Rwanda’s day of judgment looms
RWANDA’S reckoning has come and it is long overdue.
Accusations of genocide now levelled in a leaked UN report at its Tutsi-led government are no surprise to the peacekeepers or aid workers who have lived and worked in the tragic crucible of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and heard the terrible testimony of the massacres there.
The report, due for release next month, details the systematic killings of tens of thousands of ethnic Hutus inside the DRC in the wake of the 1994 genocide. Most of the incidents that the report documents are at least 15 years old. For most of that time, they have been considered simply too explosive to be scrutinised publicly, adding to a conspiracy of silence about the Tutsi crimes of the Rwandan genocide.
Rwanda proclaims itself furious that investigators did not go there to ask questions. Would they have got any answers? Rwanda is a virtual police state where the human rights community is among the most cowed in the world. To challenge the accepted narrative of the Tutsis as Rwanda’s liberators is to “perpetrate genocidal ideology” and is forbidden.
Rwanda is outraged to be judged by the UN, an organisation that so dramatically failed it in its hour of need. Here it may have a point. But Rwanda has too long relied on the world’s guilt over failing to stop the genocide to avoid scrutiny of its more unpalatable behaviour.
Paul Kagame, the Rwandan President and leader of the troops accused of genocide, has been adept at milking this, becoming the darling of Western governments and the recipient of billions in aid. Britain, in particular, has long been enamoured by him, despite evidence that millions of pounds of British aid helped to fund his plunder of natural resources in Congo, contributing to millions of deaths in the war there.
Will this report change anything? As the authors note, it is up to an independent court to decide whether what happened was genocide.
That court could be the International Criminal Court, to which Congo is a signatory. Rwanda, intriguingly, is not.
Justice for Rwanda has been victor’s justice until now, but that narrative has a potent challenge.