Nightline Congo Series, Part 1

TED KOPPEL (VO) So the Western world poured its energy, its logistical resources and its money, about $1 million worth of aid each and every day, into these camps, where most of it was stolen by thugs, killers. Some of the world’s most generous charitable organizations inadvertently became quartermasters, outfitters, suppliers, to an army of Hutu militiamen who call themselves the Interhamway, which means ‘those who kill together.’

(OC) In French, they’re called the ‘genocidaires’ those who committed the genocide. And that was just the beginning of the latest sequence of horrors.

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TED KOPPEL (VO) He’s been living and fighting in the jungle. Perhaps he was captured. Probably he surrendered. He has malaria. A few more weeks without medicine, food, shelter, he would have been dead. In this POW camp, he’ll live.

(OC) We’re just inside Rwanda about 20 miles from the border with Congo. Within this camp, on this day at least, about 630 prisoners.

(VO) In this place, they have a roof over their heads, three simple meals a day, and some very basic medical care. What provokes a certain cautious disbelief is the fact that among the men and boys enjoying this relatively gentle confinement, are some of the killers who took part in the Rwanda genocide seven years ago. After the media left, after the world stopped paying attention, the Tutsi-led Rwandan army broke up the Hutu refugees camps and launched an all-out military campaign against the Interhamway, the Hutu militia, which fled into the Congo. That was how the latest catastrophe began. We’ll let you hear the victims in their own words.

(OC) Can you tell me what happened when the Interhamway came to your village?

1ST GIRL (Foreign language spoken)

TEXT:

The came to my house and forced me to carry their supplies they caught me and they cut me.

TED KOPPEL They—they hit you in the head? Is that what happened to you?

TRANSLATOR (Foreign language spoken)

1ST GIRL (Foreign language spoken)

TEXT:

Yes.

TED KOPPEL What happened to your—what happened to your hand?

TRANSLATOR (Foreign language spoken)

1ST GIRL (Foreign language spoken)

TEXT:

The Hutu militia.

TED KOPPEL Why did they do that?

TRANSLATOR (Foreign language spoken)

1ST GIRL (Foreign language spoken)

TEXT:

I don’t know.

TED KOPPEL (VO) What the children of this region have seen and done and had done to them goes against nature itself. This girl was 11 when she was kidnapped.

2ND GIRL (Foreign language spoken)

TEXT:

They came at night and took us to the forest of Walikale. They made us into concubines and did bad things to us. Others died.

TED KOPPEL How long were you with them?

TRANSLATOR (Foreign language spoken)

2ND GIRL (Foreign language spoken)

TEXT:

Five years.

TED KOPPEL (VO) In the face of such widespread brutality and sickness and deprivation, this prisoner-of-war camp tucked away in the hills of Rwanda can seem like a sanctuary. That would be an illusion. But the Hutu in this country are a majority. They cannot all be executed or imprisoned. Even suspected killers will have to be reintegrated into society. And some of the prisoners are, after all, nothing more than children. Many were, themselves, kidnapped to work as porters for the Hutu militia.

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