End of the FDLR in Europe?

20 October 2010 by Koert Lindijer

France's arrest last week of Callixte Mbarushimana, a key player in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), has again put the spotlight on the group which has terrorised parts of Rwanda and the DR Congo for the past two decades.

Rwanda's Mbarushimana, the FDLR's secretary general, was captured in Paris at the request of the International Criminal Court (ICC) who is charging him with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Congo. This follows the arrest of FDLR president Ignace Murwanashyaka and his deputy Straton Musoni late last year in Germany, where both are detained and awaiting trial.

Former FDLR soldiers say that Murwanashyaka sometimes visited their camps in Eastern Congo, but Mbarushimana never set foot on Congolese soil. The ICC says it has evidence on how he directed FDLR operations from Europe.

"To hear Callixte Mbarushimana on an international radio station, to hear your own boss talking on the BBC or Radio France, gave us the impression that our leaders were receiving support from France and Britain. That resulted in a huge boost of morale for our fighters," said a former FDLR fighter who had just arrived last month in Mutobo, a camp for demobilized soldiers in Rwanda. "We always thought that we had a lot of sympathy for our struggle in Europe and America, thanks to Mbarushimana", he said.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

19 February 2007 by Laetitia Grotti

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.

11 September 2006 by our correspondent in Arusha

After having tried high-ranking officers, ministers, businessmen, priests, journalists, local officials and militiamen, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in uncharted waters. On September 11, the most famous rwandese troubadour of his generation will stand trial for genocide. 

23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

United Nations Operation in Burundi disarms rebel forces in Mbanda in February 2005 (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Martine Perret)
03 June 2015 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Over the last month, Burundi has hit the headlines as the president put himself forward to be elected for a controversial third term, resulting in street protests, thousands of refugees who fled instability and an attempted coup. Behind the issues of elections and constitutionalism are also those of justice following Burundi’s long-running civil war. The international community supported an intensive process of negotiation and the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000. But in the decade and a half since, its provisions on justice have been debated though never fully implemented.

06 November 2006 by Pierre Hazan

France's attitude towards international criminal justice is marked by ambiguity. Paris subscribes to a vision of the world in which international humanitarian law is considered a way to curb violence against civilian populations, but at the same time it is wary of an unchecked judicial system that could end up prosecuting French soldiers engaged in areas where it has old and deep-rooted interests.