On a Tuesday afternoon of June 11, 2013, an unknown number appeared on the phone of Goma-based journalist Mafisango. When he picked up, a voice sounding authoritative summoned him to a known military fortress in Goma. Mafisango, who was used to getting such calls, knew something “big” was coming, the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reports.
On arrival there, Mafisango found about 9 other journalists – representing several Goma based media. The journalists were taken to a room where they were given an audio recording and a photos of what looked like child of about 15 years. Since they had been used to getting such information from Congo’s intelligence, Mafisango and the others knew exactly what to do with the information.
Among the media represented was RAGA FM which covers almost the entire DRC and Radio KIVU-1, which relays mainly around large parts of the Kivus. The next morning on Wednesday at around 7am, MAGLOIRE PALUKU of Radio KIVU-1 released his segment of the news and by 10am, the information was spreading like wildfire on Facebook.
“Une fabrication de tres haut niveau”
The photos and audio recording were of a 15-year old boy who claimed to be TUYIZERE Eric, a Rwandan, who had been trained by the Rwandan army and sent to do espionage for M23 rebels. TUYIZERE said he was born in Bigogwe, North West Rwanda, and that is where he went to school. It is also the same place he was taken for alleged military training.
According to journalist Mafisango, the audio sounded a fabrication of the highest order (“une fabrication de tres haut niveau”). Doubtful about the information, Mafisango contacted Rwanda News Agency (RNA) on June 12 and repeated the information to us as provided by DRC intelligence. To allow Mafisango speak freely, RNA agreed to give him anonymity and therefore that is not his real name.
Fact checking TUYIZERE Eric
According to Mafisango, the journalists were shown the teenager TUYIZERE Eric, but did not speak to him. Instead, DRC security officers in the room said the boy had been arrested in Goma on June 10.
From the audio recording, the boy spoke very fluent French, and which he supposedly learnt at a primary school in Bigogwe. A problem emerges here. Bigogwe is a very remote area of Rwanda where a child will more likely finish primary school with a very low ability to speak French.
TUYIZERE says on the audio that he was born in October 1998 and began military training in 2002 – which is four years after! How can such a baby be recruited for military training, when it care barely speak? On the audio, the boy claims to have studied French, English and Swahili.
In Rwanda, for some years now, the mode of instruction is English, and French is taught simply as a subject. How a primary pupil from Bigogwe managed to perfect in the 3 languages is an issue Congo’s intelligence services should have thought about seriously.
So who is fabricating Congo’s propaganda?
When the selected Congolese journalists were summoned, none came from UN-funded Radio OKAPI – which is the biggest and most listened to in DRC. Perhaps the DRC security apparatus was aware OKAPI could not accept any such information. The story of TUYIZERE Eric did not appear in any foreign media, and on Facebook, many Congolese in their comments doubted its authenticity.
So who is doing such shoddy work for the Congolese government? It is also important to note that it is not the first time such information has come out. RNA has been putting together the information. The man responsible is by the names KALEV MUTOND, head of ANR (Agence Nationale de Renseignements). He spends most of his time in Goma with no publicly known office.
Last year, DRC went public with 11 men who were allegedly formerly from the Rwanda FDLR militia group and had been sent back to fight for M23. The men ended up at a MONUSCO base. It turned out later; none of the men had been to Rwanda. When confronted by Rwanda Defense Minister Gen James Kabarebe, KALEV MUTOND had no further proof.
Then another case came. A much prized UN Group of Experts (UNGoE) report released mid last year claimed that Rwandan soldier Capt Saddat Janvier had been captured commanding M23 rebels. This fabricated piece had been availed to former UNGoE head Steve Hege by KALEV MUTOND, and the item was inserted into the reported without asking any questions.
Capt Saddat Janvier, the man in question was discovered in August to have been a Congolese military officer with ID No 166964208920 from Regiment 807 based in Butembo.
General Kabarebe speaks
To understand how Congo’s ANR operates when collecting such fabricated information, we go back to a rare interview Rwanda’s Defense Minister General James Kabarebe gave to French newspaper Le Soir in June. Gen Kabarebe revealed Col. Jean-Claude Yav, the commander of FARDC military intelligence, called “Détection Militaire des Activités Anti-Patrie (DEMIAP).
Both KALEV MUTOND and Col. Jean-Claude Yav are known to Gen Kabarebe. At a meeting in Goma between Rwandan and Congolese top military officials at the height of DRC crisis, Col. Jean-Claude Yav did the unthinkable for an officer of his level.
This is how General Kabarebe narrated: The truth is that while we were in Goma for a meeting, the head of the Congolese military intelligence came to me in my room, and spoke about the story of the captain. He said, “We made a big mistake by making these kinds of stories against Rwanda, it has already cost us so dear … this Captain Saddam belonged to the Congolese army, but it was Kalev who decided to make a fake Rwandan identity card and send fake testimony to the UN… Can you imagine that decisions are made on such a basis?”
Human Rights Watch falls into the trap
The Congolese military is not alone in the quest for information in eastern DRC to prove Rwanda’s involvement. Human Rights Watch has been found to be paying Congolese witnesses for claims of rape and forced recruitment.
In December last year, damning details emerged about HRW. French newspaper Liberation reported that a HRW investigator named Lane had been offering financial compensation for “testimony against the M23″. In a country like DRC, where people go hungry, any amount can buy anything for HRW.
A detailed review of another report released today shows that Human Rights Watch will do anything to keep itself in the news. It writes: “Two former M23 officers told Human Rights Watch that some of the Rwandan fighters in their units told them they had served in Somalia or Darfur as part of the Rwandan army’s peacekeeping contingent.”
First; Rwanda has never sent any troops to Somalia. And for the case of Darfur, even if Rwanda has soldiers there, it would be insane to suggest a trained military officer from Rwanda’s well-respected army does not remember whether they served in Darfur or Somalia.
The report also claims to have interviewed the 15-year-olds. It may not be surprising to suggest that one of the two 12-year-olds is actually TUYIZERE Eric who was paraded before Congolese journalists. Meanwhile, for journalist Mafisango, similar phone calls are always coming, because after each such meeting, the journalists are paid for the day’s work.