Tagged: Genocide

Happy Liberation Day, after all…


girl holding flag

Photo: Rwandan girl holding US & Rwandan flag. Source: anotherwilhem.blogspot.com

This Friday, on the 04th of July 2014 Rwanda and Rwandans all over the world will celebrate 20 years of peace and growing prosperity. Twenty years ago, back in 1994, that date marked the end of the Rwandan Genocide and gave birth to a new government that kind of rose from the ashes.

How “libre” are we?

Rwanda has (hopefully had) a very turbulent and tragic history. The country’s journey has been long, pain- and eventful. The first three decades of Rwanda’s independence were characterized by unfortunate upheavals perpetuated by ideologically bankrupt politics. This culminated into the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in which over one million people were annihilated in just a 100 days. During the dark three months of the Genocide, Rwanda died and descended into an almost failed state.

The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the current leading political party, led by President Paul Kagame ended the  genocide by defeating the civilian and military authorities responsible for the killing campaign. As RPF troops advanced south down the eastern side of the country and then swept west, they encountered little opposition from government forces, except around Kigali. They drove military, militia, and other assailants from the region and so made it possible for Tutsi to return from the swamps and bush and to emerge from their hiding places. The RPF soldiers saved tens of thousands from annihilation. They even stopped the killers in the act of attacking or preparing to attack Tutsi at several churches or camps and relentlessly pursued those whom they thought guilty of genocide. In their drive for military victory and a halt to the genocide, the RPF killed thousands, including noncombatants as well as government troops and members of militia.

As RPF soldiers sought to establish their control over the local population, they also killed civilians in numerous summary executions and in massacres. They may have slaughtered tens of thousands during the four months of combat from April to July. The killings diminished in August and were markedly reduced after mid-September when the international community exerted pressure for an end to the carnage. Carried out by soldiers who were part of a highly disciplined military organization, these killings by the RPF rarely involved civilian participation, except to identify the persons to be slain. In only a few cases, particularly in areas near the border with Burundi, civilian assailants reportedly joined soldiers in attacking other civilians.

During the months when the RPF was just establishing its control, it is quite certain that the kinds of abuses that occurred must have been directed by officers at a high level of responsibility, but most reports of the genocide focused on the genocide itself and the crimes committed by the RPF are very poorly documented.

The first convincing evidence of wide-spread, systematic killings by the RPF was gathered by a UNHCR team dispatched for another purpose. When the team and the head of the UNHCR attempted responsibly to bring the information to the attention of the international community, the U.N. decided to suppress it, not just in the interests of the recently established Rwandan government but also to avoid further discredit to itself. The U.S., and perhaps other member states, concurred in this decision, largely to avoid weakening the new Rwandan government…

Between 1994 and 2003, Rwanda was governed by a set of documents combining President Habyarimana’s 1991 constitution, the Arusha Accords, and some additional protocols introduced by the transitional government. As required by the accords, Kagame set up a constitutional commission to draft a new permanent constitution. The constitution was required to adhere to a set of fundamental principles including equitable power sharing and democracy. The commission sought to ensure that the draft constitution was “home-grown”, relevant to Rwanda’s specific needs, and reflected the views of the entire population. They sent questionnaires to civil groups across the country and rejected offers of help from the international community, except for financial assistance.

The draft constitution was released in 2003. It was approved by the parliament, and was then put to a referendum in May of that year. The referendum was widely promoted by the government; ultimately, 95% of eligible adults registered to vote and the turnout on voting day was 87%. The constitution was overwhelmingly accepted, with 93% voting in favor.

The constitution provided for a two-house parliament, an elected president serving seven-year terms, and multi-party politics.

The constitution also sought to prevent Hutu or Tutsi hegemony over political power.

Article 54 states that:

“political organizations are prohibited from basing themselves on race, ethnic group, tribe, clan, region, sex, religion or any other division which may give rise to discrimination”.

According to Human Rights Watch, this clause, along with later laws enacted by the parliament, effectively make Rwanda a , as “under the guise of preventing another genocide, the government displays a marked intolerance of the most basic forms of dissent”.

 What does peace and development look like in Rwanda?

children-in-independance-day

Photo: Children at the Liberation Day 2012. Source: rwanda-in-liberation.blogvie.com

Rwanda’s economy has grown rapidly under Kagame’s presidency, with per-capita gross domestic product estimated at $1,592 in 2013, compared with $567 in 2000. Annual growth between 2004 and 2010 averaged 8% per year. Kagame’s economic policy is based on liberalizing  the economy, privatizing state owned industries, reducing red tape for businesses and transforming the country from an agricultural to a knowledge-based economy. Kagame vision for 2020 is to emulate the economic development of Singapore since the 60’s and achieve a middle income country status.

The Vision 2020 program consists of a list of goals which the government aims to achieve before the year 2020.These are:

  • Goof governance 
  • An efficient state
  • Skilled human capital, including education, health and information technology 
  • A vibrant private sector
  • A world-class physical infrastructure
  • Modern agriculture and livestock

Rwanda is a country of few natural resources,and the economy is heavily dependent on subsistence agriculture, with an estimated 90% of the working population engaged in farming. Under Kagame’s presidency, however, the service sector  has grown strongly. In 2010, it became the country’s largest sector by economic output, contributing 43.6% of the country’s GDP. Key tertiary contributors include banking and finance, wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants, transport, storage, communication, insurance, real estate, business services, and public administration, including education and health. Information and communication technology (ICT) is a Vision 2020 priority, with a goal of transforming Rwanda into an ICT hub for Africa. To this end, the government has completed a 2,300 kilometers (1,400 mi) fiber-optic telecommunications network, intended to provide broadband services and facilitate electronic commerce.

Tourism is one of the fastest-growing economic resources and became the country’s leading foreign exchange earner in 2011. In spite of the genocide’s legacy, Kagame’s achievement of peace and security means the country is increasingly perceived internationally as a safe destination the first half of 2011, 16% of foreign visitors arrived from outside Africa. The country’s mountain gorillas  attract thousands of visitors per year, who are prepared to pay high prices for permits (500$ for non-Rwandan!).

Rwanda ranks highly in several categories of the World Bank’s ease of doing business index.

The Rwanda Development Board asserts that a business can be authorized and registered in 24 hours. The country’s overall ease of doing business index ranking is fifty-second out of 185 countries worldwide, and third out of 46 in Sub-Saharan Africa. The business environment and economy also benefit from relatively low corruption in the country. In 2010,Transparency International ranked Rwanda as the eighth cleanest out of 47 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and sixty-sixth cleanest out of 178 in the world.  

Health & education indicators dramatically improved

Kagame’s government has made education a high priority for his administration, allocating 17% of the annual budget to the sector. The Rwandan government provides free education in state-run schools for twelve years: Six years in primary and six in secondary school. The final three years of free education were introduced in 2012 following a pledge by Kagame during his 2010 re-election campaign. Kagame credits his government with improvements in the tertiary education sector. The number of universities has risen from 1 in 1994 to 29 in 2010, and the tertiary gross enrolment ratio increased from 4% in 2008 to 7% in 2011.

From 1994 until 2009, secondary education was offered in either French or English. Since 2009, due to the country’s increasing ties with the East African Community and the Commonwealth of Nations, English has been the sole language of instruction in public schools from primary school grade 4 onward. The country’s literacy rate, defined as those aged 15 or over who can read and write, was 71% in 2009, up from 38% in 1978 and 58% in 1991. Rwanda’s health profile is dominated by communicable diseases,including malaria, pneumonia and HIV/AIDS.

Prevalence and mortality rates have sharply declined in the past decade but the short supply or unavailability of certain medicines continues to challenge disease management. Kagame’s government is seeking to improve this situation as one of the Vision 2020 priorities by increasing funding and setting up more training institutes such as the Kigali Health Institute (KHI), and in 2008 effected laws making health insurance mandatory for all individuals by 2010, over 90% of the population was covered.

These policies have contributed to a steady increase in quality of healthcare and improvement in key indicators during Kagame’s presidency. In 2010, 91 children died before their fifth birthday for every 1000 live births, down from 163 under five deaths for every 1000 live births in 1990. Prevalence of some diseases is declining, including the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus and a sharp reduction in malaria morbidity, mortality rate and specific lethality. In response to shortages in qualified medical personnel, in 2011 the Rwandan government launched an eight-year US$151.8 million initiative to train medical professionals.

So we’re all good, now?  

The results of the iron management methods of Kagame’s government have surely not gone unnoticed. His economic policy has been praised by many foreign donors and investors, including Bill Clinton (Clinton  referred to Kagame as “one of the greatest leaders of our time”) * and Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz.  However, the DRC government and human rights groups have accused Rwanda of illegally exploiting Congolese minerals,which the London Daily Telegraph describes as an “important part” in the success of Rwanda’s economy Read: London Daily Telegraph article: “Paul Kagame: Rwanda’s redeemer or ruthless dictator”.

In 2010 Kagame’s relations with the US and UK came a under strain, following allegations that Rwanda is supporting the M23 rebel movement in Eastern Congo. The UK suspended its budgetary aid program in 2012, freezing a £21 million donation. The US has also frozen some of its military aid program for Rwanda, although it stopped short of suspending aid altogether.

Today, it’s hard to imagine where Rwanda will be on its 40th 4th of July Independence day but if I were to bet on it, it will be nothing like how we used to know it.

About Bill & Paul…
*As the killing intensified in April 1994, the international community deserted Rwanda.  Western nations landed troops in Rwanda or Burundi in the first week to evacuate their citizens, did so, and left.  The UN mission (UNAMIR), created in October 1993 to keep the peace and assist the governmental transition in Rwanda, sought to intervene between the killers and civilians.  It also tried to mediate between the RPF and the Rwandan army after the RPF struck from Rwanda to protect Tutsi and rescue their battalion encamped in Kigali as part of the Accord.  On April 21, 1994, the United Nations Security Council, at the behest of the United States—which had no troops in Rwanda—Belgium, and others, voted to withdraw all but a remnant of UNAMIR.  The Security Council took this vote and others concerning Rwanda even as the representative of the genocidal regime sat among them as a non-permanent member.  After human rights, media, and diplomatic reports of the carnage mounted, the UN met and debated and finally arrived at a compromise response on May 16.  UNAMIR II, as it was to be known, would be a more robust force of 5,500 troops.  Again, however, the world failed to deliver, as the full complement of troops and materiel would not arrive in Rwanda until months after the genocide ended.  Faced with the UN’s delay, but also concerned about its image as a former patron and arms supplier of the Habyarimana regime, France announced on June 15 that it would intervene to stop the killing.  In a June 22 vote, the UN Security Council gave its blessing to this intervention; that same day, French troops entered Rwanda from Zaire.  While intending a wider intervention, confronted with the RPF’s rapid advance across Rwanda, the French set up a “humanitarian zone” in the southwest corner of Rwanda.  Their intervention succeeded in saving tens of thousands of Tutsi lives; it also facilitated the safe exit of many of the genocide’s plotters, who were allies of the French. [Read: “The U.S. and The Genocide – Evidence of Inaction]
Sources:
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Kagame
http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/rwanda/Geno15-8-03.htm
http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?a=68456&i=15412
http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/happy-liberation-day-rwanda/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB53/
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Kwibuka20 – Press release of March 6, 2014


The Flame reaches Gicumbi

The Flame of Remembrance  moves to  Gicumbi today , the 20th step of its national tour. The flame will return to Kigali April 7, 2014 , to mark the beginning of the period of national mourning , twenty years after the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda . You can view an interactive map of the tour here

The next step in the national tour of the Flame will be the Nyagatare District , March 11, 2014 .

The community event today will be hosted by the Mayor of the District of Gicumbi Alexander Mvuyekure , and will aim to reflect on the events of 1994 as well as on the developments made in Gicumbi and Rwanda since. The guest of honor is the Hon. Agnes Binagwaho , Minister of Health. The governor of the Northern Province , Aime Bosenibamwe , will also speak .

The Flame of Remembrance will be received from the District Rulindo by two students aged 20 years , Marie- Louise Dusabe Viateur Mbarushimana . A children’s choir will sing ” Urumuri Rutazima “ to welcome the flame.

Testimony will be given by Anastasius Kamizikunze , a 40 years old survivor of the genocide  . He will tell how he survived the genocide in Mutete and how he was able to return to school after the genocide. Innocent Nyirigira , 48 years old genocidal will talk about his role in the genocide and his new life after being released from prison. Finally, Chantal Ndatenyirigira will sing a song.

The Gicumbi District is composed of the former municipalities of Kiyombe , Mukarange Cyumba , Kibale , Bwisige , Kinyami , Rutare , Giti , Buyoga and the commune Cyungo .

The town of Byumba in Gicumbi is among the places where Tutsis were systematically killed in 1990. Some of the victims who perished there , were brought from Nyagatare and other regions of the country. The first training of the militia, in what was then called “civil defense” , began in the municipalities of Byumba where the distribution of weapons to civilians began in 1991.

When the genocide began , half of the district was under control of the Rwandan Patriotic Front but widespread massacres took place in Mutete , an area under the control of government forces (FAR) . Initially the Tutsi, who had gathered to Zoko , were able to resist the attacks of the Interahamwe , but they succumbed to the arrival of reinforcements April 15, 1994 . There were 1,789 victims of genocide Gicumbi , some of which were killed before 1994. Among the known murderer of this region was influential business man , Ntakaveve Athanasius , who killed his wife , Catherine, as to encourage others to kill.

Tour Flame Kwibuka : Program Gicumbi

Time: 14h-16h , The March 6, 2014
Location: Mutete Gicumbi District

Welcome
Interpretation of the song ” Urumuri Rutazima ” by the children’s choir at the arrival of the Flame
Speaking of the Mayor of Gicumbi Alexander Mvuyekure
Testimony of Anastasius Kamizikunze , genocide survivor .
Song Chantal Ndatenyirigira
Testimony of Innocent Nyirigira , author of Genocide
Invite participants to write on the Ribbon of Remembrance
Introduction by the Governor of the Northern Province , Aime Bosenibamwe
Address by the guest of honor , Hon. Agnes Binagwaho , Minister of Health
Final performance of ” Urumuri Rutazima ”
Information on Tour of the Flame of Remembrance

The Flame Kwibuka symbolizes remembrance, resilience and courage of all Rwandans in the past twenty years. Transported in a single lamp , it will be used to light other lamps in communities throughout Rwanda . To mark the 20th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, all commemorative fires across the country come from this single flame Kwibuka . When it will return to Kigali April 7, 2014 , President Paul Kagame will use to light the flame of national mourning , marking the official commemoration period . The flame will also be the source of light used during the candlelight vigil to be held at Amahoro stadium on the evening of April 7, 2014 .

Learn more about the flame and its national tour here.

Photos of today’s event will be available on the Flickr page Kwibuka20 and videos here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/kwibuka20

Please send all media inquiries to media@kwibuka.rw

Source: Rwanda Embassy in Belgium

Kagame calls for end to genocide militia group


 

(Reporter’s name unknown)

31.1.2014

Photo: President Kagame (centre in glasses) in a group photo with other Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa yesterday. The New Times/ Village Urugwiro.

President Paul Kagame has called for an immediate end to the continuous impunity of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (F DLR) militia, operating in eastern DR Congo.

The President was speaking at the opening of the 22nd Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa yesterday.

His remarks followed a discussion and presentation of various reports, including the report by the Peace and Security Council.

“Despite the welcome agreement signed between the government of DRC and M23, an armed group behind the 1994 Genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda, the FDLR, remains untackled, even though it is the bedrock of instability in our region. Rwanda requests this gathering to urge and follow up the end of the FDLR threat to Rwanda and the region,” the head of state said.

Kagame underscored the importance of Africa solving its peace and security issues across the continent.

“There is increasing evidence of Africa’s genuine commitment to manage our own security crises. But a lot more could be done, if together, we redoubled our efforts to confront instability; the single biggest obstacle to the prosperity we all aspire to,” he said.

President Kagame also urged all member states to keep in mind the central purpose of peacekeeping missions.

Genocide a reminder of reality

His call comes amid an ongoing conflict in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

“Whatever the stated mandate, the protection of civilians should always be at the heart of our interventions. In Rwanda, we learned the hard way that this seemingly evident principle does not always translate into corresponding behaviour on the ground. The 1994 Genocide that we commemorate this year for the 20th time is one important reminder of this reality,” Kagame said.

Rwanda has contributed peacekeepers to several countries, including Sudan, South Sudan and, more recently, Central African Republic.

Yesterday’s discussion was preceded by a hand over ceremony of the AU chairmanship from Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania.

In his handover speech, Prime Minister Hailemariam thanked all African Union members for their support and urged them to work towards a dignified Africa.

 

“Let us strive to achieve our collective vision of a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa.”

 

President Kagame, who is accompanied by First Lady Jeannette Kagame and Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo, later held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Hailemariam.

Contact email: editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

source: The New Times

Groupov plays Rwanda 94


Photo provided by the Embassy of Rwanda, Brussels

Brussels,

La Cantata Bisesero

The famous play Rwanda 94 will be represented this Saturday, January 25 at Bozar Museum in Brussels.

Rwanda 94, created in 2000 by the Liège Groupov, a collective of artists gathered around Delcuvellerie Jacques, is a tribute to the victims of the Genocide against the Tutsis, in Rwanda. Bisesero was the landmark of resistance, where nearly 50,000 Tutsi died twenty years ago, struggling for their lives. This epopee is an attempt of a symbolic redemption for the dead, represented by the living. BOZAR offers the first two parts of this show on the big screen, followed by a live interpretation of the last part La Cantata Bisesero. Based on testimonies of survivors collected by African Right, five actors, two singers, a string trio, a piano and a clarinet interpret the partition of Garrett List.

Times: 

15h 00: Rwanda 94

20h 30: La Cantata Bisesero

Price:

18€ (14€ if <26)

For more information: BOZAR, BELGIQUE

See Groupov, programme diffused by  50° Nord (french) : ARTE- BELGIQUE “à revoir”

Source: Embassy of Rwanda, Brussels

French TV to be sued over Genocide sketch


 

 

by Eugène KWIBUKA

21.1.2014

Some of the protestors outside Canal+ Group headquarters in Paris last week. The New Times/ Courtesy.

Anti-Genocide activists in France are considering suing French TV Canal+ over its broadcast of a sketch seen as ridiculing the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The revelation comes days after protesters from the Rwandan community in France and their friends took to the streets in the capital Paris on Saturday to deliver a message of their disapproval with Canal+.

The march was the latest in a series of activities to protest against the television’s broadcast.

It was first held at the office of the “Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel” (CSA), which regulates television content in the country, before the protesters marched to the office of Canal+ Group.

As part of its flagship comedy show codenamed DBQT, the television allowed a December 20, 2013 show that dug into the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in a manner that viewers who are conversant with the killings have called “unacceptable and intolerable.”

The Saturday protests were organised after activists against Canal+ comedy on the Genocide were not satisfied with the group’s response that it did not mean to undermine the memory of the victims.

More than 22,000 people have signed an online citizen petition that seeks an apology from Canal+, a private French pay TV channel, for the comedy sketch.

Canal+ executives said their comedians had wanted to criticise how little some people in France and the Western world know or care about what happens in other countries, using the Genocide in Rwanda as an example.

But the sketch irked many around the world, especially Rwandans, both at home and in the Diaspora.

Legal action due

Richard Gisagara, a French-Rwandan lawyer living in France, who is involved with the protests, says the activists still believe the comedy was “abject” and will now sue the television to seek both retraction and damages.

“A case will probably be brought up against Canal+ by the end of the month. This will be done in the name of a person seeking justice for the victims and survivors and not in the name of an association,” he said.

The lawyer said the civil case will come after the announcement of the position of the CSA on the comedy sketch, which is supposed to be communicated soon, according to the association of Rwandans in France.

“Someone will be proving in court that their dignity or that of their parents or children was undermined by the comedy sketch,” he said.

The manager of CSA, Marc El Nouchi, told a delegation representing the protestors on Saturday that his organisation will make a statement about what it makes of the comedy sketch before the end of the month.

Gisagara said the body’s response will not stop his clients from suing Canal+ unless the latter makes a public apology and retract what activists see as undermining the memory of the Genocide.

The online petition that demands Canal + to officially apologise insists that “genocide is not a laughing matter.”

The activists say “disregard for the victims of a Genocide that claimed over a million lives in 100 days in 1994 will not be tolerated.”

Contact: eugene.kwibuka@newtimes.co.rw

 

Source: The New Times

World cannot let Syria be a new Rwanda


BUSINESS DAY – LIFE

OPINION & ANALYSIS

by Mia SWART 03/09/13

Photo: Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem speaks during a press conference in Damascus, Syria, August 27, 2013. Image: Voice of America

IN DECIDING whether to intervene militarily in other states, powerful states such as the US and UK understand the force of international law. But what does international law say about the use of force? It is both clear and complex. Paragraph 2 of the United Nations (UN) Charter prohibits the use of force. There are only two exceptions: the use of force is legal if authorised by UN Security Council resolution and if it is used in self-defence. It has long been clear that Russia and China will use their veto to block a council resolution authorising military force against Syria. Any argument that the US will intervene in self-defence does not respect the meaning of the term.

The matter is complicated by the rise of ius cogens in international law. A ius cogens norm is a norm or principle that belongs to a small category of international law norms that takes precedence over all other norms and from which no derogation is permitted. The prohibition of the use of force has the status of a ius cogens norm. But the prohibition against genocide falls into the same category. Commentators increasingly agree that the Syrian conflict has taken on genocidal characteristics. The UN now confirms that the death toll exceeds 100,000. Agreement also exists that the overwhelming majority of victims have been killed by Bashar al-Assad’s troops. International observers have also confirmed Assad’s complicity in the majority of war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Syrian people.

Obama might not be justifying his threat to intervene by using the legal language of ius cogens. But his instincts that the chemical attacks of August 21 justify intervention shows he understands the normative power of ius cogens. When Obama said last year that the use of chemical weapons would be the crossing of a “red line”, he showed that he appreciates the reasoning that some crimes are so serious that they, in the words of the Adolf Eichmann judgment, “shock the conscience of mankind”. The images of Syrian children killed by sarin gas shock in exactly this way.

The question of the legality of intervention in Syria can be compared to arguments about the morality of defying unjust laws to resist an unjust regime. Is it right to break the law to uphold the law? It is clear that international law outlaws the use of force. But it is equally clear that international law prohibits genocidal acts. What international law does not say is that the international community has a duty to intervene militarily. It is often said that the question of intervention is a matter of morality. It is often argued that military intervention will lead to civilian deaths.

This conundrum lies at the heart of arguments about the legality of humanitarian intervention. Humanitarian intervention without approval of the council is considered illegal. Interestingly, one of the most often cited examples of humanitarian intervention was France’s in Syria in 1860 to protect the Maronite Christians. The Nato intervention in Kosovo to protect the Kosovans in 1999 was controversial and widely condemned as illegal.

Richard Goldstone, chairman of the Independent International Commission on Kosovo, famously described the Kosovo campaign as “illegal yet legitimate”. In his view, intervention of this kind could reflect the spirit of the UN Charter “as it relates to the overall protection of people against gross abuse”.

The South African government’s proposal, of nonviolent dialogue, will not stop the atrocities of the Assad regime. I believe the crisis in Syria has reached the proportions that justify humanitarian intervention even in the absence of council approval. It is inevitable that humanitarian intervention will often be seen as having an ulterior motive. In the case of Syria, it will no doubt be argued that the US wants to protect its oil interests. But how does one ever disprove the existence of an ulterior motive? Even if that motive is as benign as wanting to avoid future guilt? Obama said last week that he would have no agenda in intervening in Syria. Given the US’s history in Iraq, it is unlikely he will be widely believed.

If the Eichmann test is anything to go by, I would argue that the atrocities committed by the Assad regime, as well as some atrocities committed by the rebels, shock the conscience of mankind and that the humanitarian crisis in Syria justifies urgent intervention. Nineteen years after the Rwandan genocide, the US is still being blamed for not intervening to stop it. No serious international lawyer has applauded the US’s failure to act in Rwanda. Syria should not be another Rwanda.

Swart is professor of international law at the University of Johannesburg.

Ius/Jus Cogens
    • That body of peremptory principles or norms from which no derogation is permitted
    • Those norms recognised by the international community as a whole as being fundamental to the maintenance of an international legal order
    • Elementary rules that concern the safeguarding of peace and notably those that prohibit recourse to force or the threat of force
    • Norms of a humanitarian nature are included, such as prohibitions against genocide, slavery and racial discrimination
    • Ius/Jus cogens may, therefore, operate to invalidate a treaty or agreement between states to the extent of the inconsistency with any such principles or norms
Source: http://www.legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com

 

 

Related Article:

Obama Raises Rwanda to Justify Possible Syria Action

VOICE OF AMERICA, 06/09/13

President Barack Obama raised the example of the 1994 Rwandan genocide Friday as he discussed reasons why the U.S. might take military action in Syria.

The president said the U.S. is always pressured to act when major human rights abuses take place.

“People who decry international inaction in Rwanda and say, ‘How terrible it is that there are these human rights violations that take place around the world, and why aren’t we doing something about it?’ And they always look to the United States. ‘Why isn’t the United States doing something about this, the most powerful nation on earth? Why are you allowing these terrible things to happen?'”…read all

President Kagame Opens 2013-2014 Judicial Year


Government of Rwanda (Kigali)

06/09/13

Focus : Genocide Ideology, Human Trafficking, Corruption

Kigali — Today, President Paul Kagame launched of judicial year 2013/2014 in Parliament calling on the judiciary to work on cases related to genocide ideology, human trafficking, corruption and other crimes that affect the well being of Rwandans.

Speaking at the launch, President Kagame thanked members of the judiciary for all that they achieved during previous judicial year but reminded them to stay focused because a lot remained to be done.

“We all know that justice is an essential part of any country’s development journey. When a country upholds the rule of law, it gives the people the confidence that they are all equal before the law and that they are all equally protected.”

President Kagame also highlighted the need for all countries to have a stable and dedicated judiciary sector.

“Every nation, rich or poor has to respect laws, no country should claim to have monopoly over the understanding of principles of justice.”

The launch was characterised by highlights from the Bar Association, the Prosecutor’s Office as well as the Chief Justice who discussed justice sector achievements over the last year.

President of Rwanda Bar Association, Athanase Rutabingwa spoke on the capacity building initiatives that lawyers have benefitted from in the last year highlighting that the Bar now has 734 lawyers of which 34% are women. He also announced that the Rwanda Bar Association was elected to chair the International Bar Association.

Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga also explained that countries have shifted from universal jurisdiction prosecution process to extradition process allowing for the extradition of genocide fugitives. “A total of 46 international arrest warrants were sent to various countries with two high profile fugitives sent back to Rwanda for trial.”

Speaking on the inaction of some countries to prosecute genocide fugitives, Mr. Ngoga said,

“Genocide cases are too serious to be solved through just one symbolic trial.”

Mr. Ngoga also announced that Rwanda now provides criminal record certificates within a day, both for national and international requests.

Chief Justice Sam Rugege presented some of the accomplishments of the sector last year saying that 28 new courts were built and 28 others rehabilitated and extended which has helped the judges to work in a more conducive environment as well as improve service delivery.

On service delivery, he said that the Supreme Court introduced the use of electronic -filing system, which was installed in courts across the country.

“For the year 2012-2013, the trend shows an increase in judgments issued by judges across all level of courts. On average, every judge issued 23 judgments per month, higher than the 15 judgments per judge target set at the beginning of the year,” said Rugege.

How Rwanda Protects Its Future


THE NEW TIMES

23. August 2013

by Lonzen RUGIRA

OPINION

Photo: Eric Kamba (Before It’s News)

I read with consternation an article titled “How Rwanda threatens its future’ by David Kampf which was published in The New York Times on August 16, in which he urges the international community to put pressure on Rwanda due to what he calls interference in the Congo.

He argues that because of Rwanda’s “longstanding ethnic rivalry,” its interference in the Congo is motivated by a “desire to create a protective buffer along the border.” He also points to a second motivation of wanting to control that country’s minerals.

For the uninformed of the western world, these may appear to be plausible assertions, especially since the person making them spent at least two years in Rwanda, from 2006 to 2008. The logic underlying his assertions, however, is problematic.

His point of departure that ‘collective guilt over the 1994 genocide’ resulted in the international community treating Rwanda with kid gloves is at best insensitive, at worst offensive.

Rwanda is unequalled in the region, possibly in Africa, in its management and use of aid. It is not merely guilt; it is the value for money donors get for their buck. There are also questions about the integrity of the NYT and its attitude towards Rwanda and Rwandans.

It is highly unlikely that it would publish an article in which the author calls on the Jews and Israel to stop the guilt trip and ‘get over the Holocaust.’ It is as if to say “Rwandans are Africans, after all” and to imply that somehow genocide against Africans can be minimised.

The idea that Rwanda interferes with the Congo because of the supposed Hutu-Tutsi rivalry is silly and naïve, to say the least. That Rwanda would go all the way to Congo to “create a protective buffer” against “the Hutu” when millions of them live inside the country is illogical.

And even if what he had in mind were the FDLR, all Rwanda has to do is tighten up on its internal security. The idea that only a buffer can contain the FDLR is therefore nonsensical. In fact, if the buffer was against genocidaires, it would have to be legitimate and warranted.

There is also the implied argument, which promotes the idea that the rebels in the Congo are merely ordinary Hutus – presumably fighting for some legitimate cause.

I don’t really know if the Rwandan army is in the DRC. What I can say is that if its not, then it ought to be. That is because no responsible government would accept the presence of an armed force, with an expressed intent to eliminate part of its population and an experience of slaughter, right across its border.

If any idea was powerful in the past decade, it was the Bush doctrine – the legitimacy of preemptive self-defence when faced with an existential threat, such as Al-Qaida terrorism in the American context and FDLR terrorism in the Rwandan context.

Despite the credit, this idea was not invented by Bush; it was originated and perfected as a foreign policy tool by the Jewish state.

Another way to minimise the genocidal threat faced by Rwanda is to argue that Rwanda’s ‘interference’ with the Congo is motivated by the pursuit of minerals.

Try to understand. Poor governance fuels wars, which sustain themselves through resource competition. Militias take control of the trade in minerals to buy guns from arms dealers under the connivance of international capital.

This cycle can only be stopped by an effective state that is able to police its entire territory and win the trust of its citizenry. This is the only way Congo will control its vast mineral resources. Kampf is right on this point, however: Rwanda cannot be blamed for Congo’s problems, its ‘inept and corrupt governance.’

Kampf is also right that Rwanda has made tremendous progress since the genocide in 1994. But it is in elaborating this point that he speaks from both sides of his mouth.

He calls for international sanctions against the government while admitting that the brunt of the hardships would fall on the ordinary Rwandans, and that the tremendous socioeconomic gains – in health and livelihood – would likely be reversed.

Yet, he still prefers sanctions to induce behavioral change. With friends like these who needs enemies?

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the tradeoff. On one side is an existential threat and on the other is a threat of sanctions. No friend of Rwanda should wish for such a scenario.

And then the oft beaten drum: democracy. Kampf thinks that Rwanda’s progress is stunted by the supposed controls on civil liberties – human rights, freedom of expression and of the media, and political exclusion. So, is the country making tremendous progress or is it stunted?

He is also convinced that the country is ready to “explode” once Kagame leaves power. While he is entitled to his opinion, he should remember that there are millions of Rwandans in Rwanda whose interest in long-term peace and stability is enough to ensure that his fantasies will remain fantasies.

Clearly Rwanda is not a conventional multi-party democracy the likes of David Kampf are familiar with and would like to impose on everyone. But is its politics exclusionary?

For narrow-minded analysts unable to see beyond what is familiar, that certainly is how things look. However, as Frederick Golooba-Mutebi argued in The East African recently, post-genocide Rwanda has chosen the politics of accommodation over contestation.

Rwandans learned from the multiparty politics of the 1990s that competitive winner-take-all politics was bad for cohesion and harmony, and deciding on a consensus-based approach that favours power sharing.

As he demonstrated, politics in Rwanda would be exclusionary under a winner-take-all political system the likes of David Kampf want to impose on it, but which Rwanda’s leadership rejects.

Will the system change to suit the preferences of Western lesson givers of the David Kampf ilk? It is up to Rwandans, not patronising outsiders, to decide

The Challenge of Neutrality


The New Times, 13.2.13

OPINION

“The Challenge of Neutrality”

by NATHALIE MUNYAMPENDA

In a world of blind followers, I pride myself in always trying to stay neutral. Even on the topics where I have clearly taken a side, I try not to shut off opposing voices.

For starters, it makes for a good debate and second, it helps you understand the other side. However, there are moments, where you are put before certain facts, systematic injustices that would make any normal human being cry foul. The recent ICTR acquittals of Justin Mugenzi and Prosper Mugiraneza brought about that moment for me.

If you follow media coverage of the acquittals, the storyline goes something like this: two sentences about their earlier conviction and the instruction of appeal court to acquit and release them immediately then four paragraphs about the Rwandan government’s and Survivor organisations’ fury over the acquittals. The point being that the outrage is “a bit much”.

Photo: ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania (source:in2eastafrica.net)

One can draw two very extreme conclusions that frankly don’t seem that extreme anymore. The first is that the United Nations system cannot deliver justice to victims and survivors of the Tutsi genocide. Rwandans already sort of know this. We remember very vividly that in 1994, when the country imploded, the international body decided to ignore the evidence, pack up, and let the “civil war” sort itself out.

Somehow, after the genocide was over, when NGOs were ridiculously calling for free and fair elections while we were still burying bodies and trying not to die from heartache, the UN decided, both out of a sense of guilt and political necessity, to show up. They poured in humanitarian aid to both survivors and killers alike. I mean, they had to be neutral right?

They also set up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to try the masterminds of the genocide. These are the men and women who sat and plotted the systematic extermination of the Tutsis as well as anyone who spoke up against it. That is what genocide is, right?

Anyway, the tribunal was set up. It cost an island and more and created an expectation that it would do something to wrong the international silence of the previous year. It did some good things; rape became a weapon of genocide. The role of media in genocide was highlighted and considered but ICTR has failed in its fundamental purpose: putting the genocide masterminds behind bars for a long time.

The second conclusion is that the acquittals are engineered by a deeper, darker problem: genocide negation. Ask a survivor and they’ll tell you it’s all a sham. The accused live lavish lifestyles, they run business in the DRC and in west and southern Africa; they plan for life after the ridiculous trials where beyond a shadow of doubt primes over the reality of the utter destruction of families.

From within their comfortable prison cells, they plot the overthrow of the current government and even worse, they convince the world of the fact that genocide didn’t happen. Civil war maybe, genocide no.

This is where I stop being neutral. How can anyone? The people who followed the orders the defendants gave are themselves serving long prison sentences. Others have completed their sentences and have gone back to live in their communities. Talk about a hard reintegration process. Meanwhile, the people who planned the whole thing are not only living comfortably, away from the mess they created, when they are caught and tried, they are acquitted!

Survivors are outraged but that is drowned out by the many foreign advocates of genocide denial. I sometimes wish I could turn back the hands of time and take those people to right before the genocide took place. I would give them a seat at the tables where the lists were being drafted, then have them go with the people who put chalk signs on Tutsi homes, or when the machetes were distributed or when the militia was trained. Or to even listen to the preparatory speeches in person; you know the ones that didn’t mean what they meant.

Then have them watch during the genocide when the interhamwe triaged people by ethnic group and hacked Tutsis limb by limb, a process that sometimes lasted hours or days. How about the women who were raped by dozens of AIDS riddled men or the others who had their babies cut out like you would slice open a goat? Or the smell of death and bodies rotting? Those bodies were our sisters, our uncles, our mothers, our sons, our grandchildren.

The genocide was real and no matter how much ink flows to deny the gravity, especially around April, it will not go away. The killers may walk free and even continue to torture their victims, but we shall not be silent. We remember, we do not forget!

And ICTR? I’ll leave you to your own conclusion.

 

Links:

The official ICTR website

Wikipedia: The ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda)

The Leo Mugesera Case


BY EDWIN MUSONI, 24 MAY 2012

Nyarugenge Intermediate Court today rejected Leon Mugesera‘s plea for two months to review his case. Appearing before Judge Saudah Murererehe, Mugesera complained that he received his dossier six days ago and needed more time to read it and analyse it thoroughly.

“There is no way I could have analysed a 240 page dossier in six days.

The prosecution has had this dossier for three months and 24 days; if we are to have equality before the law then I should be given more time,” Mugesera told the Court.

His lawyer, Donat Mutunzi argued the two months was more reasonable time the court could give him.

However the judge turned down the defence’s requests and ordered that the pre-trial commence.

“Considering that Mugesera has, in the past been given all the time he requested to prepare for his pre-detention trial, the court has rejected his request and orders that the pre-trial commences immediately,” Judge Murererehe read the court decision.

However, in a dramatic turn, Mugesera immediately informed the court that he is appealing the decision in the High Court, prompting the judge to announce that the court proceedings would resume after the appeal.

Last month, Mugesera lost an appeal to the High Court, when the latter ruled that he should be interrogated in Kinyarwanda, instead of his “preferred language” of French.

The Genocide suspect was deported from Canada earlier this year after losing a nearly two decades legal battle against deportation.

He faces charges that mainly stem from a speech he delivered in Kabaya, Rubavu in 1992, in which he openly called on the Hutus to wipe out the Tutsi.

Prosecution alleges that the speech was a major factor in the buildup to the Genocide against the Tutsi, which claimed at least a million lives, between April and July 1994.

No date set yet for the appeal.

“Discour leon Mugesera (Youtube)- in Kinyarwanda”

“LEON MUGESERA SPEECH/EYE WITNESS TESTIMONY (Kinyarwanda)”

Sources: allafrica.com, YouTube