UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
Rwanda: Recent Documents, 1
Date distributed (ymd): 970824
Document reposted by APIC
This posting contains (1) a HRW Africa statement on recent killings in Rwanda by both government soldiers and insurgents,(2) excerpts from daily and weekly reports from the UN's Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) for the Great Lakes.
Since release of the HRW Africa report on August 20, the UNHCR reported an attack in northwestern Rwanda by insurgents on Mudende, a camp housing Tutsi refugees from the Masisi region in Congo. 107 refugees were reported killed.
More detailed and more frequent updates on the Great Lakes region from a variety of sources can be obtained on the Web at http://www.reliefweb.int/emergenc/greatlak/latest.html
Human Rights Watch
Condemnation of Massacres Of Civilians By Rwandan Soldiers And Armed Insurgents
Human Rights Watch 485 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10017-6104 TEL: 212/972-8400 FAX: 212/972-0905 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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(August 20, 1997) Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) condemn the killings of hundreds of unarmed civilians by soldiers of the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA) and by armed insurgents in a series of incidents in the northwestern prefecture of Gisenyi on August 8, 9 and 10. The first of these incidents took place just one day after the United Nations Human Rights Field Operation (HRFOR) published a report documenting the massacre by RPA soldiers of more than 2,000 persons, many of them unarmed children, women and the elderly in northwestern Rwanda during the preceding months.
These massacres took place in the context of a continuing armed struggle between RPA soldiers and armed groups composed largely of soldiers of the former Rwandan government (ex-FAR) and of members of the militia that participated in the 1994 genocide of Rwandan Tutsi. The Rwandan government has the right and duty to protect its citizens, but such defense must be conducted within the parameters of international humanitarian law: there is no excuse for killing unarmed civilians or combatants who have laid down their arms. The slaughter of unarmed civilians by the insurgents is similarly an inexcusable human rights abuse.
The number and scale of attacks that cost civilian lives have multiplied in the last several months. Human Rights Watch and FIDH deplore the continued delivery of arms to the region, including the recent resumption of arms sales to the Rwandan government by South Africa exacerbating the situation and facilitating the use of deadly force against unarmed civilians.
According to reports from a number of independent sources, including diplomats in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, RPA soldiers and insurgents exchanged fire in the crowded market of Mahoko at 10 am August 8. One report states that the firing continued for two hours and that the RPA fired mortars into the market. Independent sources estimate that 400 people were slain, most of them unarmed civilians. Rwandan authorities declare that "several" civilians were killed in the incident.
Later that day, armed rebels attacked the commune jail in Rubavu where hundreds of persons were detained on charges of having participated in the 1994 genocide. Witnesses declare that RPA soldiers drove away the rebels and then killed 200 to 300 detainees. Rwandan authorities reportedly admit that 185 detainees were killed but say the insurgents were responsible for these deaths. According to these official accounts, RPA troops had withdrawn from the immediate vicinity of the jail in order to regroup. In their absence, the insurgents took over the jail, liberated the detainees, and killed those who refused to join forces with them.
Rwandan authorities admit that at least ninety-five detainees were also killed at the commune jail at Kanama that same afternoon. Preliminary independent reports put the number of fatalities from this incident at approximately 200.
Authorities ordered the local population to bury the dead in mass graves in each community. Witnesses report that gunfire was also heard on August 8 and 9 in Muhira, Bisezi, Kanzenze and Nyundo sectors.
That evening and the next day, reportedly drunk RPA soldiers looted throughout the area.
According to the testimony received by Human Rights Watch and FIDH, the RPA moved armed personnel carriers into the area on August 9 and witnesses report having heard mortar fire. These accounts state that the RPA deliberately killed an undetermined number of civilians on August 9, some of whom were apparently identified on a list as persons to target.
On August 10, at 7 pm, the insurgents attacked a school at Gisa, where students were meeting with an officer of the national police. Reports do not indicate the number of persons killed or wounded in this attack.
Reports indicate that large numbers of people have fled their homes, some heading for the town of Gisenyi, others moving west towards the border with Congo.
The Rwandan government has arrested thirteen of its soldiers in connection with these incidents.
To the government of Rwanda:
Order RPA troops to stop killing unarmed civilians immediately.
Carry out a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation of these killings and make public the findings. Continue to arrest and bring to trial as soon as possible all those apparently implicated in the incidents.
Guarantee full access to U.N. and nongovernmental human rights monitors, to organizations providing humanitarian aid, and to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees protection officers.
To the insurgents:
Order your troops to stop killing unarmed civilians immediately.
To the international community:
Bring all possible pressure to bear on the Rwandan government and the insurgents to halt the slaughter of unarmed civilians and to observe international humanitarian law. Condition financial and other assistance on a halt to these killings.
To the United Nations:
Revive the International Commission of Inquiry (Rwanda), implement the important recommendations it made in 1996, and provide it with a new mandate to investigate arms trafficking in the Great Lakes region (including Rwanda, Burundi and Congo) and propose to the Security Council specific and concrete measures aimed at curbing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the area.
The Human Rights Field Operation should publish immediately and fully all available information related to deliberate killings of civilians.
Human Rights Watch is a nongovernmental organization established in 1978 to monitor and promote the observance of internationally recognized human rights. Its Africa division was established in 1988 to monitor and promote the observance of internationally recognized human rights in sub-Saharan Africa. Peter Takirambudde is the executive director and William Carmichael is the chair of the advisory committee.
Fdration Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l'Homme (FIDH; The International Federation of Human Rights) is an international nongovernmental organization for the defense of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Created in 1922, it includes 89 national affiliates throughout the world. Antoine Bernard is the executive director. Eric Gillet is coordinator for Burundi and Rwanda.
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Emergency Update No. 228 (13 August 1997)
* Three people have been sentenced to death on genocide charges by a Rwandan court and ordered to pay a total of US$ 1.5 million in damages, AFP said yesterday, citing reliable sources. The accused are to appeal the verdict by a court in Gitarama, southern Rwanda. According to a July UN Human Rights Field Office for Rwanda (HRFOR) report, Rwandan courts have passed death sentences on 61 people out of 142 who have been tried for genocide this year.
IRIN Emergency Update No. 229 (14 August 1997)
* Two international human rights groups Wednesday urged the Rwandan government to curb army killings of civilians, AFP said. In a joint statement, Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues said they had written to President Pasteur Bizimungu and Vice President Paul Kagame to condemn the reported deaths of between 2,000 to 3,000 civilians in army operations in the northwest of the country in recent months. "It is your duty to order that these indefencible civilian killings and other violations of international law cease immediately and to check that this order is carried out," the letter said in part.
IRIN Emergency Update No. 230 (15 August 1997)
* Jean Kambanda, the prime minister of the Rwandan interim government during the genocide was remanded in custody for a further 30 days at his own request by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Thursday. Tribunal president, Laiti Kama, said the extension was based on "the complexity and persistent difficulties of leading investigations in Rwanda," Fondation Hirondelle, an independent media organisation, reported. Kambanda was arrested on 18 July in Kenya and transferred to the ICTR detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania.
IRIN Weekly Roundup 17-97, covering 12-18 August 1997
Rwanda - Officers arrested over civilian deaths
Six senior Rwandan army officers and seven soldiers were arrested Friday for taking part in "killings and looting" in northwestern Rwanda, news agencies reported. The arrests occurred in Gisenyi during a visit by Vice-President and Defence Minister, Paul Kagame. The men allegedly opened fire on a market last Monday - killing at least 40 people according to AFP - in retaliation for an attack by Hutu rebels. Kagame called for them to face an "exemplary punishment", Rwandan radio said. Two international human rights groups Wednesday condemned the alleged deaths of between 2,000 and 3,000 civilians in army operations in the northwest over recent months. Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues said in a letter to Kagame and President Pasteur Bizimungu: "It is your duty to order that these indefencible civilian killings and other violations of international law cease immediately."
Rwanda - Heavy fighting in Gisenyi
Local sources reported heavy clashes between the army and rebels last weekend in Gisenyi prefecture, with villagers moving closer to the town to avoid the fighting. Some 300 prisoners were allegedly killed in the cachots of Kanama and Rubavu. The road linking Gisenyi and Ruhengeri was briefly blocked last Friday between Rubavu commune and Nkamira transit camp by rebels who shot dead one man in an ambush. The army killed 23 rebels and lost five soldiers in reopening the route. The army have deployed reinforcements and armoured personnel carriers to Gisenyi. Humanitarian sources who recently visited Ruhengeri say the food security situation is precarious with malnutrition rates high especially in the less secure northwest and southern areas of the prefecture. The situation has been exacerbated by the mass return of refugees. According to WFP, nearly 60,000 metric tons of emergency food aid will be needed to feed some 690,000 vulnerable people throughout Rwanda during the July-December period.
Rwanda - Genocide suspects on trial
A former senior Rwandan army officer accused of taking part in the 1994 genocide was arrested last Monday in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa and transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda's (ICTR) detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania. The arrest of Samuel Manishimwe, the former military commander in Cyangugu, brings to nine the number of suspects picked up in Kenya since 18 July. Jean Kambanda, the prime minister of the interim government during the genocide, was Thursday remanded in custody for a further 30 days at his own request by the ICTR. Three people were sentenced to death on genocide charges by a Rwandan court in Gitarama, AFP reported Tuesday. The accused are to appeal the verdict. Rwandan courts have passed death sentences on 61 people out of 142 who have been tried for genocide this year, according to a July report by the Human Rights Field Office for Rwanda (HRFOR).
Meanwhile, 155 Rwandan refugees arrived in Kigali from Gabon Tuesday. Most of them were immediately led away by the military. UNHCR, which was not involved in the operation, expressed particular concern over eight of the returnees. The repatriation followed an abortive attempt last Sunday to fly home 115 mostly ex-FAR and their families from the Gabon. The Gabonese aircraft turned back to Franceville after a rebellion onboard the plane.
IRIN Emergency Update No. 231 (19 August 1997)
* Rwandan Vice President Paul Kagame said yesterday that human rights violations are being dealt with but must be viewed within the context of the ongoing fighting in the northwest region. Responding on Rwandan radio to a series of reports by international human rights groups condemning alleged civilian killings by the army in its counter-insurgency operations, Kagame said it is "as if there is no fighting happening. As if it is simply a violation of human rights." He stressed that the army was battling "groups that are bent on causing insecurity" and their "collaborators". He added, "these elements will have to be fought and will have to be defeated." Kagame however noted: "if there is any problem associated with our troops in the process of fighting these elements of instability, that also will have to be handled, because there are mechanisms to handle that ... The process is there. And the means to investigate are there, and that is all being done."
* The UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) yesterday extended the detention of four genocide suspects by 30 days to give the prosecution time to finalise its investigations. The four are Sylvian Nsabimana, the former prefect of Butare, Aloys Ntabakuze, the ex-commander of the para-commando battalion, Belgian journalist Georges Ruggiu who worked at Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines, and Col. Gratien Kabiligi who served on the Rwandan army's General Staff until July 1994. The tribunal will rule later in the week on a defence counsel request for the provisional release of Hassan Ngeze, a former editor-in-chief of the monthly 'Kangura'. All the suspects were arrested in Kenya last month. According to ICTR rules, they can be detained for a maximum of 90 days after which the indictments must be confirmed or the accused released.
IRIN Emergency Update No. 232 (20 August 1997)
* Namibia is prepared to hand over a genocide suspect working in the country on a formal request by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), according to news agency reports. Andre Rwamakuba, Rwanda's education minister during the genocide, is currently employed by Namibia's ministry of health. Namibia has no extradition treaty with Rwanda. Meanwhile, the detention of Hassan Ngeze by the ICTR sitting in Arusha, Tanzania, was extended for a further 30 days yesterday to enable the prosecution to finish its investigations. Ngeze was the former editor-in-chief of the 'Kangura' newspaper.
Rwanda: Recent Documents, 2 Date distributed (ymd): 970824 Document reposted by APIC
This posting contain (1) excerpts on Rwanda from the latest issue of Impunity-Info, published by International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, and (2) excerpts from a July 1997 report by Physicians for Human Rights on Eastern Congo and Western Rwanda.
More detailed and more frequent updates on the Great Lakes region from a variety of sources can be obtained on the Web at http://www.reliefweb.int/emergenc/greatlak/latest.html
Impunity-Info (Excerpts from V. 2, n. 1, July 1997)
Published four times per year by the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (ICHRDD), 63, rue de Bresoles, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2Y 1V7 Tel. (514) 283-6073; Fax: (514) 283-3792; e-mail: email@example.com; Web: http://www.ichrdd.ca
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to Include Charges of Rape
The presentation of an amicus brief to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to bring charges of rape and other crimes of sexual violence in the trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu has proven to be a significant achievement in efforts towards accountability and prosecution for gender-based violence and for the overall protection of the human rights of women. As a direct result of the amicus brief filed by a group of women's and human rights NGOs in May 1997, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda amended the indictment against Jean-Paul Akayesu a few weeks later. Where before the indictment did not consider at all the evidence of crimes of sexual violence, the amended indictment now includes charges of rape and inhumane treatment. More importantly, this amendment recognizes rape as a crime against humanity and as a war crime which brings to the forefront gender-based crimes particularly in war and conflict situations. ...
The amicus brief, prepared by Joanna Birenbaum and Lisa Wyndel of the Toronto-based Working Group on Engendering the Rwanda Tribunal; Rhonda Copelon of the International Women's Human Rights Law Clinic of the City University of New York; and Jennifer Green of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, recalled factual testimony presented to the trial and probative evidence available to the Tribunal through human rights investigative reports on the prevalence, purposes and effects of rape and other sexual violence in the Rwandan Commune of Taba under the authority of then Mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu. The brief called on the Prosecutor to consider amending the indictment accordingly, as well as improving the quality of the investigations to include proper attention to crimes committed against women. ...
The brief is available in French or English at the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. Contact Stephanie Rousseau.
A Coalition on Women's Human Rights in Conflict Situation
An NGO Coalition on Women's Human Rights in Conflict Situations has been formed and is presently housed within the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. ... If you are interested in receiving the [Coalitions's] newsletter or joining this Coalition, write or phone Stephanie Rousseau at the International Centre (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Trials Continue Before Arusha Tribunal
The trial of Georges Rutaganda is proceeding before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, while that of Jean-Paul Akayesu, which began in January 1997, has been postponed until October following a claim by the defense lawyer who said he had problems finding witnesses prepared to testify on behalf of his client. ... A Swiss court has ordered the transfer of another genocide suspect, Alfred Musema, to the Tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. Musema is accused of having brought armed groups to the Bisesero area, in western Rwanda, and ordered them to attack Tutsis. The indictment claims that Musema personally attacked and killed some of the Tutsi victims, who had worked at the Gisovu tea plantation. ...
Rwandan Domestic Prosecutions Continue, Despite Criticisms
The president of the UN Security Council said the body is worried about the deteriorating prison conditions and inadequate judicial system in Rwanda, following a briefing by assistant secretary-general for political affairs, Ibrahima Fall, in May 1997. "Members of the council expressed concern over the continuing deterioration of prison conditions, lack of proper legal protection and the poor judicial system and called upon the Rwandan government to improve the situation in this regard," said Park Soo Gil. He also said that Security Council members had stressed the importance of the Rwandan government's co-operation with the international tribunal.
The statement followed a report from the UN Centre for Human Rights, in Geneva, criticizing the progress of genocide trials in Rwanda. The Centre said it was concerned about the security of lawyers, prosecutors, judges and witnesses in the trials, which began in late-December 1996. In six months of activity, the Rwandan courts have not managed to try even 100 of the accused. Approximately 90,000 are said to be in detention awaiting trial. ...
Of those already tried, a handful have been acquitted, but most have been sentenced to death. Executions have not yet taken place, although the Minister of Justice recently published regulations governing capital sentences, a necessary step before they can take place. Rwanda's vice-president and defence minister, Paul Kagame, has admitted that the justice system is far from perfect. But "trials are better than no trials," he said, and "criticisms will serve to make us work harder and better the justice system."
INVESTIGATIONS IN EASTERN CONGO & WESTERN RWANDA
A Report by Physicians for Human Rights, 100 Boylston St., #702, Boston, MA 02116. Tel: 617-695-0041; fax: 617-695-0307; e-mail: email@example.com. For more information contact Richard Sollom at PHR's Boston office (617-695-0041) or Holly Burkhalter at PHR's DC office (202-547-9881).
(Note: the following consists of excerpts from a much longer report, available on the Web at gopher://gopher.igc.apc.org:5000/00/int/phr/war/11 The full report includes additonal material on Eastern Congo as well as Rwanda.) ... PHR has been deeply concerned about atrocities in this region since the onset of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. In that year, PHR called for an international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for leading the slaughter of an estimated 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus by Rwandan army (ex-FAR), Interahamwe militia, and Hutu civilians. Subsequently, PHR assisted the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda by exhuming the mass grave at Kibuye where more than 450 bodies from a single grave produced evidence of the brutal killing of unarmed men, women, and children. PHR recognizes the threat to stability and security in the region posed by the international community's failure to disarm and bring to justice those responsible for the 1994 genocide who remained in and retained control of the refugee camps in Eastern Zaire/Congo during the past two years. ...
1. Pervasive insecurity and widespread atrocities and human rights abuses currently characterize the entire region of Eastern Congo and Western Rwanda.
Although civil war has officially ended in former Zaire/Congo, the region remains destabilized. Widespread insecurity and fear pervade Eastern Congo as well as Western Rwanda, where there is currently an unreported civil war taking place. All local citizens, refugee and displaced populations, and international staff are affected and constrained by these conditions. Atrocities and human rights abuses of many kinds are ongoing throughout the region. ...
In Western Rwanda, a clandestine war (which has intensified over the past two months) between the Rwandan government and organized Interahamwe and ex-FAR (former Rwandan Armed Forces) has rendered the countryside off limits for civilian travel and subjected the local (predominantly Hutu) population to risks of direct attack and killing by the Rwandan military. The Rwandan government perceives threat from many directions. Military roadblocks are frequent; the sense of surveillance is omnipresent. Local citizens, staff from international organizations, and visitors move about in Kigali, its environs, and the western region with a continual awareness that they are being observed and subject to peremptory questioning or arrest.
According to the ICRC Information Officer in Kigali, during the last three months at least 2,000-3000 civilians have been killed as a result of the fighting in Western Rwanda. The entire area of northwestern Rwanda is considered completely unstable; travel for expatriate staff is considered very unsafe, as such personnel appear to be directly targeted. Estimates of numbers being killed are inexact, based on both information from trusted local people who dare to furnish information to the ICRC and whatever hospital-based data the ICRC can acquire. ...
In Western Rwanda, the civil war has created such insecurity in the areas of Ruhengeri and Gisenyi that the UN has drastically curtailed access to the region. At least nine UN and NGO staff people, both local and expatriate, have been killed in Western Rwanda in the last six months. No one from the international press has traveled to this area in the recent past, although reports of the war have been broadcast on local radio. Information regarding the conduct of the war, the fate of local villagers, the numbers and kinds of casualties has thus been difficult to obtain. PHR received reports that military casualties are considerable in the area. The PHR team traversed this region by UNDP convoy, escorted by three trucks of armed Rwandan military -- one day after another convoy had been ambushed, allegedly by Interahamwe. The atmosphere was tense, radio communication taut, and the pace as rapid as the switchbacks would tolerate.
The local population (predominantly Hutu), and especially recent returnees from Congo, live in fear of arbitrary arrest as collaborators in the 1994 genocide and incarceration in one of the 18 prisons or 150-200 cachots (detention facilities) in the country. Soldiers and other armed personnel are present in all towns, along the roads, and in all official buildings and places of population activity, such as markets and crossroads. ...
5. A state of civil war characterizes the situation in Western Rwanda, and the United States should condemn ongoing human rights abuses by Rwandan military and disclose the U.S. security relationship with Rwanda.
Due to the presence of both Rwandan government forces and insurgent forces in the region, the war between these two opposing sides is ongoing and has spilled over into Rwanda on a more dramatic scale since the repatriation of the Rwandan refugees from Congo. Since the beginning of 1997, the civil war in Western Rwanda has dramatically escalated, leading to a larger number of casualties on both sides of the conflict and to a greater death toll among civilians. As in Eastern Congo, both sides are indiscriminately attacking and abusing civilian populations in their bid for military advantage. The international community has yet to recognize this state of affairs. Nor has it proposed remedies, despite the involvement in and victimization of both Rwandan and Congolese citizens by both sides of the conflict in the region.
PHR is concerned that in addition to failing to recognize publicly a civil war in Western Rwanda, the U.S. government has failed to disclose fully its role in supporting the Rwandan government in its conduct of the war. Based on interviews with U.S. officials and military personnel, as well as first-hand observations and public information (both prior to and during the recent mission to the region), PHR is aware that U.S. Army Special Forces have been training Rwandan military in Rwanda since at least early 1996. The number of these U.S. military personnel has varied in witness accounts from 12 to more than 100 present in Rwanda at any given time. According to the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, U.S. security assistance to Rwanda has included reconciliation group training, de-mining, civic affairs, small-scale non-lethal military assistance, and U.S. Special Forces training. PHR is particularly concerned that this U.S. military training has included counter-insurgency operations and cross-border surgical strikes.
6. The international community should desist from repatriating Rwandan refugees from Congo into Western Rwanda because of an ongoing civil war there.
The international community and the UNHCR have focused attention on the human rights abuses in Eastern Congo. Less attention has been directed to the difficult issue of repatriating refugees to the adverse situation now existing within Western Rwanda. These refugees are now returning to a wholly insecure environment, where in many instances, they become immediate targets for retribution from the Rwandan government forces. This process with these potentially deadly consequences contravenes the cornerstone of international refugee law, the principle of non-refoulement. ...
The return of several hundred thousand Rwandan refugees since November 1996 has resulted in a number of security and custodial problems for the Rwandan government. In particular, the existence of 150 to 200 prison and detention facilities throughout the country, holding an estimated 120,000 to 140,000 people (not only recent returnees, but also large numbers arrested soon after the 1994 events) accused of participation in genocide, poses a major burden on the government, the local communities, and the decimate Rwandan judicial system. In interviews with senior staff in the international organizations responsible for overseeing the welfare and due process issues of these detainees, and in interviews with a Rwandan official with overall jurisdiction for the detention centers in Ntongwe Commune in Gitarama, the PHR team learned that few of these hundreds of thousands of people, overwhelmingly men, have formal dossiers prepared against them and that many of them have been in holding facilities, designed only for the most temporary stays, for periods ranging from six months to over one year. PHR received reports that up to one-quarter of all recent Rwandan returnees from Congo have been detained, often on unsubstantiated grounds of having participated in the 1994 genocide. ...
8. The international community should provide urgent assistance to help rebuild the economy and infrastructure of Rwanda.
In Rwanda, the genocide and war have taken a serious toll on the economy and infrastructure. The PHR team noted in particular a number of health care issues that have arisen as a result of the impoverishment of the population, the decimation of its professional class, and the collapse of its immunization program. Malnutrition is considered to be the major underlying problem haunting the general population, particularly children. Health care facilities are grossly understaffed and supplies are inadequate. Diarrheal disease, upper respiratory infections, malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS are the major illnesses and, according to international as well as local officials, appear to be increasing in incidence. ... Finally, the psychological burdens of coping with the terrible recent past and the losses it has created are mentioned by all observers as perhaps the most pressing and least understood of all problems affecting every sector of the population.
An immediate consequence of the austere circumstances is that international aid to the returning refugees, whether via the transit camps, in the villages, or in the prisons and detention facilities, is viewed with rancor by national and local officials. Without an increase in reciprocal aid to the non-refugee population, communal antipathies will continue to be aggravated by this perceived inequality.
CONCERNS RELATED TO U.S. POLICY
The United States is an important ally of the Government of Rwanda, providing the government with extensive economic support, security assistance, and strong diplomatic support. Regrettably, human rights in Rwanda and in Congo, where the Rwandan Army has committed serious abuses, have taken a back seat as the U.S. has moved to establish close relations with governments in both countries.
The U.S. Embassy in Rwanda strongly backs the Kagame government, openly downplays human rights concerns and minimizes reports of human rights abuses, and is perceived by international humanitarian agencies as distinctly unsympathetic. An American official in the U.S. Embassy told PHR that he supported the Rwandans' thwarting of a United Nations mission to investigate atrocities in Congo, and he defied PHR to produce evidence of serious violations of human rights in Rwanda or Congo.
Whereas U.S. officials have condemned human rights abuses in Congo and have conditioned aid to the new Congolese government on improvements in human rights, no such linkage has been made to U.S. aid to Rwanda. This disparity is troubling, given the clear evidence that PHR has found of Rwandan involvement in gross violations of human rights of unarmed Rwandan refugees in Congo and of Congolese themselves, either those suspected of aiding the refugees, or Congolese Hutu who were singled out because of their ethnicity. ..
The U.S. Government is providing military assistance in the form of aid and training to Rwanda. ... U.S. officials have characterized part of this training program as a human rights program aimed at "professionalizing" the Rwandan forces. If that is the case, then the evidence -- both in Rwanda and in Congo -- is that it has been a failure. Abuses against civilians have been rampant in both countries. Serious questions need to be asked about whether the United States is therefore implicated in these atrocities.
PHR is not opposed in principle to human rights training and aid to foreign military forces. But it is not a substitute for a command decision on the part of the local military authorities that abuses against civilians will not be tolerated, and that commanders and the men under their command who engage in them will be prosecuted and punished. Not only have the Rwandan authorities not prohibited and punished those responsible for such abuses in Rwanda over the past two years, they have exported the abuses to neighboring Congo in the military campaign to pursue the Interahamwe and ex-FAR.
Under such circumstances all U.S. security assistance to Rwanda should be conditioned until such time as all Rwandan forces implicated in abuses are removed from Congo, human rights abuses against non-combatants in Congo cease, and their perpetrators disciplined. And the establishment of a military aid program for Congo should be postponed until such time as President Kabila exercises appropriate control over the forces under his command, and has ordered foreign troops from Congolese soil.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Message-Id: <199708241324.GAA16580@igc3.igc.apc.org> Date: Sun, 24 Aug 1997 09:01:36 -0500 Subject: Rwanda: Recent Documents,1/2
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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