Saturday, August 28, 2010

Democratic Republic of the Congo / Rwanda

UN: Attacks on Hutus in 1990s Could be Genocide
By Michelle Faul
Associated Press dispatch on, August 27, 2010
"A draft U.N. report says the Rwandan army that ended the 1994 slaughter of more than 500,000 people retaliated with barbaric killings in Congo two years later that also could be classified as a genocide. The report also says Rwanda's rebel allies, tied to the current Congolese president, helped kill tens of thousands of Hutus—the majority of whom were women, children, the sick and the elderly. 'Upon entering a locality, they ordered the people to gather together... Once they were assembled, the civilians were bound and killed by blows of hammers or hoes to the head.' The systematic and widespread attacks 'could be classified as crimes of genocide' by a competent court, the draft said. ... The report, whose publication has been delayed for a year, said Hutus in Congo -- both Rwandan refugees and Congolese -- were clearly targeted. Witnesses said the soldiers 'displayed a clear desire for revenge in their massacres of the (Congolese) Hutu Banyarwanda, targeting villages where Tutsis had been persecuted in the past.'
At least 350 civilians were slain in a massacre in eastern Rutshuru town in October 1996, the report said. In the days leading up the massacres, soldiers appealed to people who had fled the area to return home. 'In the afternoon, the soldiers began to compile a register and asked people of Nande ethnic origin to return home. They then separated the men and women ... The women were taken to the Maison de la Poste, where they were executed. The men were bound and led in pairs to a sand quarry ... All of them were then executed with blows of hammers.' 'The numerous deaths cannot be attributed to the hazards of war or seen as equating to collateral damage,' it said. The leaked report notes that Rwanda permitted Hutus to return home in large numbers, but says that does not 'rule out the intention of destroying part of an ethnic group as such and thus committing a crime of genocide.' Kagame's fighters also have been accused of massacring Hutu civilians in Rwanda during fighting to end the genocide -- charges his government strenuously denies. More than 1 million Hutus fled to neighboring Congo in the aftermath of Rwanda's genocide. The refugees included perpetrators of the genocide who used refugee camps as bases to attack Rwandan and Congolese Tutsis in Congo and launch attacks into Rwanda. Jason Stearns, the chief investigator of a UN panel on Congo's arms embargo, said the draft report is the first systematic investigation of atrocities over that period, especially massacres of Hutu refugees. 'I think this report has rocked the Rwandan government ... It's going to be incredibly damaging to Rwanda's international reputation,' said Stearns, who is also writing a book, 'Dancing in the Glory of Monsters,' that covers the 1993-2003 period investigated in the report. The UN secretary general commissioned the report after mass graves were discovered in 2005 and investigators went to Congo in 2008. The identities of alleged perpetrators are being held in a confidential database. [...]"

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