Paul Lachine

The Truth about Rwanda

Human Rights Watch recently issued a report accusing Rwanda of complicity in ongoing unrest in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. But such irresponsible accusations divert attention from the conflict's real causes – and from those who have an interest in perpetuating it.

KILGALI – Ongoing unrest between rival military factions in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has triggered a predictable barrage of innuendo, fabricated leaks, and outright lies regarding Rwanda’s role. It began ten days ago, with a single BBC story on a leaked United Nations report that was said to prove Rwanda’s involvement, but did nothing of the sort (as the source of the leak admitted within days).

As if on cue, this was followed by Human Rights Watch, which paraded an even less credible set of allegations – including the risible claim that a Congolese rebel was seen by an unspecified number of unnamed witnesses at a bar on the Rwandan side of the border. Like the UN report, there was not a shred of material evidence to back up the Rwandan conspiracy – it relied on anonymous witness testimony and nothing else – but it gained a good deal of coverage anyway.

Finally, the DRC government added its voice, but once again failed to present any evidence beyond hearsay. Unfortunately, this is a well-worn path in this region whenever internal turmoil in the DRC threatens to spin out of control. The DRC must have known that its hyped-up claims would reach an audience that had been warmed up by the bogus UN and Human Rights Watch reports. The desire in some quarters to promulgate a war narrative easily outweighs the obligation to establish a credible basis for one.

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