Rwanda: Mass Murder Revives The Revolution

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September 25, 2011: Fear of renewed civil war is gripping Burundi. In the wake of an attack that left nearly 40 people dead, the government and several opposition groups acknowledge the peace deal is in trouble. Opposition politicians complain that attacks on their constituents have increased since January. The government points to increased agitation and violent threats by former Forces for National Liberation (FNL) guerrillas. Since the FNL signed a truce in 2005, the largest political parties have hedged their bets. The youth groups associated with the parties are stacked with militants. The youth groups could easily become armed militias, and everyone knows it. Human rights organizations claim that approximately 125 members of the opposition were slain during the May-August time frame. Opposition parties call the murder extra-judicial killings.

September 20, 2011: The U.S. State Department urged the Burundian government to quickly bring the perpetrators of the massacre in Gatumba to justice. America is worried that the attack could start another civil war.

September 19, 2011: In a terror attack vaguely reminiscent of the Mexican drug cartel assault on a Monterrey, Mexico casino, Burundian gunmen dressed as policemen attacked a bar in the town of Gatumba (about 15 kilometers west of the capital, Bujumbura). At least three-dozen people were slain. The gunmen pushed people in the bar to the floor and then shot them, one by one. Witnesses said the attackers also carried knives (likely machetes). The attack was designed to be an outrage and to exacerbate tensions in the country. The bar was the favorite local watering hole for supporters of the governing National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD). Though no political group took credit for the attack, the big worry is that radical Hutus in the FNL are responsible for the attack

September 9, 2011: Rwanda and France are making diplomatic efforts to improve ties. The presidents met in Paris to discuss mutual relations. Rwandan president Paul Kagame has accused the French of favoring the Hutus who committed the 1994 genocide.  Kagame had long demanded an apology. It appears Kagame has dropped that demand. France denied Kagame’s accusation. French investigators have accused Kagame of being involved in the shooting down of the airplane carrying Rwanda’s president in 1994. Kagame denies that accusation.

September 7, 2011: A Burundian human rights group claimed that the government is sponsoring death squads which are attacking political opponents.

September 6, 2011: Burundian police reported they killed two gunmen in a heavy firefight that broke out in the capital, Bujumbura. One of the gunmen turned out to be a former security guard of an FNL leader, Agathom Rwasa, who is allegedly in hiding in the Congo.

September 2, 2011: Five former FNL rebels are seeking asylum. They claim they have been targeted for death by government assassins.

August 29, 2011: Rwandan officials and UN observers in the Congo now estimate the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR, a Hutu extremist militia operating in the Congo) now has approximately 2,500 fighters. It had 6,500 in 2008. The UN credits its demobilization and reintegration program which has encouraged FDLR defections. Rwanda also operates a demobilization and reintegration camp in its territory.

August 26, 2011: The Rwandan government asked the African Union (AU) to recognize Libya’s rebel movement, the Transitional National Council (TNC). The government said that dictator Muammar Gadhafi is no longer capable of running the country. Rwanda is recognizing the TNC as the official Libyan government.

August 10, 2011: A Burundian government report noted that land disputes are increasing. Some of the disputes are due to refugees returning to their former village areas.

July 20, 2011: The Burundian Army engaged a group of gunmen who ambushed two vehicles in western Burundi, near the Congo border. The government reported that two Burundian Army soldiers, a policeman, and five gunmen died in the firefight.

July 12, 2011: A grenade attack in the town of Kamembe (southwestern Rwanda, near the Congo border) injured 21 people. Opposition politicians accuse the government of undermining the democratic process and repressing minority Hutus.

 

 

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