The AP's Michelle Faul does a wonderful job explaining the DRC Mapping Report, and, more importantly, covering the effects Rwanda's actions in Zaire had on the local population:
Matata Ihigihugo has relatives in three mass graves: her husband and two sons in the one reserved for males, a sister in the women's grave, and her 8-year-old daughter in the one where children's small bodies were buried.The decisions made in foreign capitals - about whether to prosecute these crimes, where to try potential accused war criminals, and what this report means for regional stability - really, really matter. As former investigator Reed Brody told Faul, Rwanda's actions in some ways established the culture of impunity that surrounds crime in the eastern DRC today:
"They killed all my people. I have no life left," said Ihigihugo, who thinks she is 40 but looks many years older.
She objected to being asked to name her massacred family. "Why do you ask me to call out the names of those who are dead?" she demanded. "There can be no peace for me until they are properly buried."
...Uncovering the graves, proving how people were killed and even perhaps identifying them could bring closure for people like Ihigihugo, one of the widows of Musekera.
"There can be no rest for people buried like that," she said of the mass graves. "Giving a proper burial to my family also would put my heart at rest."
"The fact that these killings of tens of thousands, if not more, went utterly unpunished, the fact that there was clearly not the political will to identify the authors of these massacres and to bring them to justice, has facilitated the cycle of violence," he said.Faul also covers Brody's frustrations with trying to get information from the American government. Suffice it to say that the Clinton Administration's Africa policy team - in particular Susan Rice, who was at the time Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs - really messed this up the first time around. They decided early on to more-or-less unquestioningly support Kagame, Museveni, and Kabila. The decisions they made in those critical months in 1996-97 allowed Rwanda to get away with slaughtering Hutus in Zaire.
Many of those same policy makers are now in the Obama administration. They've got a rare, second chance to get it right. Do they have the courage to cut through the diplomatic niceties and stand up for the rights of all the people of the Great Lakes? Will they finally hold Kagame to account for the events for which he bears full responsibility? I don't know. But I do know that people like Mrs. Ihigihugo deserve nothing less.