Rights groups accused all sides of exploiting ethnic conflict in the region. "Relations between the Banyamulenge and other Congolese groups have been strained and are frequently manipulated by politicians in both Rwanda and the DRC," wrote Human Rights Watch in a June 2004 report, "War Crimes in Bukavu." "The past six years of war have KENYA contributed to hostility against them 11 as they are increasingly identified as 'Rwandan' by other Congolese. Rwanda has often justified its presence in DRC in part as an effort to protect the Banyamulenge people, though this was challenged in 2002 when they attacked the Banya-. mulenge homelands killing scores of Banyamulenge civilians, shooting some of them from Rwandan -- helicopters." UPDF soldiers celebrate their warfighting capabilities-photo from ww3report.com.In a bold article that caught major international press on December 4, BBC journalist Robert Walker, who overflew the North Kivu region in a MONUC helicopter, reported that "President Kabila is getting away with a crime" because the DRC government was fabricating reports of war and Rwandan involvement in eastern DRC. However, by December 20, 2004, UNICEF was reporting "millions displaced by recent fighting."
Central Africa's Ongoing Genocide
Paul Kagame 'S Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) invaded Rwanda from Uganda in 1990, launching a four-year campaign of guerrilla warfare. Open support for Rwanda's then-Hum-led government from French paratroopers failed to prevent the RPA victory of August 1994, following the coordinated genocide of hundreds of thousands of Rwandan Tutsis by hard-line Hums (FAR) and affiliated Interahamwe (Hutu) militias from April to July.
Critics such as Wayne Madsen, author of Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa 1993-1999, assert that Kagame and the RPA orchestrated the April 6, 1994 assassination of the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi-shooting down their plane on its approach to Kigali airport with SAM-7 surface-to-air missiles taken from Iraq by France in 1991, then delivered by the U.S. military to Uganda, the base for RPA guerrilla operations against Rwanda prior to 1994.
Evidence was provided at a special hearing held by then Congressperson Cynthia McKinney at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC on April 6, 2001, the seventh anniversary of the assassinations. Journalist Charles Onana of Cameroon, author of The Secrets of the Rwandan Genocide, also aired claims of RPA involvement in the incident and was sued for defamation by Paul Kagame. A Paris court found in favor of Onana. Defense attorneys working at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR) (4-maintain that the standard figure of 800,000 Tutsis killed in the 1994 genocide is grossly inflated. At least three major films continue to circulate in the U.S., all furthering the pro-RPA and pro-Tutsi perspective of the Hum genocide.
Paul Kagame, who was trained by the U.S. military at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, has been a regular visitor at Harvard University, the James Baker III Institute in Houston, Texas, the White House, and the Pentagon. U.S., European, and South African military interests have continued to support various factions in Central Africa, arming militias and rebel groups through proxy armies from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in south Sudan. France's presence in Central Africa is based out of Gabon, the major point of French military penetration on the continent.
Terror continued in Rwanda under the new RPA government of Paul Kagame, with Amnesty International documenting a pattern of assassinations, arbitrary imprisonment, and "disappearances." Nearly all political opponents-Tutsi or Hutu-have been labeled "genocidiares" and Amnesty International has protested that some trials and executions of accused genocidiare collaborators have been tainted and politically-motivated.
The first Rwandan invasion of its huge neighbor to the west occurred in 1996. According to the influential "Africa Confidential" newsletter, Major Gen. Paul Kagame visited the Pentagon in August 1996, conferring with Washington prior to launching a grand plan to unseat Mobutu Sese Seko. While the U.S. public was consumed with the 1996 presidential elections, Rwanda was preparing its war against Zaire. It began with the shelling of Hum refugee camps in eastern Congo with Katusha missiles, killing non-combatants.
RPA joined with the Ugandan People's Defense Forces (UPDF) and the guerrilla army of Laurent Kabila's Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) in the "war of liberation" that subsequently ended long reign of President Mobutu Sese Seko in Congo (Zaire). Sources in the DRC quickly add that U.S. military personnel were seen advising the joint UPDF/RPA invasion which swiftly moved across the vast forested territory of Zaire.
Mobutu ' s generals were reportedly contacted in advance by high-level U.S. officials in the region; most of those who agreed to support the U.S. invasion remain in high posts in the DRC today; other of Mobutu's highest military were sacrificed one way or another.
Wayne Madsen reported that the U.S. established major communications and listening stations in Uganda's Ruwenzori Mountains. Witnesses interviewed in Kampala, Uganda's capital, support this claim. Communications equipment was also seen on Idjwe Island in Lake Kivu, on the DRC-Rwanda frontier.
Recent interviews with survivors across the country document crimes against humanity and acts of genocide committed against Congolese civilians by all sides in the ensuing war. "In May 1997, hundreds of unarmed Hum refugees were massacred in the town of Mbandaka by soldiers of Kabila's Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL), operating under apparent Rwandan Army (RPA) command," wrote Human Rights Watch in June 1998. In an October 1997 report ("What Kabila is Hiding: Civilian Killings and Impunity in Congo"), Human Rights Watch concluded that "Rwandan troops had a role in some of the killings of Rwandan Hum refugees on Zairean territory."
Thousands of Hum refugees were slaughtered in Mbandaka in May 1997, on the day that the AFDL arrived there. One eyewitness told this reporter: "We ran down to the beach [port] because we heard the shooting. I saw two people shot but there were bodies all lined up on the beach. The soldiers were also throwing dead bodies in the [Congo] river. There were a lot of Tutsi soldiers, but we couldn't distinguish. I saw soldiers question one woman. The woman was not able to talk in [Congolese] Lingala. He said, 'Yes, you are among the Rwandais Hutus. Turn, face the river, pray to your God, because you are about to meet your God.' Then he shot her in the back with an automatic weapon."
"U.S. special forces were involved," asserted one DRC army captain interviewed recently in Kinshasa. The AFDL forces included UPDF, RPA, and U.S. military advisers, he claimed.
Colonel James Kabarebe, now Chief of Staff of the Rwanda Defense Forces, is said to have led the campaign to annihilate fleeing Hutu refugees. Kabarebe has been sited in UN reports for massive violations in Ituri. "Kabarebe was reportedly the biggest advocate of Rwandan support to [ethnic] militias," wrote UN investigators in the MONUC "Special Report on Events in Ituri," January 2002-December 2003. Rwanda armed, trained, and advised militias in Ituri, as it had in North and South Kivu provinces, the report found. The Ugandan military was similarly cited for atrocities.