Rwanda threatens UN over genocide report

 

RWANDA’S GOVERNMENT has threatened to withdraw its troops from United Nations peacekeeping operations if the UN publishes a report accusing its army of possible acts of genocide in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In a letter sent to UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, Rwanda’s foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo dismisses the 545-page draft report, which was leaked to French newspaper Le Monde last week, as “fatally flawed”. The letter, which is dated August 3rd, was obtained by US journalists on Saturday.

“The report’s allegations – of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – are extremely serious. However, the methodology, sourcing and standard of proof used to arrive at them most certainly are not,” Ms Mushikiwabo’s letter says.

Questioning the quality of evidence compiled by UN investigators, she concludes that: “Attempts to take action on this report – either through its release or leaks to the media – will force us to withdraw from Rwanda’s various commitments to the United Nations, especially in the area of peacekeeping.”

Rwanda contributes thousands of troops to peacekeeping missions around the world, with four battalions totalling approximately 3,500 personnel deployed in the western Sudanese region of Darfur. The 17,000-strong joint UN-African Union mission is also headed by a Rwandan.

Investigators from the office of the UN Commissioner of Human Rights, which compiled the report, say they required two independent sources for each of the 600 incidents documented.

They include accounts of systematic attacks against Hutu women and children between 1996 and 1997 that “could be proven as crimes of genocide” if they were to go before a “competent court”.

Rwanda has always said its forces entered the DRC to pursue the Hutu militias responsible for carrying out the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which left 800,000 people dead. However, the UN report says the apparently systematic nature of the massacres “suggests that the numerous deaths cannot be attributed to the hazards of war or seen as equating to collateral damage”.

“The majority of the victims were children, women, elderly people and the sick, who were often undernourished and posed no threat to the attacking forces.”

The UN report documents abuses committed by all sides during the wider conflict in the DRC, which dragged in armies and rebels from several countries in the years following 1996, when rebels sought to overthrow the country’s long-time dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.