My previous post on Archbishop Rwaje’s letter to the UN was in August (link), but I want to pick the subject up again. As I have shown, the “Ecumenical” letter comes straight out of the Kagame playbook, blaming the UN Group of Experts report and making unfounded accusations against its methodology.
The “Statement from the Rwandan Religious Leaders on the crisis in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo” goes on to imply that the United Nations intends to harm Rwanda through its reporting:
…if a published UN report is found lacking and its credibility is in question, the UN should be courageous and humble enough to make a public statement to the effect that the document in question should not be relied on for any serious judgment or decision until the truth is established. Failure to do so would simply mean that the omission and anticipated harm was actually intended and the UN cannot avoid being seen as an accomplice in such a matter. In compiling the second report, lessons should have been taken from the experiences of the previous report whose credibility had been undermined by a methodology that was far from being professional. Knowing the United Nations and what it stands for, one is tempted to think, that there could be manipulation of UN processes by organizations or individuals which the UN systems may or may not be aware of.
Here’s the thing: the published UN report is NOT lacking and its credibility is NOT in question, except from the dictatorial Kagame government which lies to the world on a regular basis. Since this letter was written in 2012, M23 was defeated and where did the remaining terrorists flee to? Rwanda and Uganda. The evidence for Rwandan support for M23 is overwhelming and cannot be credibly denied.
The Statement continues:
Compiled without the input of the accused, the report was dismissed as unfounded and baseless which led to Rwanda being given the opportunity to present their views.
There are two points to make about this sentence. First, what is the “apolitical” Anglican Church of Rwanda doing involving itself at this level of governmental detail? Recall that Archbishop Rwaje told George Conger prior to writing this letter:
We were not aware of the UN report or any involvement of our retired Bishops as contained in the report. PEAR is in the Proclamation of the Gospel and not in politics between two countries or simply put in politics. We are not able to comment on the report or the names therein.
Why, four months after telling Conger this, would the Archbishop insert the Anglican Church into geopolitics? I believe that the reason is due to pressure from the Kagame regime, which no one can seem to stand up to in Rwanda.
The second point to make is the accusation that the UN Report was “compiled without the input of the accused.” This is a charge that was made directly by the Kagame regime and the fact that it is included in this Ecumenical reply shows that the true hand behind the Ecumenical reply is that of the Rwandan government. As to the charge itself, here is what the Group of Experts said to obliterate this silly claim:
Absence of a right of reply
7. Throughout its rebuttal to the Group’s Addendum, the GoR repeatedly makes the claim that the Group “did not feel compelled to consult the Rwandan authorities.” The rebuttal defends that “at no stage was the GoR provided an opportunity to offer substantive input” and “none of the sources interviewed were Rwandan officials.” Furthermore, the GoR argues “any formal consultation with the GoR would have invalidated the need for the addendum.”
8. As stated in the Addendum, these claims are untrue. From 14-17 May 2012, the Group, in connection with its letter sent to the Permanent Mission of Rwanda on 19 April 2012, conducted an official visit to Kigali during which the GoR declined to participate in any substantive meetings with the Group other than a thirty-minute conversation on 17 May. During the latter, however, the Group quickly raised several concerns regarding the potential for external support from Rwandan territory to M23 in light of its recently established position along the DRC-Rwanda border. The GoR representatives declined to respond and stated that they took note of these questions.
9. The GoR has also stated that the GoE did not explicitly mention M23 in its letter of 19 April 2012 concerning this visit to Kigali. However, M23 was created on 4 May 2012, more than two weeks after the transmittal of the Group’s letter regarding this official visit. Therefore, the Group could not have made any reference to M23 in such a communication, as the rebel movement did not exist at the time. The GoR also claims that “the purpose of that visit was unrelated to violations of the UN Arms Embargo and certainly not to Rwanda’s alleged support to the M23 mutiny.” However, the Group’s core mandate is the arms embargo, and all of its activities, research, and official visits are fundamentally based on monitoring its application and investigating violations of the embargo. In the second paragraph of its 19 April 2012 letter, the Group states, “As you are aware, the Group of Experts is mandated by the Security Council to monitor implementation and investigate violations of the arms embargo, with a view to recommending individuals and entities for financial and travel sanctions.”16 Furthermore, during its previous mandates, the Group has always discussed external support to armed groups in violation of the arms embargo while conducting its official visits to Rwanda. This has included diaspora backing of the FDLR and previous GoR support to the CNDP. Furthermore, the Group attached to its 19 April 2012 letter to the GoR a copy of Security Council resolution 2021 (2011), which constitutes the current mandate of the Group of Experts and renews the arms embargo on all armed groups operating in the DRC. 10. Prior to this official visit, the Group made two other attempts to meet with the GoR in Kigali. At the outset of its mandate, on 29 February 2012, representatives of the GoR’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations invited the Group to Kigali for a series of meetings during the third week of March 2012. However, when the Group sought to arrange the final details, the GoR canceled the visit. Subsequently on 7 April 2012, two members of the Group arranged a meeting in Kigali with Rwandan Minister of Defence, General James Kabarebe. However, after traveling three hours from Goma to Kigali and waiting another five hours, the meeting was also canceled.
11. The Group raised its frustration with the lack of communication with the GoR’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations on 6 June 2012. As a result, two senior government officials did meet with a member of the Group in Kigali on 9 June 2012, during which time they explicitly discussed the crisis in eastern DRC and the activities of M23.
12. Furthermore, at the specific request of members of the Committee, the Group agreed to delay its submission of the Addendum in order to provide the GoR with an opportunity to share any explanations or clarifications regarding the Group’s findings. On 25 June, the Coordinator of the Group met in New York with the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, H.E. Louise Mushikiwabo, the Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations, H.E. Eugène Richard Gasana, and the Presidential Security Advisor, Major Patrick Karuretwa. With regards to this meeting, the GoR rebuttal states that “The GoE coordinator also offered to include in the report any comment from his Rwandan interlocutors, notwithstanding the fact that, even at that stage, he did not present anything beyond the “general categories of allegations” against Rwanda.” This claim is untrue.
13. During this meeting, the Coordinator, accompanied by a member of the United Nations Secretariat, clarified for the GoR delegation the Group’s methodology, the process of the submission of the interim report (S/2012/348) and the circumstances of the Addendum. However, contrary to what the GoR rebuttal purports, when the Coordinator began his briefing on the contents of the Addendum, the GoR delegation asked the Coordinator to wait until a follow-up visit to Kigali in July 2012.
14. After explaining that members of the Committee had explicitly requested that the Group provide the GoR with the contents of the Addendum and the opportunity for a right of reply, the Coordinator proceeded with his briefing. Though the GoR representatives listened to the Group’s findings, they declined to pose any questions or respond with any explanations or clarifications. Nevertheless, immediately following the meeting with the Coordinator on 25 June 2012, the Minister conducted a press conference at the United Nations on the crisis in eastern DRC, during which she stated, “Rwanda is not privy to the leak of this report. We don’t really know what is being claimed here but. . . our position is that whatever is in the report, Rwanda and the Rwandan Army doesn’t know and hasn’t had the opportunity to look at the allegations and comment.” On that same evening, the Coordinator held a follow-up meeting with Major Karuretwa to discuss further the contents the Group’s Addendum. However, Karuretwa once again declined to provide any explanation or clarification of the Group’s findings.
15. Despite these facts, the GoR claims that “it is therefore preposterous to suggest that a 30-minutes meeting, two hours before the submission of the addendum to the UN Sanctions Committee, could be considered as Rwanda’s opportunity to respond to detailed allegations against its senior officials.” Not only did the meeting with the Minister take place from 9 am to 11 am, but the Addendum was submitted to the Sanctions Committee the following day on 26 June 2012. The Group communicated in writing to the Chairman of the Committee regarding the GoR’s reticence to take advantage of this opportunity for a right of reply on 25 June 2012.
16. In the absence of any explanation or response the Group sought out information which could constitute an official GoR position, for the purposes of the Addendum, including a statement made by the Rwandan representative to the African Union as well as the confidential Rwandan report within the Joint Verification Mechanism.
Ultimately, this charge against the UN is baseless and to see Anglican leaders repeating it shows how complicit they are with the regime’s narrative.