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Bombshell UN report leaked: 'Crimes of genocide' against Hutus in Congo

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The striking conclusion is that the crimes committed by the RPA/AFDL against Hutu refugee and Congolese Hutu could constitute a crime of genocide. This will be a bombshell for Paul Kagame's government, which prides itself of having brought an end to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and have built their reputation and their appeal to donors on their promotion of post-genocide reconciliation. This report will rock the internet for months and years to come, its political improtance is hard to overstate.

A few words of caution. The report was not based on the same high standards of a judicial investigation, it was intended to provide a broad mapping of he most serious human rights abuses between 1993 and 2003.

Indeed, the report says that an international court will have to be the final arbiter whether the RPA/AFDL did commit acts of genocide. Verbatim: "The systematic and widespread attacks described in this report, which targeted very large numbers of Rwandan Hutu refugees and members of the Hutu civilian population, resulting in their death, reveal a number of damning elements that, if they were proven before a competent court, could be classified as crimes of genocide."

Nonetheless, it was their mandate to documents crimes of genocide, and they were rigorous: In total, the team gathered evidence on 600 incidents of violence (not just on the genocide allegations). Their standard was two independent sources for each incident. They interviewed 1,280 witnesses and gathered 1,500 documents. Many of the reports of killings of Congolese and Rwandan Hutu civilians were corroborated by eyewitnesses. While we always knew that there had been large massacres of Hutu refugees in the Congo, this is the first rigorous investigation, and the first time an international body has thrown its weight behind charges of genocide.

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