JOHANNESBURG — A draft UN report says the Rwandan army that ended the 1994 slaughter of more than 500,000 people retaliated with barbaric killings in Congo two years later that also could be classified as a genocide.
The report also says Rwanda’s rebel allies, tied to the current Congolese president, helped kill tens of thousands of Hutus — the majority of whom were women, children, the sick, and the elderly.
“Upon entering a locality, they ordered the people to gather together. . . . Once they were assembled, the civilians were bound and killed by blows of hammers or hoes to the head.’’
The systematic and widespread attacks “could be classified as crimes of genocide’’ by a competent court, the draft said.
The leaked report is a major embarrassment to President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, an ally of the United States and Britain and whose government long has claimed the moral high ground for ending the 1994 genocide of Tutsis that included the killings of some moderate Hutus.
Le Monde, the French newspaper that first leaked the report, said Kagame is threatening to withdraw Rwandan troops in the UN-African peacekeeping force in Darfur, Sudan, if the genocide allegations are officially published.
Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila, was also a commander of the Congolese rebels named in the report at the time of the attacks.
Congo’s government yesterday denied the accusations and derided the report as partisan, incomplete, and unjustifiable.
Rwanda’s government said the report was “dangerous and irresponsible,’’ risked creating more instability in the region, and suggested it was leaked to divert attention from UN peacekeepers’ failure to protect civilians in a recent mass rape atrocity.
“It is immoral and unacceptable that the United Nations, an organization that failed outright to prevent genocide in Rwanda and the subsequent refugees crisis, a direct cause for so much suffering in Congo and Rwanda, now accuses the army that stopped the genocide of committing atrocities’’ in Congo, said spokesman Ben Rutsinga.