Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rwanda's Response to the UN Mapping Report on the DRC

Yesterday, I received a copy of the Rwandan governments response to the Draft UN Mapping Report on the DRC. It is divided into five sections, all of which warrant reaction. I'll just make a few points as the Report is best read as a statement of the extent to which the RPF is losing international legitimacy.

Before going into some of the substance, I want to point out one consistent reaction from members of the Rwandan government. They do not deny that there its army killed civilians in the DRC, only that these killings do not constitute genocide. Indeed, the government's ineptitude at handling its response is uncharacteristic of its usual deft skill in "managing" bad press. It may be that so much negative yet accurate press has emerged in international sources the last year as the RPF cracks down on political opponents (both with its own party and outside challengers) human rights activists, journalists and other segments of civil society that there are serious cracks within the party machine. Time will tell.

There is a great deal in the government's rhetoric, both formally through the UN, and statements from government representatives in the regional and international media, that the fractures and fissures within the ruling RPF are becoming more apparent. At the same time, we see the lengths to which Kigali will go to defend its version of how the genocide happened, how the RPF stopped it and the successes of post-genocide reconstruction and reconciliation process.

I want to say too, that the RPF's emotive and excessive reaction to the UN Report seem to be the reaction of Kagame himself. He is known to be allergic to criticism while maintaining the moral authority of conviction (RPA were stopping genocide, not continuing it!) and insisting ad nauseum that his army was only doing what it had to do because of the inaction of the international community. I think the RPF's reaction is also reflective of a government that is losing its grip on power, and has little legitimacy among most Rwandans. The RPF is a party of factions, and only a few are reaping the benefits of power at the moment. This is the most worrying trend....

The Executive Summary of the Report says that its findings are unacceptable to the RPF, and that the allegations of mass murders are the result of the UN manipulating the true facts of the role of the RPF in eastern DRC. In particular, the Response notes that the publication of the Mapping Report might reignite conflict in Rwanda and in the Region. I think if any one actor is going to reignite conflict in the Region, it is the RPF itself.

The RPF's reaction to the historical context, and what happened during the 1994 genocide, are unoriginal. Anyone who has read Pottier (2002), Re-imaging Rwanda, particularly its chapter on how the RPF manages it public relations machinery will agree. The government has made similar assertions in public fora with interested audiences. It appears that the RPF is worried about losing face "in the court of public opinion" (para 5, p. 7). Yet its allegation that the UN leaked the Report out of spite (what it calls asymmetry) is false as it was a reporter with Le Monde that leaked the Report.

In the section The 1994 Rwandan Genocide is equally reactionary. First, there is sufficient empirical evidence to show that the RPA did not stop the genocide as early as it could of (para. 6, p. 7). Instead, it made calculated military moves to assure that it took power in Kigali while Tutsi (and Hutu and Twa) died. Two excellent books, Sibomana's Hope for Rwanda (1999) and Umutesi's Surviving the Slaughter (2004) provide sufficient counter-evidence to the RPF assertion that it directed all of its resources to stopping the genocide. Indeed, anyone aware of how the RPF acted in bad faith during the Arusha Accords will scoff as this section of the Response.

The section Mass Participation in the Genocide downplays the role of the RPF in helping to create the conditions for genocide. I want to make one thing clear. I do not buy into claims that have been circulating recently that the RPF organised the genocide. Instead, I take the argument of Straus (2006) in his The Order of Genocide that the civil war between the RPA and the FAR provided the necessary context of fear and insecurity that made the possibility of genocide by neighbours against neighbours possible, and indeed likely (as we now know with hindsight). I disagree with the assertion of the RPF that mostly young men committed acts of genocide. This is not a new assertion as the government's justice policy follows a logic of maximal prosecution (prosecution of all Hutu men of a particular age). This claim is, in my opinion, revisionist as it neglects the different motivations for killing as well as the strength of network and kinship ties in deciding who lived or died (Fujii, 2009, Webs of Violence).

The Response goes on for another 15 pages in which the RPF defends and justifies its actions in the DRC. I will end simply with this, the RPF doth protest too much.


  1. The analyis here does not differ from the rest of the revisionists and genocide denials. My simple advice to the publisher is to try and read the history of Rwanda and understand what genocide means. Otherwise, i assure you that such analysis is wrong and the facts speak for themselves. And people of Rwanda and kagame don't give a dawmn are ready to consolidate their achievements in reconstruction.

  2. I am responding to this Anonymous who thinks that if people has different brain than his or Kagame, so they are revisionists!! My answer to you is that You act like an extremiste or Racist towards other people who doesn't share the same opinion! You are an extremiste like Bin laden since you think that all Hutu are genocidaire.
    I agree with you that the facts speacks for themselves and I see that You are working to hide those facts , what do you expect from such lies? I dare you to go back and read the history of Rwanda since I think you have been told not readed it. I guess people like you has never been to schools like others but attended the evening course like your chef.
    Good luck!

  3. I hate when people start attacking each other just for the simple fact that they do not share the same opinion. Let's agree to disagree and be civil about it.( Referring to anonymous 1 & Kaguyure : you all pretty much sound the same to me )
    Having say that, I would like to point out that I don't see how the RPF would have been able to stop the Killing without destroying the head of the killing machine itself...So, It makes sense to me that for tactical reasons, in a context of war , their priority during the genocide would have been to acquire Kigali and the power first in order to destroy the whole structure of the genocide itself .....any contrarily to the argument would sound absurd to me !!!!