In its latest report on the situation in eastern Congo published on Monday, Human Rights Watch gives a few recommendations to the notoriously infamous rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR):
- Cease immediately all attacks on civilians.
- Take all necessary measures, including making public statements, to ensure that FDLR forces do not commit human rights abuses and violations of the laws of war.
- Carry out investigations into war crimes committed by FDLR forces and take appropriate disciplinary measures against any member of the FDLR, regardless of rank, found responsible.
- Stop blocking the return of Rwandan refugees to Rwanda. Support the establishment of safe humanitarian corridors to allow refugees to return home.
Maybe, you are asking yourself if this is a joke. No, it’s not. Human Rights Watch has actually called on the FDLR, a terrorist organization known for its atrocities in eastern Congo for more than a decade, to “investigate” its members for war crimes.
Be assured, after the FDLR complies, they will report their findings, arrest those responsible, and make them available to the Congolese authorities, or the Rwandan authorities, or maybe send them to a more neutral venue like the International Criminal Court.
Breaking News: the FDLR respond to Human Rights Watch
Dear Human Rights Watch,
After reading your recommendations, we, the leadership of the FDLR, have decided to cease immediately all attacks on civilians.
We have carried out an investigation into our actions in eastern Congo. We have concluded that we are indeed a terrorist organization, culpable of vicious crimes, and we will turn ourselves to the International Criminal Court.
We will no longer stop Rwandan refugees to return to Rwanda. Of course, if Rwandan refugees returned home, this would cut into our main recruiting base, but be assured, we will comply anyway, because you have kindly asked us to do so.
We will even go further than you have asked us, we will also name all those among us who were involved in the Rwandan genocide and turn them to the Rwandan authorities.
Ignace Murwanyashiaka, Straton Musoni, FDLR leadership
Back to reality
The FDLR is one of the most brutal rebel force that Africa has ever known. They have been branded as terrorists by the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States.
In its report, Human Rights Watch writes, “On November 17, 2009, the FDLR president, Ignace
Murwanashyaka, and his deputy, Straton Musoni, were arrested by authorities in Germany
for their role in alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by FDLR forces
under their command in eastern Congo between January 2008 and July 2009. They were also
charged with belonging to a terrorist group.”
Human Rights Watch also writes in the report that, as recently as August 10, the group had a “meeting” with Ignace Murwanashyaka. The group also reveals that it had other “various individual and group meetings with FDLR commanders and low-ranking combatants.”
Yes, Human Rights Watch admits it has held meetings with the leaders of a known terrorist group.
No wonder Human Rights Watch think they can change the FDLR rebels into saints with recommendations. After all, they have looked into their eyes and seen their souls.
It is, of course, pure lunacy to think that the FDLR rebels can investigate themselves, stop attacking civilians, and become model citizens of the Great Lakes region, just because Human Rights Watch says so. This is the most naïve recommendation, and there are many, included in this report. This is like asking Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri to investigate Al Qaeda members and punish them for committing terrorist acts.
This time, Human Rights Watch was careful to include in its report a detailed description of the atrocities committed by the FDLR. Its previous reports had focused on the alleged atrocities of the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC), barely mentioning the FDLR.
This approach has led the Congolese Government to issue strong responses to the group’s claims. The Congolese Government has said that Human Rights Watch has an “hidden agenda” in eastern Congo. With the revelations that the group has been meeting with the terrorists of the FDLR, few would blame the government for making such statements.
With the arrest of FDLR leaders by German Authorities, and the report by UN-mandated experts detailing the atrocities of the FDLR and their international support network, Human Rights Watch can simply no longer afford to issue one –sided reports on the situation in eastern Congo without further losing its credibility.