Who are genocidaires and victims in the Gt. Lakes region?

Museveni and I have disagreed on many issues in Uganda’s political economy discourse. However, we agree fully that to solve a problem we must get to the root cause (Y. K. Museveni 1989). I also agree with the late Samson Kisekka that education and mass media play crucial roles in public debates to take informed decisions (Samson Kisekka undated).

To solve Great Lakes problems in which Uganda is located we must accept that inter-ethnic conflicts are still alive and well. We also have to recognize that Batutsi from time immemorial have conflicted with other groups in Eastern DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. However, addressing the problem is difficult because any mention of Batutsi wrongdoing leads to automatic accusations of inciting genocide against them by those who want the status quo that has favored them since 1994 be not disturbed.

Since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda Batutsi are seen as victims and others as genocidaires (genocidaire is a French word which means those who commit genocide). Genocide means committing any of the following actions with intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group:

1. Killing members of the group;

2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Batutsi have therefore taken advantage of international guilt over the 1994 genocide and subsequent protection against wrongdoing. Where condemnation has taken place it is minimal and has no effect. What is often forgotten in public discourse is that moderate Bahutu were targeted and massacred in the 1994 Rwanda genocide. To level the playing field, it is important to note that Batutsi have also committed genocide against Bahutu inside and outside Rwanda as the following cases from various sources illustrate.

1. “The first recorded case of genocide in the Great Lakes Region of Africa occurred not in Rwanda but in neighboring Burundi, 22 years before the more widely publicized 1994 bloodbath. The scale and targeting of the massacre, not to mention their purposefulness, leaves no doubt about their genocidal character. From May to July anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 Hutu lost their lives at the hands of a predominantly Tutsi army in an orgy of killings triggered by an abortive Hutu insurrection. Though largely forgotten in the West, the events of 1972 remain deeply etched in the collective memory of the Hutu people, not only in Burundi but among the older generations of Hutu in Rwanda” (Samuel Totten et al., 2004)

2. “In the southern and southeastern regions of Butare, Kibungo and parts of Kigali prefectures, the situation was much more drastic. Gersony’s team uncovered shocking evidence of new killings that had occurred in the spring and early summer immediately following the expulsion of former government and militia elements. Butare and Kibungo included vast deserted areas. Ten thousand Tutsi returnees from recent and older times armed with spears and bow and arrows were present. These RPF actions were consistently reported to be conducted in areas where opposition forces of any kind, other than attempts by victims of these actions to escape, were absent. Large scale indiscriminate killings of men, women, and children, including the sick and the elderly, were consistently reported. Particularly random and violent were mass killings at meetings. Local residents, including whole families, were called to community meetings to receive information on security, food distribution, etc., and once a crowd assembled, they were assaulted with sudden sustained gunfire or locked in buildings into which hand grenades were thrown. There were also house –to-house killings, pursuits of hidden populations, and disposals of large numbers of bodies by the RPF. The team estimated that from late April and May through July more than 5,000 and perhaps as many as 10,000 per month might have been killed” ( Sadako Ogata 2005).

3. Inter-ethnic violence in Rwanda led to the January 1995 public debate between Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu and Vice President Paul Kagame but didn’t stop the violence, “which everybody knew about but which the UN remained blind to” (Gerard Prunier 2009). The violence eventually led to the Kibeho camp massacre of April 1995. The minister of the interior briefed the president, prime minister and vice president at a meeting about what happened at Kibeho camp. “Kagame told him [minister of the interior] with a straight face that in his capacity as defense minister he would make sure that things remained under control” (Prunier 2009). But they didn’t and Hutu internally displaced persons at the camp were massacred. An eyewitness reported:

4. “[There were] about 150,000 refugees standing shoulder to shoulder on a mountain plateau the size of three football fields… For the last sixty hours the refugees have been forced to relieve themselves where they stand or where they have fallen. … The two roads winding through the mountains to Kibeho have been closed. Food and water convoys from aid organizations are being stopped and sent back. The government has forbidden all refuge aid…. The first time I witness the consequences of the UN non-intervention policy I fly into a rage…. A group of refugees about six of them, break away from the crowd and start running into the valley. Rwandan troops start firing immediately. We see the refugee fall dead. I scream at Capt. Francis [Zambian officer] ‘Stop them! Do something!’ He answers: ‘We have been ordered to co-operate with the Rwandan authorities, not to shoot at them’. ‘Even if they kill innocent people before our eyes?’ ‘Yes,’ he answers”(Prunier 2009). It is estimated that some 8,000 Hutu men, women and children were targeted and massacred at Kibeho camp in April 1995 (EIR October, 1998).

Two and half years ago I visited Burundi, Rwanda and DRC including Goma and Bukavu in Eastern DRC. Horrendous stories were told in public meetings and private conversations about the massacre of Hutu people – Congolese and Rwandese. There was no distinction between Hutu militia and un-armed Hutu refugees. Indiscriminate shooting of men, women, children, the sick and the elderly took place.

During the summer of 1988, a UN commission investigated reports that Kabila’s Tutsi-led rebel Alliance army had murdered thousands of Hutu militia and their supporters in then Zaire and buried them in mass graves. Many alliance soldiers asserted that their invasion of Zaire had originally been aimed at the Hutu militia. The decision to march on to Kinshasa and unseat Mobutu was made in response to Mobutu’s support to Hutu and persecution of Tutsi in northeastern Zaire (R. B. Edgerton 2002). Mass murder of Hutu refugees in Zaire from 1996 to 1997 was confirmed by the United Nations investigation team (EIR October, 1998).

The UN report on Mapping Exercise in DRC observed inter alia that “At the time of the incidents covered by the report, the Hutu population in Zaire, including refugees from Rwanda, constituted an ethnic group as defined in the aforementioned [Genocide] Convention. Several of the incidents listed suggest that multiple attacks targeted members of the Hutu ethnic group as such, and not only the persons responsible for the genocide committed in 1994 against the Tutsis in Rwanda and that no effort was allegedly made by the AFDL/APR to distinguish between Hutu members of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe and Hutu civilians, whether or not they were refugees.

The intention to destroy a group in part is sufficient to constitute a crime of genocide and the international courts have confirmed that the destruction of a group can be limited to a particular geographical area. According to the relevant jurisprudence, even if only a part of the Hutu population in Zaire was targeted and destroyed, it could nonetheless constitute a crime of genocide if this was the intention of the perpetrators” (United Nations Human Rights August 2010).

Let me end on this note: UDU is committed to finding a solution to Uganda problems. To do so you have to consider Great Lakes challenges which impact directly and indirectly on Uganda. You can’t analyze Great Lakes challenges without examining Tutsi/Hutu conflicts and genocide inflicted on both sides. UDU has tried to level the playing field because since 1994 Hutu people have been disadvantaged by commentators who have painted them as genocidaires including those born after 1994 and Batutsi as victims. Among UDU core functions is civic education based on Truth and Justice for all. Truth-telling is more often than not painful but we have to do it as a first step towards finding lasting solutions in Uganda and the Great Lakes region.

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