Congo Watch: October 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

ICC - France arrests Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana in Paris for war crimes committed in DR Congo’s Kivu province in 2009

ACTING on a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), French police arrested Callixte Mbarushimana, vice-president of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), on Monday, 11 October 2010, in his Paris apartment. He stands charged of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in DRC in 2009.

The ICC alleges that Mbarushimana planned a series of crimes from his base in France with the intention of creating a humanitarian catastrophe, then extorting concessions of political power from the international community.

Almost two million people are internally displaced in eastern DRC’s Kivu provinces, in large part due to the activities of the FDLR.

Full story below.



Photo: Callixte Mbarushimana, seen here in 2004 (AFP)

Analysis: Rebel leader’s arrest just one step in fight against impunity in DRC
Source: IRIN - www.irinnews.org
Date: Thursday, 21 October 2010:
(LONDON) - The recent arrest in Europe of a senior Rwandan militia leader is a welcome step in the fight against impunity in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but real progress in the protection of civilians depends on the apprehension of commanders on the ground, according to analysts.

Acting on a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), French police arrested Callixte Mbarushimana, vice-president of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), on 11 October in Paris. He stands charged of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in DRC in 2009.

Almost two million people are internally displaced in eastern DRC’s Kivu provinces, in large part due to the activities of the FDLR.

International and local human rights groups applauded Mbarushimana’s arrest which comes after a long and controversial military campaign to stamp out the Hutu-dominated group that formed in DRC after the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

But they suggest impact on the ground - where a brutal campaign of murder and rape allegedly committed by FDLR soldiers has blighted the lives of civilians - will be minimal.

“It is clear from the latest military operations that the FDLR is weakened, and the arrest of individuals in Europe just weakens them even further,” said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“But will it stop them attacking civilians? I fear not. I think that we’ve seen in the past that it doesn’t have an immediate impact on behaviour on the ground, because there has been this division between the political movement [in Europe] and the military leadership in the field.”

Mbarushimana took over the FDLR’s political wing following the November 2009 arrests of FDLR President Ignace Murwanashyaka and his deputy Straton Musoni in Germany. They remain in German custody charged, under the principle of universal jurisdiction, with bearing command responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by FDLR troops eastern DRC.

ICC allegations

The ICC alleges that Mbarushimana planned a series of crimes from his base in France with the intention of creating a humanitarian catastrophe, then extorting concessions of political power from the international community.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said the latest arrest could help demobilize the FDLR “After 16 years of continuous violence, this could be an opportunity to finally demobilize the group,” said ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo in a press release. “Their leaders are gone.”

But not everyone is convinced that FDLR will give up their fight so easily. Fidel Bafilemba, the eastern DRC field researcher for the Enough Project, says the soldiers on the ground care little for international warrants for European leaders. “Why should this [latest] arrest make a difference that the arrest of Ignace Murwanashyaka didn't make?” he said.

In fact, one of the most shocking incidents in DRC’s recent history occurred long after Murwanashyaka and Musoni were taken into custody - the rape of hundreds of women near Walikale in August, allegedly by FDLR soldiers and their Congolese Mayi-Mayi allies.

Many recent atrocities attributed to the FDLR have come in apparent response to the military campaigns against them by the Rwandan and DRC armies assisted by the UN peace-keeping force in DRC, known as MONUSCO (formerly MONUC).

“What I fear with FDLR is that they have shown when under military pressure they attack Congolese civilians,” said Van Woudenberg. “The recent rapes in Walikale are a prime example of the FDLR and their Mayi Mayi allies punishing Congolese people for their perceived support for these military operations against them.”

Independent DRC analyst Jason Stearns describes the military approach to date as clumsy and says it has worsened the humanitarian catastrophe in the east. He is also unconvinced that targeting Europe-based FDLR will stamp out the rebels.

“We should crack down on the diaspora, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that in the larger scheme of things it’s not going to be by any stretch of the imagination the key factor in dealing with the FDLR,” said Stearns, the former head of the UN Group of Experts on Congo. “There are other much more important issues to deal with than the diaspora.”

He believes that MONUSCO and others should be reaching out to the commanders on the ground who were not involved in the Rwandan genocide - many of whom are tired of life in the forest and the constant military pressure. “There has been relatively little outreach to them,” he said.

“We need to find out who the genocidaires [those who took part in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide] are in the FDLR, but we just don’t know. It’s hard to engage in this outreach to commanders if you are operating with this lack of information.”

DRC army accused of crimes against humanity Stearns proposes third country exile for FDLR members found not to be involved in violations of international law and who do not want to return to Rwanda.

“Powerful signal”

International Crisis Group’s central Africa senior analyst, Guillaume Lacaille, agrees that military offensives alone will not end the violence and that FDLR military leaders in the field should be given the opportunity to relocate, but within the DRC.

“Those who accept to leave the FDLR could be relocated in a western province of the Congo in exchange for disarmament, rather than accept immediate repatriation to Rwanda,” he said.

Lacaille, however, insists the arrest of Mbarushimana and the others is also an important part of the process of bringing peace to eastern DRC.

“It sends a powerful signal that directing from Europe a criminal group operating in Congo will have serious consequences,” he said. “In the past, leaders of armed groups were led to believe that they could operate safely from comfortable Western capitals. The ICC and the governments of Germany and France demonstrated clearly that it is not possible any more.”

Enough’s Bafilemba also sees the new ICC case as a positive step towards ending impunity in DRC, but expects more from the court. That means warrants for crimes committed by all sides in the conflict including the national army which this week came under pressure from Margot Wallstrom, the UN envoy on sexual violence in conflict, who accused its soldiers of murdering and raping villagers in Walikale.

Van Woudenberg, meanwhile, is calling on the Rwandan government to do its part in ending the violence.

“As long as the political space in Rwanda is not opened up to the Hutu, the problem of the FDLR will continue,” she said. The lasting solution to this problem of Hutu and their political space is Rwanda and Rwanda will need to open this political space.”

Rwandan President Paul Kagame responded to this oft-voiced view in his 6 October swearing-in speech that followed his 93 percent landslide victory in an August election:

“…That there is no political space … what do you mean? The political space is well and fully occupied by the people of this country. And if the people of this country has spoken in such numbers and freely, who are you to question anything they have said? Where do you come from? From Mars?” lc/am/cb
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A Win Against Impunity: Callixte Mbarushimana Arrested in Paris
Source: warcrimes.foreignpolicyblogs.com
Written by: Brandon Henander
Date: Tuesday, 12 October 2010. Excerpt:
[...] What many find most offensive is that Mbarushimana was a U.N. employee during the Rwandan genocide; he used that priviledge to further the genocide by identifying employees to be killed, identifying safe-havens designated by the U.N. and evacuation points to Hutu militias; and personally carried out genocidal murders himself. Up to a dozen eye witnesses have come forward testifying that Mbarushimana supervised killings of Tutsis during the genocide and/or pulled the trigger himself.

The ICTR failed to sign his indictment in 2001 alleging that his role in the genocide was not large enough to warrant prosecution in front of the special tribunal, even though he was implicated in over 30 murders and grossly abused his position as an international civil servant. Unfortunately he went on to help mastermind killings and other war crimes and crimes against humanity that rose to the level of severity worthy of consideration before an international criminal venue.
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Related Reports
  1. Court refuses to release Callixte Mbarushimana from detention


    Rwanda News Agency (registration) - 3 days ago
    Paris: The appeals court in Paris on Wednesday rejected a plea by indicted FDLR chief Callixte Mbarushimana to be released from detention – and his lawyers ...
  2. French court rejects request to free Rwandan rebel leader


    AFP - 3 days ago
    PARIS — A French appeals court on Wednesday rejected a request by Rwandan rebel leader and war crimes suspect Callixte Mbarushimana that he be released from ...

    AFP
  3. A break in Congo


    Los Angeles Times - 23 Oct 2010
    That is why the recent arrest in Paris of Callixte Mbarushimana, the executive secretary of the FDLR, on a warrant from the International Criminal Court ...
  4. Ending Impunity In the Congo


    Voice of America - 22 Oct 2010
    Callixte Mbarushimana is a top official of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, the FDLR, a rebel group that for years has wreaked havoc in ...
  5. The French-American Foundation Weekly Breif


    FranceToday.com - Patrick Lattin - 22 Oct 2010
    French police arrested Rwandan Callixte Mbarushimana in his Paris apartment on Monday, October 11 th . Mbarushimana is believed to be a leader of the FDLR, ...

    FranceToday.com
  6. Analysis: Rebel leader's arrest just one step in fight against ...


    Rwanda News Agency (registration) - 22 Oct 2010
    Acting on a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), French police arrested Callixte Mbarushimana, vice-president of the Democratic Forces ...
  7. UN - Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for ...


    ISRIA (registration) - 22 Oct 2010
    I don't know if you have seen it, but he speaks about the case of Callixte Mbarushimana, saying that he wants to look at the UN's failure in that and that ...
  8. Rwandan War Crimes Suspect Makes First Appearance in French Court


    NTDTV - 20 Oct 2010
    Rwandan rebel leader Callixte Mbarushimana, accused of war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), makes his first appearance in a French court on ...
  9. UN Resignation of Petrie Caused by Inaction on Staff Genocidaire ...


    Inner City Press - Matthew Russell Lee - 20 Oct 2010
    Back on October 11, Inner City Press asked Inner City Press: does the UN have any comment on the arrest in Paris of Callixte Mbarushimana? ...

    Inner City Press
  10. At UN, Outsourced Report and Reporter Dodge Congo Rapes ...


    Inner City Press - Matthew Russell Lee - 20 Oct 2010
    Inner City Press: Okay, the next question is does the UN have any comment on the arrest in Paris of Callixte Mbarushimana? Spokesperson: I know who you mean ...

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ICC: Sudanese rebel leaders charged with war crimes and slaying of peacekeepers at Haskanita, N. Darfur, W. Sudan

ON Friday 22 October 2010, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a statement confirming that Darfur rebel group leaders Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus (Jerbo) are charged with, quote:
three war crimes (violence to life, in the form of murder, whether committed or attempted; intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, materials, units, and vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission; and pillaging) allegedly committed during an attack carried out on 29 September, 2007, against the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), a peace-keeping mission stationed at the Haskanita Military Group Site, in the locality of Umm Kadada, North Darfur. It is alleged that the attackers killed 12 and severely wounded 8 soldiers, destroyed communications facilities and other materials and appropriated property belonging to AMIS.
Confirmation of charges hearing in the case against Banda and Jerbo to start on 8 December, 2010. The hearing was initially scheduled to start on 22 November, 2010.

Click here to read full story at Sudan Watch, parent site of Congo Watch.



Photo: Jerbo (L) and Banda (R) © ICC-CPI/ Toussaint Kluiters

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hotel Rwanda inspiration Paul Rusesabagina accused of funding terrorism - Rwandan police arrest opposition leader Victoire Ingabire

Paul Rusesabagina who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda has been accused of funding terrorism and seeking to overthrow the country's government.

Mr Rusesabagina, who in 2005 was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honour by former US President George W. Bush, insists he has done nothing wrong.

Rwandan police say they have arrested the country's most prominent opposition leader Victoire Ingabire and are accusing her of forming a terrorist organisation.

Full story below.

Hotel Rwanda inspiration accused of funding terrorism
Source: The Daily Telegraph.co.uk
By Aislinn Laing in Johannesburg
Published: 1:56PM BST 28 Oct 2010

The man who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda has been accused of funding terrorism and seeking to overthrow the country's government.



Photo: Paul Rusesabagina



Photo: Actor Don Cheadle (right) played the part of Paul Rusesabagina in the film Hotel Rwanda (Reuters)
Paul Rusesabagina, who was declared a hero by the international community for shielding hundreds of Tutsis from the 1994 in his hotel, is alleged to have sent money from the US to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu-majority rebel group whose commanders were implicated in the killings.

Mr Rusesabagina, who was played by Don Cheadle in the film, insists he has not sent money to Rwanda for at least seven years and dismissed the allegations as part of a smear campaign against him because he opposed the government of Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president, in the past.

Martin Ngoga, Rwanda's most senior prosecutor, claimed he had hard evidence that Mr Rusesabagina, 56, sent money to two FDLR commanders in Burundi and Tanzania via the Western Union from San Antonio, Texas, where he has a home.

"Those who want to continue considering him as a hero can go on," Mr Ngoga said. "We consider him a serious criminal suspect and we are challenging whoever speaks on his behalf to tell us whether he never sent money to these FDLR commanders we have in custody."

It is alleged that the money was designed to fund the recruiting of fighters for a new military wing of FDU-Inkingi, a Hutu opposition party headed by Victoire Ingabire.

Miss Ingabire was remanded in custody earlier this month on charges of forming a terrorist group. Mr Ngoga alleged that the FDLR commanders in custody have given evidence against both Miss Ingabire and Mr Rusesabagina.

Mr Rusesabagina, who in 2005 was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honour by former US President George W. Bush, insists he has done nothing wrong.

"It is the latest step in a campaign against me by the Rwandan government that has included public insults, lies and physical harassment," he said.

"My foundation is advocating for a truth, justice and reconciliation process to try to foster sustainable peace in Rwanda ... but anyone who opposes Kagame inside or outside the country is treated with this kind of harassment."

No formal charges have yet been filed against him.

More than 500,000 Rwandans, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were killed in Rwanda's genocide.
Mr Kagame, an ethnic Tutsi, has tried to downplay the role of ethnicity in post-genocide Rwanda, and people in the country rarely refer to themselves as Hutu or Tutsi and can face charges for speaking publicly about ethnicity.

But he has been criticised by human rights groups who accuse his regime of iron-fisted control and of silencing opposition politicians and media outlets with arrests and attacks in the run up to August president election.
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Rwandan police arrest opposition leader
Source: Telegraph.co.uk
Date: Thursday, 14 October 2010



Photo: Rwandan authorities say Ms Ingabire, pictured, was implicated during investigations into the activities of a former commander of a Hutu militia group. (AFP/GETTY)
Victoire Ingabire was arrested on Thursday, police said in a statement. Human rights groups accuse the Rwandan government of using allegations of terrorism to stifle opposition.

Rwandan authorities say Ms Ingabire was implicated during investigations into the activities of a former commander of a Hutu militia group operating in neighbouring Congo who was arrested on Wednesday.

Police claim this is the military wing of Ms Ingabire's party.

Ms Ingabire returned to Rwanda in January after 16 years to challenge President Paul Kagame who was re-elected in August elections. She was barred from contesting the poll.

Rwandan police say they have arrested the country's most prominent opposition leader and are accusing her of forming a terrorist organisation.

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