“The truth shall pass through the fire, but it will not burn,” Rwandan proverb
Human Right Watch (HRW) seems intent to rewriting Rwanda’s history, in which they wish to appear as the heroes who finally saved the Tutsis and Hutus from each other at a high cost.
It is, therefore, important to challenge the deeply embedded notions of infallibility which become a hallmark of their bullying tendencies.
Recent events in Rwanda are, however, just a trailer to a movie soon to be enjoyed by those who have been fed HRW’s nauseating propaganda.
In Rwanda, unlike other countries, there is a thin line between an opposition force and genocide fugitives, as recently revealed in the case of Ms Ingabire Victoire’s close aid, Joseph Ntawangundi, who has come out to admit full complicity in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
This is instrumental to our understanding of the wider politics at play in Rwanda, because by failing to come out in condemnation of genocide forces who are now mutating into opposition groups in seeking a fresh legitimacy, HRW stands guilty of being their silent and sleeping partner, therefore, equally complicity in supporting a culture of impunity, and harbouring genocide fugitives.
Perhaps the case against Ntawangundi will force some to eat humble pie, while at the same time bringing forth to the core of international debate on Rwanda fundamental issues to do with impunity and justice, in the broader debate to do with democracy and governance.
The top official of the United Democratic Forces Inkingi, confessed to have personally ordered the hunting down and killing of eight people, he also exposes a wider network of genocidaires resident in Europe, with whom they have carried out campaigns against the Gacaca court processes.
However, the recent turn of events in Rwanda, expose a wider conspiracy against the Kigali government which has also entangled HRW.
The silence in both cases to do with Ntawangundi and Garlasco, is proof of moral timidity on the part of HRW when confronted with hard questions of the day.
A scandalous silence that speaks volumes of the power and the politics at play that naturally go with the territory – - a paradox in the nexus of our global politics.
And, while any attempt by the less powerful of us to bring Kenneth Roth to account for his at times self -serving, ill timed positions, have been met with public floggings, from which we are still smarting, the silence around Foreman’s revelations published in the Times online become even more curious exposing the double standards in the conduct of HRW.
It is this backlash against those who have questioned HRW’s objectivity which confirm the fact that power and democracy are exclusionary notions, largely class based and andocentric.
Simply put, a white male is likely to carry more political currency than a black woman, the same logic applies even to countries in our power relations, as a people in global society.
However, while I might not have the political currency similar to that of Foreman, who is able to articulate a position I agree with, without him being seen as a champion of repression, I have the courage of my convictions that we are all stakeholders, in the ongoing at times excruciating debate on human rights and governance, not just on the African continent but globally.
Allowing persecution and being silenced in such crucial matters that, by and large affect us more on the African continent than those working from skyscrapers in the heart of Manhattan, would indeed be surrendering our long fought for dignity to those who otherwise do not own a future to which we shall account.
For indeed when all hell breaks loose in our countries international activists run back to the comfort of their air-conditioned offices, while we face the fire, hardly do they ever have to deal head-on with the consequences of their actions. Instead they will produce more reports blaming us for the mess we are in, requiring us to cut to the chase before it’s too late.
If indeed the universality of the principles for which we stand as a common humanity are the organisation’s main guiding principles, then perhaps this outright selectivity on those for whom attacks are reserved versus those who can write and point out the same issues, then further interrogation of the organisation’s mandate is essential.
This is done not as a favour, but as part and parcel of our inalienable right to be heard and to be understood, without being labelled or attacked.
It is instructive to note that Foreman is not the only one who has been spared a public flogging, as I have written before of other leading academics and analysts, in other parts of the world, who have taken exception to the organisation’s unpalatable approach to its otherwise noble mandate.
Take the many petitions and articles on HRW position from other parts of the world that have never graced the organisations website, notwithstanding that these are from leading global activists and analysts.
So nauseating that any challenge to the unfairness of the group only equals us to some inebriated village idiots whose natural disposition is for the uncouth and undemocratic, needing to be rescued each other.
The unrestrained power, so outrageous and self-serving that Roth feels he can write to governments demanding them to step down outside the democratic processes and procedures as prescribed by their national constitutions.
A point I shall elaborate upon with examples in coming articles.
And, so I watch with curious interest the HRW tentacles, in every corner of the world muster all their energy and resources against those less powerful who have questioned their unfairness, this done in a rather diabolical and unethical fashion.
I bring this particular example because this time last year when Roth wrote during the 15th Genocide Commemorations on the ‘Power of horror in Rwanda’, in my own unschooled naivety, I could neither fathom the timing nor insensitivity from the head of an organisation I had hitherto held in high regard.
All good things come with time, a year later this is what Foreman has to say: “And, also unlike Amnesty, it seeks to make an impact, not through extensive letter-writing campaigns, but by talking to governments and the media, urging openness and candour and backing up its advocacy with research reports.
It is an association that is all about influence — an influence that depends on a carefully honed image of objectivity, expertise and high moral tone.”
In the spirit of building objectivity, demanding not only to be heard but to be understood, this is the first part of an ongoing series of articles, for indeed we have not surrendered our future to a small global elite, but claim it as ours for future generations, to whom we shall account.