It is with shock and great sadness that we have to report on yet another attack on Rwandan refugees. This most recent one took place at Kanyabayonga transit camp on 25th May 2015, where former soldiers who laid down their weapons along with their families lived under the protection of both the UN, and the Congolese military. According to various reports from the refugees present at the camp, this ignoble crime against humanity took place in front of UN Peace keepers, as Congolese soldiers led by Colonel Abubacar and Major Papi who both serve under General Delphin Kahimbi, tried to force some of the refugees onto trucks for an unknown destination. While the refugees were still asking questions to figure out what was happening, the Congolese soldiers opened fire on the refugees resulting in several casualties, among those a child named Tumayine who died in his father’s arms. The father was also shot as he was running to safety.
In an audio message sent out to the members of AFERWAR-Duterimbere, the Association for Rwandan Women refugees, Racy NYINAWANSHUTI, the organization’s current President, has pleaded with Human rights organizations, and the International community at large, to put an end to the pattern of indifference they have shown over the years, when it comes to crimes committed against Rwandan refugees in Eastern Congo. Even though there was an attempt by the Congolese military to block out information from the scene of their crime, by confiscating mobile phones and other electronic devices, Racy NYINAWANSHUTI raised an alarm for the urgent protection of some of the most vulnerable refugees present in the camp. She stressed especially on pregnant women and new mothers whose babies are less than a year old, such as:
UWAMAHORO GENTILLE and her 2 month old baby, FURAHA TUYISENGE with her 4 month old baby, IRADUKUNDA ANNONCIATTA with her 5 month old baby and FURAHA BEATA with her 4 and half month old baby. We have sadly learned that Beata’s husband is one of the many refugees that lost their lives in this horrific attack.
In recent weeks the Congolese military with an apparent complicity with MONUSCO, have been engaged a strategy of deception, which involves tricking refugees into fake meetings that tend to end with some of the refugees being moved forcefully into government run detention centers, where they are subjected to various inhumane treatment, in order to compel them to return to Rwanda against their will.
This is strategy which is reminiscent of the one used in the 1990’s where by thousands of Hutu refugees were lulled to their death by the promise of humanitarian assistance, by the RPF forces and their allies, as documented by the same UN, in its 2010 Mapping report. It has sent a chill down the spine of all Rwandan refugees around the world, as they are now fearing a repeat of the 1996 carnage which the UN itself has called a genocide and yet has been unwilling to do anything about it.
For more than two decades, the UN has taken a position by which any crimes committed against Hutu refugees in Eastern Congo must be left unpunished or explained away, by the simplistic logic that all Hutu refugees are genocidaires and whatever horrific event befalls them is warranted.
It is about time that the UN and the so called international community realize that these refugees have names, families and loved ones who mourn them when they die, and it is even more heartbreaking when they perish at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them. Justice delayed is justice denied and we hope that the UN will at least give justice to the refugees who were slaughtered by General Kahimbi’s men, because they were there, they saw it all, and they cannot claim that they don’t know who is responsible for this senseless massacre of innocents.