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February 16, 2010

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin called on Rwandan authorities on Monday to publish the names of FDLR (the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) rebels suspected of involvement in the country’s 1994 genocide.

Speaking in the eastern Congo town of Goma, Durbin told the AFP that “Opportunity should be given to people who were not involved in horrific crimes to go back to Rwanda. There are some who have already been back to Rwanda. They live quite well, because they were not involved in horrific crimes.”

“The question of FDLR should be resolved both by the Congolese government, Rwandan government and the international community,” Durbin said.

Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Sherrod Brown of Ohio are traveling to Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Sudan to assess US foreign assistance programs in the region.

Senator Durbin, a close friend to President Barack Obama, is the current Assistant Senate Majority Leader. In 2006, he was a Co-sponsor of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act, the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor.

The bill provided $52,000,000 in bilateral assistance programs to, among other things, “support efforts of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), and other entities, as appropriate, to disarm, demobilize, and repatriate the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and other illegally armed groups.”

FDLR rebels have been accused of committing numerous atrocities against the Congolese population since fleeing to eastern Congo after the Rwandan genocide. Many of them were involved in the killings that left 800.000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead.

The rebels have claimed they fear reprisals from Rwandan authorities if they return to their country. They have also been accused of preventing other Hutu refugees who were not involved in the genocide from returning to Rwanda.