A negotiated settlement with genocidaires like FDLR is not possible, says former USAID boss

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Tom Ndahiro

On May 5, 1998 Richard McCall was a witness at a special hearing before the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights of the Committee on International Relations House of representatives.

By then McCall was the Chief of Staff, United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

In his statement to the Congress McCall said the challenge they had was ‘to chart a course for the present and the future which reflects the reality of that past’.

McCall emphasized the following:

“Genocide is a historical event that informs history from the day it begins and forever into the future. We have a problem. The international community initiated its long-term engagement with Rwanda by accommodating violence, and we allowed the genocidaires to set up shop in the camps. Unfortunately, this contributed to the institutionalization of violence, rather than breaking the cycle of impunity which gave rise to the genocide in the first place. The solution to that problem is to be unequivocally clear about the genocide and its perpetrators. The nature of the evil continuing to plague the region cannot be underestimated. Not only are the genocidaires committed to finishing what was left undone in 1994, but they continue to be willing to kill and sacrifice their own people to do so.”

This inquiry ‘Rwanda: Genocide and the Continuing Cycle of Violence’ was conducted at the time Rwanda was facing insurgency of L’Armée de libération du Rwanda  / Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALiR) in the North-West. In the year 2000, ALIR morphed into FDLR.

The issue of this rebellion by former members of Interahamwe and Army which committed genocide in 1994 was touched in the Q&A. The subject was raised by Congresswoman Cynthia A. Mckinney  of Georgia.

Ms. Mckinney. Could you tell me who the leader of the rebels is? The leader of the rebels who are now continuing to fight in Rwanda?

Mr. McCall. I don’t know who the leader is, and I don’t consider them rebels; I consider them genocidaires. There is a difference between a rebel and a genocidaire.

Ms. McKinney. Do you know who their leader is?

Mr. MCCALL. No.

Ms. McKinney. Does anyone know?

Mr. MCCALL. I don’t know.

Ms. McKinney. Do you think a negotiated settlement is possible with a genocidaire?

Mr. McCall. No. In the history of this kind of murder, would anybody ask you to negotiate with your killers whose primary purpose in life is to finish the job?

Ms. McKinney. It is my understanding at one time the U.S. Government was asking the RPF to negotiate with the genocidal leaders.

Mr. McCall. It certainly didn’t come up in the context of any of the interagency meetings we had. I would have, since I have a volatile temper anyway in these meetings, you would have seen an explosion that would have ripped off the top of the building if it had come up. I am not aware that that was ever done. But I find it totally offensive that we would even contemplate asking for something like that.

Ms. McKinney. Finally, Mr. Chairman, I have one more question.

In the statement of a Belgian Senator, Alain Destexhe said: “I would like to react to the comment made this morning in the New York Times and in the Washington Post by Secretary General Kofi Annan saying that cable (General Romeo Dallaire’s warning of the likely possibility of Tutsi extermination) was an old story. I think this comment is insulting for the victims, because when we are talking about the genocide, it is never an old story. I mean, 50 years after the genocide of the Jews and the Holocaust, we still think it is a very important story. And the Secretary General, as anybody else, is accountable for his decisions and his behavior.”

In 1998 Destexhe was the President, International Crisis Group, and Director, Institute for International Economics

In another statement to the hearing, Mr. Jeff Drumtra said: “A couple of incidents have occurred in Rwanda in recent months that I think summarize all that is good and all that is the worst in Rwanda. These incidents capture all that is evil and all that is hopeful. In one incident, genocidaire insurgents in the northwest attacked a girl’s school. They commanded the students to separate themselves by ethnicity, all Tutsi on one side, all Hutu on the other side. The young girls knew what was coming. They refused to separate, so they were all killed, Tutsi and Hutu together, indistinguishable from each other. A second incident, a similar incident, this occurred—this time it was adults. They were passengers on a bus. Genocidaires hijacked the bus on the open road, demanded that the passengers separate themselves, Hutu on one side, Tutsi on the other. According to the reports, many of the passengers refused to separate, and so many of them were gunned down, Hutu and Tutsi, together. Now, these cold-blooded murders are the curse of Rwanda.”

Drumtra, who worked as Policy Analyst, U.S. Committee for Refugees added: “Those victims who refused to abandon their colleagues and their friends, and who apparently were ready to pay with their own lives for the principal of ethnic unity and human decency, are the hope of Rwanda’s future. In the truest sense those victims held themselves accountable for doing the right thing. So should we.”

That was fifteen years ago. Lessons forgotten?

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