Individuals make mistakes. Organisations do. Errors of judgement occur. Deception takes place. It is normal, indeed human, and happens all the time.
What is not normal is to persist in doing wrong even when that has been pointed out repeatedly.
When mistakes happen, the usual thing is to admit the error, correct course and move in the right direction, and if anyone has been wronged, ask for pardon.
That is the normal way to handle such matters. Any other smirks of arrogance, foolishness or lack of respect for those that may have been presented in bad light and suffered as a consequence.
In the last twenty-five years, a lot of wrongs have been committed against Rwanda. They may be assumed to be the result of mistakes or deception. They may also have been done intentionally.
What is clear, however, is that they have not been corrected even when indisputable evidence has been presented.
Let us take the example of the matter of Paul Rusesabagina. He has been charged with forming an illegal armed group. He confessed in court that he indeed did form the National Liberation Forces (FLN) as the armed wing of his political organisation. The world media reported this.
He is charged with murder. He has admitted in press interviews and in court that the FLN murdered ordinary, innocent civilians in south western Rwanda two years ago. He has also been seen and heard on video giving orders for this sort of destruction.
Yet, with all this, and more importantly, the public confession of the man himself, the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice claims that he is charged with trumped up charges and is the victim of a repressive regime and a vindictive president.
Lantos are a well-known American human rights organisation. Why would they lend their voice to a lie and risk injuring their reputation?
It goes back to 2011 when they made the first mistake and awarded Rusesabagina the Lantos Prize for Human Rights and helped elevate him to a near saint. It now transpires that he is no such. He is actually a dissembler of the worst kind, a murderer of innocents and a power-hungry individual.
Behind the ‘humble hotelier’ lies an ambitious and avaricious man who will use any means to attain his ends. The human rights activist conceals a scheming man who will not hesitate to cut down the lives of ordinary people and climb over their bodies to get to power.
Or perhaps I err and Lantos, Hollywood and their media and NGO partners are the ones that put these ideas into his head and turned him into their tool. Which is perhaps why they refuse to believe the evidence before their eyes and acknowledge the criminal acts of their man.
The more they see the evidence, the more they stand by their decision and their man. They even go further and want him released and have started an online campaign for this.
The Lantos Foundation and others are not discovering this for the first time. In 2011, at the time they were about to award Rusesabagina with the human rights prize, survivors of the genocide against the Tutsi protested through their organisation, Ibuka, that they were making a mistake, the man they were honouring was a fraud.
Rusesabagina’s links to extremist terrorist organisations, including funding and raising funds for them, was made known to them.
They did not listen then. They are not listening now. But there is still time for them to change and even withdraw the award. It has happened before. Errors are made, but can be corrected.
Poor investment decisions are not uncommon and can sink one. But the wise investor knows when to cut their losses. And redemption is always possible for the contrite.
Lantos and the others can do so. They would not be wrong; they would be righting a wrong. They would be unmasking a lie, upholding truth and integrity, and preserving the correct historical record. Above all they would be living up to their own ideals of advancing human rights and justice to all corners of the world.
They owe it to the memory of the victims and survivors of genocide wherever it has occurred, and the millions of people who face similar persecution.
In the Rusesabagina case, they owe it to ordinary Rwandans, among them the many young people forced to join the FLN and losing their innocence and lives. In the end, they owe it to humanity.Follow https://twitter.com/jrwagatare