Rwanda threatens to withdraw peacekeepers

Rwanda threatened to withdraw its troops from United Nations peacekeeping operations if the world body publishes a report accusing the Rwandan army of committing possible genocide in Congo in the 1990s, Rwanda's foreign minister said in a letter sent to the UN.

Addressed to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the letter from Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo describes the report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as "fatally flawed" and "incredibly irresponsible".

The letter is dated August 3 and was obtained by The Associated Press.

A draft of the report leaked this week accuses Rwandan troops and rebel allies tied to the current Congolese president of slaughtering tens of thousands of Hutus in Congo.

The attacks allegedly came two years after those same troops stopped Rwanda's 1994 genocide that killed more than half a million Tutsis and some moderate Hutus.

"The report's allegations - of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity - are extremely serious. However, the methodology, sourcing and standard of proof used to arrive at them most certainly are not," Ms Mushikiwabo's letter says.

The letter asks why the investigators spent six weeks in Congo but never came to Rwanda or asked for meetings with Rwandan officials, who were given the 545-page draft two months ago.

Investigators said they required two independent sources for each of the 600 incidents documented.

The draft says the systematic and widespread attacks "could be classified as crimes of genocide" by a competent court.

In the letter, Ms Mushikiwabo criticises investigators for not seeking evidence that would stand up in court.

She said the report's weakness is that its goal was "not of being satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that a violation was committed but rather having reasonable suspicion that the incident did occur".

This, her letter says, means "UN investigators employed the lowest evidentiary standard" in making such serious allegations.

She suggests that the timing of the report is being driven by people within the UN who seek to damage recently renewed diplomatic ties between Congo and Rwanda. The rapprochement between the neighbouring countries contributed to greater stability in Central Africa.

"The timing of the report only heightens these suspicions as it is being circulated on the eve of Rwanda's presidential election and at a time when Congolese officials are calling for (the UN Mission in Congo) to close up shop," the letter says.

Congo, which also denied the allegations, also questioned the timing of the report, but suggested it was being used to deflect attention from UN peacekeepers' failure to protect civilians in a recent mass gang-rape atrocity.

The Rwandan letter said "attempts to take action on this report - either through its release or leaks to the media - will force us to withdraw from Rwanda's various commitments to the United Nations, especially in the area of peacekeeping".

Rwanda contributes thousands of troops to peacekeeping missions in Chad, Haiti, Liberia and Sudan.

Ms Mushikiwabo's letter was written before the report's leak this week.

The draft report said the Rwandan troops and their Congolese rebel allies targeted Hutus and killed tens of thousands over months, the majority of whom were women, children, the sick and the elderly who posed no threat. Most were bludgeoned to death with hoes, axes and hammers.

"Upon entering a locality, they ordered the people to gather together ... Once they were assembled, the civilians were bound and killed by blows of hammers or hoes to the head," it says.

Rwanda invaded Congo in 1996, saying it was going after those who committed the genocide.

Many were in refugee camps in Congo, which they used as a base for attacks on Tutsis in Congo and for cross-border raids into Rwanda. Rwandan rebels remain in Congo and have been terrorising the population ever since.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Analyst -International TV Production

£250 - £300 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Recruitment Genius: Project Management Support Assistant

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Railway Museum, the largest of its ...

Sauce Recruitment: FP&A Analyst -Home Entertainment

£250 - £300 per day: Sauce Recruitment: (Rolling) 3 month contractA global en...

Recruitment Genius: Sales and Account Manager - OTE £80,000+

£40000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project