UN report accuses Rwanda of breaking Congo arms ban

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The Independent Online

The Government of Rwanda was accused yesterday of breaking a UN security council arms embargo and of abusing human rights within its own borders. A damning report by a panel of UN experts accuses Rwanda of supporting a military revolt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Government of Rwanda was accused yesterday of breaking a UN security council arms embargo and of abusing human rights within its own borders. A damning report by a panel of UN experts accuses Rwanda of supporting a military revolt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

It claims Rwanda recruited soldiers led by Colonel Jules Mutebutsi and General Laurent Nkunda, who tried unsuccessfully to overthrow their government last month.

Rwanda's Regional Co-operation minister, Protais Mitaly, dismissed the report as "lacking credible evidence" but his denial was undermined by General Nkunda, who told reporters yesterday that he felt the Rwandan government would support him if it felt its security was threatened. The general said: "I cannot say that Rwanda cannot back me - they can if there is reason to."

The fighting in eastern Congo has continued this month and now threatens to upset the Congo's delicate peace process, which aims to end a five-year war that has killed more than three million people and sucked in six neighbouring countries.

The UN said the conflict had been prolonged by weapons and ammunition which were brought over this year from Rwanda and hidden in river water. It added: "Rwanda's violations involved direct and indirect support, in both the DRC and Rwanda, to the mutinous troops of Jules Mutebutsi and Laurent Nkunda."

Rwanda has already invaded the Congo twice in the past eight years, claiming it was hunting those responsible for the 1994 genocide when almost 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates were killed. General Nkunda claims he is fighting to protect ethnic Tutsis from being killed by Congolese government soldiers, but UN investigators have found no evidence of mass killings so far.

Elsewhere, members of a Rwandan human rights organisation fled to Uganda after a parliamentary committee accused them of working with a genocidal ideology.

The workers for the Rwandan League for Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (Liprodor) said they feared for their lives after the government accused them of promoting ethnic divisions and MPs called for them to be sentenced to death. Liprodor has spoken out against the government's record in human rights.

"Opportunities for any form of dissent are limited in Rwanda, and the public position of its parliament is based on no proof. The charge of divisionism has become so broad and so vague that it can now encompass any form of debate," Alison Des Forges, the senior adviser at Human Rights Watch, said.

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