Friday, November 29, 2013

United Nations Employing Alleged Rwandan War Criminals in Peacekeeping.

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Canadian journalist Judi Rever has come up with yet another damning story (well, actually more than a story) that will haunt the current Rwandan army. But it will also question the legitimacy of two UN Peacekeeping Missions that according to Rever's investigative report are led (or have been led) by notorious Rwandan murderers.

The Rwandan generals in question are Patrick Nyamavumba and Jean Bosco Kazura. Nyamavumba, often referred to as "the colonel" has since left UN hybrid mission in Sudan and was recently appointed by Kagame as the head of the Rwandan army. Kazura, originally from Burundi before joining the Tutsi rebels who attacked Rwanda in the early 1990s, is now the force commander for MINUSMA mission in Mali

Surprisingly, this is not the first time that such serious allegations have been leveled. In 2007, rights groups objected to the naming of another Rwandan general (and potential war criminal) Karake Karenzi over crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The allegations were repudiated by Rwanda in its usual and predictable pattern. Furious Rwandan UN diplomats, threatened that removing the suspected general would have consequences.

Indeed, similar tactics were employed after the 2010 publishing of the UN Mapping report that implicated Rwandan (read: Kagame's) troops into Congo's slaughter. Rwanda's warning and rage was only a bit more bare: publish the report and we will pull our troops out of peacekeeping missions.

So how did we get to a point where rogue soldiers are fashionable peacekeepers?

There are several factors at play here that interact with each other. On one hand, the UN needs troops to serve in their ever growing missions. The Rwandan army has proven to be a reliable partner willing to deploy in some of the most dangerous areas. On the other hand, this is a tool for Rwanda to expand its international leverage. Peacekeeping bestows a badly needed special status on Rwanda and its leaders--who are perpetually dogged by nasty scandals. This can be seen, for instance, in Rwanda's recent attainment of a rotational seat at the UN Security Council.

The intrigues that guide the United Nations are discussed in Rever's article as well as the constant suppression of reports indicting Kagame's army. Remarkably, her piece interviews more than a dozen members of the Rwandan army. This seemed a little surreal to me since I am at loss as to why these soldiers would so willingly self-incriminate. At least the interviewees offer a little clue. “We need a better future for our country; we have to tell our children what really happened," one of the troops says. This is hope. Perhaps the need for personal reconciliation can triumph over deeply sinister ideological commitments.

The reading is a catalogue of shocking crimes, well researched and painfully articulated. In the 1990s, Kagame's troops under the command Nyamuvumba ran incinerators in the Akagera National Park where they deliver hundreds of people (some killed, some still alive) to finish them off. The bodies were lit with fire to erase any future traces. The calculating generals must have predicted that one day they would be holding huge, cushy UN jobs.

Kazura's case is even more intriguing. He is identified as a Burundian Tutsi. What motivated this Burundian Tutsi to be involved in Rwanda's mass murder? A tough question to ask. But in my view, the RPA was then an incubator for "revolutionaries" that hoped to "liberate" the region. It was an investment into their future--a future of UN air-conditioned offices and political jobs in Rwanda.

But can Kazura completely silence the ghosts? Read the quote below and judge for yourself:

By June, at the height of the genocide, Kazura was in Rwamagana in Kibungo, east of the capital. A soldier in High Command said Kazura was an operational commander of about 100 soldiers that hunted down civilians, killed them and dumped them in a pit in neighboring Rutonde. 
“Kazura was personally involved in carrying out and commanding and overseeing those operations of hunting down and rounding up civilians, bringing them to a detention house and taking them to the killing site,” said the soldier, who was present during the murders.
It needs no repeating that Kagame's RPF army (now renamed RDF) is one of the murderous in the region. It has spawned a heavy layer of dark clouds on victims--whom remain forever silenced. That the UN would partake in this level of chicanery makes me believe that there is no goodness left in mankind. A sad conclusion for a human rights activist.

Still, we must continue to insist that these entrepreneurs of violence are not only halted but are also held accountable. It is not enough for the UN to fire them.

For the UN to employ them; however, sends the chilling message that violence, crimes against humanity and genocide have a huge payoff. It further ridicules the International Criminal Court, where these criminals should be enjoying retirement.

On this issues, and the international community's general indifference to Kagame's crimes, the drum cannot be beaten any longer!

To access, Judi Rever's piece, click here

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