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Africa

Rwanda slams UN DRC war crimes report

media Rwandan Hutu refugees on the road to Kisangani in March 1997 AFP

The UN draft report on war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo is "flawed and dangerous" and an "insult to history", the Rwandan government said in a statement Friday.The report is expected to accuse the Rwandan army of massacring Hutus who had fled to the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the 1990s. It will also point an accusing finger at the DRC’s own army, as well as troops from Burundi and Uganda.

And it has infuriated Rwandan leaders by declaring that a court could find that the killings were genocidal.

The 516-page report details the findings of an inquiry into “the most serious human rights violations” in the DRC, formerly Zaire, from 1993 to 2003.
 
It says that tens of thousands of Hutu civilians were murdered in the DRC, after they had fled Rwanda following Paul Kagame’s Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front's seizure power.
 
In a chapter on killings in 1997-1998, it describes an attack on about 120,000 Hutu refugees by armed Congolese rebels backed up by soldiers from the Rwandan army at a camp in Tingi-Tingi in Maniema province.
 
On the morning of 1 March, soldiers from both armies raided the camp, which had been deserted by most of the refugees, “indiscriminately killing its remaining occupants”, the report says.
 
Witnesses told the investigators that most of the victims were stabbed to death. Hundreds more are reported to have been killed in the afternoon when soldiers opened fire on columns of fleeing refugees.
 
In April of the same year, the investigators report that 200 refugees were massacred in the Kasese camp in Kisangani region in the presence of senior officers from the Rwandan Patriotic Army, the report states. A bulldozer was requisitioned from a local logger to dig mass graves, it adds.
 
The victims seem to have been chosen on the basis of their ethnic group, and not to have been limited to those held responsible for atrocities against Tutsis before Kagame took power, the report says.
 
On the basis of some of the incidents described, a court could conclude that there was an intention to destroy part of the Hutu ethnic group in the DRC, leaving the way open to charges of genocide, it concludes. 
 
The report also documents massacres perpertrated with the involment of the Ugandan and Burundian armies.

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