Kigali: IBUKA, the umbrella grouping of genocide survivors from Rwanda's 1994 mass slaughter of Tutsis is demanding the sacking of Mr. Steve Hege, head of the team which wrote a contested UN report alleging Rwanda’s role in the latest rebellion in eastern DR Congo.
Mr Hege, the survivors say is “an ideological warrior” and “a supporter of perpetrators of Genocide against Tutsi”. Mr Hege is the coordinator of a five-member team which authored a 72-page report giving graphic details of how Rwanda is allegedly behind the M23 rebels, a new Congolese rebel group.
The team is known as Group of Experts on DRC. Mr Hege’s troubles begun July 31 when a document surfaced online purportedly written by him back in 2009 in which he expresses open support for the Rwanda FDLR rebels. The document was written in collaboration with the US-based Peace Appeal Foundation.
He wrote: "Consistently linked to the Rwandan genocide of 1994, the FDLR are better understood in relation to the massive revenge killings of Hutu refugees in the eastern Congo from 1996 to 1999." Mr Hege added: "Economic and political power remains resoundingly concentrated in the hands of the Ugandan Tutsi elite from the RPF."
The revelation has provoked fierce sustained attacks on Mr Hege in media articles and social networks – largely on Twitter. The UN official has not public commented on the latest twist in the back-and-forth battle between the UN and the government of Rwanda, which for its part submitted a 131-page rebuttal of the findings from Mr Hege and his team.
Now the genocide survivors want action from his employer. “Mr. Steve Hege shows that the FDLR are not perpetrators, but victims of violent atrocities. This is textbook revisionism. Victim is violator,” says the IBUKA open letter signed by its leader, Prof. Jean Pierre DUSINGIZEMUNGU.
The letter is copied to all diplomats accredited to Kigali – with the American, French and British embassies coming at the top.
“As a UN body, the Group of Experts (GoE) deserves better, instead of individuals who undermine its fundamental principles,” say the survivors.
“We also urge the UN to carry out a thorough investigation aimed at reviewing all the GoE reports to which Mr. Steve Hege contributed. The extensive review should begin with the latest report which contains fraudulent allegations linking Rwanda to Congolese M23 rebels. With Mr. Hege, a revisionist so called UN expert, the international body is putting its own credibility at stake.”
An online petition is also planned to collect a mass of signatures which could be submitted to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon in New York. It remains to be seen whether the UN will act on Mr Hege, or even the controversial report dubbed “addendum”.
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