By Guyson Nanagayi – Geneva – AFP- The UN on Friday published a hotly-contested report detailing massacres by foreign armies and rebels saying acts of genocide may have been committed in the DR Congo.
Although the report was published, Rwanda, whose troops are at the center of the most serious accusations, said it categorically rejected the report after it failed to have it suppressed.”The government of Rwanda categorically rejects this report,” said a statement.
“The desire to validate the double genocide theory is consistently present throughout The Draft Mapping Report by mirror imaging’ the actors, ideology, and methods employed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.”
The accusations of genocide are particularly contested by Kigali as its government has based much of its legitimacy on being the force that stopped the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who had earlier dismissed the report’s claims as “absurd”, was at the vanguard of the Rwandan force which drove the Hutu militias behind the 1994 genocide in his homeland across the border into eastern DR Congo.
Uganda has warned that a United Nations report implicating it in war crimes in Dr Congo jeopardised its commitment to regional peace missions, according to a letter obtained by AFP on Thursday.
However, the government of Burundi, whose troops were also accused of abuses, said the report was aimed at “destabilizing the entire region”.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government said it was “appalled” by the details in the report and demanded justice for the victims.
“While it neither aims to establish individual responsibility, nor lay blame, the report – in full candour – reproduces the often shocking accounts by victims and witnesses of the tragedies they experienced,” Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said in the preface to the report.
“The report is intended as a first step towards the sometimes painful nonetheless essential process of truth-telling after violent conflict,” she added.
The report, reworded in parts after a leak, said the “apparent systematic and widespread attacks… reveal a number of inculpatory elements that, if proven before a competent court, could be characterised as crimes of genocide”, pointing in particular to attacks by Rwandan troops during 1996-1997.
“It was not a question of people killed unintentionally in the course of combat, but people targeted primarily by AFDL (Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo)/APR (Rwandan Army)/FAB (Burundi army) and executed in their hundreds,” it added.
The report’s language was, however, less assertive than in an earlier leaked draft compiled by a team of investigators since 2008.
Words like “allegedly” or “apparently” have been inserted into the final version of descriptions of violations, as well as references to the involvement of the Ugandan, Rwandan and Burundi armies during the 1996-1998 first Congo war.
The report also included several more paragraphs explaining the difficulties of proving genocide in court.
As a result, it said, a full judicial inquiry is necessary to “shed light on” serious crimes committed during the 1996-1997 period.
“Only such an investigation and judicial determination would be in a position to resolve whether these incidents amount to the crime of genocide,” it added.
In a statement at the UN headquarters in New York, the Congolese government’s ambassador called for justice.
“The victims deserve justice and they deserve that their voices are heard by my government and by the international community,” Ileka Atoki said in his statement which proposed possible mixed international-DR Congo courts to try the perpetrators.
The report is based on data collected by UN investigators from July 2008 to June 2009 and documents violations between 1993 and 2003.
“What’s most important is that this report becomes the beginning of an accountability process. This region has faced innumerable human rights violations, many of which have gone without any accountability for an extended period of time,” said Peter Splinter from Amnesty International.
Although Rwanda has pulled back from an earlier threat to pull its troops out of peacekeeping forces in Sudan over the report, Uganda – the mainstay of a peacekeeping force in Somalia – has threatened to review its deployment.
Uganda leads an African Union force in Somalia where it has some 4 300 men and much smaller numbers of military and police personnel in south Sudan, Darfur, Ivory Coast and East Timor.
In a statement, organisers condemned the report and expressed their “concern for consequences of this report for Rwanda and the Great Lakes region”. In Geneva, the Rwandan diaspora in Switzerland held a demonstration to protest the publication of the report.