Yesterday’s issues of The New Times lead with the rather sober headline, ‘Rwandan students evacuated from DRC, cite targeted attacks’. I say ‘sober’ because the contents of the news article were dynamite. According to the writer, 62 Rwandans, the majority of whom were students at Goma University and medical interns, fled because of “anti-Rwandan sentiments”. To them I say, welcome back home, but to the international community I say, shame on you.
What should they be ashamed about? A lot of things. They should be ashamed for peddling the lies found in the dastardly UN Group of Experts Report, which claimed to have irrefutable evidence that Rwanda was supporting the M23 rebels. Evidence that has never been brought to the public arena for proper verification. They should be ashamed of refusing to reform the MONUSCO behemoth, despite the fact that they aren’t doing a single thing of note in the Congo, despite its size and financial support. And shame on the international community for NOT playing a more positive role in the South and North Kivu peace process.
Because of the all the failures, we are seeing a dangerous situation in North Kivu becoming genocidal in nature at its most extreme, and xenophobic at its least. I use the word ‘genocidal’ with a lot of trepidation because it is sure to raise hackles both in this country and around the world. But let’s look at the evidence.
Reuters news agency reported on Monday that: “several hundred residents took to the streets on Monday to protest against the rebels and some went to the regional army headquarters to demand arms and training to fight. Local shops and markets closed. Anti-Tutsi mobs roamed the streets, demanding arms, while police had to escort some Rwandan students across the border”
The New Times reported yesterday that: “Most of those (Rwandans) who returned home said that sections of Congolese civil society in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, had waged a persecution campaign against Rwandans. “Mobs of Congolese, including motorcyclists, are calling on the ordinary people to target Rwandans, claiming Rwanda is backing the rebels,” said Justin Nsengiyumva, a returning student.
This newest development follows what occurred on the 20th of June. This publication revealed that 11 Rwandan nationals were handed over to local Immigration authorities in Rubavu district after being tortured by armed forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They bore grave bruises as a result of severe physical torture and said they were arrested and denied food for several days.
As one can see, there is a pattern developing here. The more successful the M23 get, the deadlier it becomes to be a Rwanda-phone in the region. This reminds me of two things. First of all, it reminds me of the kind of genocidal frenzy that occurred in 1994 as the Rwanda Patriotic Army advanced both southwards and westwards.
Secondly, this all reminds me of televised scenes in Kinshasa in 1998. I remember seeing a man, who the French news reporter breathlessly called a Tutsi, thrown off a bridge, into the crocodile infested waters of the Congo River. The drowning man was then shot at with AK-47’s. Here was what James Rupert, a Washington Post journalist, said in a 10 February report. “Mobs of residents lynched or arrested local Tutsis, their families and anyone suspected of rebel sympathies. Diplomats and officials with human rights groups have said hundreds of local residents may have been killed in such attacks, and virtually all other Tutsis fled.”
I believe that this ethnic cleansing is about to occur under the noses of the international community, who instead of warning about this ugliness, are getting themselves into a lather over the M23’s advance and the Congolese Army’s helter-skelter retreat. Yesterday, Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch tweeted this: “UN Mission has received UNCOMFIRMED reports of rights abuses where Rwanda-supported rebels operate”. The so-called human rights advocate refused to inform his 19,164 Twitter followers that there are CONFIRMED reports of torture, starvation and threats to the lives of innocent civilians of Rwandan-origin.
And it’s not only Mr. Roth who is ignoring the obvious. Almost every single international organisation is guilty of looking the other way as well simply because it doesn’t fit into their prevailing narrative. Are we on the cusp of something truly horrendous? Looking at past experience, I would have to say that we are. I just hope that I am wrong.