By Ntamuhanga Amiel
|GEN CHARLES KAYONGA|
I am a cousin to one of those Hutu refugees who were forcibly returned to Rwanda by UNHCR Gabon, which was represented by Ms. Louise in concordance with the RPF government, which was represented by Gen. Charles Kayonga. Once they were returned to Rwanda most of refugees were brutally executed others were put under house arrest where they were subjected to daily physical and emotional torture. Before I start widely exploring to what befell this innocent Hutu refugees in Gabon, I want to add that this people had fled on foot from various refugees camps which had formerly been established in Eastern DRC such as Kibumba, Kahindo, Gatare, Mugunga, Kiwanja, Panzi, ENRA, Nyangezi I, II, III, and IV, Kavumu, Gako, and other refugee camps that were found in Eastern DR Congo the former Zaire. I want to give you a brief chronology of what happened to the day that innocent Rwandan refugees were forcibly deported from Franceville in Gabon to Kigali Rwanda. How did really UNHCR and the world's powerful countries decide to leave the Rwandan Hutu refugees for the RPF and its allies' onslaught?
Rwandan Hutu Refugees in Goma, October 1996
The RPF, Uganda, and Burundi together with Kabila's rebels’ invaded Hutu refugee camps in Eastern DRC killing any living creature the rest were forced to go back to Rwanda. In the process young Hutu refugees were singled out and were either butchered or sent back to DRC to fight their relatives who were fleeing into interior DRC. In Sake the RPF, Burundian, and
|RPF SOLDIERS HUNTING HUTU REFUGEES IN DRC|
Ugandan soldiers supported by the American helicopter and armored vehicle came and attacked millions of Hutu refugees who had gathered in the Sake shopping center. They started shooting and shelling at refugees from the ridges of Sake hills. Thousands of refugees lost their lives and others sustained life threatening injuries. This indiscriminate bombing at refugees continued for three good days until one early morning young people had to come together to save our lives. The EX-FARS, Contingents, and Congolese Hutu combatants pushed through the hills of Sake and created a humanitarian corridor that saved millions of Hutu Rwandan, Burundian, and Congolese refugees. Many refugees swam over the hills of Masisi. Of course RPF soldiers were at our heels slaughtering the weak ones that lagged behind either because they were sick, tired, children, mothers with babies on their back, elderly people, or pregnant women were the first to fall on Kagame's brutal sword. Despite all this mass onslaught the American government made sure its media do not broadcast the mass murder that was taking place against Rwandan refugees. In addition, the UNHCR which claimed to protect refugees was the first to brand innocent Hutu refugees as genocidaires who are fleeing justice. That is how we all were left helplessly to be butchered as chicken under the butchers' knife at abattoir.
Rwandan Hutu Refugees in Walikale, November, 1996
After two months of running under RPF, Kabila, Ugandan, and Burundian bombs, we arrived in Walikale. This was like a meeting place because this is the place where Hutu refugees from North Kivu and those from Hutu refugee camps of Bukavu converged. Out of 4 million
refugees who were found in both Bukavu and Goma, more than 1.5 million Hutu refugees had managed to soldier on toward the unknown destination. This time around there were also around 300,000 of Congolese refugees from South and North Kivu. Majority of them were Congolese Hutu communities from Rutchuru, Masisi and other Congolese regions who were also being targeted by Tutsi led RPF soldiers. Here we have to remember that all these attacks were led by General Kayumba Nyamwasa and Gen Kabarebe. The RPF were catching up with Hutu refugees who were tired and extremely exhausted because of long distance on foot and hunger. The Hutu refugees continued their exodus toward Kisangani and now they were on the road. They continued from Walikale to Amisi where they established the first camp of people who were extremely tired, sick, and pregnant women. There were around 150,000 refugees from all courses of life. Other refugees who were still strong mainly comprising young people went and established another refugee camp at an aerodrome of Tingitingi in Maniema region. This was near the Christmas of 1996. It was after three months of fleeing without stopping at all. Refugees had witnessed RPF slaughtering their relatives and others die of sickness or exhaustion.
|HUTU REFUGEES MASSACRE IN WALIKALE|
Rwandan Hutu Refugees in Tingitingi, Christmas of 1996
More than 300,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees and more than 50000 Congolese refugees and more than 30000 Hutu refugees from Burundi. All of them gathered in Tingitingi hoping that UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations will come to their help but they did not. Instead the then President of UNHCR Sadako Ogata and European Commissioner Louise Arbor visited Tingitingi and looked at the emaciated children and told them, "you must go back to Rwanda or you die in this jungle." Two months after the sad news from Sadako the RPF attacked the Tingitingi refugee camp. Around half a million refugees were forced to cross over River Lubutu. In the process the bridge was overburdened and collapsed into River Lubutu. Thousands of refugees, children, mothers, pregnant women, and elderly people sunk into the river until they made a new bridge. The refugees who crossed the river at around 5am managed to cross over bodies that were accumulated in that river. Families were lost forever in Lubutu river. In Kisangani when the refugees were taken to Ubundu, RPF soldiers disguised as Red Cross volunteers and lured all refugees from Eastern Zaire to Ubundu refugee camp and were killed at night when the so called Red Cross volunteers put on RPF uniforms and started shooting randomly killing more than 10000 refugees overnight. Those who survived continued all the way to Kisangani, Ubundu, Ikela, all the way to Mbandaka.
Rwandan Hutu Refugees in Mbandaka, March 1997
This time, majority of refugees had given up and decided to remain in the Ituli forest of Equator. Others had continued to run from the enemy who had now gained ground because he had accessed the routes leading to Kisangani and the River Congo and the Kisangani Airport.
RPF was determined to kill Hutu refugees at any cost and the international community had given them right to kill anything looks like Hutu. They continued them killing spree from Ubundu all the way to Mbandaka. At Mbandaka, the RPF soldiers disguising as Congolese soldiers they brought a ship which was supposed to assist refugees to cross over to Lukolela in Eastern Republic of Congo. However, after more than 5000 refugees mostly Hutus and those Congolese refugees from Eastern DRC. After they boarded the ship which had been mined with explosives it was ferried into the middle of River Congo and abandoned their full of refugees, children, elderly people, and women then the explosives were detonated. Thousands of refugees died in that river. Those who survived crossed over the border to the Republic of Congo in Lukolela refugee camps others went all the way down to Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo. These refugees in Brazzaville were moved to Bilolo refugee camp.
|HUTU REFUGEES IN KISANGANI|
Rwandan Hutu Refugees in Brazzaville, Bilolo in the Republic of Congo May 1997
Rwandan Hutu refugees together with other refugees that were in Kinshasa and Brazzaville were relocated to Bilolo Refugee camps. However, it did not take long before the Cobra and Ninja for both Sassou Ngwesso and Pascal Litsuba started fighting. Some of Rwandan refugees and other refugees from other countries decided to continue fleeing again from Brazzaville towards Gabon, Central African Republic, and Cameroon. Others went up to Guinea. Some were so tired and exhausted decided not to flee no more instead they stayed in Brazzaville to face whatever challenges could come. Others continued fleeing up to Lekoni in Bongoville, Gabon. When they arrived in Gabon they were taken to Franceville.
Rwandan Hutu Refugees in Lekoni, Franceville, Gabon June 1997
|HUTU REFUGEE KID PULLING THE BODY OF HER MUM|
AFTER BEING KILLED BY RPF IN DR CONGO
In Lekoni the Rwandan refugees were not so lucky because they found Tutsis who had lived and married Gabonese women and they immediately established an anti-Hutu refugee newsletter called Lekoni Matin (meaning Lekoni morning). This RPF propaganda mouthpiece was designed to instigate hatred against Hutu refugees in Gabon. The newspaper published stories defaming refugees and calling them genocidaires. The hatred against innocent Hutu refugees grew faster and later Paul Kagame and his government which was led by Twagiramungu Faustin they dispatched General Charles Kayonga to go to Gabon and negotiate Rwandan Hutu refugees deportation. In charge of UNHCR in Gabon was a lady by the name Louise who hailed from Cameroon. She was given huge amount of dollars in order to assist in influencing Gabonese politicians to expel Rwandan Hutu Refugees. Those who were involved in accomplishing RPF plan to forcibly deport Rwandan refugees from Franceville to Kigali was also the Governor of Franceville. UNHCR facilitated the process by telling refugees that they must leave Gabonese soil because UNHCR does not have land but in true sense Ms. Louise did everything to make sure Rwandan Hutu refugees were expelled from Gabon. The process was just peaceful but militarized.
What Really Happened to the Rwandan Hutus Refugees in Franceville, Gabon 1997?
UNHCR asked the Franceville governor to bring soldiers to threaten and intimidate refugees so that they accept to be deported back to Rwanda. In present was Gen. Charles Kayonga, and the US representative. They all brought enough money and they were staying in the nearby hotel at MVENGE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. Refugees of course refused to accept
what UNHCR representative Ms. Louise was asking them to go back to Rwanda. It was not an easy thing for refugees who had walked more than 6000km on foot to be told that now you are going back to Rwanda and yet you have spent the last three years running from RPF and now you are told you are going back to Rwanda. What was shocking is that they had been numerous reports on Human Rights Abuse in Rwanda and one of them was a UNHCR sponsored report which was to be known as the Garson Report which never saw the light because of UNHCR and US pressure to kill it. This report outlined thousands of cases of people who disappeared. Most of those disappeared were people who sometimes related to some of these refugees who had been running away to save their lives. Now they are being told to go back to Rwanda and be butchered as their relatives who had been killed by RPF. In addition, a RPF representative Gen. Charles Kayonga who was a Colonel then had flew all the way from Kigali to come for refugees' heads. However, UNHCR overlooked all this and subjected these refugees to brutality and possible murder.
|MVENGE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT FRANCEVILLE|
When Franceville government brought in soldiers they were given instructions to beat us and rape our sisters, daughters, and wives we were with. That is what happened they separated men from women and put women in their own room and raped them day and night. They also put red pepper in women's private parts whereas women they were spread with red pepper in their eyes. It was a three day's ordeal which saw two people losing their loves. At the end of time refugees had nowhere to go we accepted to be taken back to Rwanda because it was no longer possible to remain in Franceville Gabon and they did not want us to let us go back to Congo Brazzaville, two refugees had already died of beatings from Gabonese gendarmerie and Rwanda was determined to have our heads decapitated. Then UNHCR representative known by only one name Louise said that they wanted to give Rwandan refugees exile somewhere else in another country. When all refugees were inside the plane they were all taken to Rwanda. More than 540 refugees comprising children as young as 1 year old were taken to prison in Camp Kigali where they were tortured both physically and mentally. They used to be beaten up three times a day in what they termed as breakfast, late lunch, and supper. This included mob beatings where more than 10 solders could swam on one person hitting with whatever they could lay their hands on.
545 Rwandan Hutu Refugees from Gabon to Kanombe, Kigali July 1997
To their arrival in Kigali the Gabonese Rwandan refugees were received with beatings, torture of all sorts and threats that they were going to be killed. It did not take wrong the RPF started killing one by one. They were denied food, water, and medicines. All these refugees were put in a clandestine torture chamber where they couldn’t sleep or sit but spend their entire life inside day standing. Many people started swelling their legs and testicles. The RPF denied refugees water and food but promised them enough beatings. It is in this process that many refugees started dying of beatings and other sort of torture. Briefly the following is a list of those who succumbed to death due to RPF torture after they were forcibly deported from Gabon to Rwanda by the UNHCR under the supervision of Gen. Charles Kayonga: Some of the names are of your brothers and sisters who were killed and disappeared and you didn’t know that RPF and KAYONGA sucked their last blood. All the list below were killed by starvation and beatings. Others were killed by a hammer in their heads.
Name of the victim
Jean de Dieu
Jean de Dieu
Alias Kaboko Justin
Sabibu alias Tunis
Jean de Dieu
PLEASE DISTRIBUTE THIS LIST WIDELY SO THAT SOME OF THE MOTHERS OR CHILDREN CN NOW KNOW HOW THEIR BELOVED ONES DIED. IF UNHCR GABON DID NOT COOPERATE WITH RPF GOVERNMENT REPRESENTED BY GEN CHARLES KAYONGA THIS PEOPLE WOULD STILL BE ALIVE. HOWEVER, I MUST ALSO THANK AN INKOTANYI USED TO BE KNOWN AS SGT MUROKORE POKEZA FROM CYANGUGU WHO, DESPITE THE HARSH PUNISHMENTS WERE AWATING FOR HIM, HE MADE SURE TO BRING WATERS TO THE VICTIMS WHENEVER HE WAS KUBURINZI. MAY GOD BLESS HIM. ALSO FATHER LAURENT LORENZO OF FRANCEVILLE PARISH WHO PLEADED WITH THE UNHCR REPRESENTATIVES TO ALLOW RWANDAN REFUGEES TO BE ALLOWED TO GO BACK TO CONGO BRAZZAVILLE INSTEAD OF BEING FORCIBLY DEPORTED TO RWANDA WHERE THEY COULD BE KILLED.