Hutu reintegration in Rwanda hindered by some African countries
Jean Sayinzoga, the president of the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission, or RDRC, condemned the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, Tanzania and South Africa for not encouraging their Hutu populations to return to Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide.
In an interview with Efe, Sayinzoga discussed the process and policies to reintegrate Hutus who took part in the genocide, and highlighted his contempt for the countries that fail to cooperate in promoting a Hutu return to Rwanda to begin a sincere reintegration process.
It was 21 years ago when extremists from the Hutu ethnic majority massacred some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, while Rwanda awaits the return of roughly 200,000 refugees, as well as many other rebels who were exiled mainly to eastern DRC.
“It is important that they should return because it is a betrayal to us, ideological, not military,” Sayinzoga posited.
Rwanda wants them back, given that while in exile, perpetrators and their families are subjected to radical ideologies aimed against the Rwandan government under Tutsi President Paul Kagame, who also founded the Rwandan Patriotic Front, which ended the genocide in 1994.
According to Sayinzoga, this “ideological intoxication” has cast the exiled into the arms of armed groups, constituting a grave threat to Rwanda’s security and the region as a whole.
Sayinzoga also noted that Rwanda has welcomed 80,000 former combatants, including women and children, who gradually started to return in 1997.
In the years immediately following the genocide, the government reinstated 18,000 former Hutu soldiers to the Rwandan army, which grew so large that the state had to “start their demobilization.” Today, most of them have found jobs and have readjusted well to Rwandan society, according to Sayinzoga.
In an interview during the trip sponsored by the International Women’s Media Foundation, or IWMF, Sayinzoga explained that the Hutu group responsible for the genocide doesn’t only terrorize the Congolese population, but also poses a serious threat to Rwanda.
Following the successful disarmament of other militant groups in the DRC, such as the M23, the armed Hutu party in the DRC, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, was expected to follow suit and surrender after an ultimatum given by a bloc of African powers expired on Jan. 2, 2015.
However the agreement was breached, and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or MONUSCO, commissioned to oversee the DRC army disarmament, abandoned the operation last February.
“Now the Congolese army says it does not need its support (of MONUSCO) and can do it itself,” said Sayinzoga.
Sayinzoga added “Neither the DRC, Tanzania or South Africa encourage them (exiled Hutus) to comeback. We have to negotiate, but we do not know what to negotiate about… Someone who has committed genocide is not qualified for negotiations.”
Sayinzoga also clarified that there are young people in the DRC who dream of returning to Rwanda only to “walk on the graves of Tutsis,” explaining that these ideas are sometimes translated into actions, as he said “they infiltrated Rwanda… recently there has been a grenade attack in Kigali… they are trying to operate from within.”
On Tuesday, President Paul Kagame called on people to stand against those exiled for committing genocide, wondering why the world stood up to address the issue of M23, which had existed for only three years, and yet failed “to resolve the challenge of the FDLR rebels which has been there for the last 21 years.”
According to Sayinzoga, the real issue is that the DRC “does not feel there is a problem,” even if those who are “killed, raped, kidnapped and impoverished” are Congolese.