People who had incurred the displeasure of the Party
simply disappeared and were never heard of again.
One never had the smallest clue as to what had happened to them.
The only real clue lay in the words 'refs unpersons',
which indicated that the person was dead.
He did not exist: he had never existed.


Your name was removed from the registers.
Every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out,
your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten.
You were abolished, annihilated:
vaporized was the usual word.
~ 1984

One month ago today - on January 22, 2009 - Congo's fighter-for-freedom, Laurent Nkunda, was allegedly arrested in Rwanda and hasn't been seen or heard from since. When journalists asked Rwandan authorities for news about Nkunda's status and his whereabouts - or to interview him - they were told that nothing more about him would be said; that the subject was closed and that Nkunda was "going off the radar":

Mystery deepens as Nkunda chapter is 'closed'
by Josh Kron, Kenyan East African, Feb 7, 2009

Calling "the chapter on Nkunda closed," the last Rwandan public official communicating to the outside world about the excommunicated Congolese rebel under their custody said today it was going off the radar. After promising new information, the Rwandan military has instead fallen silent, this time they say for good, in regard to apprehension of General Laurent Nkunda, leader of the dominant rebel group, the National Congress for the People’s Defence (CNDP). This chapter may have closed, but this is a story still unfolding. The Congolese government, upon whose soil Nkunda, a Congolese citizen, launched a bloody rebellion in 2008, has publicly called on its neighbour and supposed co-partner in arresting him to hand him over to Kinshasa. But Rwanda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denies even receiving official requests. Late on Wednesday, the spokesperson for the Rwandan army said "things were being discussed," and that they would "talk soon." By Thursday morning, events had turned pointedly, with Rwanda Defence Force spokesperson Major Jill Rutaremara, stating that nothing more on the subject would be said. "It is not my business any more," said Mr Rutaremara. "The chapter with Nkunda is closed, we will be speaking about it no more."

Nkunda, who worked alongside, but not necessarily under, the Rwandan government and military in the late 1990s in Congo as part of the Rally for Congolese Democracy, was said to still be supported by the Rwandan government in a December 2008 United Nations report. Though strongly denying the accusation, the government of Rwanda has repeatedly turned down opportunities to defuse the growing sense that intimate associations exist. Multiple sources in the Rwandan city of Gisenyi have said Nkunda has been spotted moving freely around town, though he may not be allowed to leave the city. Rwanda Defence Force spokesperson Maj Rutaremara has said Nkunda’s "movements are limited," and that he is in fact in Gisenyi, opposite the Congolese city of Goma the Tutsi general once threatened. Now, Nkunda has been "pushed out of business in Congo," according to one source remaining anonymous in Kigali, but is enjoying his days in Rwanda, peacefully and comfortably. "He’s the type of person who will hurt you if you hurt him." So instead of treating him like other criminals who cross borders armed and illegally, a general soft-spoken consensus among many Rwandans is that his life is more "precious" than that. His days are said to be spent at around the Lake Kivu city, and one source spotted Nkunda at the La Corniche café. But this has not been independently confirmed.... [end quoting]

And, true to their word, Nkunda's name - since then - is never mentioned in their newspapers or anywhere in their media - even though the Rwandan army is allegedly fighting alongside Nkunda's CNDP forces continuing his mission of removing negative forces - ie Rwandan Hutus - from the Congo.

Prior to his arrest, Nkunda's nationalist militia - the CNDP - had been single-handedly fulfilling the peace-conference mandates of going after Congo's negative forces - especially the Rwandan Hutus - and had made great headway in fulfilling that mandate. In the areas of Eastern Congo that Nkunda controlled - North Kivu - the various tribes of Congolese (including Hutu and Tutsi) were living safely in their homes and on their plots of land growing food and raising cattle in that most fertile of all of Congo's land.

Now that Nkunda has been taken out of the equation the old status quo has returned to Eastern Congo with the corrupt United Nations feeding off the misery their 17,000 warmaking peacekeepers thrive on - backed by the corrupt government of the Congo, under President Kabila whose FARDC soldiers haven't been paid in months so resort to looting and raping alongside the Rwandan Hutu and Congolese Mai-Mai they're supposed to be fighting against.

This lack of news about Nkunda is very Orwellian and reminds me of passages straight out of "1984" (although different circumstances entirely):

"...In the vast majority of cases there was no trial, no report of the arrest. People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers. Every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word....

"...People who had incurred the displeasure of the Party simply disappeared and were never heard of again. One never had the smallest clue as to what had happened to them. The only real clue lay in the words 'refs unpersons', which indicated that the person was dead. He did not exist: he had never existed. Perhaps thirty people personally known to Winston, not counting his parents, had disappeared at one time or another. Very occasionally some person whom you had believed dead long since would make a ghostly reappearance at some public trial where he would implicate hundreds of others by his testimony before vanishing, this time for ever....

"...Winston worked in the Records Department (a single branch of the Ministry of Truth) editing and writing for The Times [London newspaper]. He dictated into a machine called a speakwrite. Winston would receive articles or news-items which for one reason or another it was thought necessary to alter, or, in Newspeak, rectify....Winston's job was to change previous versions so the old version would agree with the new one....

"In the cubicle next to him the little woman with sandy hair toiled day in day out, simply at tracking down and deleting from the Press the names of people who had been vaporized and were therefore considered never to have existed....)

"Winston's friend (actually comrade, people didn't have friends these days), Syme, worked in the Research Department of the Ministry of Truth. Syme, a specialist in Newspeak, was one of the enormous team of experts engaged in compiling the Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak Dictionary....

"Unquestionably Syme will be vaporized, Winston thought....There was something subtly wrong with Syme. There was something that he lacked: discretion, aloofness, a sort of saving stupidity. You could not say that he was unorthodox....Yet a faint air of disreputability always clung to him. He said things that would have been better unsaid, he had read too many books, he frequented the Chestnut Tree Cafe, haunt of painters and musicians....

"The eyeless creature with the quacking voice would never be vaporized. The little beetle-like men who scuttled so nimbly through the labyrinthine corridors of Ministries - they too, would never be vaporized. It seemed to Winston that he knew instinctively who would survive and who would perish: though just what it was that made for survival, it was not easy to say....

"Syme had vanished. A morning came, and he was missing from work: a few thoughtless people commented on his absence. On the next day nobody mentioned him. On the third day Winston went into the vestibule of the Records Department to look at the notice-board. One of the notices carried a printed list of the members of the Chess Committee, of whom Syme had been one. It looked almost exactly as it had looked before -- nothing had been crossed out -- but it was one name shorter. It was enough. Syme had ceased to exist: he had never existed...."

"...Working hours had been drastically increased in anticipation of Hate Week. The preparations for Hate Week were in full swing, and the staffs of all the Ministries were working overtime. Processions, meetings, military parades, lectures, waxwork displays, film shows, telescreen programmes all had to be organized; stands had to be erected, effigies built, slogans coined, songs written, rumours circulated, photographs faked. Julia's unit in the FICTION DEPARTMENT had been taken off the production of novels and was rushing out a series of atrocity pamphlets. Winston, in addition to his regular work, spent long periods every day in going through back files of The Times and altering and embellishing news items which were to be quoted in speeches. Late at night, when crowds of rowdy proles roamed the streets, the town had a curiously febrile air. The rocket bombs crashed oftener than ever, and sometimes in the far distance there were enormous explosions which no one could explain and about which there were wild rumours...."

The above "1984" passages - paralleling Nkunda Orwellianly becoming "refs unperson" and persona non grata - were excerpted from themes 20.Thought Police and 16.Ministry of Truth and 18.Newspeak and 27.Goodthink and 36.Hateweek. ~ Jackie Jura

What happened to Congolese General Laurent Nkunda?
by Georgianne Nienebar, Jan 20, 2012
...In three years, no one has heard from Nkunda after his betrayal by Rwanda's Paul Kagame in a mutually beneficial alliance with Congo's Joseph Kabila. Paul Kagame's press office has not responded to repeated requests for an interview. Contrary to news reports at the time, Nkunda was not on the run, nor had he been ousted in a coup d'état by the war criminal Bosco Ntaganda. Against the advice of advisors, Nkunda went willingly to a meeting called in Rwanda to consider peace talks. Associates suspected a trap, and they were correct. But a "renegade" general "on the run" is a compelling story. Today, Nkunda is being held under house arrest in Rwanda with no criminal charges pending against him. A petition filed by his lawyer in the Supreme Court of Rwanda in March 2010 says Nkunda:

...was arrested on or about January 22, 2009 by members of Rwanda Defence Forces of Rwanda (RDF), and remains to this day held by the Rwandan authorities, and without appearing before a judge so that he can be informed of the reasons for his arrest and detention....Laurent Nkunda was arrested while attending a formal meeting to which he had been invited to participate... This document has been recently scrubbed from the ICC website. The Hague has not responded to our request for an explanation. One explanation might be that the complete petition demonstrates that Rwanda is in violation of its constitution, since it holds Nkunda with no criminal or civil charges filed against him....

READER HAS RWANDA CONFUSION (interested in knowing what happened during 1990-1994)

HOW OR WHERE'S NKUNDA? (reader asks if anyone has contact to Nkunda)

Rwanda court postpones Nkunda release hearing, AFP, Jun 11, 2010
Kigali - A Rwandan military court in Kigali on Friday postponed the hearing of a plea to release Laurent Nkunda, a former rebel leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of his lawyers said. Aime Bokanga said that the postponement of the case which had been set to take place on Friday was due to the absence of main defence lawyer, Stephan Bourgon of Canada. "He informed the tribunal that he was detained by another case in The Hague. The audience was therefore postponed until September 24," Bokanga said. Nkunda has been held since January 2009. A hearing due to take place on May 11 was called off for the lack of an interpreter, since the court decided that the debate would take place in Kinyarwanda, which Bourgon does not understand....

Rwanda military court postpones Nkunda release hearing, News Africa, May 11, 2010
A military court in Rwanda Tuesday postponed the hearing of a plea seeking the release of Laurent Nkunda, a former rebel chief in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of his lawyers said. "The court pushed the date back to June 11 to leave time to find an interpreter to facilitate the hearing," Aime Bokanga told AFP. Nkunda's other defence counsel, the Canadian lawyer Stephan Bourgon, does not understand the local Kinyarwanda language that the military court has chosen for the proceedings, Bokanga explained. Nkunda has been held since January 2009. His lawyers say General James Kabarebe, the former Rwandan army chief of staff who was appointed defence minister last month, is responsible for the "arrest and illegal detention" of their client. In late March Rwanda's supreme court ruled that given Kabarebe's military status it was not competent to hear the plea. Nkunda was arrested in Gisenyi on January 22, 2009, when he was head of the rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) movement, according to people close to him. In October 2008, Nkunda's men routed the DR Congolese army in Nord-Kivu province and threatened to take the strategic provincial capital, Goma, near the border with Rwanda. But after a shift in alliances, the Congolese and Rwandan armies in January 2009 launched an unprecedented joint operation targeting Rwandan Hutu rebels in eastern DR Congo which also resulted in Nkunda's arrest.

Rwanda high court sends Congo militia leader case to military court, Jurist, Apr 4, 2010
The Rwandan Supreme Court [official website] ruled on Saturday that the plea for release by Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rebel leader Laurent Nkunda [BBC profile] can only be heard by a military court. According to Nkunda's counsel, Aime Bokanga, the court held that since the military was responsible for Nkunda's detention, a military court must hear his case [Reuters report] for release. Bokanga expressed disappointment at the ruling, saying that the Supreme Court should have declared Nkunda's detention illegal. The case is expected to be transferred next week. Nkunda is the leader of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), a rebel group operating in the eastern DRC province of Nord-Kivu. According to Nkunda's counsel, he is being held illegally [Reuters report] without charge, and has promised [BBC report] to bring the case to the African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights [official website] if redress cannot be found in a Rwandan court. Last April, a Rwandan court rejected [JURIST report] a similar lawsuit seeking Nkunda's release from custody. Nkunda was apprehended by Rwandan authorities in last January near the DRC border after a joint DRC-Rwandan military operation to capture him and root out Rwandan Hutu rebels operating in the DRC. Nkunda faces an uncertain legal future [JURIST report], with the DRC government having called on Rwanda to extradite Nkunda to DRC [BBC report] where he would face charges for atrocities allegedly committed by forces under his command. Another possibility for Nkunda is extradition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] in The Hague. The ICC has issued an arrest warrant [JURIST report] and prepared a case against his deputy in the CNDP, Bosco Ntaganda [ICC materials], for war crimes committed in the DRC, including the recruitment and use of child soldiers [JURIST news archive]. Nkunda has repeatedly denied allegations of war crimes [JURIST report] against him and the CNDP.

No hearing for Nkunda, News24, Mar 26, 2010
Kigali - Rwanda's supreme court ruled on Friday it is not competent to hear a plea seeking the release of Laurent Nkunda, a former rebel chief in the Democratic Republic of Congo, held since January 2009. "The court ruled it is not competent and sent the case back to a military tribunal," Aime Bokanga, one of Nkunda's lawyers told AFP. The court's argument is based on the military status of General James Kabarebe, Rwanda's chief of defence staff, designated as the person responsible for Nkunda's detention. Neither Kabarebe nor Nkunda was present in court Friday. "For us it's a disappointment. The supreme court could have taken cognisance of this case," Bokanga said. "It didn't take into account the human aspects of the case. Our client has been held without trial for more than a year. But we hope that the military courts will rule on the case since it has been sent back to them by the highest court in the land." Nkunda's lawyers in December complained to the supreme court that their client's continued detention, first in Gisenyi, a town in northwestern Rwanda on the border with DR Congo, and then in Kigali, was "illegal". Nkunda was arrested in Gisenyi on January 22 2009, when he was head of the rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) movement, according to people close to him. In October 2008, Nkunda's men routed the DR Congolese army in Nord-Kivu province and threatened to take the strategic provincial capital, Goma, near the border with Rwanda. But after a shift in alliances, the Congolese and Rwandan armies in January 2009 launched an unprecedented joint operation targeting Rwandan Hutu rebels in eastern DR Congo which also resulted in Nkunda's arrest.

Rwanda again postpones Nkunda's hearing (didn't appear in court, remains in detention). AFP, Jan 14, 2010

Rwanda Court to hear Nkunda case Wednesday (show Commonwealth its human rights credentials) & Nkunda petition to ask why he was arrested (Army Chief Staff Kabarebe to be on witness stand) & Nkunda family awaits Rwanda Supreme Court (held illegaly one year; not seen in public since).Invest/SaveRw/VOA, Jan 12-13, 2010

Hearing of General Nkunda detention case set for January 13, 2010, RwandaNewsAgency, Dec 11, 2009
Kigali: The Supreme Court has accepted to hear the case filed by Congolese General Laurent Nkunda after all other lower courts threw out applications in which he is challenging his "illegal" detention, RNA reports. General Nkunda's lawyer met with the President of the Supreme Court Justice Aloysie Cyanzayire on Wednesday. Following the closed-door meeting, Justice Cyanzayire was clearly under pressure to act because the Supreme Court was the only remaining place the petitioners would go – thereby leaving the credibility of the court at stake. A while later, the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court confirmed that the hearing sought on November 30 will take place on 13 January 2010 – which General Nkunda’s Canadian lawyer Mr. Stéphane Bourgon criticized. The Supreme Court argument was that the judiciary would be going to recess. "It is really surprising that an application seeking the release of a person alleged to be detained unlawfully cannot be heard urgently – judicial recess or not – since any violation of the fundamental right to freedom and liberty deserves to be heard without delay," said Bourgon. "Nonetheless, we are very satisfied that on 13 January 2010, we will have the opportunity to argue NKUNDA's case before the highest court of Rwanda. "The controversial General Nkunda – who until January was accused of causing massive havoc and suffering in eastern DRC, has now been detained in Kigali for more than 10 months without being permitted to meet with his lawyer. A case was filed in Gisenyi where Nkunda was being detained at first but the court there threw out his application on grounds it had no jurisdiction to hear the case. When he was moved to Kigali sometime later, and his wife allowed seeing him, the attorney sought out other avenues. Mr. Bourgon has also petitioned President Kagame. But like other senior government officials, Mr. Kagame described Nkunda as a guest of Rwanda. He told DRC counterpart Joseph Kabila that the two countries should look forward and not backwards. In recent months, General Nkunda's has lowered her tone compared to when she was all over the media claiming her husband had been kidnapped. For the attorney Mr. Bourgon, who tried the High Military Court, which declined to accept the application at first, the campaign is not about to end. The attorney says he is going to take advantages of this Supreme Court hearing. "We will do everything to ensure the attendance of a maximum number of international observers, whether from non governmental organizations interested in human rights issues and or States,” he said.


Nkunda secret book unveiled. Kenya Daily Nation, Oct 19, 2009 (A political manifesto allegedly written by former Congolese warlord Laurent Nkunda just days before he was arrested by the Rwandan Government surfaced for the first time last week. In the manifesto, Gen Nkunda details his political and military ambitions, past relations with Rwanda, and his determination to rearrange national borders in the region....

VISION DU CNDP: RESTAURER LA DIGNITE DES CONGOLAIS ET DU CONGO, Par le Général-Major Laurent NKUNDA MIHIGO, Chairman (La cohésion nationale en danger). CNDP, Oct 10, 2009

Nkunda lawyers still not heard from Kagame (to discuss solution to this deadlock). CNDP, Oct 4, 2009

NKUNDA SEEKING KAGAME MEETING (illegally detained in Rwanda)

The Judicial Saga of Laurent Nkunda Continues in Rwanda., Sep 26, 2009

New Motion Seeking the Release of Laurent Nkunda., Sep 23, 2009

Kagame can no longer play ostrich & hide (legally Rwanda must allow lawyer see Nkunda). CNDP, Mar 12, 2009

Rwanda court dismisses Nkunda case (wife & lawyer vow to continue battle). APA, Mar 11, 2009

Nkunda lawyer in Rwanda court today (gov't lawyers play cat & mouse game). VOA, Mar 11, 2009

Nkunda's wife seeks his release from Rwanda (held on no legal basis, in secret location, no access to family or lawyer). AFP, Mar 10, 2009

Kagame to decide Nkunda fate within 2 weeks (Rwanda still in dialogue with Congo). Daily Nation Kenya, Mar 10, 2009

Kabila's Congo Security Forces facing probe (killed 500 people & detained 1,000 more; many tortured during past 2 years). IWPR, Mar 6, 2009

NKUNDA HERO IN REBEL BOOK (a Tutsi herdsman turned soldier)

Nkunda off-radar since arrest in Rwanda (no one in world has seen or heard from). Jan 22 - Feb 22, 2009. Go to 20.Thought Police & 27.Goodthink (people who incurred displeasure of Party disappeared & never heard of again) & 36.Hate Week

Joseph Kabila has control over Congolese affairs (The Struggle Continues). CNDP, Feb 22, 2009
The only control that Joseph Kabila has shown since he won the elections bought for him by the international community, is to get rid of anyone who reminds him that one is elected to serve the people, not himself. Since 2006, the same community doesn’t stop telling us that Congo is now a democratic country. The very expensive leadership, too content to be found within the institutions purchased with Western taxpayers’ money has so far produced no results for the Congolese people. The zeal against those who courageously challenge this mediocrity seems to be the only activity in which Joseph Kabila and his faithful falcons are skilled for. We will never remind enough the way he got rid of the MLC Chairman. HRW, in a burst of common sense, but for its own interests, made a report detailing the hunt to opponents. The Kinshasa dictatorial system has reached its peak in the phlegm with which Joseph Kabila despises the Congolese people and behaves like a leopoldian colonialist. Here are some indicators of its colonialist tendencies. The use of ethnicity tactics to create the scapegoat on which he can guide the diversion of all Congolese and make them forget about his regime’s failure. General Nkunda was highly against the exploitation of this tactic. A fierce opponent because he understood that it was not only about the destiny of an ethnic group, but of all the Eastern DRC and the Republic in general. We have long said, Kabila’s racist game has multiple sides and is played in various phases. But they all have the same denominator: they are a diversion that plays on the Congolese imagination described by me several times on the blog. A diversion to prevent people from seeing the economic collapse, the military disaster, the lack of political vision focusing on Congolese’s dignity, the lack of diplomatic strategy at regional and global level, the shameful and outrageous greed in economic negotiations with China, the contempt of Congolese workers, the squandering of human and natural resources, the incredible educational irresponsibility and most recently, the opening of borders for an official foreign occupation, etc.... You understand then that accusing one man, be it Nkunda, is not enough to hide this lack of leadership....

Joseph Kabila used the ethnic tactic to have foreign army back in the DRC. By buying Bosco Ntaganda’s dissension within the CNDP, he created a new ethnicist line. You have the proof in the outcome of the talks led by Raymond Tshibanda in Goma this week....The Minister should not be proud of changing interlocutors as shirts. It is just like colonizers who bought local chiefs with small squares of mirror and this is again what Kabila did when he invited Kivu traditional leaders in Kinshasa. Instead of mirrors, there are U.S. dollars. Same operation, with different amounts for the trio-Munyampenda-Kamanzi-Ntaganda. I wonder if they remember the troops or if they are already acting as FARDC officers, starving the men in uniform....Kinshasa has actually pretended to be surprised by the absence of the CNDP members, those who were in Nairobi. One must be stupid! How to believe that the masquerade taking place in Goma could be a continuity of the work done in Nairobi? Maybe they realized they were not dealing with the real CNDP. However, Kinshasa is happy to deal with a team that does not question the leadership that ruins the DRC. Kamanzi’s team performs this function but for how long?....A minister of cooperation should know however that dealing with an illegitimate movement that lacks support can bring neither a solution nor peace. What underlines the loyalty of membership to CNDP Nkunda is the national character of its political claims, which of course includes the issue of minorities, but it does not constitute the substance of it. The essential of the CNDP’s vision can be summarized as follow: a political governance that stands out completely from the current corrupted system. As far as this system is in place, despite all the kitchen talks we can organize in Goma, the CNDP struggle remains not only complete, but more urgent than ever. It is a shame that in the 21st century, the DRC continues to survive by other countries’ diplomacy. The struggle continues and therefore the resistance.


Congo Hutu gunmen 'on rampage' (civilians used to be protected by Nkunda CNDP). BBC, Feb 19, 2009

Face to face with General Nkunda (talked politics, war, family life). Independent Uganda, Feb 18, 2009

The soldiers are hungry, CNDP, Feb 15, 2008 (Since the "mixage" of CNDP and FARDC troops that started on January 27, 2009, food for soldiers is lacking. Yesterday February 13, 2009, the troops in operation against the FDLR in North Kivu had spent three days without eating.... Starvíng the troops is normal and common in the FARDC while Senior Officers laze in 4X4 jeeps and use the most expensive wine ordered from western capital cities with money from misappropriated soldiers’ salaries....CNDP's soldiers are those suffering the most. They were used to eat twice a day, at fixed hours and can not understand that a soldier would spend a whole day without eating....Some sources told us that starving the troops is part of a deliberate manoeuvre - with the assistance of some dark forces - to discourage young motivated soldiers and for the sole purpose of breaking up troops that could constitute a basis for a real system of security and defense for the country. If such information is confirmed, we would then ask: who benefits from the absence of a strong army in the DR Congo?...)



Mystery deepens as Nkunda chapter is 'closed', by Josh Kron, East African, Feb 7, 2009






Laurent Nkunda arrested in Rwanda. London Guardian, Jan 22, 2009









Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~