DRC: New top cop General Charles Bisengimana is an “Individual Perpetrator of Massacres”

One of the fallouts of the assassination of Floribert “Flori” Chebeya is the suspension of top cop General John Numbi and the promotion of his deputy, General Charles Bisengimana. Divisional Inspector Charles Bisengimana is a Tutsi who was part of the Rwandan-propped rebellion of Laurent Kabila that dismantled the Mobutu regime and later on joined the RCD rebellion. He was promoted general in 2003 at the outset of the Transition that saw the integration of rebel forces into the Congolese army and police.

I’m not going to dwell here on the issue of overrepresentation of the ethnic Tutsi in the high spheres of command of the army and police that is regularly raised not only by the Congolese “rejectionist” opposition in the Diaspora but also by the domestic mainstream press.

I have serious concerns, however, over the promotion of General Charles Bisengimana as an individual to the position where the incumbent is supposed to protect civilians. In an ideal, informed, and civilized country, this appointment would have been met with outcry, mass protests and universal calls to rescind it. Then again, it’s “hell’s system,” isn’t it?

The Canadian Rights and Democracy (International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development) released in June 1999 a report titled “International Non-governmental Commission of Inquiry into the Massive Violations of Human Rights Committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo – Former Zaïre – 1996-1997” (the French version of that report appeared in January 1999).

In a nutshell, the report is comprehensive and considers all parties involved in the war that ravaged the DRC (especially eastern Congo) in the wake of the Rwandan genocide. It’s different from the stalled attempts by the UN at which the inquiry was heavily lobbied by Rwanda to broaden its scope to as far back as 1993 in order to include crimes committed both by the Mobutu regime and the ex-FAR (Rwandan Armed Forces) and their allies, the Interahamwe genocidal maniacs. Rwanda insisted on broadening the scope to 1993 so as to mitigate its own war crimes or of its allies’ perpetrated in the RDC in the short period between 1996 and 1997.

It’s important to consider the main goal of the inquiry which was carried out before the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to which the DRC is now a signatory, though it still lets war criminals roam the country:

“Our principal aim in this initiative is to fight against a culture of impunity which is prevalent in this region Africa and which is a long-term obstacle to all international peace-building and peace-keeping efforts in the region. If crimes related to international criminal law took place in Congo, the truth should be known and impartially presented. Afterwards, an international campaign will be necessary in order to generate the necessary political will to request that the suspects responsible for these crimes be prosecuted in due course by the international justice system, in a forum such as the proposed International Criminal Court. While awaiting the creation of such a court, the suspects should be castigated by the international community and their own national community.”

Well, General Charles Bisengimana is one of those “suspects” to be “castigated” and, again, in an ideal and civilized world, to be criminally prosecuted now that the ICC has finally been established. The report also duly notes that, the crimes involved being crimes against humanity, “the allegations of these crimes […] are not subject to prescription.”

19 chilling crimes were identified by the commission: “1) Murders, assassinations, massacres, drowning; 2) Burning of villages and crops, destruction of property; 3) Torture and inhuman treatment, mutilation; 4) Rape; 5) Disappearances; 6) Systematic looting; 7) Obstruction of humanitarian aid; 8) Incitement of hatred; 9) Theft of livestock and property; 10) Hostage-taking; 11) Kidnapping of children and medical patients; 12) Recruitment of minors; 13) Non-assistance to people in danger; 14) Arrest and arbitrary detention; 15) Conviction and execution without recourse to a legally constituted tribunal;16) Crime of aggression; 17) Forced expulsion of Tutsis (Masisi, Kinshasa, Katanga, Kisangani); 18) Forced repatriation of refugees; 19) Racial, ethnic or political persecution.”

The inquiry also identifies “Individual Perpetrators of the Massacres” whom it defines as “persons who actually commanded the operations or were identified as being at the site of the perpetration of the massacres.” Adding: “the Non-governmental Commission has decided to release names which one may consider here only as primary suspects, for whom an appropriate judicial investigation will help establish without any doubt the indictment for war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide – crimes for which a synthesis of events has been conducted by the Commission” (emphasis in original).

The new DRC is therefore a “primary suspect” for “war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide.”

The Commission further identifies 7 sites of massacres in North Kivu alone, where General Charles Bisengimana is placed in the 7th site, Mugunga.

The Commission asserts that:

“The massacres in North Kivu were perpetrated in an environment riven from the outset with ethnic tensions between the indigenous populations and the Kinyarwanda speakers. Superimposed on this was the exported Rwandese Hutu-Tutsi conflict, due to the influx of refugees and the ethnic cleansing they carried out against the Tutsi in 1995-1996. It was in North Kivu that the largest massacres of refugees occurred, and also that the largest number of mass graves have been unearthed. The massacres in this zone were accompanied by the burning of Rwandese Hutu, and to a lesser extent, Zairian villages and property.”

Here’s the section of the report that cites the DRC new top cop:

“7. Mugunga

The following persons were in command of the units at the time of the events: Shabugabo Ngendayo, Habineza Dieudonné (commander at Ursayo),Hanyurwinfura Tonton-mao (lieutenant 24 BGED), Innocent Kamanzi, Gumiriza Ribanze, Charles Bisengimana (currently chief inspector of police at Goma),Rwabuzisoni Ngirumwami, Maryongo Musimuzi, Kitchuku Ngendayo,Janjanringwe Janvier, Karisa (commander), Macho (commander).

Two civilian facilitators allegedly took part in all the operations: Sengiyumva-Ngendayo and Bizimana Mutarambirwa.

In North Kivu (…) the ADFL troops indiscriminately are alleged to have targeted the local populations in order to eliminate Rwandese and Zairian Hutu militiamen who were well established in the area. The systematic campaign led to the death of Hutus and also produced many mass graves.”

Well, there’s no other way I can put this: the DRC police is now under the control of a mass murderer!

[original]

spotted by RS

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