Child soldiers at Kanyabayonga in eastern Congo
KPFA Evening News Anchor David Rosenberg
: The U.S. announced this week that it was sanctioning Sudan, the Central African Republic, Syria, Myanmar and Rwanda for the use of child soldiers. The surprise addition to this annual sanctions list was longtime U.S. ally and military partner Rwanda, which was sanctioned for “supporting” the M23 militia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.
U.S. law requires the State Department to keep track of nations whose governments recruit and use children as soldiers as part of its annual report on human trafficking, and the U.S. may then deny those countries military assistance unless the White House grants a waiver. Rwanda, however, is the only one of the five countries sanctioned that is known to receive U.S. military assistance and the State Department did not make a clear statement about how much U.S. military funding will actually be blocked. Last year, the U.S. cut a nominal $200,000 in aid to a Rwandan military academy, after the 2012 UN Group of Experts on DR Congo’s report
stated that the M23 chain of command is in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, and that, QUOTE:
Rwandan officials exercise overall command and strategic planning for M23. Politicians, current and former M23 members, Congolese armed forces officers and former Rwandan armed forces officers all confirmed that Gen. Ntaganda and Col. Makenga received direct military orders from the Chief of Staff of the Rwandan armed forces, Gen. Kayonga, who in turn acted on instructions from the Minister of Defence of Rwanda, Gen. Kabarebe. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Gen. Jacques Nziza, provides strategic advice and oversees the provision of logistical support to M23. Gen. Kabarebe and Gen. Nziza have also played an instrumental role in sustaining the political activities of M23. According to former Rwandan armed forces officers, current M23 members and former M23 officers, Gen. Ruvusha manages the provision of military ground support to M23.
Rwandan President/General Paul Kagame: Why, why would we not put our own children in our army and have child soldiers, and instead put them in school, and at the end of the day be judged on a statement made about us relating to child soldiers in DRC? And DRC government gets away with it? Instead, we are the ones to be asked and judged on that basis?
KPFA: Kagame also said that the U.S. should know that it is not involved in recruiting child soldiers because the U.S. is such a long term military partner of Rwanda, which seemed to suggest that if Rwanda is implicated, then the U.S. is too.