The Rwandan opposition platform composed of Amahoro PC, FDU-Inkingi, PS Imberakuri and the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) condemns in the strongest terms possible armed attacks against refugees’ camps and forced repatriation to Rwanda. The handover was in total violation of international humanitarian law and could be construed as human trafficking between two governments.
While senior military and civil authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwandan authorities have been celebrating the killing of key military leaders of the Rwandan rebel groups, the silence of the UN and the international community in general over the plight of Rwandan refugees affected by the military offensives has been shocking. It is morally revolting to learn that the soldiers carrying offensives on refugees not only include Rwandan special forces wearing the uniform of the Congolese army but also former members of the murderous M23 who have been absolved of their war crimes, crimes against humanity by a presidential order. Reliable information points out that they were trained in Rwanda and their reinsertion in the regular army negotiated by Rwanda. It is also alleged that the local militia mix up with the Rwanda forces to attack Rwandan refugees.
In the latest offensive in South Kivu the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo shipped to Rwanda close to 2000 refugees, most of whom were children. They were forcefully shipped to Rwanda, in the absence of UNHCR or any other independent body or press. It is alleged it included 71 combatants and their families. On December 18, 2019, the ICRC, a renown humanitarian organization through its health delegate revealed that “ the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced, on 8 December, that they had captured a group of over 1,800 people in the Kalehe highlands” and added “There are many particularly vulnerable people among them, including wounded and sick, pregnant women, unaccompanied children and people with disabilities….. The humanitarian situation at Nyamunyunyi military camp is extremely worrying: 17 people, including nine children, have died there. On 16 December, 302 people were transferred out of the camp, but more than 1,400 remain…”.
These refugees have been placed in a temporary camp in Nyarushishi. We have learnt from reliable sources that children between the ages of 12-15 have been taken away by the Rwandan security services to unknown destination. We fear they could be trained as child soldiers to be sent as cannon fodder in the Eastern Congo where the Rwandan regime is consolidating its military presence with the compliment of President Tshisekedi government.
As if this unlawful act was not enough, Rwanda very senior officials including the mastermind of the slaughter of Rwandan Hutu refugees in 1996-1998, General James Kabarebe and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Vincent Biruta, have revealed that similar operations were going to take place in North Kivu where there are more Rwandan refugees.
We would like to recall that these refugees are the survivors of the massacres led by General Kabarebe in 1996 when the Rwandan army attacked Rwandan refugee camps and pursued them across the equatorial forest during the two invasions of the former Zaire and newly born the Democratic Republic of Congo. General Kabarebe has vowed to complete the unfinished job. We remind that those massacres against Hutu refugees have been documented in the DRC Mapping exercice Report which pointed out that they could be qualified genocide before a competent court.
Everyone is quite aware that the threat from refugees and rebels is a mere pretext for the Rwandan regime to consolidate a Rwandan military presence in the east of the DRC where it derives strategic economic dividends to pay off supporters inside and outside Rwanda and highly expensive public relations firms. In addition, it’s an occasion to take seriously multiples calls from different representatives of the Democratic Republic of Congo against the balkanisation of their country in particular and the insecurity in the region in general.
The opposition platform warns the international community over the impending evil plan to attack refugee camps in North Kivu and appeals to all peace-loving people and friends of Rwandans to help stop it.
The opposition platform calls on the international community to demand that the Kigali regime negotiate with its political and military opposition in order to find lasting solutions to the refugee and security problems in the region. This is being done in other countries in the region. It is time that it also be done in Rwanda, which has been the epicenter of regional security problems for almost a quarter of a century.
Done in Brussels January 17, 2020.
Chair P5 Diplomacy Commission