Ugandan troops are part of the African Union peacekeeping force that was recently accused of sexual violence against women in Somalia. The silence from the international community is shocking - but not surprising. One only needs to look at the activities of presidents Museveni and Kagame in DR Congo and inside their own countries to understand
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame had hoped that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the genocide committed by the Israeli army against Palestinian people, the “Boko Haram” crimes against humanity, the killing of Black people in Ferguson in the United States and the “Islamist State” in Iraq and Syria… would grab all the headlines to cover up the mass rapes recently committed in Somalia by Rwandan, Ugandan and Burundian soldiers serving under the banner of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) but trained, fed and paid for by the United States of America; as well as the recent massacres in Rwanda.
For us Congolese people, when the BBC broke the news on 8 September 2014 based on a Human">http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/09/16/amisom-s-toll-somali-women-and-girls">Human Rights Watch report that ‘Africa Union troops’ (that is Rwandans, Ugandans and Burundians), ‘raped Muslim girls in Mogadishu’, it was not a big surprise given the fact that for 13 years, Rwanda and Uganda, backed by Britain and America have invaded Congo and killed more than 8 million people and used raped as a weapon of war and looted minerals. (The Wall Street Journal reported on 18 September 2014 that of the 1,300 American companies which source their minerals from eastern Congo, only four companies were brave enough face an audit).
What was surprising was the dead silence of the United States of America, ‘the leader of the world’ when it comes to human rights, the United Nations and the African Union itself, for reasons that we can understand: Since 1994, the Tutsi have become untouchable despite the fact that they have committed and are committing the same crimes in Congo, in their own countries and in Somalia - yet the whole world treats them as victims. How come the victims of genocide are killing, raping and committing genocide in other countries with the complicity of the international community yet the same international community wants us to commemorate the ‘Rwanda Genocide Day’? For how long is the ‘international community’ and the African Union going to shield Museveni and Kagame, these two Tutsi brothers, from accountability for their crimes?
It took the courage of the Christian Science Monitor, after reading the 71-page report which documented 10 cases of rape and sexual assault and 14 cases of sexual exploitation in 2013 and 2014, to challenge the conscience of the world in an article published on 8 September 2014 and titled: ‘African Union forces accused of sexual abuse. Will anyone be held accountable?’
As if that was not enough, AFP reported on 9/11 that a string of arrests of prominent Rwandan military figures, some of them close to the central African nation’s inner circle of power, has prompted speculation of a major political crisis. In fact, last month former presidential guard chief and serving colonel, Tom Byabagamba, and retired brigadier-general Frank Rusagara were charged in a Kigali court for inciting rebellion by ‘spreading rumours’. A retired captain, David Kabuye, was also detained.
AFP quoted analysts, critics and experts who all say that the arrests expose the workings of a paranoid state that is increasingly nervous over the activities of the dissident Rwanda National Congress (RNC), an exiled opposition group that includes several former top members of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).
‘Any critic is immediately associated with the RNC, even though sometimes there is no connection,’ said Rene Mugenzi, a Rwandan human rights activist exiled in Britain. He said the latest arrests targeted people seen as ‘loose cannons’ who were too outspoken, and that the authorities appeared worried that the RNC, which includes several former military brass, had managed to maintain their contacts in the armed forces.
But some analysts said there may be genuine concern about the threat from the dissident RNC. ‘I would not rule out that those arrested are suspected of links’ with the RNC, said the Belgian academic Filip Reyntjens, a fierce critic of Kagame. He said the RNC was currently the central preoccupation of the Rwandan government, especially given that a former Rwandan Chief of Staff and founding member of the RNC, General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, ‘has kept many contacts in the military, where he was rather popular.’ Another co-founder of the RNC, Rwanda's former intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya and once a comrade-in-arms of Kagame, was murdered on New Year's Eve in Johannesburg.
And the purge goes on in Kigali. In fact the President of the Rwandan Senate Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo was forced to resign by President Paul Kagame according to a report by L’Avenir on 19 September 2014. Reason? Ntawukuliryayo invited a delegation of Congolese parliamentarians in Kigali convinced that time has come for Rwanda and Congo to dialogue. Kagame does not see it that way! So how can we restore peace?
In addition, the Hutu FOUND NOT GUILTY by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, Hutu exonerated by the ICTR in Arusha, still remain unwanted and undesirable in Rwanda or elsewhere in the world! For Kagame, whether found not guilty or not, they are still ‘genocidists’! When international justice does not lean on the side of Kagame, he vilifies it. But is Rwanda not currently a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council? Has Rwanda not been joined by Sam Kutesa from Uganda as the current president of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly? So why should they not respect the verdict of the a UN tribunal?
In fact, a Reuters report on 28 September 2014 highlighted the plight of Justin Mugenzi and others who might also be acquitted soon, who live in limbo in safe houses in Arusha because they are too scared to go back to Rwanda, where political rivals now hold sway. According to Reuters, the plight of Mugenzi and others like him is a setback to years-long efforts to create a system of international justice by using special courts such as the ICTR - set up to try those accused of carrying out the Rwandan genocide - or permanent tribunals with a more general remit such as the Hague-based International Criminal Court.
Worst of all, the culture of machete, massacres and genocide is still rife in Rwanda and Burundi. Proof? Up to 40 dead bodies, including some wrapped in plastic, were discovered by Burundian fisherman in Lake Rweru in July and August. The identity of the bodies and the circumstances surrounding their deaths remain unclear. Reuters quoted Burundian authorities on 25 September 2014 as saying that ‘there are no indications the bodies are of Burundian citizens. They say they have asked families living in the area but have not had reports of any missing individuals.’ The head of the criminal investigation division of the Rwandan police, Theos Badege, repeated previous statements that the bodies were not Rwandan nationals. As the two tiny countries traded accusations, the Burundian ambassador to Belgium spilled the beans and revealed that the 40 bodies were floating from Akagera River from Rwanda into Lake Rweru which separates Rwanda and Burundi, suggesting that a slaughter had taken place in Rwanda. President Kagame requested an explanation from the Burundian government (led by a Hutu) but the explanation was not forthcoming. So he decided to expel the ambassador Burundian, according to a report by L’Avenir 16 September 2014.
America’s double standard again came to light when the US called on Rwanda and Burundi to investigate the discovery of up to 40 dead bodies. ‘We firmly believe that these victims deserve to be identified. Their families deserve to know their fate, and those responsible should be brought to justice,’ Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said in a statement. The United States called on the two countries to conduct a ‘prompt, thorough, and impartial and concerted investigation’ into the deaths with the assistance of ‘independent, international forensic experts,’ she said.
For more than 16 years, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and the so-called rebels they have masterminded in Congo have killed more 8 million Congolese people. The United States has never called on them to be brought to justice because Rwanda and Uganda act as mercenaries for the U.S. in Africa, especially in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. In fact in 2005, Uganda was found guilty by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of violating the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of Congo, plundering its natural resources and was responsible for human rights abuses when it sent its troops there. And the Museveni state has not paid the $10 billion Congo demanded as part of the court ruling. Rwanda’s turn will come.
For Museveni and Kagame using the 1994 genocide as a tramp card does not bite anymore. Even recently at the 69th UN General Assembly, Museveni, not long ago nicknamed as the ‘Bismarck of the Great Lakes Region of Africa’, devoted a big chunk of his speech on the history of the ancient Kongo Kingdom, arguing that ‘the Kingdom of Kongo covered parts of Northern Angola, Cabinda, parts of the Republic of Congo and Western parts of the DRC. As a consequence of the actions of colonialism, that polity declined and disintegrated. It is only now that the modern countries of that area are regenerating that portion of Africa’.
The truth of the matter is that Museveni and Kagame have failed in the macabre and sinister mission Anglo-Saxon powers assigned to them in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, especially that of balkanizing the Democratic Republic of Congo. Just recently, the Congolese army and its SADC allied defeated Rwandan and Ugandan troops in eastern Congo masquerading as M23 rebels and drove them out of there.
* Antoine Roger Lokongo is a Congolese journalist studying for a PhD in Biejing, China.
* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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