The United Nations Security Council and regional leaders are using diplomatic channels to appeal to the militia to surrender its arms, demobilize and renounce their terrorist activities as soon as possible or face the M23’s fate.
In November this year, UN Security Council said FDLR as “a group under UN sanctions whose leaders and members include perpetrators of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and have continued to promote and commit ethnically – based and other killings in Rwanda and the DRC…”
The Council “strongly condemns” the continuing violence and abuses of human rights by all armed groups “including summary executions, sexual and gender based violence and large scale recruitment and use of children,” Liu Jieyi of China, which this month holds the Council presidency, said in a statement on behalf of the 15-member body.
The statement stressed “the importance of neutralizing the FDLR in line with resolution 2098 (2013)”.
However, it appears the FDLR intend to use the threat of attacking civilians as leverage in their quest for a power –sharing deal with the Rwanda government.
Kigali reiterates its position that it would not talk to the terrorists and genocidaires.
Several FDLR fighters who have in recent years crossed to Rwanda have undergone rehabilitation courses to enable them discard the extremist ideology.
In a statement issued by the military outfit’s commander, Major General Victor Byiringiro, “FDLR is hereby warning the UN Security Council in particular and the UN – International community in general that any attempt of using armed confrontations, with intention to annihilate FDLR is more likely to fail, as such unwise actions would be not only directed towards FDLR members and civilians Rwandan refugees…, but also to the whole Rwandan community, whether inside Rwanda or outside Rwanda.”
The development has raised fears of a possible ethnic cleansing exercise among Tutsis in areas occupied by the FDLR.
The FDLR’s statement also points to the fragile situation in DRC after the defeat of M23 which had provided protection to Tutsi communities against the deadly militia.
Meanwhile, there has been heated debate among regional security officials on whether the UN Force Intervention Brigade, tasked with neutralizing the all armed groups in DRC, would fight FDLR.
The militia was used to fight M23 rebels from their positions in Kiwanja, Bunagana, Mabenga, Rutshuru and Chanzu. In fact FDLR were reportedly restrained from crossing the Rwanda border following the defeat of the M23.
In a recent online conversation, Rwanda’s Defence Minister, Gen James Kabarebe said “in 1994 the FDLR genocidal force in DRC was about 150,000 plus, today it’s about 2,000 minus.”
He attributed the decimation of over 90 percent of the FDLR militants to “Rwanda Defence Forces operations.”
Following the ouster of Juvenal Habyarimana’s regime in 1994, the fleeing Hutu militia later regrouped in DRC before launching a military come back through northern Rwanda.
While the aggression was defeated, FDLR continued committing atrocities in DRC.
More lethal operations by RDF inside Congo would later destroy the better part of FDLR, killing hundreds of the rebel group’s commanders and militants.
FDLR Fighters who chose to surrender were later integrated into the Rwanda society while others were jailed for atrocities committed in the 1994 genocide.