Today the Hutu militia [FDLR] is a formidable but ultimately fractured force.
Some factions are made up of die-hard fighters toughened by 14 years in the bush.
They seek to overthrow the Rwandan government and establish a Hutu-dominated rule.
Some even speak of "finishing what was started in 1994",
in the words of one FDLR commander,
a dark hint at plans for more mass killings of Tutsis.


The Congolese Army uses the Hutu militia as an auxiliary force
to fight the renegade Tutsi general, Laurent Nkunda.
Current & former Rwandan Hutu soldiers say they've often fought with Congolese forces.
Most of the Hutu militia in Rutshuru district wore Congolese Army uniforms.
"The FDLR has become part of this fight".

To Orwell Today,

Dear Jackie,

How are you? As you said, the BBC tries a little harder, though sometimes I've sent to their editor short rebuttals, with positive feedback.

Kabila invites Nkunda to talks ('to bring an end to war & create a durable peace'). BBC, Dec 18, 2007

I can see here nothing else than Kabila trying to put up a brave face. The problem is that it is very difficult to believe they are going to achieve much. His xenophobic advisors won't let him seek true peace. But you never know, we might be on our way to "saving" the republic as I told you last time.

Greetings from this side of the world and still holding on the chance of meeting you in Mushaki.

-Antoinette Kankindi

Greetings Antoinette,

Yes, Kabila's and the UN's track record for living up to their never-ending series of "peace" talks isn't good. They're always "all talk, no action". And nine days seems a long time for a peace conference. What must the refugees SLEEPING ON LAVA IN THE RAIN be thinking about all this? Also, how safe is it for Nkunda to be in close proximity to Kabila and the UN? He'd have to bring his army to protect himself and then who would be protecting Mushaki and everywhere else? But the BBC article says Nkunda won't be attending this Goma peace conference unless the Hutu FDLR are disarmed first. That's a relief, and also, what's the point of having another peace conference until the main tenet of the previous ones - ie disarming the genocidal Hutu army first - is accomplished?

I like the words to this classic American song (the tune of which is played way too slow on this piano clip). It expresses true sentiments, I'm sure, of the refugees and citizens of Congo, and everywhere else in our war-torn world:

Last night I had the strangest dream,
I never dreamed before.
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.
I dreamed I saw a mighty room,
The room was filled with men.
And the papers they were signing said
They'd never fight again....

Actually, I notice an improvement in the latest New York Times article so it seems your rebuttal to their Congo reporter was favourably responded to. There's hope we'll meet in Mushaki!

Amahoro masi,
Jackie Jura

...conversation continues

Kabila gov't delaying peace in Congo. New Times, Feb 14, 2008
...Late last year the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda signed the Nairobi Joint Communique to address the unrelenting threats caused by armed groups in Eastern Congo starting with the cruelest and dangerous one, the EX-FAR/Interhamwe...The Nairobi Joint Communique implementation plan...among other things was was supposed "to lead to, by mid-March 2008, having isolated and separated EX-FAR/Interhamwe from the local population, destroyed their tactical and operational networks, retrieved their arms and arrested the Genocidaires," etc. However, the DRC government's next move to initiate a "conference on Peace, Security and Development in North and South Kivu" in January 2008 to address among others the same issues agreed on in Nairobi proved to many that it...was launched as a delaying tactic if not a deliberabe strategy to avoid and shelve the implementation of the conclusions of the Nairobi Joint Communique. Some expert analysts on DRC also believe that one other reason for convening the conference on the Kivus was to whitewash the previous shameful FARDC defeat on the hands of Nkunda’s CNDP forces at Mushake while giving the Head of State Joseph Kabila an opportunity to appear both locally and internationally as a pacifist...The CNDP insists it cannot disarm before the FDLR does while the DRC government and its allied groups want CNDP to be disarmed first....This blatant FDLR inmixing into Congolese issues maybe gives a hint to President Kabila's other Machiavellian intentions, this time towards Rwanda. and indeed, it is well knownt that, while in Goma for the Conference, President Kabila met an FDLR delegation composed of among others Brig. Gen. Hakizimana Appolinaire a.k.a poète, FDLR Commissioner for Defense and Lt. Col Nizeyimana Michel, not withstanding that these individuals belong to an internationally defined terrorist group that should have been arrested by the UN forces present in Goma. But more relevantly, one wonders what the talks were about? Invading Rwanda as an alternative to the Nairobi Communiqué? With promise of political, military and diplomatic support in order to coerce Rwanda’s government into the so called inter Rwandese dialogue?....In a related development, since January 26 2008, DRC government has been airlifting an assortment of arms and ammunitions from some countries in the region. So far, four airlifts have been delivered to Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. Due to an arms embargo and International pressure to solve the problems in Kivu politically, DRC is secretly acquiring an assortment of arms and ammunitions for a planned military offensive against CNDP and most likely another adventure together with its old ally, the FDLR...


Kabila invites Nkunda rebels to talks. BBC, Dec 18, 2007
The Democratic Republic of Congo has announced a peace conference at the end of the month aimed at ending the conflict in the east of the country. The government says all parties in the conflict are being invited, including rebel leader Gen Laurent Nkunda. The conference comes after Gen Nkunda's forces recaptured most of the territory they had lost during a government offensive earlier this month. The rebel general said last week he was ready for a political solution. An official said the conference would be held in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, where Gen Nkunda is leading a rebellion. The nine-day conference has been scheduled to start on 27 December. The meeting aims to "bring an end to the war... and to create the basis for a durable peace", Vital Kamerhe, head of the National Assembly and a deputy from the South Kivu region, told AFP news agency. Gen Nkunda said last week that as a condition for talks, the Congolese government must first disarm the Rwandan Hutu rebels he claims are attacking ethnic Tutsis. He was speaking after his forces recaptured the town of Mushake. Gen Nkunda says his forces are protecting DR Congo's Tutsi population from Rwandan rebels [Hutu FDLR], who have been based in eastern DR Congo since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The United Nations estimates that about 60,000 people fled the fighting in North Kivu in the course of last week. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, called for a political solution to the conflict as he visited a camp on Friday near the provincial capital, Goma, where he heard people's stories of killings, rape and razed houses. Health experts said the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in North Kivu this year was leading to outbreaks of disease.

Solving Congo's Hutu militia crisis complex
by Lydia Polgreen, New York Times, Dec 19, 2007
RUTSHURU, Congo — Word spread quickly of the surrender of four Interahamwe, members of the Hutu fearsome youth militia that carried out the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and has been hiding in the eastern Congo jungles since. A crowd of people in their Sunday best soon gathered to gawk at the young men as they marched through town. But in a sign of how complex the Hutu militia has become, the four wiry young men were barely out of diapers when an estimated 800,000 Rwandans, mostly Tutsis, were killed by Hutu extremists in the biggest mass murder since World War II. What is more, the teenagers were not even from Rwanda. They were Congolese. “We got tired of life in the bush,” said Roger Seburo, a 19-year-old fighter, hungry and hollow-eyed from days of walking through the jungle. “We want to join the regular army and leave the bush. We don’t want to fight with the Rwandans anymore.” Congo’s civil war, a complex and seemingly endless conflict that drew in neighboring countries and killed as many as four million people, is inextricably tied to the Rwandan genocide. The Hutu militia and soldiers who led the genocide fled into Congo, then called Zaire, in 1994 when a Tutsi-led rebel force toppled the Rwandan government. How to deal with these foreign fighters has been at the root of the humanitarian emergency in Congo. Battles among the Rwandan Hutu militia, the Congolese Army and a Congolese Tutsi general who insists that the Hutu militia be disarmed have forced 425,000 civilians to flee in the past year, and plunged Congo into its deepest crisis since the war ended in 2003.

Many have tried in the past 13 years to remove the Rwandan militia. Frustrated that those responsible for the slaughter in Rwanda were hiding as refugees across the border, Rwanda sponsored a rebel movement in Congo in 1996 to attack them. Rwanda’s protégé, Laurent D. Kabila, took power after he pushed Congo’s longtime ruler, Mobutu Sese Seko, into exile. But Mr. Kabila soon turned on his Rwandan allies, and eventually united with the Rwandan-led Hutu militia. They fought the Rwandan government and its allies in the second, perhaps most deadly, chapter of Congo’s civil war. The war devolved into plundering by local militias and foreign armies, who all fought to control Congo’s mineral wealth. A peace deal ended the war in 2003, and last year Congo had its first democratic elections in four decades, but the east remains a battleground.

Rwanda says those responsible for the genocide remain in Congo and should be turned over to Rwandan authorities to face justice. Rwanda also says that the Congolese Army uses the militia as an auxiliary force to fight the renegade Tutsi general, Laurent Nkunda. Congolese military officials deny that, but current and former Rwandan Hutu soldiers say they have often fought with Congolese forces. Most of the Rwandan [Hutu] militia in Rutshuru district wore Congolese Army uniforms. “The F.D.L.R. has become part of this fight,” said Richard Sezibera, a senior Rwandan diplomat, referring to the name now used by the Hutu militia. “This is a foreign armed group, a terrorist organization, and they work together” with the Congolese military. Rwandan officials assert that the Congolese Army has given the militia [FDLR] weapons. Col. Delphin K. Kahimbi, deputy commander of the Congolese Army in the region, said that such cooperation “could never happen.”

The F.D.L.R. recruits who surrendered to the United Nations on Sunday said that they had worked with the Congolese Army in operations against General Nkunda’s men, and that their Rwandan [Hutu] commander regularly spoke with his Congolese counterparts. “They talk on phones to share tactics,” said Mr. Seburo, one of the fighters. The four were still boys when they were recruited, and they received military instruction as well as a potent dose of anti-Tutsi ideology. “They told us Tutsi are the worst people in the world,” said Mr. Seburo. “They said Tutsi want to destroy Congo and make it part of Rwanda.” The Rwandan Army withdrew from Congo under the peace accord, and the Rwandan militias have not mounted a serious attack on Rwanda since 2001. Some analysts say the threat they pose is less to Rwanda’s government, which is protected by one of Africa’s most formidable armies, than to the Congolese people.

The F.D.L.R. is routinely accused of committing terrible atrocities in Congo. It is particularly well known for raping women, often leaving them incontinent or unable to bear children. It controls large territories in North and South Kivu Provinces, preying on villages for cash, crops and animals. Here in Rutshuru, a rural district of North Kivu Province, a complex picture of these Rwandan occupiers emerged. Many militia members, like the four young deserters, are actually Congolese. Many are Hutus, but members of other ethnic groups have joined the Rwandans because they felt threatened by General Nkunda’s fight to control parts of Rutshuru. Today the F.D.L.R. is a formidable but ultimately fractured force. Some factions are made up of die-hard fighters further toughened by nearly 14 years in the bush. They seek to overthrow the Rwandan government and establish a Hutu-dominated rule. Some even speak of “finishing what was started in 1994,” in the words of one F.D.L.R. commander, a dark hint at plans for more mass killings of Tutsis. Other factions are led by Rwandans[Hutus] but made up largely of Congolese foot soldiers and seem focused on self-enrichment. “The F.D.L.R. was not achieving its objective of bringing Rwandans in Congo home to live in dignity,” said Col. Rashid Ngoboka, 38, a former Rwandan soldier who runs a splinter group of the F.D.L.R. “They are busy getting rich on Congo’s minerals and have lost their way.” He said none of his men had been involved in the genocide. “Our goal is to change the political system in Rwanda and to live side by side with Tutsi,” he said. A few miles up the road, Katwiguru is occupied by another group of F.D.L.R. fighters whose hatred of Tutsis is more typical of the militia. Katwiguru villagers said they were not happy to play host to heavily armed foreign extremists, but had little choice. “We are tired of living with the problems of Rwanda at our doorstep, but what can we do?” said Yoweri Bwiruka Kanyenyezi, the chief of Katwiguru.

What the villagers here fear most happened this year — a brigade of the Congolese Army battled to push the F.D.L.R. out of this area to try to appease General Nkunda and persuade him to integrate his troops into the Congolese Army. Thousands were forced to flee their homes. They missed the planting season and now have no crops. The brigade executed any Hutu it found, accusing them of being F.D.L.R. members, several witnesses said. “Hutus were killed because they were Hutus,” said Simon Habimana, a Congolese Red Cross worker in Katwiguru. “They were not militia.” He pointed to mounds that he and other villagers said were mass graves from the assault. In one, human bones were visible under a thin layer of earth. The violence has forced tens of thousands into squalid camps. Cholera is rampant. The United Nations is trying to persuade Rwandan militiamen to turn in their arms and go home. And Congo plans a peace conference this month that is expected to include General Nkunda, a prospect aid workers welcome. “When militants clash, it is always the people who suffer,” Mr. Habimana said. “We don’t want to be chased away again.”


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