For the last couple of months, the Congolese Military has been indiscriminately targeting villages believed to be housing Rwandan refugees, forcing entire populations out of their homes, refugees and Congolese alike and burning the houses to the ground. This is being done under the direct supervision of the UN which lands support to these criminal operations, which has even provided lethal air support in some cases. As the villages are burned down, scores of civilians mainly women, children and the elderly are forced to seek refuge deeper into the jungles, or other areas thought to be safe from FARDC/MONUSCO criminal attacks.
The humanitarian crisis this has created is being willfully ignored by international press, even the local press is hesitant to touch the story, as both MONUSCO and the DRC Government have imposed a total media blackout in an attempt to hide this tragedy from the public at large, but mostly in order to avoid a backlash from the Congolese people, who are now fully aware of how unnecessary the resumption of hostilities against FDLR freedom fighters was ill conceived and serves no purpose whatsoever, considering that a Peace process was underway, when the UN/DRC Government opted for war instead.
This pattern by which the International community through the UN opts for war instead of peace when Rwandan refugees are concerned is not new and it goes way back, even before the destruction of refugee camps in Eastern DRC in 1996. One element most observers seem to bypass as they analyze the events that have plunged the Great Lakes Region in this cycle of endless wars is the fact that, at the height of the Rwandan civil war, there were over a million internally displaced Rwandans in a place called Nyacyonga as a result of razzia war tactics used by the RPF, whereby they indiscriminately butchered entire villages to reduce the hutu population to what they termed a manageable number, as described by former RPF officer, Major Alphonse Furuma when he talks about what the RPF dubbed operation “punguza” which is swahili for”reduce.” After the Arusha peace accords were signed, most of the internally displaced people hoped to return to their homes and properties to live normal lives under a new peaceful dispensation. Their hopes were crashed when the RPF under the leadership of Kagame, opted for a military strategic decapitation strike, in order to seize power by force unopposed by anyone as described by Col Luc Marechal who was second in command to then UN Force Commander, Canadian General Romeo Dallaire. Back then the UN indulged every RPF demand to the last minute even after it was clear that they had just shot down the President aircraft to resume war. What went on back then is not that different from what is happening today.
For more than a year, a peace process by which Rwandan freedom fighters were laying down their weapons for the sake of Peace, had been going on without a hitch except for minor logistical issues, till all of a sudden, under pressure from Washington and Kigali, the Government of DRC and MONUSCO decided to abandon the peace process and launched a war instead, knowing full well that it won’t solve the problem and that it will create a humanitarian disaster as they were warned by some African countries mainly those that belong to SADC. Now as predicted, soldiers and civilians alike are losing their lives and innocent civilians are forced to live on the run as part of a UN supported madness. It is time for SADC to go back to its original plan by demanding an immediate halt to the hostilities and insisting that the Rwandan government agrees to engage in Peace negotiations with its opposition because it is clear that war is not the answer, instead it is only serving the interest of those who are trying to reduce Africa to a chaotic place where our people’s lives matter less than those of exotic animals that the world leaders seem prepared to move heaven and earth to protect.
Louise MUKASINE Duterimbere media