BY: Ambrose Nzeyimana
Young people without official employment across Rwanda are being round up. On 23/08/12, this group was taken into police custody in Rusizi area. A similar exercise was performed this week in Kimicanga area of Kigali – the Rwandan capital. Sources in the country confirm that some of these young people end up forcibly given accelerated military training with the ultimate purpose of sending them in DRC to reinforce M23 contingent of fighters. And this appears unfortunate knowing that recent cuts or delays of aid from donor countries were a consequence to Rwandan support to that Congolese rebel movement.
In a 14 pages long report HRW indicates today that Rwanda is continuing recruiting and actively supporting M23. This is happening despite several requests from the group of countries contributing a significant volume of aid to Kagame’s government asking the later to stop; the latest institution to officially condemn the Rwandan president of his interference in Congolese affairs was the Security Council last month.
HRW explains the probable level of recruitment on the Congolese territory and in Rwanda.
“On June 4, Human Rights Watch reported that between 200 and 300 Rwandans were recruited in Rwanda in April and May and taken across the border to fight alongside M23 forces. Human Rights Watch has since gathered further evidence of forced recruitment in Rwanda in June, July, and August with several hundred more recruited. Based on interviews with witnesses and victims, Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 600 young men and boys have been forcibly or otherwise unlawfully recruited in Rwanda to join the M23, and possibly many more. These recruits outnumber those recruited for the M23 in Congo.”
This information confirms incidents where in recent weeks and different parts of Rwanda young people have been round up by Rwandan security forces on false allegations of improving security. They have been forcibly taken away from their home and villages in Gisenyi, Kigali and Cyangugu.
The report reaffirms as well war crimes committed by M23 for which this rebel movement should be accountable for. HRW highlights some of the fighters’ crimes
“The fighters also raped at least 46 women and girls. The youngest rape victim was eight years old. M23 fighters shot dead a 25-year-old woman who was three months pregnant because she resisted being raped. Two other women died from the wounds inflicted on them when they were raped by M23 fighters.”
In addition, it highlights offenses that Congolese forces are also responsible for and should be judged for.
An interesting analysis was pointed out after some of Rwandan aid partners cut or delayed their installments to the country. The author says that:
“They took action against Paul Kagame because he has been persistently so disruptive for their exploitation of Congolese resources that they needed to tell him to stop. It’s not that they care about the victims of his criminal ventures; far away from that. If they did, it’s long ago that they would’ve decided about his serious crimes. Twenty two years since October 1990 is a long period to gather significant and telling evidence of him.”
Can countries taking decisions at the UN Security Council see more humanity in the ongoing tragedy of the Great Lakes region, by taking appropriate measures against Kagame and Museveni and their inner groups, instead of continuing wasting general public taxpayers’ money through structures such as MONUSCO and UN teams of experts?
To read the whole HRW report, please click http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/09/11/dr-congo-m23-rebels-committing-war-crimes
Submitted by: Jennifer Fierberg, MSW