by Ann Garrison
KPFA Weekend News reported Sept. 5 on the leaked report by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) documenting human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1993 to 2003, including the Rwandan Patriotic Army’s massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese Hutus in Congo. KPFA also reported on Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s threat to withdraw Rwandan “peacekeepers” from Darfur and Haiti if that documentation is included in the official version of the report, whose release has now been postponed until Oct. 1 to give governments whose armies are implicated, most of all those of Rwanda and Uganda, time to respond.
Umuseso and Newsline EA Editor Didas Gasana, who fled from Rwanda to Uganda after Umuseso was banned and he was handed a prison sentence earlier this year, told KPFA that Kagame cannot withdraw the “peacekeepers,” whom Gasana calls mercenaries serving as U.S. proxies, because they are his greatest income source.
Gasana said he had investigated Kagame’s mercenary profits and found that the U.N. pays each mercenary $1,100 USD, channeled through the African Union, but that Kagame had managed to convince the African Union that their salaries should be given to the Rwandan government, which gives the soldiers $400 USD.
He also said that payments for fallen peacekeepers’ families, $100,000 USD, don’t get to them for the most part, that the last time he had talked to a Rwandan Defence Force contact, only seven out of 27 dead peacekeepers’ families had received compensation.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon flew to Rwanda to meet with Rwandan President Paul Kagame this week, days after his inauguration, and was reported to be pleading with him not to withdraw Rwandan soldiers.
Many wonder why Ban Ki-moon seems so determined to keep Rwanda’s soldiers serving as peacekeepers, especially after the leaked OHCHR report has so severely damaged their credibility as such.
KPFA News, Sept. 5, 2010, broadcast and transcript
KPFA Weekend News Host David Landau: The conventional narrative about the recent history of East Central Africa was turned on its head on Aug. 26, when the French newspaper Le Monde reported the leak of a draft 545-page U.N. report documenting and mapping human rights abuses in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo between 1993 and 2003, including systematic massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese Hutus. The report says that its findings could become the basis for genocide charges in an international criminal court, and it is so explosive that the U.N. has since delayed its official publication until Oct. 1.
The leaked version accuses the Rwandan Patriotic Army of Rwandan President and General Paul Kagame of the massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese Hutus, from Congo’s far eastern to far western borders, in what some are already calling “the Congo Genocide.”
Kagame has long been credited with ending the horrific violence known as the Rwanda Genocide against Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994, but his actual role is so fiercely disputed that French and Spanish courts and a civil lawsuit filed in Oklahoma City all charge him and his top officers with ordering the political assassinations triggering the Rwanda Genocide and with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has the story.
Ann Garrison: News of the leaked report and excerpts were rapidly published and broadcast in major outlets around the world. Kagame was also reported to be threatening to pull Rwandan peacekeepers out of U.N. missions in both Darfur and Haiti if the final, official version of the report includes the same report of systematic massacres of Rwandan and Congolese Hutus.
However, veteran Africa journalist and war correspondent Keith Harmon Snow says that both Darfur and Haiti would be better off if the Rwandans went home:
Keith Harmon Snow: Rwandan troops in Darfur, especially in Darfur, but also in Uganda, Somalia and Haiti are not peacekeepers; they’re combatants. And both places would be better off. They’re serving U.S. interests. They’re involved in covert operations. They’re involved in massacres.
This is an army that has an M.O., a modus operandi, of absolute brutality, beginning with its invasion of Rwanda in 1990 and through the four years of the Rwandan War from 1990 to 1994 and then, of course, in the invasion of Congo from ‘96 to ‘98, which the recent U.N. report is about, and since then in the Congo as well as in Rwanda. Absolute brutality, massacres, disappearance, beheading, mutilations of women and rape of women all over the Congo, all over Rwanda. This sort of stuff is what these forces have been trained to do and what they’ve done.
We don’t know what they’re doing in Darfur because the information is not being released to us. We get information about them being peacekeepers. Nobody’s reporting what’s really happening on the ground. The entire propaganda system creates the story that these people who perpetrated violence in Darfur are the Arab militias backed by the government of Sudan. Well, that’s an imperialist propaganda message and the real truth is quite different, just as the real truth about Congo is quite different, and we’ve never gotten that until this report has recently come out.
Ann Garrison: Didas Gasana, Umuseso and Newsline editor, who fled Rwanda for Uganda after Umuseso was banned and he was sentenced to prison earlier this year, agrees that Rwanda’s so-called peacekeepers are really imperial mercenaries and says that Kagame can’t recall them because they’re his biggest source of revenue.
For KPFA Radio, I’m Ann Garrison.
San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Digital Journal, Examiner.com, OpEdNews, Global Research, Colored Opinions and her blog, Plutocracy Now. She can be reached at email@example.com.