What is happening in the DRC is a consequence of Genocide Against the Tutsi - Alain Destexhe, Former Belgian Senator

By Karirima Aimable Ngarambe
On 11 April 2024 at 01:55

Alain Destexhe, a former senator of Belgium, has posited that thekillings and hate speech rampant in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) eastern regions are consequences of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

In 1994, Dr. Destexhe arrived in Rwanda as a representative of Médecins Sans Frontières. Three decades post-genocide, his book revisits the massacre of over three thousand Tutsis at ETO Kicukiro among other areas throughout Rwanda.

During an interview with IGIHE, Senator Destexhe expressed that the turmoil in eastern DRC is a repercussion of the Genocide against the Tutsi, stating, "The present turmoil in Congo’s eastern parts is a fallout of the events from thirty years ago in Rwanda, during the Genocide against the Tutsi. Prior to that, eastern Congo was relatively stable and secure."

He elaborated on how the influx of refugees and the EX-FAR (former Rwandan Armed Forces) into the DRC and the subsequent reluctance of international bodies and the Congolese government to repatriate them due to financial incentives linked to aid, exacerbated tensions.

"Back then, we raised this with various international organizations like the UN’s World Food Programme and other NGOs. The financial incentives tied to refugee aid fostered a climate where no one, including journalists and the Congolese government, pushed for change."

By late 1996, Rwanda took unilateral steps to dismantle camps in Congo, facilitating the repatriation of thousands. However, those guilty of genocide crimes and armed combatants remained. Rwanda sought to address the crisis, facing inertia from the United Nations.

Dr. Destexhe warns, "The situation in eastern Congo is precariously close to another genocide against the Tutsi. It’s a direct fallout of the 1994 genocide." He advocates for halting hate-fueled rhetoric and divisions, urging solutions to emanate from within eastern Congo rather than falsely blaming Rwanda for the region’s woes.

Used weapons

Alain Destexhe highlighted that Tutsis were killed with traditional weapons including machetes, clubs, and swords, but in places like Nyamata and Bisesero, they tried to defend themselves.

"I wanted to tell the story of how the Tutsis were brutally killed in 1994, especially those killed in Nyamata and Bisesero. For Nyamata, I talked about the many Tutsis killed at the commune office and were killed with guns and grenades before machetes were used."

"People often think the genocide was carried out with machetes and traditional tools only, but actually, guns, bullets, and other weapons played a significant role, especially in finishing off the Tutsis who tried to defend themselves and in killing a large number of Tutsis gathered in places like stadiums, hospitals, in front of commune offices. But returning to Nyamata, those guns were used to uncover the Tutsis hiding in bushes, trees, and swamps, then killing them. I wanted to tell that story."

"In Bisesero, that’s where it’s known that Tutsis tried to defend themselves the most. Those who had fled to that hill were shot at and attacked with grenades while they had no other weapons but stones. Their resistance often made their attackers retreat, pushing them to survive for almost two and a half months, although it didn’t save their lives permanently."

Killing the unborn

Dr. Destexhe pointed out that in 1994, a child was associated with their father’s ethnicity, leading to women being killed because they were pregnant with a Tutsi man’s child. "Another thing I wanted to mention in that book is to remind what Genocide really means."

"It’s about killing men, women, children with the aim of extermination and it was premeditated because I have examples of Hutu women who were pregnant and were killed because they were married to Tutsi men. They were killed being told that the children in the womb were Tutsis because, at that time, the ethnicity of the children was attributed to their fathers."

After 1994, an international criminal tribunal for Rwanda, Gacaca courts, and various other programs were established. "Just last week, you might have seen that a Genocide perpetrator was arrested in Belgium, and I believe his trial will soon begin in Belgium."

"We cannot ignore that there are still those hiding, but generally speaking, the majority have been brought to justice."

Alain Destexhe autographing a copy of his book
The participants of the discussion took the time to inquire about the books in detail.
The books written by Alain Destexhe contain his observations during the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Alain Destexhe (left) has said that what is happening in eastern DRC is a consequence of Genocide against the Tutsi.