RALLY FOR RETURN OF REFUGEES AND DEMOCRACY IN RWANDA:
TOO LITTLE TOO LATE FOR THE RWANDAN REFUGEES IN EASTERN ZAIRE.

The following press release was issued on May 1 by the Rally for the Return of Refugees and Democracy, and is a shattering resume of what happened to the Hutu refugees of Rwanda and Burundi in Zaire during the last six months. It is an indictment of especially those, like United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, who at the end of last year praised the "solution" of the refugee crisis. It is also an indictment of those in our governments, who prevented a military intervention in defense of the refugees when it still was time to do so. For the United States, we must realize that those in Congress or near the Pentagon and the intelligence community, who, since the era of George Bush as President, supported the build-up of Ugandan President Museveni in Uganda and Defense Minister Paul Kagame in Rwanda, bear responsibility for the horrors that we see in Zaire today and for preventing President Clinton from doing what he did in August 1994 in Goma, to rush in the U.S. military to save the lives of innocent civilians. The following is the release:

TOO LITTLE TOO LATE FOR THE RWANDAN REFUGEES IN EASTERN ZAIRE

The last broken pieces of the last episode in the implementation of the plan to break any political, economic, or intellectual, or military threat to the RPF [Rwandan Patriotic Front] regime in Kigali are being swept, picked and dumped in Rwanda under the United Nations repatriation exercise of surviving Rwandan refugees.

The last episode, rightly called the final solution, started with the attack of Rwandan refugee camps, under the protection of the United Nations, at the end of the month of October 1996. This attack of refugee camps by a combined force of Rwandan, Burundian, and Ugandan forces, as pointed out earlier in other statements, had been initially planned for June 1996 but was rescheduled after it had been leaked. A rearrangement was done to bring in the Zairean "rebellion" of Laurent Desire Kabila in order to give the operation a Zairean face.

According to very reliable information, the plan had been seen and approved by the Pentagon and British intelligence services. This is why all attempts to bring in an international intervention force were foiled by the American and British governments.

Out of the 1,200,000 refugees who were in Eastern Zaire, the most optimistic, public relations and UNHCR figure put the number of those who returned to Rwanda to 500,000. The world was forced to accept that the majority of refugees had returned home. It was forced down its throat that less than 200,000 refugees were staying in Zaire, a figure which was too low to warrant wasting resources to salvage them, according to those who were opposing the idea of an international intervention force.

As it was impossible to believe that such a simple arithmetic of subtraction (1,200,000 - 500,000 = 700,000) could fail anybody, the only logical explanation was that either the proponents of such assertions were sure that 500,000 refugees unaccounted for, had already been killed by the combined Rwandan, Burundian, and Ugandan forces or that one had to wait until the death toll has reduced them to that number. Indeed, it now seems that the surviving refugees who are now no more than ghosts are less that number before intervening in another way like the present one of airlifting the remaining ghosts. The world is now busy looking for funds to deliver them to the RPF. It is highly probable that many will die in Rwandan jails while others will be left to die licking their wounds.

According to theorists of the `final solution' to end any threat to RPF power, it was deemed necessary to eliminate the Hutu intelligentsia, professionals, former politicians, prominent businessmen in Zaire and break the backbone of the former armed forces. This seems to have been accomplished. This is calculated to give the RPF military oligarchy an upper hand on the military, economic, and intellectual levels.

In Tingi-Tingi, many refugees had asked the UNHCR to arrange their repatriation but this had been purely and simply ignored. {The hidden agenda is alleged to have been that it was felt that the number of refugees was still too high for the RPF regime and its backers.} It was also believed that they had not been weakened enough and could still have constituted a threat to the Kigali regime and to the pilot transporting them.

Those who escaped from the net in Tingi-Tingi, Zaire, and landed in Nairobi have so far not been acknowledged by the UNHCR office in Nairobi. The mopping up exercise is said to be in the offing. It will consist of assassinating those who escaped through the net and were outside the camps in Tanzania or Zaire. Kenya is likely to be the next point of attention to the RPF death squads. It is important to recall that one Ntare Peter, RPF agent, was caught up in one of the Estates in Nairobi in possession of a Kenyan police uniform, handcuffs, and 91 rounds of ammunition of different calibre.

What is happening now is another test of political will of the international community to play a fair and equitable game. {As it was done both in Rwanda and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, an international commission of inquiry should be put in place and a tribunal set up to try those who are responsible for crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Rwandan refugees in Eastern Zaire.} The international community, particularly the United Nations have to dispel serious allegations that what is happening in Eastern Zaire was an internationally planned genocide against the Hutu population.

The surviving refugees who are being dished out to the RPF authorities in Rwanda should be followed up to make sure that their rights are respected and a special programme be set up to assist the traumatised and helpless children.

What is being tried now is just too little, too late, because these people would have been saved if the backers of the RPF government had accepted the idea of an international humanitarian intervention force to create safe corridors for the safe return of refugees back to Rwanda.

The Rwandan people may not have the resources or the might to fight injustice meted on it, but {sooner or later history will judge those who were behind or condoned the horrendous crimes committed against the Hutu population.}

For the RDR, Chris Nzabandora, Spokesman