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Irony of an anniversary: 17 years since April 1994 genocide in Rwanda

by Ambrose Nzeyimana,
Organizing for Africa.

On April 6th, 2011, we will be remembering 17 years since the Rwandan genocide was triggered. It is appalling and almost ironic that high profile survivors like Deo Mushayidi, politician and activist, will be purging a life sentence for genocide revisionism, one of his many official offences being that all the victims should be honored without discrimination. This is so utterly wrong. All Rwandans who survived Paul Kagame’s regrets of seeing them alive because they managed to escape him have a responsibility to highlight Mushayidi unjust sentence. Because his imprisonment shows the RPF government which masquerades as a champion of genocide survivors is nothing but, when it comes to anyone who champions for human rights or democracy.

With all the respect due to Tutsis who died during the genocide, it is regrettable from RPF extremist ranks to disrespect Hutus who died during the same period at the hands of Paul Kagame’s rebel forces or Interahamwe. Such discrimination between dead Rwandans has already caused real anguish among the victims and continues to postpone possible reconciliation indefinitely. The ugly truth about April of each year has since 94 been that the genocide anniversary has been monopolized by the RPF regime to remind to the world its failure to stop the genocide. I periodically uses it to oppress any dissent voice or ransom the international community.

Victoire Ingabire, leader of FDU-Inkingi also presently imprisoned, said that, ‘The genocide has become a kind of blackmail to be used against everyone.‘ Today there is plenty of evidence including from Abdul Ruzibiza testimony in his book ‘Rwanda: Secret War,’ which demonstrates that RPF could have stopped the genocide if it wanted to, but this wouldn’t have served its interests as it has done so far. We know now that RPF had infiltrated Interahamwe at the point that his top leadership consisted of its men who until today have not been prosecuted for any wrong doing. This is one of the many ironies of the sad past of the country.

On Wednesday 7/4/10 a public protest was organized by Rwandans living in UK. It was held at BBC World Service – London. The aim was then to break the silence over the millions dying in the Great Lakes region and those particularly oppressed under Paul Kagame’s rule. Many people had told the organizers that it would be like blaspheming the Memorial Day RPF has set for the Genocide. They replied it was the only day the world could probably notice there was another side to the current narrative of the story.

Let’s imagine that Victoire Ingabire hadn’t said what she declared at the Genocide Memorial when she arrived to Kigali on January 16th, 2010. She highlighted the importance for the Rwandan government to honor Hutus who died during the genocide the same way it does for Tutsis. There is no doubt that her public statement has now helped to bring up in the open the fact that there were crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by RPF during the genocide. Before she announced that historic fact, the topic was taboo in Paul Kagame’s Rwanda. Taboos need to be broken if Rwandans want to change what has been going on in their country in the last 20 years and continue occurring today.

When Deo Mushayidi was last year kidnapped in Burundi and sent to Kigali to Kagame’s henchmen, Charles Onana, Cameroonian investigative journalist wrote about his case questioning the attitude of those supporting the Rwandan regime. ‘Who will stop the criminal cartel that is currently running wild in Kigali? Who will bring an end to the grisly martyrdom of the Tutsi, Hutu and Congolese? Who will find justice for the French, Spanish and Canadians felled by the bullets and missiles of the assassins who seized state power in Rwanda by force of arms in 1994?’ he wondered.

As Léandre Karangwa and Olivier Niyibizi in Jambo News rightly highlight that point, it does not appear that sponsors of Paul Kagame are keen on human rights issues, as long as he can demonstrate them he is caring for their geostrategic interests in the region. ‘As the increasingly authoritarian and despotic nature of President Paul Kagame’s regime continues to go unchecked, it is becoming obvious that Rwanda is an exception to the generally accepted notion that democracy goes hand in hand with progress.

In the face of such attitude of Rwandan partners who seem careless of the real plight of Rwandans, what can those who really have their compatriots at heart do? They shouldn’t continue to be fearful when they could change situations by being fearless. The millions who are today accounted as dead in the Great Lakes region, with a significant fraction in Rwanda, those who are in prisons, oppressed, silenced, did they or do they deserve what happened or has been happening to them? If not, survivors who can do something about their conditions, for how long will this carries on if they persist to demonstrate constant fear in any of their endeavors? Tunisia and Egypt should become their models of transforming for good the future of their country.

[The Rising Continent]

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