“FROM DEALING WITH THE PAST TO FUTURE COOPERATION. REGIONAL
AND GLOBAL CHALLENGES OF RECONCILIATON”
January 31 – February 2, 2005 in Berlin
RWANDA AND THE KIVU–CONFLICT – RECONCILING
PAST WITH PRESENT, PREPARING FOR FUTURE
CHALLENGES IN REGIONAL AND GLOBAL
TABLE OF CONTENT:
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................................... 2
Chapter 1: Coming to terms with genocide in Rwanda ................................................................................... 3
Chapter 2: How best to judge the reconciliation process in Rwanda? ............................................................ 7
Chapter 3: The impact of Rwandan refugees on the political situation, particularly in the DRC ..................... 9
Chapter 4: The impact of the political situation in Congo on bilateral relations ..............................................11
Chapter 5: Burundi and Rwanda....................................................................................................................13
Some Conclusions .........................................................................................................................................15
I) Ethnicity .................................................................................................................................................15
II) Disarmament, Demobilization and Repatriation ....................................................................................16
III) Approaches for International Cooperation............................................................................................16
Dieter Magsam has been working as criminal defence lawyer since 1977 in his office in Hamburg
as well as temporarily in France; he is the current laureate of the price for democracy and human
rights of the Werner Holtfort foundation (2003). Currently (since June 2003) he is working for gtz
in Rwanda as project director and judiciary responsible of the program “Democracy and
Rwanda and the Kivu–Conflict – Reconciling past with present,
preparing for future challenges in regional and global
Kigali, January 2005
This paper is focussed on Rwanda for following reasons:
Under International Law Genocide is the biggest of all crimes. The “Genocide
Convention “of 1948 not only stipulates the prevention of genocide but also the
prosecution of its perpetrators. That is why all local and international actors should
consider the 1994 genocide in Rwanda as a turning point in the history in the Great
Lakes Region and adjust their policies to this catastrophe. The reality is far away from
that. The notorious phrase “in countries like that genocide is not very important”
(François Mitterand) could have been or even might still be the underlying theme of
western policies in the Great Lakes Region.
Also the neighbouring nations don’t share the Rwandan point of view which -in principle-
conforms to international law. Shackled by their own post-colonial history their dealing
with the Rwandan genocidaires and refugees, who crossed the borders to Burundi and
the former Zaire after the genocide, from the Rwandan point of view, means a persisting
threat to Rwandan security. Thus, the security concerns inside Rwanda tend to get
overemphasised endangering additionally the whole democratic process.
On the other hand, it’s the dealing of the Rwandan authorities with genocide and the
issues itself which harbours misgivings inside and outside the country. It’s supposed
that “fighting genocide” and persecuting its perpetrators would constitute only a pretext
for Rwandan Government in internal and external policies.
This paper outlines the Rwandan way of dealing with the Past which is focussed on the
juridical approach on international level and a modified juridical approach on national
level (Chapter I). By Aiming to establish individual guilt and personal responsibility the
ethnic trap of collective guilt can eventually be avoided. But there are a serious risks: the
huge number of accused persons and the neglect of war-crimes allegedly committed by
some military members of the ruling RPF would endanger the reconciliation process
More ore less from the (external) Rwandan point of view, Chapters III and IV describe
and discuss the impact of the Rwandan genocide on the DRC( ex Zaire) and its
transition process up to the actual fighting in North Kivu and the announcement of the
Independent Electoral Commission to prolong the transition period. Some
recommendations are made to the International Community.
The situation in Burundi (Chapter V) and the history of this country always have
influenced Rwandan politics. Unlike Rwanda, Burundi’s transition period is not over yet
and a referendum on the new constitution is expected for the end of January 2005.
There are still FNL rebels fighting (Bujumbura rural).
The paper concludes by stressing the different role (power) of the state and its structures
in Rwanda on the one hand and Burundi and DRC on the other. Thus, automatically the
role of civil society differs fairly assuming different approaches of the international
community in each country. Demobilisation/reintegration activities for soldiers and
refugees however constitute a border-crossing issue as well as the fight against ethnic
hate speech and “ethnicisation “of politics.
CHAPTER 1: COMING TO TERMS WITH GENOCIDE IN RWANDA
It is trivial to stress that international problems are based on national conflicts. One’s
perspective on national conflicts in one’s own country will often differ from the
perspective of citizens of a neighboring country, on the same conflicts. Why? Because
often, it is ‘not their problem’. This is not to imply they are insensitive, but simply farther
away and may have serious problems of their own, such as basic survival.
Nevertheless, almost one million people died in Rwanda’s genocide in 1994, and for
citizens of Rwanda, that fact is deeply significant. Citizens of neighboring states may be
more concerned by the hundreds of thousands of refugees (including significant
numbers of presumed ‘genocidaires’), who subsequently flooded into their own country.
For Rwandans, it is essential that neighboring countries truly understand the
traumatizing experience of genocide. If this goal is not met - and it will only be met
under certain conditions – then the current conflict in the Kivus risks jeopardizing much
more than merely the ‘relationship’ between Rwanda and the DRC.
What do we mean by ‘coming to terms with the past’? What exactly is ‘the past’, and
how far back in time should we search for it? The 1994 Genocide did not fall,
unannounced, out of the blue. Since 1959, the Tutsi-labeled minority had lived ‘on
probation’. The Constitution of 1962 then eternalized the ‘power of the majority’ and did
not even try to disguise its racist basis. In hindsight, one might even say the Constitution
laid down the blueprint or design for genocide. The massacres of 1963-4 were
described by – among others - British philosopher Russell, as the first Genocide since
For the protagonists of those mass murders, ‘the past’ denotes a former time of
suppression, monarchy and colonialism. They insist that their particular “past” be
discussed, so as to contextualize - even justify - their later crimes.
This is a crucial point and suggests that, even in 2005, there may still be no common,
national or regional understanding of the term ‘Rwandan crises/catastrophe’.
Consequently, any agreement on a commonly accepted starting-point will only be the
result of a successful process of mutual understanding.
The fact that the Genocide of 94 is increasingly seen as the ‘turning point’ in Rwanda’s
history is, primarily, due to the military victory of the RPF (4th July, 1994). With much
hesitation the international community recognized and accepted that this military victory
might have put an end to a Genocide in the terms of the Convention on the Prevention
and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (9.12.1948). The UNSC-resolution 955
(8.11.1994) therefore stipulated the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal
for Rwanda (ICTR).
Following international standards Genocide is the biggest of all crimes.
Articles III and IV of the Genocide Convention therefore demand the prosecution of all
acts of Genocide. This meant that two legal and moral cornerstones were fixed firmly in
place, as far as the process of ‘coming to terms with the past’ is concerned:
• That process had to take place( at least: also) in a penal-legal framework
• The “Past” in question was, more or less, confined to 1994
By establishing the ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda) the UN Security
Council approved that there was no difference between a Genocide committed in Africa
or one in ‘civilized’ Europe. This also applies to crimes against humanity and war-
The ICTR has to deal with the crimes mentioned above whether they were committed in
Rwanda or in the neighboring countries between January and December 1994. This
restriction in time and space is a political compromise: while the new government of
Rwanda wanted to try only the crimes committed in Rwanda between October 1990 (IE.
the start of the armed return of the RPF into Rwanda) up to July 1994 (IE. the fall of
Kigali), the defeated government, its army and international supporters wanted to hold
the thesis of a double genocide committed against the ‘Hutu-majority’, by the RPF in late
1994 and 1995/96 in Rwanda and the former Zaire where 1.7million Rwandans had fled
.Up to now, in seventeen trials, the ICTR has pronounced twenty three judgments, with
three accused persons acquitted. Trials are pending against twenty-five alleged
The procedures which started not earlier than 1997 pertained to politicians, military
commanders, leaders of press and radio stations, journalists and other private persons
who had allegedly planned, organized and executed the extinction of a part of the
Rwandan population. There are fifty-seven detainees in Arusha, and six prisoners
serving sentences in Mali. 18 trials are pending against a further eighteen detainees.
One can summarize the results as follows:
• It is proven, without any reasonable doubt, that there was genocide in Rwanda,
planned and organized by the Rwandan ‘elite’. Whether or not the targeted group,
IE. The Rwandan Tutsi, can be qualified as an ethnic group is neither probable nor
important, because the official ideology treated Tutsi as a racial or ethnic entity,
which had to be extinguished. Considered as Tutsi were those Rwandans being
registered as ‘Tutsi’ by passport or by having a Tutsi father. The longer the
massacres went on, the less the ‘official’ registration played a role: in time, a ‘Tutsi’
meant anyone who looked like a Tutsi, as described by the racist Hamitic thesis.
Leading opposition (moderate) Hutu politicians had been systematically eliminated
at first, in order to attach the masses’ self-assessment (the feeling of being a Hutu,
in first place) exclusively to the “Power-Wing” of Hutu Politics. National and local
authorities organized the Genocide.
• The implication of the whole non-Tutsi population in mass atrocities had been a
strategic aim, in order to establish collective guilt and thus to leave no one to tell
the story from a neutral point of view once the Tutsi population extinguished.
• Rape, in hundreds of thousand cases, had been conceived and used as weapon to
infect victims, destroy them physically and undermine their status as a symbol of
the ability to reproduce.
The mandate of ICTR being limited in time since the beginning of this year (2005),
further bills of indictment are no longer admissible. The end of the year 2008 will mark
the deadline for all first instance trials judgments (end of 2010 for appeal cases).
So it seems that some (alleged) war crimes and crimes against humanity, which some
military leaders of the FPR are blamed for, (see the draft of Gersony Report) will never
be tried at international level.
Currently, Rwanda and the ICTR are debating over the transfer of 40 case files to the
Rwandan judiciary. Since International justice prohibits the death penalty, the Rwandan
authorities will have to assure that death penalty will not applied in those cases
transferred to them.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (ex-Zaire), where many alleged genocidaires fled
after their defeat in ‘94 has extradited only 2 suspects (the former Prefect of Kigali and
the former Mayor of Murambi) to the ICTR, in September 2002. To date, no suspects
have been extradited to the Rwandan authorities. There is no scientific way to measure
the effects of the ICTR judgments on the reconciliation process in Rwanda or in the
However, some anecdotal evidence exists, as follows: Internews (an American NGO
with an EU-funded project in Kigali) produces short documentary films on post-genocide
justice. These films include updates on ICTR verdicts and are shown on mobile screens
all over Rwanda, to ordinary citizens. An independent evaluation of Internews work,
consisting of questionnaires to Internews’ target audiences, is currently underway.
According to my sources, the Evaluation will report one of three broad public responses
to the ICTR, from Rwandans who watch Internews films about it: (a) the ICTR is doing a
very good job; (b) the ICTR is irrelevant; (c) the ICTR is relevant but untrustworthy.
Internews also shows these films in prisons, to those detained on suspicion of crimes
related to genocide. Among such detainees, interest in these films is generally very high.
These responses come from three provinces across Rwanda, and were collated during
The performance of the ICTR has often been criticized because of its small output. In
Rwanda, the extensions of the procedures as well as the «luxurious» prison conditions
were subjected to popular attacks. Nevertheless, Arusha up to now has judged more
genocide related defendants than any other international tribunal since World War II and
its judgments - based on serious fact-finding methods - open a detailed view on how the
genocide was organized and executed. Having established an International Tribunal in
Africa, the UN has demonstrated that Genocide, Crimes against humanity and War
crimes constitute a worldwide concern. The collaboration between the Rwandan
Prosecution Service and the ICTR has improved.
On the other hand, the ICTR has missed to try alleged war crimes or crimes against
humanity of the RPF. This might diminish its credibility among Rwandan people who lost
their parents during those events. That’s why the Belgian expert Prof. Filip Reyntjens,
who for a long time collaborated with the ICTR Prosecution Service, recently declared
his resignation from that collaboration.
With the Genocide Convention signed and ratified by the old regime, the new Rwandan
authorities, too, were obliged and willing to establish mechanisms for legal prosecution
of genocide cases. As there is no reconciliation without truth - and as it is up to the
Rwandan judicial system to establish the latter - the quality and impartiality of judicial
proceedings are crucial to the reconciliation process.
By 1996, Rwanda’s prisons were overcrowded, with some 70,000 detainees. By the
organic law of 30.8.1996, all crimes connected to genocide and committed between
October 1990 and December 1994 were covered, including not only Genocide and
Crimes against humanity, but also lesser crimes such as Physical injuries, Theft, Pillage,
etc. connected to the events between 1990 and 1994. Crimes committed by military
personnel, however, were and are still to be tried at martial courts.
The 1996 organic law created a categorization by dividing the perpetrators into 4 groups.
A special chamber of the Supreme Court was to organize and supervise the activities of
the ordinary justice, which at that time had sole jurisdiction. All testimony, including
confessions implicating other alleged perpetrators, could lead to considerable reduction
of sentences, if associated with a plea for forgiveness. However, this system didn’t work
quickly enough. Whereas the figures of judged persons increased from 346 in 1997 to
almost 5000 persons by the year 2000, the number of detainees increased to 130,000.
This was why an alternative model of justice had to be established: Gacaca. Under
Gacaca, about 250.000 ‘persons of integrity’ were elected in 2002, to staff community-
based courts competent for categories 2-4. Offenders to be ranged in Category 1 (those
who are supposed to have planned, organized and committed special atrocities like
mass rapes, etc.) still have to await trial before the ordinary justice. At the time of writing,
Gacaca courts have not pronounced any judgments, and 90% of these ‘village courts’
have not even started yet. In June 2004, a modification of the 2001 Gacaca law reduced
the number of Gacaca judges, abolished the 3rd category, and excluded compensation
for non-material damages. These changes are to take effect from 15th January 2005.
Nobody knows when the first Gacaca judgments will be rendered. Thus, Gacaca’ s
contribution to national reconciliation actually is difficult to define or anticipate.
Evaluating the results of pilot Gacaca courts, having already categorized crimes
committed in 10% of the country and taking into account primary findings of the
database established by the National Prosecution Service and GTZ – Justice Project it
• The figure of category 1 offenders to be tried by the ordinary justice will reach
about 50.000 (fifty thousand)
• All in all, the figure of the accused persons will be 500.000 to 600.000
• There are very few confessions concerning the more than 200.000 sexual crimes
alleged to have been committed
• Lay judges do not employ methods to evaluate the credibility and probative value
of confessions. The confessions often seem to be ‘mechanic’ in content and tone,
conceding none but those facts that are already proven or which hardly can be
• Evidence provided by witnesses, by accomplices or by confession in general is
highly questionable. In Rwanda’s case, one should consider not only the ten-year
interval since the events occurred, but also the failure of direct evidence. Victims
rarely survived and potential victims personally close to them only survived
because they were hidden at that time. Hearsay evidence often undermines any
accurate exposition of what really happened, and the actual contribution of each
single accused person.
• Despite the fact that 20.000 detainees have already been released (by Presidential
Order in early 2003), there are still 60.000 people under arrest and awaiting trial.
Further planned releases were stopped, following the murders of witnesses in
Gikongoro Province, in 2003.
The Constitution of 2003 established a “National Unity and Reconciliation Commission”
(NURC, art. 178f) and a “Commission to Fight Genocide” (art. 179). The Arusha
Treaties already planned the former in 1993 (Art.24 of the “Protocol on Power Sharing”)
and functional during the transition period since March 1995. Without giving a precise
definition about who should be reconciled with whom, the NURC’s task is only generally
described as “developing national programs for unity and reconciliation” and “to fight
divisionism ideology”. The Commission is also responsible for ‘ingando’ (transition
camps), where prisoners and demobilized soldiers are prepared for their eventual return
to civilian life. The Commission also contributes to the official curriculum on how
Rwandan History should be taught, at school. No official documents exist yet. However,
individuals who have gone through the education camps report that the division of the
Rwandan society is basically explained as a result of colonialism. They learn that
German and Belgian colonialists were ruling in an indirect way by misusing members of
the ‘Tutsi Race’ as mediators, and that in the late 1950’s the Belgians and the Catholic
church wanted to maintain their influence by abolishing monarchy, promoting the ‘Hutu-
majority’ and excluding all Tutsi from political participation. That is why the Constitutions
of the I. and II. Republic had already laid the foundations for the Genocide of 1994.
Ingando participants also learn that in order to assure national unity and to avoid further
mass killings, people should regard themselves only as Rwandans and not as Hutu,
Tutsi or Twa. Any political Party founded on ethnic grounds would be illegal.
In contrast to this Rwandan attempt to escape the ethnic trap, the recently adopted
Burundian Constitution and the Election Law demand the ethnic self-categorization of
each Burundian citizen.
Rwanda’s Transition Period ended in 2003. In May 2003 a referendum adopted the draft
of the Constitution followed by the Presidential elections in August and the Parliament
elections in October 2003. The latter were criticized, particularly for having hampered
any political formations opposed to the President’s Party FPR. (see Kimonyo..p11 f).
CHAPTER 2: HOW BEST TO JUDGE THE RECONCILIATION PROCESS IN
Rwandan Government must demonstrate that its methods for dealing with the genocide
inside Rwanda contribute to truth, justice and therefore to reconciliation. If not, its
regional political strategies will also lack credibility.
The decision to try all participants seems to be a reasonable approach. Rwanda has to
deal with a “micromanaged” genocide and about half a million alleged perpetrators. This
constitutes a huge difference to the Holocaust, as well as to the South African Apartheid
Crimes (the latter not even constituting a Genocide).
Penal Prosecution means looking for individual responsibility and trying to find out if and
why the accused persons have killed unknown fellow Rwandans or even neighbors,
friends and partners. This individual approach prevents the establishment of ‘collective
guilt’ and forbids collective revenge. However, given the difficulties mentioned in Chapter
1, one has doubts if this goal can be met.
A Report of a Parliamentary Commission in August 2004 was the first official document
to mention such problems. But instead of properly analyzing the problems, the report
blamed individuals and organizations - mainly NGOs critical to the government.
According to this particular Commission, these NGOs had influenced the general
population by spreading genocidal, or ‘divisionism’ ideology
The Genocide grew out of a war. Many people - especially from the North - had to flee
the advancing RPF. Hundreds of thousands had to live in camps for IDPs (Internally
Displaced Persons) were the Hutu Militia easily recruited them. One example: if we seek
to understand why the son of a Byumba farmer could become a killer of Tutsi, it would
be helpful to know why and how his own father and other family members had been
killed by RPF soldiers during the war. These inquiries would not seek to justify the
genocide crimes committed later by the surviving son, but simply to clarify and
comprehend the deadly dynamics and the degree of individual guilt. Currently, no
participants in Gacaca even dare to speak about war crimes or crimes against humanity
allegedly committed by RPF-soldiers. It is said that Rwanda’s martial courts try them, but
there is no proof of such judgments, as they are not published. Reconciliation could be
facilitated in investigating seriously those alleged crimes and publishing the results of
In general, freedom of speech in and outside the courts is vital for truth to be established
and reconciliation to take root. This freedom is currently threatened by two laws which
aim to punish “divisionism”,” sectarianism” and/or the negation or minimization of the
genocide. Though the necessity of such laws cannot be questioned it is of the utmost
importance to assure that the way they are written and applied does not lead to a
dangerous censure or an unacceptable limitation of the freedom of expression.
A false accusation made against a Hutu refugee, returning from a camp in the “Zone
Turquoise” or from Zaire, could be enough to justify the appropriation of his or her house
or land and in many cases, the mere ethnic label of ”Hutu” might have been enough to
send an innocent person to jail. If Gacaca fails to judge such cases fairly, the feeling of
being victimized by a collective revenge will persist and grow, as will the “ethnic”
polarization of Rwandan society.
This, finally and ironically, would represent a late victory for the founders and supporters
of the former ‘Hutu Republic’ and the masterminds of the 1994 genocide.
The compensation-law for survivors of the genocide- drafted long ago- is unlikely to be
promulgated. due to the lack of means. Since many 59 refugees and their children now
forming the new elite consider themselves also as victims of the genocide -ideology the
lack of appropriate indemnity mechanisms could be caused by a ”concurrence des
victims” (Chaumont). The different interest of (passive)Tutsi victims inside Rwanda and
those refugees and armed fighters have not been openly discussed yet.
CHAPTER 3: THE IMPACT OF RWANDAN REFUGEES ON THE POLITICAL
SITUATION, PARTICULARLY IN THE DRC (EX-ZAIRE
The ongoing (January 2005) struggles and the persisting harm of the population in the
eastern part of DRC might justify a more detailed explanantion
Having succeeded in creating an ethnically-polarized society the defeated Government,
its administration, military forces and militia organized an exodus of nearly two million
Hutu from Rwanda into its neighboring countries. Round about 1.5 million fled or were
taken to Zaire by those who had organized the genocide. En route, they had to serve as
a ‘human shield’, protecting and hiding their perceived superiors. Huge refugee camps
were established near the Rwandan border under the political control of genocidaires.
As 140.000 refugees had returned to Rwanda between August and October 1994 the
camp leaders increased the threats against, or murder of, anyone who wanted to follow
and return home. They carried their weapons and trained their soldiers and militia under
the eyes of the international community. They openly declared their intention to prepare
an invasion of Rwanda in order to complete their “work”, IE. to eliminate the Tutsi.
Encouraging and intervening in local ethnic conflicts, which had constantly increased
since 1990, the camp leaders pushed their racist theory of ‘Hutu land’ and incited a
deadly dynamic in the Kivus. The political soil for such seeds had been well-prepared, by
the politics of President Mobutu of Zaire, since 1990: The abolition of the mono (single)
party system in Zaire in 1990 had led to Etienne Tshisekedi’s nomination as Prime
Minister in August 1992. Aiming to turn a political conflict into an ethnic one (in order to
secure his power base) Mobutu and his supporters started to deport 500.000 ethnic
Kasaï- Luba from Katanga (ex-Shaba). Tshisekedi – himself a Kasaï-Luba - should be
considered not as a Zairian representative of the democratic opposition, but merely as a
spokesman of a group of ‘outsiders’, greedy for the mineral riches to be had in Katanga
Mobutu had continued this practice in the Kivu Provinces. Tens of thousands of
“Banyarwanda”(“People of Kinyarwanda expression”) had been slaughtered in early
1993, because influential politicians (such as the new Prime Minister Faustin Birindwa)
labeled them as ‘Rwandans’, as opposed to the ‘native’ population (Mushi, Ndande,
Hunde f.e.). The Zairian citizenship and political rights of the ‘Banyarwanda’ were
officially contested even though many of them could claim ancestry in Eastern Congo far
before Independence. When the Rwandan war started in October 1990, Mobutu
supported his so-called ‘little brother’ Habyarimana, by sending Zairian soldiers. At the
same time -in North Kivu - organizations such as MAGRIVI (“Mutuelle des Agriculteurs
des Virunga”) founded by Habyarimana’ s secret service in the 1970’s to fight Tutsis in
the Virunga-Region) intensified their attacks against Zairian Tutsi .
In this situation the arrival of the Hutu masses, soldiers and militia from Rwanda in the
second half of 1994 created an overwhelming majority which threatened and attacked
the Tutsi in the region. Many of them died or fled to Rwanda, as did many members of
other ethnic groups. Ironically perhaps, since until then, those groups had fought all
Zairian ‘Banyarwanda’. Upon their arrival in Rwanda, many received military training
.When In October ‘96 the regional Zairian authorities delivered an ultimatum to the
Banyamulenge, (Zairean Tutsi speaking Kinyarwanda), who settled in South Kivu since
the turn of the 19th century) to leave the country within two weeks the AFDL (Alliance
des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo) was founded and would
overthrow Mobutu’s regime within the following eight months (by May 1997). Rwanda,
Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa and Angola had largely supported the AFDL and its
leader Laurent-Desiré Kabila. The only important military resistance to the AFDL came
from the old Rwandan armed forces (ex-FAR) and ex militias (former Interahamwe), in
turn supported by Angola’s Unita rebels. During the AFDL’s advance, the Rwandan
Army had dissolved the 1994 Rwandan Refugee Camps. An UN-report (Robert
Garreton, April 1997) didn’t exclude that members of the Rwandan army might have
killed about 100.000 people because many of the refugees had disappeared. Since the
majority of those missing people emerged months and even years later the published
figure was obviously exaggerated. Nevertheless, there is serious evidence that
thousands of refugees had been killed south of Kisangani in April 1997. The details
never have been officially compiled. The Rwandan Army pleads that it was impossible to
distinguish ‘ex-FAR’ or ‘ex-Interahamwe’ from normal refugees, and reclaims its right to
end the permanent threat to its own borders and citizens, a threat originating and at
times flourishing in those same refugee camps.
Subsequently to the dissolution of the refugee camps, some 600.000-800,000 Rwandan
refugees – including active militia members - returned to Rwanda. The remainder
(leaders soldiers, militia and some 200.000 to 300.000 refugees) fled deeper into Congo
The second Congo conflict started in 1998 when L.D. Kabila sought to remove from
DRC all Rwandan troops and Rwandan members of his General Staff, by the end of July
of that year The 10th Brigade of Congo’s Armed Forces based in Northern Kivu refused,
and declared the deposition .But their efforts to overthrow Kabila failed, along with those
of Rwanda and Uganda. Henceforth, supported by Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia,
Kabila relaunched his campaign of persecuting Tutsis, and gave strong support to the
old Rwandan armed forces and militia. Parts of these military units were integrated into
what was called the ‘Congolese Army’. Mutineers based in Goma founded the
Rassemblement Congolais Démocratique (RCD), which split into several factions
between 1999 and 2002. After the assassination of Laurent Kabila in January 2001, his
son Joseph Kabila became President and managed to raise the country from its death
throes. Diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire led to the approval of the Lusaka Accord by the
new President and later to the Peace Treaty of Pretoria (17.December 2002).All foreign
troops had left the country by late 2002. The UN-Forces (MONUC) was deployed in
DRC in 2001 but it has not yet succeeded in disarming and demobilizing ex-FAR and
former Interahamwe. Recently (December 2004) Rwandan troops seem to have entered
the North Kivu to destroy two camps and returned immediately which is denied by
Rwanda.There was no direct armed confrontation between Rwandan and Congolese
armies. Regional military commanders of the RCD tried to prevent the Congolese army
from intervening and don’t believe that Kabila jr. and the Congolese army really want to
disarm the Rwandan rebels. They fear an “occupation” of the North Kivu and refer to the
security situation in South Kivu where an important number of these Rwandan rebels is
still active and tolerated if no activly supported. by parts of the congolese army. During
the last 10 years some 3 million people were killed or died connected to the civil war in
Congo, according to the UN.
There is no doubt that the consequences of the Rwandan genocide accelerated
considerably the decomposition of post-colonial DRC. Following the road-map of the
Pretoria Treaty of December 2002, there should be a transition phase of two years after
the building of the transition government. This Government installed on 30.6.2003 tried
to integrate former rebel movements amongst them the RCD and MLC from the eastern
provinces. This time is unlikely to be held as the spokesman of the independent election
commission, Mirimo Mulongo has revealed last week. Neither has the Senate
elaborated a Constitution draft which could be the object of the foreseen referendum, nor
has the National Assembly of transition achieved the drafting and voting of an election
law. Although the Pretoria treaty allows exceeding the transition period for 6 months
(one time renewable) there is a big mistrust that the actual stakeholders just want to
prolong their time in power. Demonstrations against this decision caused 14 dead in
Kinshasa last week while in the North Kivu region about 100.000 people try to flee the
fights of the militias( Mayi-Mayi, ex-FAR, interahamwe on the one hand - RCD, MLC on
the other) to the Virunga mountains or to Uganda. As always, during the last ten years
the population is threatened by robbery, kidnapping and rape mostly committed by the
“inciviques”. This term characterizes the ex-FAR, Interahamwe joined by young people
who lost their rural roots over the last ten years. (Regards Croisés, Avril 2004,p.11)
The unification process of the Congolese army - also a concern of the Pretoria treaty –
has not advanced sufficiently up to now. This allows tactic alliances between local
militias and parts of the army promoted by the fact that funds dedicated to the payment
of the troops are embezzled periodically.
Obviously the activities of international actors are limited under ongoing warfare and
threats. Possibilities to built local networks of assistance or enforce civil society change
from place to place and often from day to day. The experiences of 1994 to 1996 teaches
that human assistance has to be led by a political analysis of the conflict in order to
avoid the support of militias. The overall task however consists of enforcing the transition
process by helping to implement the structures provided be the Pretoria Peace Treaty.
CHAPTER 4: THE IMPACT OF THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN CONGO ON
On the one hand, from Rwanda’s perspective, the existence of armed, anti-Tutsi troops
in Congo (estimated at 15.000), more than ten years after the genocide of 1994
represents a military threat, and more. Rwandans ask why MONUC and the Zairian
army do not simply disarm these units, and can only conclude that there is a lack of
political will. In a region where” ethnicity” has often been applied almost as a political
religion, Rwanda needs to have confidence that its neighboring countries truly
understand the genocide as a turning point for the whole region. They need to feel that
never again will ethnic massacres be used or accepted as a means to realize political or
economic aims. This feeling of confidence can only be created by the immediate
demobilization of those rebels and the extradition of alleged genocidal forces from
Congo to Rwanda.
Recently, the peace and security-council of the African Union (AU) as well as the EU
have joined the Rwandan position. On the occasion of AU’s Libreville- summit on 10/11
January 2005 the AU has offered to help the DRC in disarming the Rwandan rebels still
operating on Congolese territory. The commissioner of the security council, Saïd Djinnit,
summarized the decision of 15 African States: “The security council has recognized the
fact that Interahamwe and ex-FAR pose a serious problem to security demanding a
courageous action by AU and expects to be supported by the international community
mainly in logistic matters.”
EU-commissioner for Cooperation and Development, Louis Michel, on 18 December
2004 expressed his “conviction that the international community will now be responsible
to settle the problem of interahamwe once and for all”(Grands Lacs Hebdo, 30.12.2004
At the same time Rwanda has been warned to respect the territorial integrity of the DRC.
The EU proposition even went further. Louis Michel proposed a common military action
of Congolese and Rwandan troops aiming at disarming the Rwandan genocidaires and
those who joined them during the last 10 years. Given the actual political situation in
DRC where the transition government hasn’t yet succeeded in establishing a unified
army, this proposal doesn’t seem to be very realistic. Actually, it tends to bring together
only a Rwandan friendly part of the army to the Rwandan troops and risks to undermine
the sensitive unification process roughly outlined in paragraph I.
Yet some approaches to bridge the gap exist .The following issues being part of political
summits lined up at the end of 2004( “Regional Peace Treaty” between DRC, Rwanda
and Uganda, Kigali, 26.10.04; Dar-es-Saalam Summit ,November 2004, AU Libreville
,10/11 January 2005) are likely to be steps to a bilateral reconciliation to be supported by
the international community:
1) The treaty of Kigali provides a mixed commission to investigate the mutual
accusations. As long as the planned regional criminal court is not functional the ICC is
competent for crimes committed in DRC since 1992 (for crimes under international law).
International agencies could support the population in collecting evidence and ensuring
the follow up.
2) The media in Kivu and near the borders often have been subjected to harsh critics
because of their propagation of ethnic and racist interpretations of daily events mainly
against the banyarwanda. Whereas the Congolese authorities should seek to curb those
radio stations in the Kivus, a transnational media commission could assure the common
training of Burundian, Congolese and Rwandan journalists as well as the monitoring of
the concerned media. International help will be indispensable.
3) The bilateral dialogue limited to exchanging standard mutual reproaches needs to be
Rwanda is periodically criticized for exploiting its ‘genocide dividend’ using it as a pretext
for several invasions into DRC, the true intention of which would be the attempted
annexation of North Kivu to Rwanda, or at least the exploitation of the DRC’s mineral
resources. This theory, however, does not explain why the so-called ‘pretext’ still exists,
and therefore Rwanda is sometimes additionally accused of sending demobilized Hutu
soldiers back into DRC, in order to maintain the troubling status quo on which the pretext
is based. As long as proper supervision mechanisms are not established, and as long as
MONUC or other international stakeholders do not really proceed to impose a forced
disarmament of the rebels, there will be no sustainable solution (see above).
On the other hand “Illegal exploitation of mineral resources” is common in Congo. That’s
why the accusations against Rwanda - even if partially justified - are not very convincing,
If repeatedly offered as the only ‘true’ explanation for Rwandan attacks on genocidaires
still living in Congo, collaboration on this issue between the countries of the Great Lakes
Region (also a topic of the Dar-es-Saalam Declaration) demands an effective and
transparent Congolese legal and administrative framework, in order to define what
‘illegal’ really means. All neighboring countries, including (but not only) Rwanda, should
report to the competent UN-Panel (see Resolution 1457, Sec. Council 24.1.2003). This
could disentangle the two topics and allow a more profound debate of each one. As it is
to the Congolese authorities to define the conditions under which exploitation of
resources is legal, the legal and administrative framework should be established under
participation of the concerned population and civil society associations (mine workers
unions f.e) as well. International assistance to meet international standards(ILO) will be
Finally, what cannot be done. The Rwandan Government is unlikely to facilitate the
disarmament by promising a general amnesty to Congo-based Rwandan rebels. It would
be impossible to justify to Rwandese people why tens of thousands of presumed ‘low-
level’ killers are still in detention, whereas their former armed leaders receive an
amnesty and avoid trial on their return. The ongoing integration of alleged war criminals
from Ituri in the Congolese army (see HRW 14/1/05) should be discussed.
CHAPTER 5: BURUNDI AND RWANDA
Violent conflicts in Burundi have been periodic events since when Burundi achieved
independence in July 1962. Within the context of the long post-independence period the
conflicts can be traced into three phases. The first phase was the period between 1962
and 1966. During this period conflicts were mainly due to political competition for power
based on ethnic lines between the Tutsi and the Hutu. At independence it was the
UPRONA party that formed the government because it won the 1961 elections. At the
time UPRONA was a non-ethnic national party, incorporating all ethnic groups. However,
the assassination of its national leader, Prince Rwagasore, in 1961 deprived the party of
a uniting leader.
Thus between 1962 and 1996 UPRONA degenerated into an ethnic party dominated by
a sub-group of Tutsi(Bahimas-Tutsi). This was a result of violent struggles between the
Tutsi and Hutu politicians such that two Hutu prime ministers got assassinated, speakers
and deputy speakers of parliament, ministers and military leaders got executed and
other politicians were killed .The situation culminated into the overthrow of King
Mwambutsa IV who was the head of state, and thus a republic was declared. The
Multiparty system was also abolished in 1996 and a single party system under UPRONA
was declared. Thus conflicts during this period resulted into changes from national
politics into violent ethnically oriented politics.
The second phase constitutes the period between 1966 and 1993. Repeated conflicts
during this period were due to ethnicized politics in which the minority Tutsi monopolized
state power and controlled the army. The state itself was a military state rising out of
military coups of 1966, 1976 and 1987. The Hutu and the minority Twa ethnic groups
found themselves not only dominated and oppressed politically but also excluded,
segregated and marginalized in terms of socio-economic relations.
There were mutual mass killings and massacres (Weilenmann, 139). Thus the violent
conflicts of 1969, 1972/73 and 1988 were of such nature. The most serious was the
1972/73 massacres during which 200.000 to 300,000 people, mostly Hutu, lost their
The third phase constitutes the period from 1993 to the present. This has been a period
of protracted civil war for more than ten years now. The civil war erupted in October
1993 after the assassination of a democratically elected Hutu President Melchior
With the introduction of a multiparty system in1992, the first elections were held in June
(Parliamentary) and July (Presidential) 1993. FRODEBU, a Hutu based political party
won the elections with a Hutu President. These political changes threatened those Tutsi
who had been monopolizing state power for nearly 30 years. Thus soon after the
elections unsuccessful coup attempts were made culminating into the assassination of
the President. This instigated some Hutu groups to begin fighting the government of
Burundi which again came to be dominated by the Hima-Tutsi politicians particularly
after the military coup of 1996 which brought President Buyoya once more into power.
Due to the civil war, up to now more than 300,000 people were killed. The elections of
October 1993 are the last free elections in Burundi up to date.
Between 1993 and August 2000 regional and international pressure - even a boycott in
1996 after Buyoya’s putsch - couldn’t calm the ethnically motivated atrocities nor did it
succeed in establishing a transitory political solution assuring at least a cease-fire. Only
in 2000, Major Buyoya and his military clan, FRODEBU and UPRONA agreed on a
road-map leading back to “normality”. In May 2003, the leader of the FRODEBU (”Front
Démocratique Burundais”) Ndayizeye, replaced Buyoya according to the treaty of 1990.
The end of the transition period provided for 1st November 2004 has been extended to
22 April 2005 when presidential and legislative elections shall take place. 3,14 Million
Burundian citizens have already been registered. The presidential and legislative
elections shall take place in avril 2005. With the CNDD (Conseil National pour la
Défense de la Démocratie) and its Hutu militia FDD (Force pour la Défense de la
Démocratie) joining the transition government, the small and radical (Hutu) FNL (Front
National de Libération) currently represents the only rebel movement still fighting,
mainly in Bujumbura rural province. FNL reclaimed responsibility for the massacre of
160 Congolese Banyamulenge refugees in the Burundian camp of Gatumba near the
Congolese border on 13 August 2004.
The Burundian constitutional system of political power sharing along ethnic lines - to be
confirmed by the referendum - constitutes a completely different approach in regard to
the Rwandan efforts to avoid politicization of ethnicity. The Burundian Treaty for Peace
an Reconciliation signed in Arusha on 28.August 2000 also provides a National
Commission for Peace and Reconciliation . It is charged to bring to light the truth about
all atrocities from Independence up to the Treaty of Arusha in 2002. As the composition
of this commission was subjected to serious (ethnic based) conflicts its work hasn’t start
ed yet. The parties agreed that it was the culture of impunity ruling since the early sixties
that contributed mostly to the violent bi-polarization of the Burundian Society: where
individual guilt cannot be found. Thinking in collective i.e. along ethnic patterns prevails
(The Hutu, The Tutsi).
The recent Gatumba massacre 6 months ago revealed the collaboration between Pan-
Hutu extremists in Burundi, Rwanda and Congo. There is strong evidence that Kivu
“settled” Rwandan rebels also played an important role in this crime. Origins of this
deadly cooperation reach back to 94 when Hutu refugees crossed the border to the
southern provinces of Rwanda after the (tutsi) military had assassinated the elected
Hutu President Ndadaye in October 2003. When Habyarimanas plane was shot down on
6 April 1994 Ndadaye’s successor, Ntaryamira, travelling in the same aircraft as
Habyarimana also came to death. So the Burundian Hutus lost two Presidents within 6
months. This partly explains their immediate participation in killing Rwandan Tutsi –
mainly in Gikongoro Province - as soon as the long prepared Rwandan genocide got
started in the night of the plane-crash.
From the second half of 1994, Burundian Hutu refugees and extremists of CNND, FDD
etc. joined the ex-FAR and interahamwe in South-Kivu (see Chapter III).
That’s not the least of the reasons why the Rwandan government carefully observes the
actual Burundian peace and reconciliation process.
Beyond the propositions added to some of the chapters above a few general issues
should be mentioned:
Whereas Burundi and the DRC are hopefully about to finish successfully the transition
period after the disastrous implosion of post-colonial governance in (re-) building their
state, the victory of the RPF putting an end to genocide in Rwanda facilitated and
accelerated the establishment of effective governmental structures. Those structures
actually execute Rwandan law prohibiting among other things political activities based
on ethnicity. This is to understand as an attempt to “ ban the ghosts “(Weilenmann,139)
DRC (because of its ethnic patchwork) and Burundi (due to the Peace Treaty of Arusha),
however, consider the proportion of ethnic force. Both The Burundian” Commission for
Peace and Reconciliation” as well as the Judiciary in Rwanda should be supported in
avoiding to establish collective (ethnic) guilt. This demands the prosecution of all crimes
(genocide, war-crimes, crimes against humanity) regardless of the presumed
Regional structures to limit ethnic hate speech should be established.
II) Disarmament, Demobilization and Repatriation
Those issues constitute an important challenge for national and international actors in
the respective countries because the ethnic character of civil war promoted the creation
Congolese citizenship law should be revised to allow kinyarwanda speaking Congolese
to regain their homes in Kivu and to participate in elections. Given the fact that the
Rwandan genocidal forces are likely to be unwilling to be disarmed and attend trial in
Rwanda, they have to be disarmed by force. The current move of establishing a
permanent AU peacekeeping force is a very positive step. MONUC doesn’t seem to
manage the disarmament of those forces which -in former times- have been strongly
supported by France.
III) Approaches for International Cooperation
As long as functional governmental structures barely exist, the support of regional or
local activities of civil society seems to take priority in Burundi and Congo whereas the
scope for civil society in centralized Rwanda is strictly limited. This scope might be
enlarged by encouraging developments in the DRC ( II) and by further implementing the
reforms (law reform, etc) provided in the constitution of 2003 and the organic laws
(Press, etc) already promulgated. Rwanda’s Government based on a military victory 10
years ago assures a security that is still highly appreciated. However, with the transition
period having ended two years ago, the needs for democratization and limitation of the
executive power prevail. Especially the effective guarantee of liberty of expression would
facilitate to speak openly about what exactly happened 10 ½ years ago. This might not
constitute the one and only condition for true reconciliation but it is an essential one.
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démocratique( 1990-1994) ,Paris 2000
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d’Etudes Africaines,173-174, Paris 2004
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Rwanda, June 2003