Kigali , 27 July 2012
It’s only the current Rwandan leadership that is denying the overwhelming evidence of its new military involvement in the DRC atrocities while the international community including United Nations, USA, EU, UK, South Africa, African Union, etc … is calling for an immediate end to this humanitarian disaster. The growing pressure from international and bilateral donors will bear fruits if it is reinforced through a more candid and demanding stand on key issues of justice, accountability, human rights, regional stability, opening of political space and freedom of expression. It’s not the first time the same leadership has been warmongering in the DRC. The longer and wider those atrocities continue, the higher will be the cost for Rwandan citizens in short and long terms. Cutting the budget support is not enough, a domestic political space is urgent.
The findings of the Group of Experts of the UN Security Council’s Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Sanctions Committee revealed (26 June 2012) the Rwandan government has violated the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) national sovereignty and breached international sanctions by providing soldiers, weapons, ammunition and financial support to M23 rebels. This came almost 2 years after another damning UN report (1st October 2010), “DRC: Mapping human rights violations 1993-2003”. According to the UNHCHR statement “The mapping team’s 550-page report contains descriptions of 617 alleged violent incidents occurring in the DRC between March 1993 and June 2003. Each of these incidents points to the possible commission of gross violations of human rights and/or international humanitarian law…”
The government of Rwanda has always denied the allegations and threatened to withdraw its peacekeepers from Darfur (Sudan) if there was any step to bring them to book.
We welcome the pressure by the key donors of Rwanda i.e. United States of America, UK, EU, The Netherlands, Sweden to hold or re-schedule military aid or direct budget support and to consider other steps. Warnings about war crimes investigations need to materialise into visible actions by members of the UN Security Council and EU.
We took note of the latest statement by the Rwandan government today claiming that together with members of the UN group of experts, they have reviewed the addendum. The Foreign affairs Minister said: “We have just concluded discussions with the Group of Experts and comprehensively rebutted every one of the allegations with conclusive documentary evidence.(…) Our people cannot afford this kind of distraction.”
All the time Rwanda has been militarily involved in endless wars in the DRC, the population has never been consulted either through a referendum or parliament. Still it will bear for years the consequences.
Every time dissenting voices inside and outside the country have been quashed. There is no political space, no freedom of expression. Justice is used by the ruling regime to maintain political opponents in prison.
We welcome the visit by officials of the US Embassy to the Kigali maximum prison and the discussions today by a delegation of the outgoing Dutch Ambassador Frans Makken with political prisoner Madame Victoire Ingabire in her cell.
The Dutch government has been generously funding the judiciary in Rwanda but did not carry on adequate follow up. There are hundreds of prisoners kept in the prison for years after they have finished their jail terms or found not guilty. For example, Mr. Faruku Djafari (from sector Kagarama, Kicukiro) is still in Kigali central prison after he was found not guilty by a Gacaca court 5 years ago on 24 October 2007 (Gacaca court, Kagarama sector, Kicukiro, Inteko “A”) chaired by Madame Bernadette Mukabaramba. Up to date he has neither received the ruling, nor any appeal information.The prison administration has been just caring of and stamping his letters (20 Nov 2007; 23 June 2009 and 13 June 2012) to different judicial administrations with no response.
On 23 July 2012, the Parti Social Imberakuri informed that its member Mr. Donatien Mukeshimana arrested two years earlier and sentenced to two years in prison was not released yet.
Priority is freedom and democracy not budget aid.