The United Nations has released an official report accusing potential crimes of genocide committed by the Tutsi-led Rwandan forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during the 1990s as a backlash to the genocides committed by the Hutus against the Tutsis.
The report’s first draft was released in August, fueling outraged protest from the Rwandan and Ugandan governments.
Rwanda’s foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, told The New York Times, “Rwanda faces enough challenges today, including systematic efforts to rewrite history and reignite hatred, to respond to 16-year-old recycled garbage.”
The almost 550 page report covers 617 separate instances of murder, torture, and other crimes against humanity. Rwanda has backed down from threats to withdraw their peace-keeping troops from the U.N.
Rwanda claims that the troops that entered the DRC in the mid 1990s were pursuing the remaining Hutu militiamen responsible for the Tutsi genocide.
According to the report, there are “several incidents [that] point to circumstances and facts from which a court could infer the intention to destroy the Hutu ethnic group in the DRC in part.”
The report states that Rwandan forces would “trick” the Hutu victims into coming to meetings in which Rwanda was to offer them repatriation programs, assimilation into Congolese society if they had settled there already, or as simple as the distribution of food. Once all had gathered, “those present were systematically killed.”
The report also noted that “[s]everal of the massacres listed were committed regardless of the age or gender of the victims.”
The Rwandan President has also come under heavy fire after the release of the report.
President Paul Kagame led the Tutsi revolt in 1994 against the Hutu genocide, and is an iconic figure of one of the most celebrated success stories in recent years.
This report, although, implicates him as turning a blind eye to the genocidal acts being committed in the 1990s.
Gerald Gahima, a former Rwandan prosecutor general who now lives in the U.S., also told The New York Times that he had no proof that could implicate the president directly, “but he knew that these crimes were going on.” He added, “you [as a commander] are also criminally liable for crimes that you know are happening and don’t do anything to stop.”
There have also been allegations that the U.N. toned down the original draft to appease Rwanda and Uganda. There was a report that the United States pressured the U.N. to bury the results of the investigation into the genocide out of fear that another civil war would start in Rwanda.
A member of the State Department said “it did not appear” that there was American pressure surrounding the final draft of the report.
According to BBC reporter Mark Doyle, the draft of the report “spoke of ‘damning’ reports of ‘systematic and widespread attacks’ which, if proven in court, ‘could be classified as crimes of genocide’”.
The final report, on the other hand, is not as judgmental in its vocabulary: “speaking of ‘apparent’ attacks, which ‘could be characterized as crimes of genocide.’”