Since the end of the Genocide in 1994, Rwanda is still in the process of healing the wounds from that terrible tragedy. The Genocide killed more than one milljon people, left a huge number of widows, orphans, physically handicapped, and a huge number of traumatised people.
More still, in breaking the social link and the cord that united the Rwandan society and that consolidated the national unity, the Genocide fragmented the social tissue and rendered fragile the social relations.
Another Genocide legacy is the destruction of all socio-economic infrastructure and important archives. The Rwandan people are now busy rehabilitating all this.
Much as the government and the civil society of Rwanda try to garner their efforts in consolidating national internal security which is already re-established, those same people who conceived, nurtured, spread the genocide ideology and planned and executed it, continue to threaten the security not only of Rwanda but also of the countries that still harbour and feed them.
The threat for genocide does not therefore concern only Rwanda but also the African continent. There are signs of this danger almost everywhere in Africa.
In addition, one has to recall here that genocide is not an accident. It is prepared and it goes through several steps:
- conception, systematisation and spread of its ideology;
- negation; and
- the will to perpetuate it.
Fortunately, there is always another ideology against genocide whose objectives are:
- fighting it when it is being committed;
- management of its consequences; and
- promotion of mechanisms against genocide.
Great attention should be paid to preventive measures, strategies to stop genocide whenever it occurs and the management of its consequences.
The fundamental concepts:
1. Ideology in general
In my personal view, Ideology is in general an abstract representation of an ideal situation to which someone or a group of people aspire for - self-realisation or for leading the group to ideal objective.
In this case, ideology evokes the image of the society which the group wishes to achieve in the long term. It is this ideology, the image of which the conceivers give fundamental pillars of the society project and appropriate strategies to realise it.
There are, for example political party ideologies which reflect the collective public image they wish to build once they are in power; economic ideology which informs the fundamental principles likely to lead people to maximum well being: capitalism; socialism or communism.
We can also think of an ideology of unity and social cohesion for Rwandans. It would be a set of ideas capable of generating an efficient programme for fighting the genocide ideology.
In other words, it is the anti-thesis of the genocide ideology. This ideology stems from universal values and specific Rwandan values as well as specific objectives to achieve.
2. Genocide ideology
Genocide ideology is a more or less systematised set of ideas of a group of individuals considered as a danger to the development and blooming of other groups that they are supposed to share national assets and resources with (power, wealth, prestige, honour...).
The targeted group becomes an object of all negative things. Sometimes it is labeled arrogant, proud, egocentric, dominating, and harmful and carrier of the virus susceptible to destroy other human groups living on the same geographical territory.
This ideology appears, develops, spreads and deepens. In this last stage, persecution and discrimination of the targeted group starts.
The above considerations can be better illustrated by examples of racist theories taken from the third Reich. Here is what a famous German thinker wrote about Jews as people who were considered as being responsible for all the bad things and therefore only fit for disappearing from the face of the earth.
So Julius Streicher, editor of an anti-Semitic “Der Stumer ou Assaillnt” wrote in 1936:
“A single coitus of a Jew and an Aryan is enough to poison the blood of the latter. With a foreign albumin, she absorbed a foreign soul. By getting married to an Aryan, she will never be able to produce children who are purely Aryan but bustards whose chests will carry two souls and whose physical aspect will betray the hybrid nature.”
Julius Streicher compares a Jew to a killer virus that must at all costs be destroyed by Germans. He continues to write in his paper “Der Stumer” in 1936:
“Mobilisation of the German volunteers to destroy the bacillus inside their bodies is a declaration of war on all the Jews of the world. We wait to see if the world will be redeemed by the German virtue or perishes through the poison of the Jews. The outcome will be the answer.”
In the same sense, Joseph Goebbels said in 1937 at the Congress of Nuremberg:
“The Jew... there is a universal enemy, destroyer of civilization, son of chaos, incarnation of everything bad, the devil that causes degenerescence of humanity”.
The term genocide is a neologism coined in 1994 by Raphael Lemkin, professor of American law, a polish Jew. It has its origin in Greek root, genos “birth” and from the suffix “cide” which comes from the latin Caedere, “to kill”, “to massacre”.
In defining that hybrid word in a study published by the Carnergie Foundation for international peace (Axis Rule occupied Euro), crime against humanity perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews and the TZIGANES during the Second World War, he writes:
“New concepts require new words. By genocide we mean destruction of a nation or an ethnic group”.
According to the author, the notion race is in terms of human kind, is a sociological rather than a genetic notion. However, the same exists in the mind of genociders.
Their crime hinges around a differentiation notion, of a population considered by them as undesirable and who belong by birth to a targeted people, with the difference of ideological wars where people are targeted as vectors opposed to their ideas.
According to the historical French dictionary by Alain Rey, the word appeared in French at the same time as in English. It was first used in connection with the Nazis and the final solution of the Jewish problem.
It means the methodical destruction of an ethnic group, and by extension, in the 1970’s, extermination of a group in a short time. On 11th December 1846, the United Nations General Assembly came up with the first definition of genocide.
“Genocide is the denial of a group of human beings’ right to existence just as homicide is the denial of the right to existence to an individual. Such a denial upsets the human conscience, infringes huge losses to humanity which is deprived of its cultural values or other things and is therefore contrary to moral law as well as the spirit of the United Nations. Repression of crime of genocide concerns the entire international community.”
Bernard Brune in a historical and comparative analysis of the 20th century genocides, gives three fundamental criteria to what for he calls genocidal behaviour:
. Intention to exterminate;
. Policy for preparation and judicial and economic exclusion of the “victim group”; and
. Elaboration of an ideological hate speech describing them as a threat, an obstacle to progress.
For this author, the steps towards genocidal behaviour go through hard times including:
The colonial era and the wars of conquest or domination of the indigenous people, the diffusion of the social Darwinism by Ernst Haeckel, the first to propose racial classification, violence.
Then the First World War came up perfectly with that progression by inaugurating “the doctrine of extreme violence”.
For this author, the concept of total war should be accompanied by absolute destruction of the enemy. Killing should bring pleasure to those targeted to be killed, it causes prejudice to the whole of humanity.
In fact these people have values to transmit to and talents to serve mankind as a whole world. Genocide in Rwanda took away famous artists in music, painting, popular poetry and sportsmen. It is not only Rwanda which lost it but Africa and the whole world as well.
To be continued tomorrow