UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
Zaire: Recent Documents
Date distributed (ymd): 970329
Document reposted by APIC
Included below are (1) a press release and letter from Human Rights Watch, and (2) translated excerpts from the last edition of Info-Zaire
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(New York, March 14, 1997) Human Rights Watch today called upon Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Chair of the EU Presidency and Dutch Foreign Minister H.A.F.M.O. van Mierlo, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, U.N. and OAU Special Envoy Ambassador Mahmoud Sahnoun, and OAU Secretary-General Salim A. Salim to redouble their efforts to protect the tens of thousands of noncombatant refugees, many of them women and children, caught in the Zairean war. The refugees, the rest of some one million Hutu who fled Rwanda after the defeat of the genocidal government in 1994, are facing attack by the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) that drove them from camps in eastern Zaire several months ago. The international human rights organization also insisted on a prompt and thorough investigation of charges of massive killings of civilians and other violations of international humanitarian law in eastern Zaire.
The letters follow.
March 14, 1997
The Honorable Madeleine Albright Secretary of State U.S. Department of State Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Albright:
Human Rights Watch/Africa asks that you immediately use the full weight of U.S. influence with parties to the Zairean conflict to insist that they protect noncombatants, particularly the elderly, women and children, threatened by the advance of troops of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL). Faced with the impossibility of fleeing further west, the refugees also face death from exhaustion, hunger and disease.
The United States, in conjunction with France and other major international actors, should insist upon a cease-fire to permit the delivery of humanitarian aid and the evacuation of noncombatants from this region.
Testimonies collected by Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, as well as information from other sources, indicates that ADFL forces as well as ex-FAR have slaughtered unarmed civilians in eastern Zaire. Such violations of international humanitarian law heighten concerns that all sides are prepared to sacrifice the civilians now at Ubundu, either by using them as shields or by attacking them indiscriminately.
A full and independent international investigation of accusations of massive slaughter of civilians, as has been requested by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, should also be undertaken immediately. In its discussions with the parties to this conflict, the U.S. should insist that they guarantee the free access and security necessary for such an inquiry.
The failure to investigate accusations of large-scale killings of civilians and to hold authorities responsible for such abuses will only perpetuate the impunity that has encouraged continuing violence in this region.
We would be happy to provide you with any additional information that you might request. In the meantime, thank you for your attention to these important matters.
Kenneth Roth, Executive Director Peter Takirambudde, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch/Africa
[Letters making the same points were also sent to:
H.E. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, The Honorable Mahmoud Sahnoun, United Nations, New York, NY 10017
H.E. Secretary-General Salim A. Salim, Organization of African Unity, P.O. Box 3243, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
H-E EU Presidency Chair and Dutch Foreign Minister H.A.F.M.O. van Mierlo P.O. Box 20061 2500 EB The Hague The Netherlands]
INFO-ZAIRE: Information Bulletin produced monthly by the Table de Concertation sur Les Droits Humains au Zaire, Entraide Missionnaire, 15, De Castelnau Ouest, Montreal, (Qc) H2R 2W3 Tel. (514) 270-6089 Fax 270-6156; E-mail: email@example.com.
March 27, 1997, No 125
Note: These excerpts translated by APIC. Portions excerpted are those points least likely to have been covered in English- language press reports to date. For information on availability of the full French text, please be in touch directly with Entraide Missionaire. An English edition is distributed by the Inter-Church Coalition on Africa (ICCAF), 129 St-Clair Ave. W., Toronto, Ontario M4V 1N5. Tel.: (416) 927 11 24; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neither edition is at this time regularly available by e-mail. Both French and English editions are normally posted on the africa.news conference of the Association for Progressive Communications networks. As of March 29, the full English translation was not yet available in that conference.
Contributors to this number: Elonga Adjaje, Aleli Mboka, Roland Rivard, Michel Sunguza, Kadari Mwene Kabyana and Denis Tougas.
Consequences of the Capture of Kisangani
The taking of a city as important as Kisangani has had a shock effect on the population of Zaire. It gives the impression that, even with the aid of mercenaries and foreign troops, the Zairian army is in full flight and that it can no more halt the advance of the ADFL forces. In addition, as they advance, hundreds of soldiers of the Zairian Armed Forces are changing sides. Moreover, it seems that the mass of the Zairian people want from now on that Kabile takes the whole country. At the beginning of the rebellion, they feared the partition of their country; now they hope that Kabile will save them from the Mobutu regime. ...
Life in "Free Congo"
Now that the ADFL has, by arms, taken control of the east of the country, it is now engaged in putting in place an administration that will permit it to control the 'liberated zones.' The first steps of this new management gives some indications of its orientation.
The ADFL was formed initially by four parties: the Parti de la revolution populaire (PRP) of Laurent Kabila, the Conseil national de resistance pour la democratie (CNRD), the Mouvement revolutionnaire pour la liberation du Zaire (MRLZ) and the Alliance democratique des peuples (ADP). However, the 'executive committee' put in place to administer the conquered territories does not seem to take into account this first alliance. Other than Laurent Desire Kabile, political chief of the ADFL, from Shaba, who distinguished himself during the rebellions of 1964-1967, so far one only finds little known figures. Among the 'general commisioners' named to darte: Raphael Ghenda, a muluba from Kasai who has been in Belgium for more than 20 years, in charge of Information and Press; Mwana Nanga Mawapanga, a mukongo from Bas-Zaire, who quit his post as a professor at the University of Kentucky to take charge of Economy and Finance for the ADFL; Bizima Karaha, a munyamulenge from South Kivu, a medical doctor trained in Pretoria, and Gaetan Kakudji, a muluba from Shaba who has spent more than 25 years in Beligum, both at Foreign Affairs; Paul Kabongo, a muluba from Kasai, in Security; Samson Muzuri, a munyamulenge from South Kivu, in Education; Joseph Rubibi, also a munyamulenge from South Kivu, for Middle and Small Business; Deogratias Bughera, a tutsi from North Kivu and founder of the ADP, at general headquarters in North Kivu; Nindanga Masasu, a tutsi from South Kivu, at general headquarters in South Kivu, and Mwenze Kongola, a muluba from Shaba, recruited from Philadelphia in the U.S., at Justice. ...
A large number of functionaries of Kivu have been let go and those who remain are now required to restrict themselves to the official rates for permits and stamps, to the great satisfaction of the population. For the moment custom receipts are the primary source of government income. ... Import and export taxes have been reduced by 70% to give incentive for merchants to pay promptly.
In addition, former administrators, at least those not compromised with the regime, have been invited to stay in their posts on condition of participating in ideological reorientation sessions where they study the thought of Patrice Lumumba and Laurent Kabila. Those who graduate from these courses form base cells ('tchembe-tchembe'), with the primary task of maintaining security in designated neighborhoods by keeping track of the population.
As one has seen in Kindu and in Kisangani, the crowd that attends the speeches of the new leaders has been asked to ratify, by raised hands, the choice of the new administrative leaders made by the ADFL. The activities of any political parties are banned as long as the war continues, as well as media other than the 'People's Radio' from Goma.
These first decisions of the new leaders of eastern Zaire leave one perplexed; the victories of the ADFL are now saluted by the people as salvation from the reign of terror and corruption of the Mobutu regime. Still, to prepare for after- Mobutu, Kabila and his 'commissioners' seem to ignore groups and individuals who since 1990, particulary in Kivu, have been engaged on the spot and on a daily bais in preparting for change. Simple ignorance of the new Zairian realities since the beginning of the transition, or a strategy to put aside future rivals? The future will tell us.
Kabila Wishes to Govern
After his speech to the people of Kisangani, on Saturday March 22, one can get some idea of how Laurent-Desire Kabila intends to govern Zaire.
One learned that while the war continues all political parties are banned in the liberated zones with the exception of those constituting the ADFL of Congo-Zaire. After the liberation of the whole of the territory, Kabila foresees the formation of a transitional government formed exclusively of members of the ADFL and 'true opponents.' As to his own future, Kabila says that he is not a candidate for president of the republic and that he will resume his life as a private citizen once Zaire is freed.
Certainly, Kabila and his armed forces have the right to have their vision of a new Zaire. Nevertheless, there are unavoidable legal and socio-political realities that every reformer of Zaire must not ignore: the consensus on the achievements of the Sovereign National Conference on the form of the state and government; the educational work done by civil society with citizens and the collective will of the people to exercise all their rights and liberties. But, in banning political parties in the liberated zones, Kabila undermines the slow and deep work of learning democratic mechanisms in organizations and political parties. He raises suspicions about his mode of governing: a return to an abhorrent one-party system and a dictatorship of another type. In hoping to form a government dominated by the ADFL, he arouses the opposition of other political groups and their constituencies, which he will only be able to deal with by force. But, such a solution would not be compatible with democracy.
The non-armed opposition, which saw in Kabila an ideal partner for pursuing democratic goals, risks becoming disoriented. Once the shock has worn off, it will disassociate itself from Kabila's political program, which will have to undergo the daily test of managing a huge country full of contradictions.
Genocide or Massacres?
The overwhelming testimony concerning the massacre of Hutu refugees in Kivu submitted in mid-February to the Security Council of the United Nations and to Amnesty International, then to all Western embassies, have evoked diverse reactions.
On February 22, the first, the Belgian Secretary of State for Cooperation Reginald Moreels gave credit to the report and affirmed that there was 'genocide' by the ADFL rebels supported by Kigali with respect to Hutu refugees in Zaire. He softened his position some days later speaking instead of the 'possibility of a recurrence of genocide.'
On March 4, it was France's turn, in the voice of the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jacques Rummelhardt, who judged the indications in the report "unhappily credible." and supported an international inquiry to get at the truth.
Meanwhile, on February 28, the UN High Commission for Refugees coordinator for Kivu, Filipo Grandi, categorically denied the disappearance of "500,000" refugees as charged in the report. "Such a massacre could not have escaped our notice," he declared. In making the count of refugees supported by his organization, he put forward the figure of 200,000 refugees still missing. Admitting that some refugees have been killed by the ADFL, by the Zairian armed forces and by their own militia, he concluded that there was no proof that such a massacre had been organized.
Another formal denial came from Monsignor Faustin Ngabu, on March 10, during a visit to Paris. The Bishop of Goma and president of the Zairian Bishops' Conference, who labelled the document "partisan, dishonest and irresponsible," declared that "if there had been a genocide, I would have felt it."
In Goma, members of civil society interviewed by Western media were cautious: some "intercommunal massacres," particularly in Masisi, have indeed taken place, as well as disappearances and kidnappings by ADFL soldiers, but not systematic massacres of refugees.
Neverthelss, another report, this one producted by the Zairian Human Rights Association (AZADHO), and made public March 1, claims massacres on such a scale and meticulous organization as to merit the term genocide. AZADHO gathered information from members of the organization who remained after the capture of Goma. The report says that the massacres were acts of vengeance carried out by Rwandan and Zairian Tutsi who lost family members in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the persecution of Tutsi in Zaire in 1995-96. The targets have been not only Rwandan refugees but also Zairian Hutus. The Mai-Mai militia composed mostly of Hunde whose communities were expelled from Masisi by Zairian and Rwandan Hutu in 1993 and 1995-96, are said to have participated actively in the killings, commanded and supported by the ADFL. On March 6, 'Radio Star', the ADFL radio in Goma, appealed strongly to AZADHO to retract their statement. Faced with these barely veiled threats, AZADHO issued a new communique warning the Kivu authorites against any repression against its members as well as all human rights activists working in zones under rebel control. ...
Faced with these troubling charges and a growing number of testimonies, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Ayalla Lasso has called on parties to the conflict in Zaire to respect international human rights. He said he was ready to send human rights observers to the region on condition that their security was assured by the belligerants and that he obtained the necessary funding. He also asked the special rapporteur on Zaire, Roberto Galleton, to investigate the allegations and to make a report to the next session of the UN Human Rights Commission. On March 25, the special rapporteu began a week's mission in Zaire [to investigate the reports].
From: email@example.com Message-Id: <199703301524.HAA16759@igc3.igc.apc.org> Date: Sat, 29 Mar 1997 10:19:14 -0500 Subject: Zaire: Recent Documents
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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