Torn by ethnic conflict between the Tutsis and the Hutus, Rwanda experienced Africa's worst genocide in modern times. The conflict had origins in Belgium's colonial rule, which favored the minority Tutsis and fostered differences between the two groups. In 1962, when the country gained independence, Gregoire Kayibanda headed the first recognized Hutu government. Juvenal Habyarimana seized power in a military coup a decade later, following the massacre of thousands of Hutus in neighboring Burundi. For nearly twenty years under Habyarimana, ethnic relations simmered with sporadic outbreaks of violence. In 1993, Habyarimana signed a short-lived power-sharing agreement with the Tutsis, aiming to end the fighting. In April 1994, the plane carrying Habyarimana and the President of Burundi was shot down. The event triggered the notorious genocide. Extremist Hutu militia aided by the Rwandan army launched systematic massacres against Tutsis. Despite reports of mass killings, the UN failed to take immediate action to stop the massacres, due to opposition from France and the US. Around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed within 100 days, and over three million people fled to neighboring countries. In the years following the genocide, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) established a Government of National Unity, seeking reconciliation between the two ethnic groups. In 1995, a UN-appointed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) began trying those responsible for the 1994 atrocities. However, Rwanda's efforts at recovery have been marred by its involvement in the conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo.
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In 2013, Rwanda will take up its UN Security Council seat. Observers have raised concerns about the obvious conflict of interests which will arise when the Council will deal with the Great Lakes region. According to a UN inquiry challenged by the Rwandan government, 1,000 Rwandan soldiers have now joined M23 forces in the DRC. The UN Panel of Experts has implicated M23 in widespread human rights abuses. The recent fighting has reportedly displaced at least 130,000 people around Goma. (Guardian)
In January 2013, Rwanda will become one of the new five non-permanent states to join the Security Council (SC). Given that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will continue to feature extensively on the SC agenda throughout 2013, the appropriateness of Rwanda’s ascension to the Council is questionable. In June 2012, a UN Panel of Experts reported that the Rwandan government has direct connections with the Congolese Rebel Group, the M23. However, James Kimonyo, Rwandan ambassador to the UN denies the allegations that M23 are acting as a proxy army in the region to further regional hegemonic interests. The Rwandan presence on the SC could cause a deadlock over the issue of Rwandan and Ugandan involvement in the DRC. The Rwandan ascension brings questions about Charter guidelines on membership, or rather, the commitment of the Council and the UN more broadly to real peace and security in Africa. (Think Africa Press)
After the Rwandan genocide, the country struggled to implement justice and provide the closure needed to rebuild the social structure of the country. In 2002, the government decided to use community based Gacaca courts to try the majority of cases in order to expedite the justice process. This Human Rights Watch report analyzes the use of community-based courts for handling post-conflict justice. While critics argue that Gacaca courts may be more corrupt, they have been able to process more cases than the normal court system would have been able to handle. (Human Rights Watch)
Rwanda is threatening to withdraw thousands of its peacekeepers from Darfur if the UN publishes the recently leaked draft report that accuses Rwandan forces of massacring civilians in the DRC in the mid-nineties. The report cites numerous cases in which Rwandan forces allegedly slaughtered Hutu refugees after promising them repatriation. In Sudan, a Rwandan general is currently in charge of all 21,800 UN-AU peacekeeping troops, which includes 3,300 Rwandan peacekeepers. This shows how vulnerable the UN is to pressure from member states and how creaky the peacekeeping system has become.(New York Times)
The leader of the major Hutu militia, Ignace Murwanashyka, and his deputy, Straton M., have both lived freely in Germany for over 20 years. From here they maintained control over the Rwandan militia’s destructive activities in Congo. After much petitioning by the Rwandan Government, the German authorities have finally reacted and arrested the two leaders.( Der Spiegel)
General Romeo Dallaire, head of the former UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda, said that he could have saved hundreds of thousands civilians during the country's genocide in 1994, but the UN Security Council refused to send more troops. P5 member US called for withdrawal of the already limited number of peacekeepers in Rwanda, because it did not want to endanger its own troops. During the genocide, approximately 800,000 Hutus and moderate Tutsis were killed. (CNN)
Rwanda sends hundreds of fighters into Congo to support the Tutsi rebels and to expand its power over Congolese natural resources like coltan, cassirite and diamonds. Businesspersons, the Rwandan government and the Congolese rebel movement, led by former Rwandan army official Laurent Nkunda, take part in the illegal mineral trade between Congo and Rwanda, fuelling the Congolese war. (New York Times)
A report by the Rwandan government, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), concluded that France was complicit in the 1994 genocide. This article, however, argues that the RPF is only accusing France in order to hide its own illegal actions in 1994, namely the murder of President Habyarimana. Further, the US and UK - the RPF's closest allies - support the accusations, which allow both world powers to evade responsibility. (Spiked)
Rwandan foreign affairs minister, Charles Murigande called a disarmament plan from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) intangible. The plan promotes demobilization, relocation and the re-integration of rebels within their communities. While the Rwandan government analyzes the proposals, Murigande has restated that the rebels won't receive any "special treatment." Murigande said if disarmament takes place it should involve the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo. (MONUC)
According to researcher Linda Melvern, former UN Secretary General Boutros-Ghali, French diplomats and then-President François Mitterand prevented the UN Security Council from acting during Rwandaâ's 1994 genocide, by twisting evidence and portraying the genocide as just "common banditry" and "tribal anarchy and chaos." Melvern accuses the entire Security Council of fatally privileging conflict in the Former Yugoslavia over that in Rwanda. (Rwanda News Agency)
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has declared Kigali no longer sees the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo as supporters of the Hutu militias responsible for the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Kagame's announcement marks a positive development ahead of the first democratic elections in the DRC since independence in 1960. Tensions in the eastern provinces of the DRC threaten to destabilize the election with local leaders loyal to Rwanda unwilling to give up power should they lose the election.(Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
The Security Council adopted Resolution 1653 in a ministerial-level debate on regional dimensions of peace and security in the Great Lakes region of Africa. The resolution calls on the Governments of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to disarm and demobilize militias and armed groups, especially northern Ugandaâ€™s Lordâ€™s Resistance Army. The resolution also acknowledges the link between the illegal exploitation of natural resources, the illicit trade of those resources and the proliferation and trafficking of arms as key factors fuelling and exacerbating the conflicts in the Great Lakes. Resolution 1653 thus urges the countries of the region to promote lawful and transparent use of natural resources among themselves and in the region.
Has the international community learned from the 1994 Rwandan genocide or will history repeat itself in Darfur? UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned in 2004 that "the world must not permit Darfur to turn into another Rwanda." Gerald Caplan writes in this Pambazuka article that the international community's meager response to the Darfur crisis shows how global powers will not respond to calls for forceful intervention based strictly on humanitarian grounds. In fact, Caplan argues, "some countries are capable of almost infinite callousness and indifference to human suffering if geopolitical or political interests are not at stake."
Rwandan rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) has announced it will cease its armed struggle to bring Rwanda back under its control. The Hutu force fled across the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo following the 1994 genocide, providing Rwanda with a dangerous pretext to invade its neighbor and hunt down the militia, which is responsible for the killing of 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus. FDLR intends to "transform its armed struggle into a political one." It has condemned the genocide and has acknowledged the "catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Great Lakes." (Guardian)
This WW3Report article traces Rwanda's long history of involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), revealing the complicated links between regional governments, proxy forces, rebels, natural resource exploitation, and Western interference. Rwanda uses the UN's and the DRC's failure to implement disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of rebel forces as well as continued impunity for rebel and army leaders involved in the 1994 genocide, as reason to interfere militarily in the DRC. The article points to popular anger towards MONUC for its inability to provide security and for alleged troop misconduct.
UN officials have gathered growing evidence that Rwandan troops have crossed the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), raising fears of renewed conflict. The Security Council held an emergency meeting to address the issue, and Secretary General Kofi Annan called on Rwanda to "refrain from military intervention" while urging the DRC to redouble efforts to disarm and repatriate militias. 8,000 to 10,000 Hutu militiamen are present in eastern DRC, and Rwanda has scorned UN "voluntary disarmament" efforts, vowing to take matters into its own hands. (Los Angeles Times)
Rwanda has deployed thousands of troops along its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), claiming that Hutu militias are mobilizing to attack. Others, however, say Rwanda only seeks to protect its economic interests in the DRC. Kigali exploits valuable minerals such as cassiterite and tantalite through close cooperation with rebel proxy force, RCD-Goma. (Observer)
Rwandan President Paul Kagame dismissed UN calls for Rwandan rebels operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to disarm voluntarily, saying, "If you want peace, you have to make war." Kagame's hardline stance worries observers, who note that Rwanda and the DRC have resorted to war over cross-border rebel groups in the past. In spite of UN peacekeepers patrolling the border, the situation remains dangerous. (BBC)
The UK provides $30 million a year in aid to Rwanda through the Department of Foreign and International Development. Local sources say Rwanda uses some of this money to fund and support rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, the US and the Netherlands have withdrawn or reduced aid due to "concerns over the misuse of funds." Rwanda is accused of violating a UN weapons embargo and UN teams say they have found Rwandan soldiers inside the DRC in spite of Rwanda's promise to withdraw all troops. (Independent)
A United Nations report accused the Rwandan military of backing armed Congolese rebels in their fight against the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Such support violates a UN ban on military and financial support for armed groups in DRC and threatens to undermine an already fragile peace accord. (Washington Post)
A UN investigation concluded that the "black box" discovered this year in a locked UN file cabinet did not "contain any relevant informationâ" about the 1994 plane crash that killed the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi. (Associated Press)
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has referred to the international community's failure to intervene in the 1994 genocide as "deliberate and convenient" due to strategic or national interests, and even "racist considerations." (BBC)
This article questions the role played by the US in the lead-up to the Rwandan genocide, especially its political and military support for the displaced Rwandan Tutsi army, whose incursions into Rwanda in the early nineties provoked the merciless genocide. (Truthout)
The Rwandan government has extended its deadline for detainees to confess their roles in the 1994 genocide, as more prisoners admit to have taken part in the killings. The head of Rwandan judicial services believes the increasing number of confessions is "a positive step in the effort of finding out the truth about the genocide and...reconciling Rwandans." (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks)
The UN has initiated an investigation into the recovery of a flight data recorder containing vital evidence on a plane crash in 1994 which killed the then Rwandan President. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, calling the incident a "first-class foul-up", has denied allegations that the UN attempted to cover up evidence of the accident. (Guardian)