Denial is not a good strategy when there is overwhelming evidence against you. As we noted last week, this is particularly important when talking about atrocities.
Someone now please tell this to the government of Rwanda.
The M23 armed group – backed by Rwanda – is leaving a growing trail of war crimes against civilians in North Kivu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. We’ve most recently documented summary executions and forced recruitment of civilians.
We can say M23 is backed by Rwanda because there’s significant photographic and other evidence that Rwanda is not only giving logistical support to M23, but that Rwandan troops are reinforcing or fighting alongside the armed group inside Congo.
The Rwandan government’s response to all this has essentially been, “Who, us?”
But their denial isn’t simply unbelievable; it’s also making a bad situation worse.
The renewed hostilities in eastern Congo by M23, the Congolese army (which collaborates with ethnic militias with abusive records), and various other armed groups has forced more than 520,000 people to flee their homes. This has exacerbated an already catastrophic security and humanitarian situation in the region.
Aid group Médecins Sans Frontières has warned of a potential health disaster as cholera spreads rapidly in camps for displaced people outside Goma, the North Kivu provincial capital.
Instead of repeating its flimsy denials, Rwanda should stop contributing to the problem. The government should also understand that continued military support for M23 means Rwandan officials could be found complicit in M23’s war crimes.
Rwanda needs to get real and end its support for M23.