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Strange Verdict: A Rwandan Is Guilty Because He Is Alive?, says Canadian Court

By Aimable Mugara
Rwanda Human Rights and Democracy

From: Aimable Mugara
To: [email protected]

Subject: Canadian Federal Judges Say You Are Guilty Because You Are Alive
Date: Sun, 3 Apr 2011.

Dear Tamsin McMahon,

“A medical student who witnessed a Tutsi massacre at a hospital in Rwanda was declared a war criminal and ordered deported from Canada by a Federal Court, which upheld a ruling that the fact he didn’t flee the hospital and wasn’t slaughtered himself was proof he was a genocide supporter.”

It is with great sadness that I read your article of March 30, 2011 in the National Post titled “Canada orders deportation of Rwandan medical student as war criminal.” I was shocked to read that a Federal Court, which upheld a ruling that the fact he didn’t flee the hospital and wasn’t slaughtered himself was proof he was a genocide supporter.
This is probably one of the worst legal arguments I have ever heard of.
The last time I heard this argument it was from extremist Tutsis who argue that every Hutu who survived is a genocide supporter and deserves to die.

This twisted logic is like saying that in today’s Libyan capital city of Tripoli, anyone who is not out in the streets protesting against Gaddafi’s crimes or fleeing the country must be a Gaddafi supporter. This twisted logic basically says that you need to put your life in danger to speak out against atrocities, that otherwise you are automatically a war criminal. Never mind the fact that the option of fleeing the hospital that the judges refer to would have put the medical student’s life in danger. This ruling that a normal citizen (a medical student) in no position of authority becomes automatically a war criminal because he survived the atrocities is so sickening.

What led to such situation where a normal citizen is accused of being a war criminal simply because the murderers did not target them? Have we run out of the real criminals who actually did the killing? Real criminals who actually made decisions on who to kill and when to kill them? How did a nation like Canada result to this principle of collective punishment? Are these judges actually that ignorant of how difficult it is for normal citizens when they find themselves in a horrible situation like that where their only way to survive is to keep quiet?

Edmund Burke said that “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” This is indeed a laudable moral lesson that when atrocities are happening around us we need to try our best to speak out and hopefully our voices can stop the madness and save lives. But for the Canadian Federal Court to rule that good men in no position of authority who were too scared to do anything while evil was happening around them automatically become war criminals, that is a travesty of justice. It is simply Canadian justice at its ugliest worst.

In the article, the medical student’s lawyer says that they have other avenues of appeal. I really hope that the next avenue of appeal provides a fairer sense of justice than “you are guilty because you survived.”

Aimable Mugara

Canadian Citizen of Rwandan Origin

Toronto, Canada

[Rwanda Human Rights and Democracy]

April 4, 2011   No Comments