Saturday, December 6, 2008

Who Are the FDLR?

This piece in Wednesday's Washington Post tells the story of one family who escaped from the FDLR's clutches, and says that most of the 6,000 or so militia who form the FDLR are "essentially being held hostage to serve the interests of a core leadership of about 50 aging genocide participants wanted by Rwandan authorities."

This estimate of the FDLR comports with the one Alison des Forges of HRW has been making for some time. Today's FDLR, while a linear descendant of the Forces Armees Rwandaises, or genocidaires, consist mostly of "innocent" civilians, too young to have participated in the genocide, and largely uninterested in its ideology. Other estimates of that core group have been significantly higher. The NGO African Rights claimed they numbered in the "hundreds," with dozens more abroad. An MDRP study concluded last year that the FDLR contained between 200 and 300 genocide suspects.

While maintaining that they continue to represent a real threat to Rwandan security, the Kigali government has refused to publish a list of the names of genocide suspects it claims reside in DRC. It is widely agreed that the FDLR pose virtually no threat to Rwanda today, and that they have not even attempted an incursion since 2001. On the other hand, as one Tutsi politician said in Kinshasa: “the mere fact of their existence, their genocidal past and the racist views of some of their members would be enough reason for any victimised people to seek their disbanding. Europe does not tolerate the continued existence of the Nazi ideology either.” (See this excellent IPIS report, pages 8 - 11.)

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