FDLR offer to disarm, demobilize, join political process

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    by Ann Garrison

    On Oct. 7, 2014, CBS aired a five-minute news piece titled “Militia accused of Rwanda genocide facing onslaught,” produced with the aid of the ENOUGH Project to End Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, a non-profit corporation sheltering under the umbrella of the Center for American Progress, the Democratic Party’s corporate funded think tank and organizing operation. The Enough Project was founded by career intelligence professional John Prendergast, who now identifies as a human rights activist, and Gayle Smith, who now serves as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the National Security Council.

    This is one group among the hundreds of thousands of Rwandan refugees still in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, in October 2014. The FDLR militia say they are armed to protect the refugees, including their own families. Rwandan refugees have been massacred by the Rwandan army when it crossed the border into eastern Congo.
    This is one group among the hundreds of thousands of Rwandan refugees still in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, in October 2014. The FDLR militia say they are armed to protect the refugees, including their own families. Rwandan refugees have been massacred by the Rwandan army when it crossed the border into eastern Congo.

    Prendergast, Smith, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power and U.N. National Security Adviser Susan Rice are the best known proponents of a doctrine known as “Mass Atrocity Prevention,” meaning U.S. obligation to undertake humanitarian military interventions. The Rwandan Genocide and the Holocaust are centerpieces of this military doctrine.

    In Presidential Study Directive 10, which created the inter-agency Mass Atrocities Review Board, President Obama wrote, “Sixty-six years since the Holocaust and 17 years after Rwanda, the United States still lacks a comprehensive policy framework and a corresponding interagency mechanism for preventing and responding to mass atrocities and genocide.”

    It’s therefore not surprising that the ENOUGH Project would collaborate with CBS to promote a military “onslaught” against the “militia accused of Rwanda Genocide” without reference to any of the well documented books and reportage that have upended the widely held belief about who was killed and who was responsible for the massacres that came to be known as the Rwandan Genocide. These include “Surviving the Slaughter,” “Dying to Live: A Rwandan Family’s Five Year Flight Across the Congo,” “Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa,” “Accidental Genocide,” “Rwanda 1994: The Myth of the Akuza Genocide Conspiracy and Its Consequences,” “Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System, 20 Years Later” and the recent BBC documentary “Rwanda’s Untold Story.”

    The CBS report quoted U.N. official Abdallah Wafy, who said: “The FDLR are here living with their wives and children. Maybe we need the Marines or special forces with special equipment to engage and neutralize them. I’m not quite sure with our blue helmet and the blue flag [of the U.N.] we can neutralize them.” U.S. Special Forces are the preferred agents of Mass Atrocities Prevention interventions, as outlined in the “Mass Atrocities Prevention Military Handbook,” produced by the Harvard Kennedy School and the Pentagon.

    So, with U.S. Marines and/or Special Forces this close to engaging in a military “onslaught” in the heart of Africa, I decided to see what I could learn about its target, the FDLR militia. The most obvious way to start was to find out how the FDLR explain themselves, so I made inquiries until someone sent me the FDLR’s statement about their readiness to disarm and demobilize on Dec. 28 and their founding document, the Nasho Declaration, both of which follow here.

    I was told that FDLR leadership held a meeting in Lubumbashi, DR Congo, and produced the Nasho Declaration, which they then read on local radios and in front of media in the year 2000, though the written statement was not published until April 6, 2001, on the seventh anniversary of the assassination of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira.

    The FDLR released the statement of their intent to disarm and demobilize earlier this week. – Ann Garrison

    FDLR invitation to witness an event of laying down its weapons: Second contingent on Dec. 28, 2014

    Addressed to:

    His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations (UN)

    Her Excellency Madame Sylvie Lucas, Chairperson of the UN Security Council

    His Excellency Mr. Donald Tusk, Chairperson of the European Union Council

    His Excellency Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, Chairperson of the European Union Commission

    His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Ould Abdel Azziz, President of the Republic of Mauritania and current Chairperson of the African Union (AU)

    His Excellency Mr. François Hollande, President of the Republic of France

    Her Excellency Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission

    His Excellency Mr. Robert Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Chairperson of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)

    His Excellency Mr. José Eduardo dos Santos, President of the Republic of Angola and Chairperson of International Conference for the African Great Lakes Region

    His Excellency Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya and Chairperson of the East African Community

    His Excellency Mr. Joseph Kabila Kabange, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

    His Excellency Mr. Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa

    His Excellency Mr. Jakaya M. Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania

    His Excellency Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation

    His Excellency Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America

    His Excellency Mr. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China

    His Excellency Mr. David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    Excellencies,

    The present letter is an open invitation, particularly addressed to Your Excellencies, to the international community and the media in general, to come and witness the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR)’s event of laying down weapons and committing its ex-combatants together with their respective dependents as a new contingent to be cantoned at both Kanyabayonga and Walungu sites, while awaiting to be moved to Kisangani Transit Camp.

    The present letter is an open invitation, particularly addressed to Your Excellencies, to the international community and the media in general, to come and witness the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR)’s event of laying down weapons.

    Excellencies,

    Actually, as a matter of fact, the event in question is scheduled on Dec. 28, 2014, in Buleusa in North Kivu and in Kalala in South Kivu, as FDLR would like once more to explicitly manifest to the whole international community both its heartfelt and genuine commitment and determination to materialize the non-armed political struggle, as unilaterally embarked on since Dec. 30, 2013, until all current Rwandan refugees are voluntary repatriated back to Rwanda, their motherland, through an inter-Rwandan political dialogue, highly inclusive, between the current Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF)-Kagame regime and FDLR Rwandan political opposition.

    Excellencies,

    Please be kindly advised of the following:

    We, the FDLR, have stated our commitment to disarm and continue our struggle through political means and have requested the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU), the South African Development Community (SADC), the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and all African heads of states, more particularly His Excellency Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), His Excellency Eduardo Dos Santos, President of Angola, His Excellency Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, His Excellency Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, and His Excellency Jakaya M. Kikwete, President of Tanzania, to understand, to assist, to support and to go along with us, the FDLR, to the implementation of our commitment to this noble and sustainable peace process initiative.

    Faithful to our commitment, we the FDLR have taken actions and concrete steps towards advancing this peaceful process, particularly since May 30, 2014. Despite our renewed sincerity and goodwill, the FDLR regrettably note that our offer seems neither to have received a favorable echo nor to have been appreciated, given various recorded difficulties. Among these difficulties, one may mention: the entertained confusion by some actors and stakeholders between the FDLR’s peace commitment and the MONUSCO Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Reinsertion, and Reintegration (DDRRR) program, on the one hand, and the lack of international pressure on current RPF regime to open a free and secure political space in Rwanda, and engage in political dialogue with all current Rwandan political opposition including the FDLR on the other hand. Following these concerns, the FDLR deem appropriate to emphasize on their peace initiative for better understanding on which depends its successful completion.

    There are more than 200,000 Rwandan refugees that have been miraculously surviving within the dense forests of the DRC, as they have been abandoned by the international community and United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to their own fate for more than two decades now and along with other Rwandan refugees scattered around the world. They have one desire: to return back to Rwanda, their homeland, through a negotiated political settlement, instead of being resettled in third countries. The desired political dialogue and voluntary repatriation are anticipated to lead to the definitive restoration of peace, stability and prosperity within the countries of the Great Lakes Region in general and in Rwanda, our motherland, in particular.

    More than 200,000 Rwandan refugees have been miraculously surviving within the dense forests of the DRC, as they have been abandoned by the international community and United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to their own fate for more than two decades now.

    According to the roadmap to FDLR unilateral and voluntary disarmament and cantonment, from April 1 to May 30, 2014, the preparation for cantonment of the combatants at Katigu in North Kivu was conducted. Prior to this preparation, the FDLR have sent an invitation to the international community to witness the voluntary disarming and handing weapons over to SADC on April 18, 2014. The preparation was witnessed by Feller Lutaichilwa, Premier of North Kivu Province; Mark Power, UK Representative; Thomas Lynch, from the UN Secretary-General Special Envoy in the Great Lakes Region’s Office; Jane Alison Porter from the European Union; Colonel Temporel, French Military Attaché; Anton Jongennel, Chief of Political Bureau, US Embassy; Lt. Colonel Mandjani Omari, SADC Representative.

    The first contingent of FDLR fighters surrenders in DR Congo on May 30, 2014. – Photo: Jean-Baptiste Badhera, AFP
    The first contingent of FDLR fighters surrenders in DR Congo on May 30, 2014. – Photo: Jean-Baptiste Badhera, AFP

    The ceremony was conducted by Major General Victor Byiringiro, FDLR’s Acting President. In their speeches, the imminent personalities representing the international community promised to promote the FDLR’s noble cause. However, the United Nations’ support has been brilliantly lacking in various aspects.

    On June 9, 2014: Ceremony of the first contingent to Kigogo, South Kivu, in the presence of the international community and local and international media; 83 fighters laid down their weapons, and with their 234 dependents, they were moved to Walungu;

    On June 28, 2014: Only 128 of the 500 dependents who had been waiting since June 25 have been taken and sent to Kanyabayonga cantonment site in North Kivu. To that number, 94 additional dependents arrived at Kanyabayonga on their own.

    Between Aug. 1 and 2, 2014, FDLR’s combatants, candidates for the second contingent in North Kivu, had to return back to their initial dwelling places, as not only there had been no official from the MONUSCO or from the DRC authorities to take care of them, but also there was not enough physical space to accommodate and host them within Kanyabayonga site. It should be noted that it has been allegedly reported to be overcrowded.

    From Nov. 27, 2014, some FDLR combatants along with their families were relocated at the Kisangani Transit Centre. In our memorandum dated Nov. 4, 2014, we have expressed our deep concern that the Kisangani Transit Centre cannot accommodate all FDLR’s combatants and their respective dependents. Not only its expansion is urgently needed but also reliable provision of basic needs (among others, daily hygiene needs and care, water and sanitation, enough food, clothing, adequate shelter, medical care and education for school-age children) should be unconditionally supplied during the duration of the transitional period. Unfortunately, these very basic needs have been critically lacking so far.

    Excellencies,

    While we convey to you FDLR’s best wishes for the current festive season, we would love to humbly take the liberty to reassure you once more, that we, the FDLR, are more than ever determined to go through with the present peace process, and hope that for the present time, our voice will be heard, understood, supported and receive the attention it deserves, so that Rwandan peoples as a nation in general, and current Rwandan refugees in DRC in particular, who have been longing to voluntary repatriate to their cherished motherland, are not disappointed once again.

    We, the FDLR, are more than ever determined to go through with the present peace process, and hope that for the present time, our voice will be heard, understood, supported and receive the attention it deserves, so that Rwandan peoples as a nation in general, and current Rwandan refugees in DRC in particular, who have been longing to voluntary repatriate to their cherished motherland, are not disappointed once again.

    We, the FDLR, are convinced that what has been possible elsewhere in Africa, such as in South Africa, in Burundi, in Sudan, in DRC, in Mozambique etc., meaning peaceful conflict resolution through political means, is also possible for Rwandans, more precisely for Rwanda under Kagame’s RPF regime. It is a matter of political will. For this purpose, it is time for the international community to take responsibility and seriously supportive action and put an end to its current approach and behavior of double standards.

    Peace to all of us.

    Statement by Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda – FDLR (Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda, Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda)

    Translated from French

    The Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) take this opportunity of the commemoration of the inter-ethnic massacres in Rwanda to present their sincere condolences to the Rwandan people. The condolences and mutual solidarity are especially expressed to the families of the victims of this unprecedented human tragedy.

    The FDLR take this opportunity to make a strong call for justice, an end to impunity in Rwanda, and a state of law with democratically elected institutions. The FDLR condemn all criminals and culprits regardless of their ethnic background or political affiliation.

    – Considering that security and reconciliation among all elements of Rwandan society cannot be guaranteed without peace and justice,

    – Considering that the international community and media continue to promote the interests of the conqueror, at the detriment of the conquered, by supporting the current dictatorial and bloodthirsty regime in Rwanda,

    – Considering the ever increasing number of refugees and innocent people detained in Rwanda prisons,

    – Given that any person opposed to the current regime in Kigali is falsely accused of being Interahamwe or genocidaire and that the accusation demeans, discriminates and destroys the human dignity of those accused,

    – Considering that in Rwanda dictatorship replaced democracy,

    – Given the continued hegemonic invasion of the region by the regime in Kigali,

    – Profoundly saddened by the daily persecution of Rwandan people,

    The Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) consider that the Rwandan people cannot remain passive spectators of the destruction of their country and the relentless extermination of the population at the whim and megalomania of Gen. Paul Kagame. They call the attention of the international community to the extreme plight of the Rwandan people.

    The international community must acknowledge the right for the Rwandan people to liberate themselves using all available means. The FDLR are prepared to face the challenge of liberating Rwanda and to free their fellow citizens nowadays reduced to slavery by a clique of professional killers and corrupt thugs who form the inner circle of Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)-Inkotanyi led by Paul Kagame.

    The international community must acknowledge the right for the Rwandan people to liberate themselves using all available means.

    The FDLR asks Mr. Paul Kagame to abandon the logic of war, to stop using genocide as a commercial fund, and to finally engage on the path of a comprehensive inter-Rwandan dialogue.

    The Rwandan people are fed up.

    Ten years and five months ago to the day, Rwanda and its people sank into extreme poverty, injustice, and an unjustified and deadly war. The war was launched on Oct. 1, 1990, by the coalition of NRA/FPR-Inkotanyi with the support of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda. The time bomb that was launched from the northeastern Rwandan border decimated everyone in its path from embryos to elderly people who resisted the invasion by a clique of cynical individuals seeking power at all costs.

    Logo of the FDLR
    Logo of the FDLR

    The tragic situation reached its fiercest levels in the night of April 6, 1994, with the assassination of Presidents Gen. Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi along with their entourage. In fact, the assassination was the opportunity for the RPF and its army, the RPA, to resume their four-year invasion and war that had already created despicable conditions in Rwanda.

    The RPF and RPA intensified the fighting and massacred anyone on the hit lists established by its agents who had infiltrated all levels of the Rwandan administration. Unfortunately, the international media embargo on RPF’s opponents did not allow the truth on the massacres committed by RPF and RPA to come out.

    From April 1994 to July 1994, when the RPF seized power in Kigali, thousands of our compatriots, from all ethnic groups, had been massacred in horrible conditions; millions more had fled to neighboring countries, especially Tanzania, Burundi and Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda have always strongly condemned and reiterated their condemnation of those barbaric acts. The criminals, not the scapegoats, must be brought to justice.

    From April 1994 to July 1994, when the RPF seized power in Kigali, thousands of our compatriots, from all ethnic groups, had been massacred in horrible conditions; millions more had fled … The criminals, not the scapegoats, must be brought to justice.

    When the RPF-Inkotanyi seized power, it chose to institutionalize vengeance and hatred by promoting hate groups such as Ibuka and Avega Agahozo. Instead of bringing peace, promoting reconciliation and justice, and defending human rights principles, RPF-Inkotanyi created a terrorist and police government and militarized all political and civil institutions.

    At the judiciary level, Rwanda has become a huge prison. About 200,000 people have been held in filthy prisons, containers, dungeons, private confinements, leaking bathrooms, military camps and military positions without access to human rights organizations. Most of these detainees have neither official charges nor judicial files. Those outside prisons spend their productive time finding and bringing food to the detainees.

    With the militarization of the administration, Gen. Kagame has dispatched death squads in the villages to terrorize or massacre the people. Hundreds of thousands of people are forced into concentration camps, called imidugudu, where death squads select people to summarily execute on simple suspicion or accusation of not supporting the RPF. Under RPF, Rwanda has arguably become the only country in the world where killing a person has become a game and death squads roam and rule the country.

    The policy of lies and hypocrisy, initiated with the invasion of Rwanda, has allowed Gen. Kagame to blindfold the international community on the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the RPF. In fact, according to human rights organization, more than 3 million Rwandans have been killed since October 1990.

    With its the responsibility in these massacres, the RPF has foiled any attempt by the international community to investigate the assassination of President Habyarimana, to conduct a census of Rwandans killed since 1990 or determine the circumstances of these massacres, to find those responsible, and to punish the culprits. Currently, testimonies establishing the responsibility of Gen. Kagame for the assassination of Presidents Habyarimana and Ntaryamira abound. The testimonies demonstrate how Gen. Kagame is the planner, executor and beneficiary of the assassinations.

    Currently, testimonies establishing the responsibility of Gen. Kagame for the assassination of Presidents Habyarimana and Ntaryamira abound. The testimonies demonstrate how Gen. Kagame is the planner, executor and beneficiary of the assassinations.

    With its extreme megalomania and warmongering and expansionist ambitions, the military-political oligarchy of RPF invaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo, leaving a trail of death and rape and looting the natural riches of this country.

    FDLR troops gather to speak to CBS News in eastern Congo.
    FDLR troops gather to speak to CBS News in eastern Congo.

    The FDLR condemn the barbaric and ignominious aggression that tarnishes the reputation of the Rwandan people. Hence, the FDLR hold Kagame and his army responsible for genocide of the Rwandan people, war crimes and crimes against humanity and economic crimes committed in Rwandan and in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

    The current regime of Kigali imposes its rule by way of arms. Benefits of the 1959 social revolution are denied to the people. Democratic rules and symbols of national independence are weaponized. The FDLR oppose these dilatory maneuvers aimed at erasing the symbols of freedom from slavery and servitude.

    The bloodthirsty, expansionist and hegemonic regime of Kigali is now gangrened by corruption and nepotism. In order to attract more international aid so as to sustain its aggression against the sovereign states of the region, it conducted sham elections.

    The Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda reject the fake elections. The elections were coercive, unfair and nontransparent. Paul Kagame has suffocated all political parties and organizations but the RPF.

    The FDLR hold Kagame and his army responsible for genocide of the Rwandan people, war crimes and crimes against humanity and economic crimes committed in Rwandan and in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

    The Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda urge all countries that value peace, justice and democracy and the international community in general to condemn these elections intended to legitimate the bloody dictatorship that the RPF is. Furthermore, Kagame and his clique, being responsible for the Rwandan tragedy, do not deserve to govern the country and, therefore, cannot organize legitimate elections.

    On several occasions calls were made to the Kigali regime to open up for dialogue with armed and unarmed opposition in order to bring back democracy and the respect of basic human rights. To these calls the RPF responded with arrogance, disdain and systematic repression.

    Nevertheless, the FDLR support the idea of an International Conference of Peace in the Great Lakes Region. The Conference will constitute an ideal forum for debating the lack of democracy and the source of insecurity. The Conference will become a privileged place where regimes in power must start dialogue with their oppositions without distinction or exclusion. The dialogue will lead to durable solutions to the crises destroying the countries and the people of the region.

    The FDLR invite Rwandans inside the country and in the Diaspora to defend their cause, claim their rights, and reject the intimidation by the RPF. In fact, in order to discourage people from rejecting the RPF and its crimes, to deny their rights to the refugees, and to suffocate and behead any opposition, the so-called genocidaire lists are established on the basis of false accusations.

    Anyone who refuses to serve the RPF or denounces its crimes is labeled genocidaire Interahamwe. This concept has lost its meaning to designate the bad person from RPF’s perspective.

    The FDLR believe that criminals must be found and punished. However, as the voice for the voiceless, the FDLR urge the international community and host countries to reject the lists established by RPF and not to use them as a reference or a basis to decide on the cases of refugees and asylum seekers. The FDLR ask that the refugees be given the right to express their opinion and claims against the regime of Kagame.

    The FDLR support the idea of an International Conference of Peace in the Great Lakes Region. The Conference will constitute an ideal forum for debating the lack of democracy and the source of insecurity. The Conference will become a privileged place where regimes in power must start dialogue with their oppositions without distinction or exclusion.

    The RPF wants the international community to believe that Rwandans who fled the country in 1994 are genocidaire. However, recent events point to the contrary.

    The exile of the two prime ministers of the RPF, the speaker of the Parliament, ministers, members of the Parliament, ambassadors, high ranking civil servants and business people who had rallied behind the RPF, high ranking military officers of the RPA and the recent resignation of some of the founders of the Rwandan Patriotic Front show that those who fled in 1994 had anticipated the current dangers posed by the RPF regime.

    The Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda invite the Rwandan people to adhere to their objectives and the international community to support their program. The objectives of the FDLR are to:

    – Promote long lasting peace in Rwanda and the region;

    FDLR flag
    FDLR flag

    – Establish a regime based on universal principles of the rule of law, the multiparty system of democracy, free and honest elections organized on the basis of the one-man-one-vote principle, as well as the republican values;

    – Promote moral values with strict respect for life and human dignity, honesty, truth, freedom, individual emancipation, equality, justice, respect, brotherhood, confidence and interdependence among the Rwandan people;

    – Work for national reconciliation and reconstruction and for social and economic development of the country;

    – Establish the truth on the Rwandan tragedy, in order to punish the culprits and to rehabilitate all victims without distinction;

    – Promote peace as well as co-operation between Rwanda, the neighboring nations and the international community;

    – Ensure good management of the public property.

    The FDLR are committed to the guarantee of individual and collective fundamental freedoms, the respect of minority rights, the protection of cultural identities, the right of the Rwandan people to establish a state of law and a democratic rule based on the cultural values of Rwanda and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    The FDLR invite Rwandans of all ages to raise up as one and mount a strong resistance against the ignominious and dictatorial regime of Kigali in order to restore democracy and equitable justice, the respect of human rights, and peace in Rwanda and in the Great Lakes Region of Africa in order to achieve development for the benefit of all people of the region.

    Together victory is ours!

    Signed in NASHO, April 6, 2001,

    Alexis Nshimyimana, FDLR spokesperson

    This week, the FDLR released a statement available here, which says that they are prepared to disarm and engage in dialogue with the Rwandan government.

    Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch, Colored Opinions and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at ann@afrobeatradio.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting. This story first appeared on Black Star News.

     

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