was therefore not surprising that on July 13, Museveni told Ocampo that Kony was no longer a problem for Uganda.

Indeed, his ratification of the Rome Statute is something President Museveni may now well be regretting.

Even the legislation to integrate the statute in the legal regime has stalled. Truth to tell, the ICC constrains the government's political leverage in regional affairs.

Indeed, the government was warned about the challenges that would come with taking the Kony case to the ICC.

A source in the Ministry of Justice claiming to have been involved in the invitation of the court told this writer that Lucien Tibaruha, the former solicitor-general, actually advised against it.

Tibaruha feared that an international trial for the LRA's top leadership would expose the Uganda
People's Defence Force soldiers involved in human rights abuses to similar indictments.

The scenario that Tibaruha feared is currently playing out in the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Sierra Leone.

Members of the pro-government militias who committed crimes have also been brought before the tribunal.

Even non-Sierra Leonean players in the conflict like former Liberian president Charles Taylor have been indicted.

Uganda's romance with the ICC started in London, during one of those numerous mediation meetings hosted by Clare Short (former British Secretary of State for International Development) between President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Museveni in the aftermath of the infamous Kisangani clashes.

Adonia Ayebare, then Uganda's ambassador to Rwanda, is said to have bumped into an old acquaintance named Luis Moreno-Ocampo at the meeting.

After exchanging pleasantries, Ocampo told Ayebare about his new posting as the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Ayebare wondered whether Ocampo could do something about a thorn in Uganda's side -- a certain Joseph Kony.

Ocampo, perhaps seeing the trial of Kony as a way to kick off his new posting with a bang, fell for the idea.

That same evening, Ocampo met President Museveni. Without much ado, Museveni announced, while still in London, that he would ask the ICC to try the top leadership of the LRA rebels.

In July 2005, the ICC issued international arrest warrants for Kony, and four of his top deputies.

According to a senior Foreign Ministry official, "After the issuing of the warrants, almost all mainstream political supporters or sympathisers of the rebellion slowed down or became dormant. Even Sudan, which had hitherto been accused of openly supporting the LRA, felt the heat of the international arrest warrants and backed off. In fact, the warrants did more than the military had done in 20 years."

With the reluctance of some world players to recognise it, the ICC has to work hard to justify its existence by successfully trying cases like that of Kony and his followers.

Roping in a sitting president (an African president, for that) would be a great bonus.

Related Materials:
Press Release: ICC Arrest Warrant for Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan

Omar Bashir Indictment: AU has Betrayed Africa

Bashir's Defense Against War Crimes Charges

Bashir's New Best Friends: Museveni and Kagame