Ever since United States diplomacy decided to boycott the internacional operation, agreed upon with such difficulty, to assist the hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees in Zaire, many of those who did not return to Rwanda have disappeared, perhaps the majority.
Many of those who complained that the world had abandoned them have already ceased to suffer. Many others will follow in the next few days. But no-one will be able to silence their cry: it is the cry of hundreds and thousands of innocent fellow human beings, mainly children, women and old people. As usual, one day history will shed light on the lies and the silence masking the greed, the scheming, the indifference. The blood they have spilled points an accusing finger at our world, and particularly to those who communitted the genocide, sending them to their collective death after a summary trial. But more disgraceful still than the trial was the execution. In the United States, people given the death sentence, including a high percentage of non-whites, are executed rapidly. The refugees met their end in a slow and cruel manner. Their agony lasted months — day after day of hunger, illness, festering foot wounds and permanent terror.
Museveni, Kagame, Buyoya, Kabila and United States diplomacy claims to want to build a vast region of social and political stability — but what kind of stability do they hope to build on the bodies of so many innocent victims? How do they intend to achieve such an ambitious project when it rests on systematic contempt for and violation of the International Convention on Genocide, the Geneva Convention on the Right to Humanitarian Assistance, the Convention on the Status of Refugees and numerous other principles of internacional law? The policy has been to tolerate, to try to deny, to excuse and even to justify the violation of frontiers by the armed forces of these “strong men” to wage a war of aggression, using heavy weapons to bomb refugee camps protected by the UN flag, violently and forcefully repatriating hundreds of thousands of refugees, secretly and systematically massacring hundreds of thousands of Hutu civilians, particularly in Eastern Zaire and Burundi, and blocking humanitarian assistance to civilians in immediate danger of death. This has been, and still is, an absurd and unnecessary holocaust by its very nature and even more by the inhuman and brutal way in which °t has been brought about. Given the turn that events are taking, we should perhaps muster up the courage to beg these warlords and their allies to execute their victims in one swoop, cleanly and rapidly, thereby sparing these terrible “killer refugees” (these two words connected, as they are referred to in the propaganda of the extremist Tutsis and by all those who, consciously or unconsciously, have decided to play their game) such absurd suffering.
United States diplomacy, which repeatedly proclaims loud and clear the fundamental need, in principle, to ensure respect for human rights, is in practice once again betting on strong men, on stable allies, whose hands, carry the stains of too much innocent blood. How many more hundreds of thousands of Hutu bodies do we need, to see through these strong men? How can we accept and even support a person who, while denying the large-scale massacre of Hutus in Eastern Zaire, is at the same time blocking assistance to hundreds of thousands of Hutus who are dying as a result? The extensive complicity, both historical and recent, of the French and various other European governments is not an excuse for the English-speaking countries to do the same. We are aware that big money have their own dynamics and that the only stability that interests them is practically always the stability that allows them to carry on their business. Thus, the swiftness with which the American and Canadian mining companies, almost inexistant in Zaire one year ago, began openly to court the “liberator” Kabila in public and to obtain concessions from him, came as no surprise to us. lt strangely resembled the enthusiasm shown until very recently by other companies, mainly European, in their dealings with “great Pope” Mobutu, now in disgrace. And but, we may expect more of a great country like the United States which claims to be the great leader of a new world order, and truly has been at times: let it be the champion of that stability based on respect for the dignity of each and every human being. How much longer can we live with this immense and unjust tragedy?
II. THE LIES BEHIND THE GRAND PROJECT OF TUTSI EXTREMISM
The tragedy of the Hutu refugees in Zaire, which is now virtually over (however difficult it may be to imagine, and however difficult °t may be to accept that the survivors surely have no future), must be viewed within a broader fraimework: that of the Hutu people as a whole, whose future seems to be as dismal as their present. It is becoming increasingly clear that if, together, we are not able to change the course of events over the next few years, the ethnic Hutu group will once again be sacrificed at the altar of the powerful interests at play in the region. If we are to be honest, there are a several conclusions to be drawn from the developments in the Great Lakes region:
1 . The behaviour of Tutsi strong men now ruling over Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, is defenitely not the behaviour of endangered minorities who are forced to protect themselves by any means. Going far beyond mere self-defence, they begin strangely to resemble an oppressing elite which can only maintain its domination through physical extermination and terror.
2. This extremist minority within the Tutsi minority, defending its privileges by the most brutal means, does not work alone. There is considerable complicity among them as well as with external allies. The leaders of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, among the poorest countries in the world, together with Kabila’s “rebels”, have had access over the past few months to finances, preparation, equipment and logistical support on a scale quite remarkable for African armies.
3. Physical elimination of all of the Hutu refugees in Zaire – women, children and old people included – has clearly been a major objective of the invasion of Zaire. The United States ambassador in Kigali put it very bluntly: the children of the Hutu refugees are better left to die or else they will be the killers of the future.
4. This extermination and this invasion (which is for the moment increasingly taking the form of a rebellion against the corrupt regime of Mobutu and the intolerable stranglehold of the Zairian Armed Forces) is only part of a large-scale military, political and economic project. The extremist Tutsi minority, unwilling to share the power they used tohave, they are now in a position, with the support of a number of allies who are keeping a low profÌle, to forge a great Tutsi empire in the heart of Africa.
5. The media is fundamental in this great project. It is a war is a war of propaganda much more than a battle of forces. A mixture of silence, truth and lies, this propaganda campaign has been perfectly orchestrated for some time now, its access to and, poisoning influence on public opinion is now incredible.
6. The biggest and foremost lie is the malicious interpretation that is systematically given to the genocide of 1994 in Rwanda. The perpetrators were not “the Hutus”, but an extremist minority among the millions of Hutus living in the area. These extremists used the ethnic conflict as a pretext to exterminate those who threatened their privileges namely: the social elite, composed mainly of Tutsis, but also of educated and moderate Hutus. The criminalization of the entire Hutu population by extremist Tutsi propaganda is again and again being used in a disgraceful wat to disguise the ethnic conflict to avoid sharing power with those who represent the great majority of the population. This time the Tutsi’s ensure that the internacional community understands and tolerates the massive extermination of the Hutu civilian population. In Burundi and eastern Zaire the Hutus are being massacred just as systematic and horrifying as were the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, merely because they are Hutus, comparable numbers, soon greater if the killing continues at the current rate. National borders and non-interference in internal affairs have until recently been the standard excuse given by tyrants for oppressing their own people. lt is time we recognise the excuse of ethnic boundaries as well. The genocide, or rather genocides, which have taken place in this region have not been those of one ethnic group attacking another, but rather, powerful extremist minorities, attacking and manipulating civilian population and exacerbating the ethnic problem in their own interests.
7. Another of the great lies has been the massive return of refugees to Rwanda. The most sophisticated United States reconnaissance satellites and aircraft have been unable to detect the immense flood of refugees (some 700,000!) still wandering through Zaire. After summoning all of the TV cameras in the world to film the “massive and spontaneous return” of the refugees, °t was decided that internacional humanitarian assistance was no longer needed, since there were no refugees left in Zaire. The systematic extermination which followed explains clearly enough why their existence was denied. When we denounced this charade, even to people as Mrs. Bonino, we were branded as visionarias.
8. When the first eyewitness accounts of the massacre of refugees in eastern Zaire arrived at the end of January, the extremist Tutsis once again put their propaganda machine to work to refute them and to discredit those who disseminated them, particularly the Belgian Secretary of State, Mr. Moreels. Now, three months later, with the tragedy largely irreversible, these denunciations are multiplying and their tone is increasingly harsh.
9. Use of the media on a large scale to systematically discredit those who counter their propaganda and their interests is a fundamental part of their overall strategy. Accusations of being pro Hutu against missionaries have been particularly violent and devastating. But they are exceptional eyewitnesses who for decades have been on the spot and have become integrated with the local populations. The approach incertain European and American media are so tendentious that we cannot help but think that it is deliberate.
10. Finally, there is that great ally, silence. The oppressive silence of death which looms like a wall, blocking access to critical places at the critical time to all those who might be inconvenient witnesses. The silence which for some time now enshrouds Burundi, where the murderers of President Ndadaye are still unpunished; where, after the second president was assassinated, the third President of the recent democracy now needs to hide himself in the Embassy of the United States; where they are completing the extermination of the Hutu’s as systematic as fergotten; where 500,000 Hutus are detained in authentic concentration camps. The increasingly impenetrable silence of Rwanda, where there is no choice but to shut up or leave; where government ministers and high political authorities who had moral objections about what they had seen had to flee at road or died in mysterious circumstances. The murky silence that is already beginning to enshroud Zaire.
III. SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT HUTU ASHES AND DEMOCRACY
As months go by, slowly, too slowly, evidence of the massive massacres of the disarmed and defenceless hutu refugees by the troops apparently headed by Laurent-DÈsirÈ Kabila is coming to light. Not only have these systematic killings been going on during the last months but they are still taking place today. After the denunciations made by missionaries, nongovernmental organizations, the belgian secretary of state mr. Moreels and the commissioner Bonino, the U.N. confirmed that the investigating commission headed by the chilean Roberto GarretÛn, special reporter for summary executions, confirmed the existence of between 20.000 and 100.000 corpses in only 40 sites. Eventually, after the “government” of Kabila had forbidden the entrance of the team in the east of Zaire during many days, a more extensive investigation was aborted. At the beginning of june mr. Yasushi Akashi, undersecretary of the U.N. for humanitarian affairs, decared that the killings are still going on in the jungles in the east of the former Zaire. And he specified: “Hutu men, women and children are being assassinated by the tutsi forces of the Alliance despiste the opposition of the non-tutsi units”. These last days, according to testimonies published in “The New York Times”, the corpses are being incinerated in big pyres so as not to leave any trace for future enquiries.
In spite of all the evidence that Kabila must be considered, be it actively or passively, guilty of crimes against humanity, those who go in for Realpolitik have decided to support him. They have behaved as if it was the most normal thing in the world that out of the Zaire plundered by Mobutu, the Congo of Kabila would emerge, littered with Hutu corpses and hostage of the Tutsi extremists, guilty of genocide who claim the victim status for themselves . No wonder that European Commissioner Emma Bonino to the international community talked in harsh words about “an international farce”. The powerful forces that have financed Kabila and the other leaders of the region, thus creating the reality that is most convenient for themselves, remain hidden. Now they dress up as realism the fallacy that there is no other reasonable option and through their powerful media launch the message that those who believe in civil society are utopic dreamers. If over the last few years they had only given half the financial and logistic support they are now offering the Alliance to this civil society that wants to be the forger of its own destiny, surely democracy and respect for human rights would not be something far off. In Zaire. as in Burundi, the international community has abandoned and sometimes even boycotted some moderate and upright democrats. One might wonder whether those prophets of Realpolitik are really interested in having politically mature peoples in this region, people who decide on their own destiny and natural and human resources. How long will we have to put up with war to prepare peace? How many more murderous dictators to re-educate the people for democracy, the way Kabila’s government promises? How long will we have to tolerate the poisoning of the international public opinion in order to cover up vile interests and systematic violations of human rights?
Over the last few months various analysts have reduced the complex reality of what is happening in Congo-Zaire to an armed confrontation between Mobutu and Kabila, sometimes referring to the more or less obvious clash between American and French interests. Showing great cynisism or ignorance , they have also demonized Mobutu, blaming French colonialism only for all the trouble of the region, while in their eyes all Kabila did was well done. Do such things as good or bad colonialism really exist, even if they appear in a new form? Is there any other imperialism than the one of money and power? For anyone who believes in this reduction, using as a point of departure the manicheism that distorts the vision of what is taking place, it is indeed anti-Tutsi if one denounces the murdering of the unarmed Hutu population that finds itself at a long distance from the place where the battle is taking place. And when European Commissioner Mrs Bonino calls on the respect for the great internation conventions on human rights, leaving all interests and political agendas aside, or when some non-governmental organization claims that the respect for human rights cannot be negotiated and that one cannot only dedicate oneself at finishing off the old dictator, who, fallen from grace, already belongs to the past, then they are referred to as Mobutu’s defenders.
Western governments are aware, as a few weeks ago the French newspaper Liberation brought out, that behind Kabila, who is there for the media, a high authority of generals is hiding, represented by Museveni, the president of Uganda, Dos Santos, the leader of Angola, and Kagame, the Rwandan strongman. When it comes to real power, the men from the Rwandan Patriotic Front are predominant and there is not a single Zairan general who is not banyamulungue. These leaders of the Tutsi extremists can decide on the death of hundreds of thousands defenceless civilians in Eastern Zaire and “those that have returned” to Rwanda and Burundi. They can also obstruct the work of UN investigation comittees and impose all sorts of conditions on the international community. Why such excessive and disgraceful tolerance with the outrages committed by these people? Can the genocide on their people and the moderate Hutus really justify the opposite genocide on hundreds of thousands innocent people? The terror, the ethnic “cleaning” and the total absence of information and images there of first in Rwanda and Burundi now also in Eastern Zaire. When finally, after this ethnic cleanic and so-called free elections, the new democracy that already exists in Uganda, will reach the new Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, there will be so much Hutu ashes in the woods and on the hills, with those still alive afraid to death and hiding, “reeducated” and without local or national leaders, that the old minority of course will have become the new majority. Until then, however, there is still a lot of “work” to do for Tutsi extremists, not hindered in any way by the international community, under the leadership of the United States of America.