Great Lakes: IRIN Update 92, 2/3/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 92, 2/3/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 92 on the Great Lakes (Saturday 1 - Monday 3 February 1997)

# A Canadian priest, of the order of White Fathers, was killed while conducting a mass in Ruhengeri on Sunday, the same area where the three MDM workers were recently killed. Humanitarian sources in Rwanda speculated that the priest was killed by Hutu extremist because he had assisting the International Criminal Tribunal with its investigations of genocide suspects.

# The Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR) has produced a report detailing killings and other attacks against genocide survivors and persons associated with them between January and December 1996. HRFOR received reports of more than 64 separate incidents in which an estimated 227 genocide survivors were killed and 56 were injured. In the majority of these cases, members of the ex-FAR, interahamwe militia or insurgents were held responsible. The largest number of killings occured in the western regions of Rwanda; of the 227 reported killings during the year, 195 were committed in Gisenyi, Cyangugu, Kibuye, Gitarama and Kigali Rural prefectures.

In a number of cases in November and December recent returnees have been involved in the killing of genocide survivors. HRFOR also received reports of death threats and other acts of intimidation against genocide survivors and persons associated with them. The report reveals that in a number of cases throughout the country `genocide survivors moved from isolated, outlying areas to more central locations, particularly those close to communal offices and/or RPA positions, out of a heightened sense of insecurity.'

The report states that in the wake of heightened insurgency activities, in a number of cases involving the killing of genocide survivors, the RPA carried out large-scale cordon-and-search operations, some of which resulted in `high numbers of civilian casualties.' The report ends with recommendations to the Government of Rwanda and the international community, including a recommendation for specific measures to protect witnesses to the genocide and judicial personnel, as trials are now underway in Rwanda and Tanzania.

# The Zairean government put two alleged prisoners of war on display for the international media as proof of their complaint to the UN Security Council that Zaire is the victim of international aggression, reported Reuters. They claimed one was a Rwandan lieutenant and the other a Ugandan corporal. The Rwandan said he was one of 3,000 Rwandan soldiers sent to Zaire to aid the Allied Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL).

# In a Foreign Ministry statement dated 30 January, the Ugandan government dismissed as false and "baseless" the allegations from the Zairean government that Uganda is involved on the side of ADFL rebels in eastern Zaire. The statement went on to list examples of how Zaire failed to respect the resolutions passed by the Cairo (1995) and Tunis (1996) summits on the Great Lakes region, by refusing to disarm elements of the ex-FAR and interahamwe militia and to relocate the refugee camps away from the Rwandan border.

It accused Zaire of threatening international peace and security in the region by harbouring Hutu armed elements, which "regularly made cross-border attacks against Rwanda." The statement accused the interahamwe of "exporting the policy of genocide" into eastern Zaire, and "initiating the massacres in Masisi and Rutshuru". The statement further alleged that the disenfranchisement of Zaire's citizens, the Banyamulenge (Zairean Tutsis), "who had been living in Zaire for 200 years", and their subsequent expulsion from Zaire encouraged long standing secessionists - - Lumumbists, Tshombe and Mulele groups -- and others to take up arms against the government.

It said, "shortly after the rebellion in Zaire, Uganda dissidents who have been living in Zaire with the full knowledge of Zairean authorities, also took advantage of the prevailing situation and violated Ugandan territory from within Zaire," forcing Uganda to protect itself.

One of the rebel groups that Uganda alleges to be supported by Zairean authorities, the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) issued a statement today warning Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni "against his expansionism and destabilization of the neighbouring countries." It further stated that, "There is overwhelming evidence to prove that the majority of the Banyamulenge rebels are UPDF (Ugandan People's Defence Force). This is similar to the case of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) where seven battalions of UPDF fought side by side with the RPF." They appealed to the Ugandan government "to lay down their arms and join us to avoid unnecessary deaths of our citizens. To those who might not heed this appeal tighten your boots, because we are prepared to fight to the last drop of our blood if that is what it takes to get rid of Tutsism from Uganda."

# The Kenyan Sunday Nation on 2 February quoted Laurent Kabila, leader of the ADFL rebels, defending Rwanda's and Uganda's involvement in eastern Zaire, "They (Rwanda and Uganda) have had a bitter experience with the Zairean regime, which gives shelter to their opponents. The east of Zaire was a base for their opponents."

Kabila told Radio France International that "I have thrown into battle some 8,000 new and much more determined soldiers emerging from training centres," reported AFP. Humanitarian workers in the area claim that the ADFL training camp is located in Rwanda. In reference of allegations of assistance from Ugandan and Rwandan troops Kabila said, "I don't need any outside help, I assure you."

# According to the rebel-controlled Radio of the People, monitored by the BBC, members of a delegation representing various communities in the Fizi zone recently held discussions with delegates from various ethnic groups, notably the Babembe and Banyamulenge. The parties discussed the causes of the conflict between the Banyamulenge and the Babembe, concluding that the root cause of the conflict was Mobutu's regime. Consequently, it called on Babembe people to coexist with their Banyamulenge neighbours, and to "only fight for the common cause, that of liberating the Congolese people through support of the ADFL."

# Quoting humanitarian sources, AFP reported that Zairean president, Mobutu Sese Seko, who is still recuperating in France, was described by his entourage as being too ill to receive the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ms. Sadako Ogata, at his residence in France last week. Ms. Ogata had asked to meet the Zairean leader at his villa near Nice, before undertaking her up-coming visit to countries in the Great Lakes region. However, President Mobutu, is expected to be well enough to pay a visit to King Hassan II in Morocco today. Observers speculate that they will discuss the possible assistance of Moroccan forces in Zaire. The Kinshasa newspaper `La Cite Africaine' reported that Mobutu is expected to return to Zaire on 8th February.

Diplomatic efforts to muster support for the flagging counter-offensive in the wake of reports that ADFL forces have been reinforced by Ugandan and Rwanda troops continue. Zairean Foreign Minister Gerard Kamanda wa Kamanda, having completed a visit to the US, is off to France today. Kamanda wa Kamanda told an Africa No 1 correspondent that Zaire is expecting greater involvement from the US towards finding a lasting solution to the crisis. As a follow-up to the appointment of Ambassador Sahnoun, the UN/OAU special envoy to the Great Lakes region, and the steps initiated by heads of state of the Nairobi follow-up committee, Kamanda wa Kamanda said, "we think that a strong intervention by the United States government, which is also a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is absolutely indispensable. Since this government has recognized the aggression against Zaire and has reaffirmed its support for the territorial integrity and the inviolability of the borders of Zaire, it is necessary for it to take the necessary steps within the UN Security Council and elsewhere to ensure that the aggression ceases and that in a global perspective, measures are taken to improve the situation in the Great Lakes region."

# Reuters reported that the Zairean counter-offensive was again faltering. Rebels claimed last Friday to have captured the town of Watsa, except for the airport held by "South African" mercenaries, 500 km from Goma in northwest Zaire. The town was to be a bridge-head for the Zairean counter-offensive and a mercenary base. Kabila's ADFL rebels also claim to have recaptured areas of land between Bukavu and Kisangani, and to have advanced towards Kalemie. Humanitarin workers in Kisangani told IRIN today that the situation around Amisi is calm with no recent reports of fighting in that area. In Kisangani local officials are reported to be "more confident" than they were a week ago. This confidence may be due to the evidence of increased FAZ military activity out of Kisangani.

In the latest in a series of contradictory signals, Kabila told Radio France International that he now has no intention of advancing to Kisangani, but is willing to negotiate with Kinshasa. The Zairean government reconfirmed its commitment to a military solution, refusing offers to negotiate.

According to UNHCR, humanitarian operations were suspended by the Zairean government in Lubutu at 10:00 on Friday, and following talks with the UNHCR and other UN and NGO agencies, the regional governor at Kindu agreed to allow the resumption of activities at 16:00 on Saturday. The original suspension of activities resulted from the entry of unauthorized personnel, mainly journalists, and flights into the area. Most UN and NGO agencies are still encountering difficulties in obtaining new "sauf conduits", government travel permits, from Kinshasa. Moreover, the stipulation that air deliveries must all pass through Kinshasa is still in effect, which will create further delays in the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Following a visit to Lobutu and Tingi-Tingi, Emma Bonino, the EU commissioner for humanitarian affairs, said the international community should be ashamed, "we are seeing here 200,000 people who were declared non-existent by the international community... It is frankly unacceptable that the best professionals in the military from the most important countries could not detect these people's existence." Bonino promised the refugees that food aid and repairs to the roads now limiting access to them would become priorities for the EU. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Great Lakes, Martin Griffiths, met with Bonino in Kinshasa last night.

# The UN Human Rights Office in Kinshasa has produced its first report, covering the period from 10 December to 28 January. The report draws attention to human rights abuses in eastern Zaire, the difficulties experienced by aid agencies attempting to assist refugee and displaced populations and cases of arbitrary arrest by the authorities.

The report notes that the Government's response to the conflict in the east dominated political activity in December and January and `diverted attention away from preparations for elections' as well as putting an economic strain on the Government and the National Electoral Commission (NEC). It reveals that while the electoral calender calls for pre-electoral pilot projects for the census, identification of eligible voters, and voter registration from 15 October to 30 November 1996, as of 25 January `none of these activities had been completed'.

The office was opened in December by the UN High Commissioner/Centre for Human Rights and will seek to monitor the human rights situation across the country, develop a programme for technical assistance with national institutions established by the Government of Zaire, and produce a plan for supporting human rights organizations from Zairean civil society.

# The foreign relations committee of the Sudanese National Assembly, in a statement issued 1 February on Sudanese Radio, denounced Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni's, "declaration of war" against Sudan on 30 January as a provocation. The committee stressed that this "irresponsible" declaration would negatively affect the stability and security of Africa. The statement said that Museveni's "hostility to Arabs" had been well known and that he is a prime ally of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) rebels.

Brig Dr Tayyib Ibrahim Muhammad Khayr, the Sudanese minister of culture and information and official government spokesman, announced on Sudanese TV on 1 February the details of how his goivernment alleges the SPLA rebels, supported by Ugandan forces, are massing on the eastern front in preparation for the launching of an intensive attack on Kapoeta, Torit and Juba in southern Sudan. He claimed that the SPLA were well equipped and are being supervised by British officers as well as American and Israeli experts with the direct participation of Ethiopian forces. He said that this was within the framework of the common interests of "these aggressive countries", to oust the country's current Muslim government. While the Khartoum government claims it is not the aggressor, opposition leader and former prime minister, Sadeq el-Mahdi, told AFP that the Khartoum government was responsible for bringing Sudan to the brink of war.

# The trial of genocide suspect Froduald Karamira closed on 31 January after four days of hearings. The Public Prosecutor's Office had requested the death sentence. Sources close to the trial told IRIN that Karamira's lawyer appeared to play on the sentiment of the court, saying "the son of the country had returned". In a near denunciation of his client, he said Karamira should ask for the forgiveness of the Rwandan people. He said he had just been doing his job as a lawyer and that he was now committing Karamira to the justice of his country, but he urged the court not to impose the death sentence. Karamira then said that if his death would reconcile the Rwandan people and bring about peace he would not oppose it. The court's verdict is expected on 10 February.

# The human rights organization, African Rights, has strongly criticized Amnesty International (AI) and Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF) for championing the case of Joseph Ruyenzi, a Rwandan whom African Rights argue, with detailed evidence, raped a woman and played a leading role in the genocide in his home commune of Kayenzi. In a report entitled, `Joseph Ruyenzi: Prisoner Without A Conscience', African Rights claim that AI and RSF leapt to his defence shortly after his arrest, presenting his case as an example of a campaign of terror against journalists by the Rwandan Government. In doing so they `relied on information relayed by their contacts in Rwanda, not pausing to question either the accuracy of the facts they published, or the integrity of the political interpretations they had so readily ascribed to his arrest.'

In a BBC interview today, the Africa Director of Amnesty defended the decision to appeal on Ruzenyi's behalf, stating that Amnesty had reason to believe that he would be ill-treated while under arrest and that he was innocent until proven guilty. Rakiya Omaar, co-director of African Rights, argued that by portraying Ruyenzi as a victim of injustice and ignoring evidence about his alleged crimes, Amnesty had threatened to damage the chance of his victim bringing him to justice.

# In a statement read on Radio Rwanda 30 January, the foreign affairs minister, Dr. Anastase Gasana reportedly summoned the Belgian ambassador to express his concern and astonishment on behalf of the Rwandan government over the recent statements by the Belgian Foreign Ministry that Rwandan troops are aiding ADFL forces. The statement implied that the Belgian government had been mislead by partisan Belgium mercenaries employed in Kisangani by the Zairean government.

# Rwandan radio reported that the Rwandan foreign affairs minister, had met with Mr. Antoine Staedtler, an official of the Swiss embassy in Kigali, on 30 January. Their talks focused on bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries. On behalf of the Swiss government, Mr. Staedtler promised 12m Swiss francs to assist the Rwandan government's reconstruction and rehabilitation programmes for the integration process of the returnees. Mr. Staedtler further said that the Swiss government was to continue its assistance to Rwanda, especially in the health sector and projects already financed by the Swiss government.

Nairobi, 3 February 1997, 15:00 gmt [ENDS]

[Via the UN DHA Integrated Regional Information Network. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN DHA IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]

Date: Mon, 3 Feb 1997 18:12:16 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 92 for 3 Feb 1997 97.2.3 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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