Hutu refugees in the DRC deserve protection by international humanitarian law.

Washington, November 19, 2018

His Excellency UN Secretary General,
Excellences SADC countries’ representatives,

Hutu refugees in the DRC deserve protection by international
humanitarian law.

The opposition political platform composed Amahoro PC, FDU-Inkingi, PDP
Imanzi, PS Imberakuri and RNC, is petrified by the lack of humanity
MONUSCO, an UN agency allegedly paid billions to bring peace to the
Great Lakes region, in its conduct towards starving Hutu refugees most
of whom are children and women and the elderly. These refugees fled into
the compound of MONUSCO when Congolese armed forces raided their camp of
Kanyabayonga in the morning of the 16th November 2018. They found no
humanity with MONUSCO. Unable to push them out of the compound, MONUSCO
put a fence around them. They now sleep in open air under the tropical
rain while the Congolese armed forces are under shelter in the refugee
camp where they have ransacked the refugees’ property in preparation to
pick them from MONUSCO. For the last two days, they are under the rain
with no food or drinking water. We have learnt that the most vulnerable
has started to faint.

The overall aim is to force them to return to Rwanda. We would like to
recall that these refugees consist of ex- FDLR fighters who laid down
their arms and their families, under an agreement reached between them,
SADC, MONUSCO and the DRC government. The term of the agreement
stipulated that there would be negotiations between the Rwandan
government and refugees, overseen by SADC. The refugees would be given a
choice between a peaceful and orderly return to Rwanda and a relocation
to a third country. The Rwandan government did not want to be a party to
such an agreement and instead MONUSCO and the RDC government seem to
have agreed to hand them.

We have learnt that around 2013 refugees who were hunted down, rounded
up by the Congolese armed forces and detained in Lisala prison in former
Equateur province, were handed over to the Rwandan repressive regime on
November 17, 2018.

This is again another sign of lack of humanity by the UN institutions
towards the Rwandan people: In 1994, the UN pulled out its troops from
Rwanda instead of protecting the Tutsi who were being killed; the UN
troops looked on when internally displaced people of Kibeho were being
killed by the Rwandan army; in 1996, the UN looked on when the UN
protected Hutu refugees’ camps were being destroyed and refugees were
hunted down in the tropical forests of the Congo, an estimated 200,000
were slaughtered by the Rwandan army. These refugees being pushed back
are families that escaped this slaughter in 1996.

It defeats all sense of humanity, if proven true, to see MONUSCO fencing
off starving children, women and the elderly, impatiently waiting to be
herded and handed over to the army regime that they escaped from.
This cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment prohibited by article 5 of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “no one shall be
subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment”; article 3 of the European Convention on human rights,
states in the same way, as torture is prohibited by the Conventions
International. Such acts also constitute a violation of international
human rights law and international humanitarian law i.e. “deliberate
starvation as a means of achieving political goals” and the violation of
the UN Convention relating to the status of refugees that prohibits
forceful return of refugees to countries of origin.

We appeal to the UN, SADC and the DRC government, signatory to the
agreement to stop this inhumanity. We appeal to the international
Committee of the Red Cross to intervene and assist the starving
refugees. We call on all peace-loving people and organisations condemn
this uncivilised behaviour. We call on all African government and human
rights organisations to use their influence to end this unhuman and
degrading treatment of these refugees.

We would like to reiterate that only dialogue between the government of
Rwanda and the opposition can bring durable peace and security in Rwanda
and the Great Lakes Region. Quick fixes of shutting down the opposition
or forced repatriation are a poor option.

Yours sincerely

Jerome Nayigiziki,
Current Chairman of P5 Platform.

contact: [email protected]

–    African Union
–    Members of the security Council
–    International committee of the red cross
–    Amnesty International
–    Human Rights Watch