Cablegate: Drc Reactions to Massacre of Congolese Refugees At
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KINSHASA 001546
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINS PREL CG PRM
SUBJECT: DRC REACTIONS TO MASSACRE OF CONGOLESE REFUGEES AT
1. (U) Summary. The CIAT condemns attack on Congolese
refugees in Gatumba camp, Burundi, calls for an independent
international investigation and respect for the peace process
in the DRC. The President's office and Vice-President Ruberwa
also call for inquiries and punishment of those responsible.
Mai-Mai deny allegations of involvement leveled against them
and the Congolese Army. End Summary.
CIAT: Massacre a "Deliberate Sabotage of Peace Process"
2. (U) The CIAT issued the following statement on August 15
regarding the massacre of Congolese refugees at the Gatumba
Refugee Camp in Burundi (unofficial translation):
The international Committee Accompanying the Transition
(CIAT) met in urgent session Sunday the 15th of August to
examine the events which took place the night of 13-14
August in the Congolese refugee camp of Gatumba in Burundi,
close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC). The CIAT expresses its outrage regarding the massacre
in the refugee camp. The CIAT offers its sincere condolences
to the families of the victims, to the transition government
and to the Congolese people.
The CIAT condemns in the strongest terms this abominable act
perpetrated by criminals, whose victims were principally
Congolese women and children, particularly Banyamulenge. The
CIAT considers that this barbarous act is designed to
deliberately sabotage the peace process in the DRC and
provoke regional instability.
The CIAT pledges anew its resolve to accompany the transition
process in the DRC through the entire process leading to free
and transparent elections, under the guidelines established
by the Constitution and the transition, and which responds to
the aspirations of the Congolese people for advancing a
lasting and durable peace in the DRC and the regions. At the
same time, the CIAT appeals to all members of the transition
in the DRC, as well as to other countries in the region, to
conduct themselves in a responsible manner consistent with
the letter and spirit of the accords entered into to support
the transition in the DRC and serve as a foundation for
Finally, the CIAT hopes that an independent international
commission will be established to bring to light the facts
about this massacre and bring those responsible to justice.
Presidency Demands International Commission of Inquiry
3. (U) Statement issued by Kadura Kasongo, Spokesman for
President Kabila, on August 14 (unofficial translation):
News of the attack on a camp of Congolese refugees located at
the border post of Gatumba in Burundi has just reached us and
we have learned that over a hundred people have been killed.
The President of the Republic strongly condemns this immoral
act committed against Congolese civilians and demands
the formation of an international commission of inquiry to
shed light on this abominable act, and establish the
responsibility of those implicated in this act so that they
may be punished.
The President of the Republic demands that the government of
Burundi, the international community and the High
Commissioner for Refugees, provide security and protection to
the vulnerable population.
The President of the Republic, the Transition Government, and
the entire Congolese population present their most sincere
condolences to the families of the victims.
Ruberwa: Attackers, Possibly from DRC, Targeted Banyamulenge
4. (U) The following are excerpts from Vice-President Azarias
Ruberwa's press conference on August 14 (unofficial
What happened that night was a genocide, a carnage committed
by assailants who surrounded the camp and operated calmly.
The other camps nearby where other communities lived were not
targeted only the Banyamulenge camp was attacked...I
energetically condemn such a cowardly way of pursuing
refugees even abroad.
The assailants may have come from the Congo, from the Ruzizi
plain towards Kaliba. According to surviving witnesses, there
were many attackers and they spoke many languages such as
Lingala Swahili, Kifulero, Kirundi, Kinyarwanda. It was a
mixture of Congolese, Interhamwe and FNL (Note: Forces for
National Liberation, Burundian Hutu rebel group which has
refused to participate in their country's peace process. End
I am going to Bujumbura to discuss with Burundian authorities
why assistance was not provided... we need a clear
explanation for this attack. We need to discuss about burial
of victims, the future of the camp and the remaining refugees.
What will be the next step against the Congolese community?
The government must take the necessary measures to prevent
this type of genocide and assure everyone's security
otherwise the peace process will be threatened. If there is
no reconciliation the peace process will fail.
One needs an urgent and well-organized international
investigation. An investigation done by the Congolese or
Burundians will always be questioned. I am talking more about
a genocide than a massacre. It was committed on Burundian
soil against Congolese probably by attackers belonging to 2
or 3 nationalities. I spoke to SRSG Swing at three in the
morning to inform him of what happened, MONUC has been in the
field since this morning.
Those who planned this genocide had a clear idea of ensuring
that my mission would fail. They were afraid of its success
and of reconciliation, because the refugees had started to
return since yesterday. They were afraid of peaceful
cohabitation and that the Banyamulenge would come back.
Mai Mai: We were not Involved in this Attack
5. The following are excerpts from remarks by spokesperson
for the Uvira Mai-Mai commander, Colonel Nyakabaka, in
response to allegations by various people, including
Burundian President Domitien Ndaizeye, of Mai-Mai
participation in the massacre (unofficial translation):
...With regards to declarations concerning participation of a
FARDC branch, namely Mai-Mai in the immoral act committed in
the refugee camp, we would like to say that these
declarations are unfounded. We regret that despite the
declarations made by the crimes' authors, the Burundian
President and the DRC Vice-President continue to accuse the
FARDC for these criminal acts.
We Mai-Mai are for the respect of territorial integrity and
would never cross the DRC borders to commit an act of
barbarism outside the country. We live in peace with the
Banyamulengue and if the politicians seek to foment problems
to encourage ethnic hatred in the Great Lakes in order to
provoke further wars, we say to the national and
international community that these politicians will be
responsible for their declarations and all that they are
trying to foment.
6. (U) Following an August 16 courtesy call on DRC
Vice-President Arthur Zahidi Ngoma, Ambassador Meece
reiterated to the press that the US condemns this senseless
attack on innocent civilians and noted the CIAT statement and
UNSC Presidential statement of August 15. He reaffirmed US
support for the transitional government and expressed
sympathy for the families of the victims and the Congolese
people in general.
7. (U) Despite allegations against Mai Mai, FARDC,
Interhamwe, and the FNL, at this point it is unclear who
beyond the FNL bears responsibility for the massacre of
predominantly Banyamulenge refugees at the Gatumba camp in
Burundi. An independent international investigation will be
the most effective and credible way to shed light on the
facts surrounding this massacre and establishing
responsibility. In the meantime it is important that rhetoric
from any of the principal actors in the region not be used to
provoke nor justify major military actions that could
reignite widespread conflict in the region. It will be
important for UNHCR to coordinate the protection of remaining
Congolese refugees with Burundian authorities to the maximum
extent possible, and be clearly seen to be so doing.
Likewise, MONUC needs to maintain active and public
involvement to investigate and take other steps as
appropriate to ensure security in the neighboring area of the
DRC. SRSG Swing is clearly already attuned to this point.
According to UNHCR-Kinshasa, the official number of camp
casualties as of August 16, is 150 dead and 108 injured.