15 January 2013

Rwanda: When History Repeats Itself


UNLIKE ANY other atrocities committed before it, the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi was transmitted to us in real time through the mass media.

The World and the UN knew what was happening in Rwanda. Analytical errors were repeated throughout the period. The UN Security Council persistently insisted that ending the civil war took priority over ending the Genocide. "Too much attention was being paid to ceasefire negotiations and little to stopping the massacre," commented the Nigerian Ambassador on the eve of Genocide.

Since the Holocaust, and when the Genocide Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide of 1948 was passed, the World vowed to "Never Again". Nevertheless, this principle has since been violated in different parts of the world.

Evidence has emerged that shows that the genocidal killings were planned long before the death of President Juvenal Habyarimana in April 1994. The National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book at George Washington University contains documents, accessible online that clearly show the early warnings given in advance, as well as evidence of inaction by the international community. Two other sources to support inaction of non intervention by the international community are available. The first, by Samantha Power, considers why the United States did not act to stop the Genocide. The second is an interview on ABC News Television with General Romeo Dallaire, who was the overall commander of United Nations Mission, UNAMIR.

UNAMIR, the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda, was present on the ground throughout the course of the Genocide. France, Belgium and USA declined to send additional support, despite UNAMIR'S specific warnings to the UN Security Council.

Failure for timely intervention is a representation of double standards towards the protection of human rights. Before the Holocaust, human rights protection was understood to be the internal responsibility of a nation. However, after years of utter inhumanity, consensus emerged that the protection of human rights and the prevention of genocide was the responsibility of International community. However in Rwanda, this obligation was not respected.

It was the RPF that stopped the Genocide to usher in a new chapter. For the first time in human history, those targeted in the Genocide fought back alone unaided against all possible odds [outnumbered, outranked, outgunned, outflanked] as the world looked on but emerged victorious.

Ever since the RPF took over the government, the political change together with the impact of Genocide, forced many extremist Hutus who perpetrated the Genocide against Tutsi to seek asylum in the neighbouring countries of Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Burundi and Uganda.

The extremists posed a security threat to Rwanda, with the UN Security Council left as a bystander as it watched the arming and the training of ex-FAR and Interahamwe militias.

As if there is no lesson learned from the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda, genocidal acts are continuing in Eastern DRC.

The Congolese government allowed perpetrators of Genocide in Rwanda to extend their genocidal campaign inside DRC termed as crimes "without borders" by one scholar.

The Congolese of Kinyarwanda speaking areas of Masisi, Rutshuru, perceived as Tutsi, have systematically faced premeditated killings and expulsion.

Speaking during a recent International conference organised by CNLG on the 64th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, a scholar Dr Godefroid Kanguide (Ka mana) from Pole Institute in DRC, revealed that acts taking place in Congo are genocidal killings against identified Congolese of Kinyarwanda speaking people labelled as Tutsi.

He argued that the presence of FDLR and other extremists in DRC has facilitated the creation of a criminal organisation to continue committing genocide.

The major aim of FDLR is to forcibly retake power in Rwanda by exterminating Tutsi, starting with those in DRC, according to Dr KaMana

He further cited hate propaganda on public and private media to incite the population to commit genocide against Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese in the presence of UN forces on ground. The messages to commit genocide are clear: "smash the vermin, the scraps, and the microbes that have to be eradicated".

He also highlighted that the negative forces have continued to receive support from the government that is guilty of complicity in genocide.

As a reaction of fear to the situation, the M23 was formed as defence to its people in April, 2012. M23 was also formed as a reaction to the distortion of their identity as Congolese and continued acts of dehumanisation.

The so-called UN Group of experts has manipulated and forged documents against Rwanda claiming it backs the M23 rebels. To quote Mark Twain, "A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar."

Hence, my appeal to the UN, African Union and regional states is to intervene on the serious internal matters inside DRC such as governance, citizenship and the whole process of social, political and economic inclusion of its people to avoid a recurrence of genocide in the region.

Let the "Never Again" principle be put to reality to protect the powerless.

The author is a researcher and Genocide scholar based in Kigali

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