The Minister for Justice of The Gambia, Ba Tambadou, has said that there is no dispute about the fact that the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi took place in Rwanda and is firmly part of the world's history.
Tambadou, who is also his country’s Attorney General, is a former prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the Arusha-based tribunal that tried some of the architects of the Genocide. ICTR’s role has since been taken over by the Mechanism of International Criminal Tribunals.
Tambadou was Friday addressing more than 500 delegates attending the international conference on genocide taking place in Kigali.
“No amount of denial can change this fact,” he noted.
Tambadou, who worked for ICTR for 14 years, observed that there was no reason for Rwanda to even engage those who deny the Genocide against the Tutsi, saying they do not deserve Rwanda’s attention.
He first visited Rwanda 15 years ago as a prosecutor with ICTR.
Tambadou was the prosecutor in the case against the former chief of staff of the defunct Rwandan army that implemented the Genocide, Gen. Augustin Bizimungu, and former Chief of the Rwandan National Gendarmerie, Gen. Augustin Ndindiliyimana.
The Gambian minister was involved in cases of 12 accused persons at the ICTR. Among others, he defended the conviction of Genocide architect Col. Theoneste Bagosora on appeal, secured the conviction of Gen. Augustin Bizimungu and defended that conviction on appeal.
“I actually appealed against the sentence given to Gen. Augustin Bizimungu. In fact, during the appeals hearing he took an opportunity to and said to me; ‘why are you following me everywhere?’ And I responded sarcastically, of course, that I was only following orders,” he recounted.
The minister recalled how his work at the tribunal took him to most parts of Rwanda – except the regions of Cyangugu and Byumba – and recalled some of the major incidents of the Genocide, such as the case of Tutsis who were killed at ETO in Nyanza and the resistance of people of Bisesero.
“This exposed to me how the Genocide was calculated, premeditated and cold-blooded. The events at Bisesero, on the contrary, demonstrated to me another side of our humanity: the sheer will to survive,” he told the participants, who included scholars, researchers, policymakers and seasoned journalists.
Tambadou said that Rwanda epitomises the clear line between old and new Africa.
Leaders across Africa exploited citizens’ natural divisions, religious differences, ethnic differences, communal differences and used it to perpetuate themselves in power, said.
On the contrary, he said, Rwanda is showing that “you don’t have to divide people to stay in power”.
“You can unite people, you can reconcile your people because unity is strength and that is what Rwanda is showing to the world today,” he said.
The Gambian minister said that his country is emerging from 22 years of brutal dictatorship and they were building with inspiration from Rwanda.
If Rwanda can bring her people together around national unity, no other country has an excuse for failure, he noted.