In a firm statement, the US Department of State has warned against supporting rebel groups and mutineers operating in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In a statement published on June 6, 2012 titled “Situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (see statement here) , the US State Department spokesperson Marck C, Toner, said that: “The United States is concerned by the continued mutiny of officers and soldiers formerly integrated into the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and now operating in North Kivu province as an armed group under the name M23, and by recent reports of outside support to M23.”
The statement follows the widely mediatized condemnation of the support of the rebel group M23 and General Bosco Ntaganda, an indicted war criminal, by the Rwandan Government and its top military brass. According to BBC News citing a secret report by the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, the Rwandan Government Defense Forces recruited, trained and armed Rwandan young men and girls, including under age children, before sending them across the Rwandan border with the DRC, to fight along the M23 fighters. Rwandan Government officials are also accused of planning the rebellion several months before the mutiny of M23.
A few days after the BBC News story, the renown Human Rights Organization published a field report (see here) confirming the BBC News accounts.
The Human Rights Watch report titled “DR Congo: Rwanda Should Stop Aiding War Crimes Suspect”, states that “Field research conducted by Human Rights Watch in the region in May 2012 revealed that Rwandan army officials have provided weapons, ammunition, and an estimated 200 to 300 recruits to support Ntaganda’s mutiny in Rutshuru territory, eastern Congo. The recruits include civilians forcibly recruited in Musanze and Rubavu districts in Rwanda, some of whom were children under 18. Witnesses said that some recruits were summarily executed on the orders of Ntaganda’s forces when they tried to escape.”
Rwandan Government officials, especially the Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, have denied and condemned both MONUSCO and Human Rights Watch accusing them of trying to sabotage peace in the region. However, the statement from the US State Department appears to validate the accounts contained in MONUSCO and Human Rights Watch reports and to slam the Rwandan Government for the support.
In the same statement, US State Department supports efforts by the international community to peacefully disarm, regroup, resettle or repatriate Rwandan rebels living in Eastern DRC.
©2012 AfroAmerica Network. All Rights Reserved.