Survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi have strongly condemned remarks by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete suggesting that the Rwandan government negotiate with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a terrorist group based in Eastern DR Congo.
The FDLR are known perpetrators of the Genocide who not only fled to DR Congo, but maintain their goal of eliminating the Tutsi and have continued to commit war crimes in eastern Congo.
After the 1994 Genocide, FDLR militia fled to eastern DR Congo where they continue to maim and kill DRC nationals. They also occasionally sneak into the country to carry out murderous acts against citizens.
Through their umbrella organisation, Ibuka, the survivors emphasised that such negotiations are unacceptable.
"Ibuka strongly condemns President Kikwete's statement as no negotiation is acceptable with a known terrorist group that is responsible for the death of more than a million Tutsis in Rwanda and continues its blood-thirsty activities in the eastern DR Congo," Ibuka president Jean-Pierre Dusingizemungu said.
Speaking at the AU Summit session on security issues on the continent, including instability in eastern DR Congo, Kikwete pushed for Rwanda to hold direct talks with the FDLR terrorists.
Addressing reporters at the Ibuka headquarters at the Nyanza Genocide Memorial Site in Kigali, Dusingizemungu talked of how the survivors were shocked at hearing that Kikwete "expressed support for FDLR".
"We are offended that a Head of State who is well aware of the history of the Genocide against the Tutsi would promote unrepentant genocidaires and their ideology," Dusingizemungu added.
Ibuka's condemnation is the latest in the string of reactions to the Tanzanian president's suggestion.
Many other Rwandans, including researchers, and experts have come out to strongly condemn the remarks. The Foreign affairs minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, described Kikwete's remarks as "aberrant" and "shocking".
According to the survivors, talks with the FDLR would give legitimacy to a terrorist group whose members should instead be held accountable for their crimes in the genocide and for the suffering of many people in eastern DR Congo where the group's actions have led to killings, rape, and displacements of many people.
"Negotiating with FDLR would legitimise their cause and encourage impunity. FDLR should be disarmed, repatriated and rehabilitated for those members of the group willing to do so," IBUKA said.
In a June 2005 resolution, the African Union requested all member states to fight the FDLR and stop any form of support from their nationals or from their territory.
Dusingizemungu also invoked Resolution 1804 of the UN Security Council of 13 March 2008 which requested FDLR to lay down arms, report to the DRC authorities and to UN force in DR Congo (then known as Monuc) with no further conditions in view of disarmament, demobilisation and repatriation.
The survivors association has urged for a "strict observance of the UN/AU position, declarations and sanctions concerning FDLR", and called upon on President Kikwete "to retract such a grievous and callous statement".