“The truth shall pass through the fire, but it will not burn,” Rwandan proverb
April each year is Genocide commemoration month.
It is a time for reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, while at the same time devising ways of ensuring Genocide never takes place again anywhere in the world as sealed by the ‘Never Again’ vow.
In my considered opinion, this places a big responsibility on the international community, including NGO’s that profess to be fostering reconciliation efforts towards peace and stability in all parts of the world.
Problematic, however, in the Rwandan scenario, has been the over simplified, narrow and highly personalised, unfair position that Human Rights Watch (HRW) in particular has taken.
The reasons, which are now starting to unravel, will be instrumental in our reading between the lines of their global well funded lobbying activities against the government.
In spite of the money and influence HRW may have, they do not have a monopoly over truth, with their moral standing now under much scrutiny because of costly diplomatic bungling not just in Rwanda but in other parts of the world too.
We are reading with interest a recent disclosure by Jonathan Foreman on the rather damaging Nazi scandal that has rocked HRW, a case in which I have eagerly awaited a blatant rebuttal from the organisation, if not a fierce attack on the person of Foreman.
Rather there has been a curious deafening silence.
In the informative article, Foreman exposes in Marc Garlasco, an archetypal of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, who by day was HRW’s only military expert and by night collected Nazi-era military memorabilia.
Writes Foreman: “So it was perhaps a little awkward that a key member of staff was found to have such a treasure trove of Nazi regalia.”
The kind of awkwardness that perhaps has to be kept away from the more ‘primitive’ parts of the world, deep in Africa, where we are daily schooled on the infallibility of the human rights organisations and those who work for them, largely viewed as saints.
He tacitly concludes: “HRW’s reaction to the scandals has perhaps cost it more credibility than the scandals themselves. It has revealed an organisation that does not always practice the transparency, tolerance and accountability it urges on others.”
In this vein, it is patently clear that HRW has taken a blinkered position on Rwanda - one that is premised on the position that the present government must be replaced, a position callously taken without so much as a bat of an eyelid or consideration of the consequences of yet another historical mayhem in the making.
From the onset it should be argued that saying no to HRW’s rather exploitative position on Rwanda, does not make one inimical to democratic conduct or the upholding of human rights, as the emotional blackmailers would charge in order to silence us.
In fact many of those in total abhorrence of this position are liberators of Rwanda whose rights were trampled upon for generations without so much as a wince from HRW and its local associates, largely beneficiaries of the status-quo then.
The liberators suffered marginalisation and exclusion in all areas, as Rwanda then, was a closed society, with no basic freedoms to enjoy—thus many were driven into exile, points HRW and cohort wish to erase from history in a tactfully worked out revisionist agenda which seeks to give life and new legitimacy to ghosts from the dark past.
One would not even want to go into the dire situation of Genocide survivors, many who still languish in poverty, whose human rights agenda again has been left out of the mainstream by HRW, as it pushes its narrow politics.
This is notwithstanding that at a broader regional level, the Great Lakes region, remains volatile, with the permanent historical feature being of killings, rape and plunder, meaning that any implosion in Rwanda will have ripple effects of enormous dimensions.
The point of the matter being that the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) government is not going to be wished away that easily, they have as much at stake in the status-quo having liberated the country from the jaws of unstoppable genocidal forces, many who fled the country, still regard genocide as an unfinished business – with most believed to be resident in Europe.