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Understatement of the day: U.N. finds ‘possible’ war crimes in DRC

Understatement of the day: U.N. finds ‘possible’ war crimes in DRC

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and his her office released two reports on violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2008, citing “possible war crimes and crimes against humanity” by the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), a rebel group formerly led by Laurent Nkunda and backed by the government of Rwanda.

Talk about your diplomatic understatement. The crimes involved dozens of killings and rapes. But for those following the DRC this statement has to seem kind of weak. There have been all sorts of atrocities in Eastern Congo for years, and the only questions really are which militia was guilty in which case. Possible? The U.N. head of mission in the DRC called the attacks war crimes immediately after they happened. 

Reuters reporters shrewdly dig into the problematic fact that while Nkunda was later arrested by Rwandan forces, it was his lieutenant, Jean Bosco Ntaganda (shown above), nicknamed “The Terminator” who was commanding the CNDP forces at the time of the November killings. Guess where he is? 

Ntaganda, who is being sought by the International Criminal Court on separate war crimes charges, wasintegrated into Congo’s army in January along with other members of the Tutsi-dominated CNDP…

“We know he is there. We are aware of it. He was integrated. He wasgiven a role. And according to our partners, he does not play a role inthe operations that MONUC is supporting,” said Kevin Kennedy, MONUC’s head of communications.

“But it isn’t our job to investigate the role of Bosco Ntaganda in the (army),” he told journalists in Kinshasa.

One other question for other Congo watchers out there. Doesn’t a lot of focus seem to be just on the CNDP, when the Hutu FDLR militia has been committing terrible massacres for years? In fact, wasn’t a key reason–along with grabbing minerals–for Rwandan support of Nkunda that he was protecting Congolese Tutsis from the marauding FDLR, many of whom were genocidaires? Maybe I’ve just missed it or Nkunda made such a good media character. Is the FDLR getting as much U.N. heat?

Update: This post originally mistook the gender and misspelled the name of U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navanethem, or Navi, Pillay. 

LIONEL HEALING/AFP/Getty Images