Supporting the Peace Process in Eastern DRC: Creative Minorities change Culture!
Wednesday, 7 August 2013
FDLR LEADER DRC GOVERNMENT SUPPORT SINCE MAY2000
Former FDLR vice president Straton Musoni, currently on trial in Germany for war crimes has told court in his first comments that the Rwandan militia group was established with full backing of DR Congo government in May 2000.
Straton Musoni and his boss Ignace Murwanashyaka have been on trial since 2011 after they had been arrested in a sting operation earlier. Today, August 5th, Musoni was giving his first and uninterrupted defense statement to court.
He told court sitting in Stuttgart that he attended the founding conference of FDLR in DRC’s Lubumbashi region on May 1st, 2000 with full facilitation by DRC government of Laurent Desire Kabila. Musoni revealed to court that he travelled from Germany via Zambia, according to Dominic Johnson, editor of Germany newspaper TAZ (die tageszeitung), who was in court today.
Speaking in German, Musoni said the choice of him and others was the idea of ex-Rwandan army (FAR) special forces in DRC who needed politicians outside to represent them in negotiations. The affirmation of the DRC role in the birth and survival of the militia group by its former top political leader is not anything new. The DRC Government maintains it has had no contact with the FDLR.
The information has been public but a more independent confirmation came from a highly classified document obtained by the Rwandan News Agency (RNA) in May this year which the FDLR had addressed to the Kinshasa government earlier in January.
In the document signed by FDLR second in commander “General” Stanislas Nzeyimana aka General Deogratias Bigaruka Izabayo, the group reminds President Kabila’s government that it owes them up to US$150,000 in unpaid dues for services provided. Gen Nzeyimana has since disappeared from battle and nobody knows his whereabouts.
The above payment, according to the letter, was supposed to be payment for “FDLR combatants who fought alongside the Congolese armed forces” (FARDC). These arrears date back to 2001 when the Kinshasa government was battling rebels in the east of the country, reported RNA.
The second demand reads as: “Compensation for families of the FDLR combatants who died on the battlefield, estimated to be about 2,000”. In other words, “General Deogratias” was reminding the Kinshasa government that the families of those who perished during the wars have to be compensated. The document also makes several other demands.
In court today, Straton Musoni, who is being tried for crimes deliberately committed by the FDLR against Congolese villagers in retaliation over many years, denied any role in the mayhem. He told court that he was a civilian – and the acts are purely the criminal responsibility of the military commanders.
In a typical genocide denial stance, Musoni described the 1994 genocide against Tutsis – which was executed by most of FDLR’s current commanders and politicians, as “escalation not genocide”.
Speaking about the FDLR agenda, Musoni admitted that there was no way it can win a war against the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF). “FDLR wants to topple Rwanda government, install Hutu regime – it is like saying German Greens want to take Germany to Middle Ages,” said Musoni according to the German journalist in court.
Musoni first travelled to eastern DRC (the Zaire) at the end of 1994. He returned to German as representative of Rwandan Hutu exile party RDR in 1995. However, the project of this grouping failed around 1996 due to what Musoni described in court as RDR “unrealizable” goals.
During his trial, it emerged that Musoni was using the office phone of the German company where he was employed to speak with FDLR commanders in DRC.