August 23, 2012 by soniauwimana
I have to admit I am starting to enjoy this blogging thing. People send you all kinds of stuff, not all of it especially nice (Mendebots on Twitter, I’m talking to you!).
But today what fell into my lap is nothing other than another report by FDLR sympathizer Steven Hege’s Gang of Ideologues….my mistake, Group of “Experts”.
Yes, Hege’s henchmen have come up with yet another litany of allegations which they presented out of the blue to their overlords in NYC. By all accounts, nobody specifically asked for this latest diatribe but they got it anyway.
The motivation behind releasing this unscheduled report is not hard to understand. The Group of Experts have had a rough time of late. For a start, Rwanda’s official rebuttal to the original addendum turned out to be exactly what FM Mushikiwabo promised — a line by line, allegation by allegation, decimation of the highest order. Not much was left standing.
In the days that followed, things only went from bad to worse for the “experts”. The uncovering of Hege’s pro-FDLR writings was a withering blow to the group’s credibility — and when the kind of evidence you are using is a photograph of a headless uniformed torso, you can do with all the credibility you can get.
The Hege story went viral throughout the region. A stunning oped by Albert Rudatsimburwa, first published in the East African, was translated into at least three languages and republished in multiple outlets from Radio Netherlands Worldwide to Rwanda’s own Igihe.com. It was a blockbuster as these things go, and must have sent shockwaves through the massive UN public relations machinery. When Rwanda’s leading genocide survivor’s group, IBUKA, called on Ban-Ki Moon to sack Hege on the grounds of ideological bias, no one — not even Hege himself — can have been surprised.
But that wasn’t the end of the “experts” week from hell. Paris-based bloggers at NANOJV made a complete mockery of specific claims in the addendum regarding certain munitions that the Group said proved Rwandan involvement. As NANOJV was able to establish through a series of devastating posts, the weaponry in question — 75mm recoilless rockets — are not only held in the Congolese arsenal, but the GoE itself recorded that fact in reports issued in 2008 and 2009. Their own research debunked them! You can’t make this stuff up!
Credibility now in tatters, it is no surprise Hege is doing whatever he can to change the subject from his own FDLR fandom and his group’s incompetence. And so we get this sequel, another report dated 7 August which landed in my inbox a few hours ago. And what a pile of crap it is. The fundamental problem with the group’s approach — which was somewhat visible in the original addendum — is glaringly, painfully obvious here: they are in the business of fixing facts to fit a predetermined, ideologically motivated conclusion. This is the Dick Cheney school of fact-finding, a methodology for which the world has paid a horrible price.
I am consulting my lawyer buddies in the US over how much I can reveal, but let me give you a sense of how shoddy and, frankly, intellectually bankrupt this new report is. It features an ID card, allegedly taken from an RDF intelligence officer caught red-handed in the Congo. The problem: no such ID cards exist and haven’t done since 2001 (the faked card is dated 2005). It is also in French….hmmm.
Another lowlight of this amateurish report is the claim that “experts” witnessed fresh graves while visiting Kanombe recently. In their minds, desperate to cling to any possible shred that will support their pre-ordained conclusions, they see this as irrefutable proof that the people who have been recently buried at Kanombe cemetery must have been killed in action in the DRC. As if no other possible explanation exists, when thousands do. I have personally attended a number of burials at Kanombe for members of the RDF who have passed away due to accidents or of natural causes. The presence of fresh graves proves nothing more than that soldiers sometimes die. To say this proves Hege’s theories is disgusting.
This is sophomoric stuff, hardly worthy of a group that immodestly employs the word ‘experts’ in its title.
There is an element in the new report that will cause IBUKA and others to shudder. According to these “experts”, reported attacks targeting Congolese of Rwandan origin were orchestrated as part of a propaganda ploy. Echoes of revisionists who insist that the RPF brought on the genocide as a means to take power. This is where Hege’s troubling ideology can’t help but show through.
The remaining allegations are the same old cut and paste from DRC intelligence services — I am told there is an outfit set up within DRC military intelligence based in Goma whose only job is to cook up evidence against Rwanda. There will be military experts aplenty who can pull apart much of the other guff in this tawdry little dossier. But what a shabby, desperate effort it is.
The Group of Experts knows that Rwanda is due to present to the UNSC in a fortnight or so and their next report isn’t due until October. It is transparently obvious that this unscheduled, hastily compiled report is a desperate effort to restore a semblance of credibility before it’s too late. It was a terrible misjudgment. If it wasn’t already too late, it surely is now.
I will upload the whole report if my American lawyer friends give me the green light. I hope they are not going to bill me for this!
Twitter handle: @UwimanaSonia