“We are getting increasing reports of FDLR targeting civilians they accuse of collaborating. We’re seeing increased instances of rape and killings of civilians“(…) “A hornets’ nest has been stirred up, and I’m not sure that anyone is prepared to deal with the angry hornets.”
Anneke Van Woudenberg (HRW) recently said this regarding the “counter attack” of FDLR forces in the Kivus after the departure of the Rwandan Armed Forces at the end of February.
I agree with this opinion. The metaphor, though, is a dangerous one. I find picturing the FDLR as a “hornest´nest” pretty close to a term well-known in the region: that of “negative forces”.
As in any other war, language in the Great Lakes Region is a tool of propaganda. For years, one of the biggest propaganda successes of the Rwandan regime was coining the term “negative forces” referring to FDLR. Almost everyone used it for a while. By using it, everything regarding this group became instantly bad. However, many historians and analysts have shown that the degree of revengeful violence inflicted in the Kivus by the Rwandan Armed Forces was comparable to the unbearable suffering Rwanda went through in 1994. This to say: there is not one single “negative force” in this affair, but many. One side, though, has been able to present itself as a pure and simple victim for a long time. That is part of the truth (a painful truth that has to be remembered and never forgotten), but not the whole of it.
There are no memorials for the people that were slaughtered at the other side of the border, in Congolese soil. And they were many."