It seems Human Rights Watch (HRW) and its Executive Director for life, Ken Roth, can never be at ease unless they have some nasty thing to say about Rwanda and its leadership. If need be, which has been the case for over two decades now, they will invent that nastiness and pass it off as truth about Rwanda.
Not surprisingly, because HRW has been on a path far from advocating human rights in Rwanda, its stock with the country’s leaders has been very low. And now, with its recent clearly false claims of extra-judicial killings of individuals who, it turns out, are actually alive and well, whatever little of it that was left among ordinary Rwandans has certainly been lost.
It is strange for an organisation, sworn to defend human rights against abuse and advance their respect, to go after a country that has made the promotion of the dignity of its people central to all its policies. But at the same time, it leaves untroubled other countries in the same neighbourhood that pay scant regard to those rights.
Some of their accusations fly in the face of logic and common sense. Does it make sense to think that a country that encourages the forgiveness of mass murderers and allows them to hold prominent positions in public and private life can at the same time find it imperative to kill petty thieves? It stretches belief, but Human Rights Watch does not hesitate to make that accusation.
Normally, there must be evidence for this sort of accusation to have any credibility. The HRW people know this very well and, over the years, have gone about it in a very creative way that distorts the truth.
They have always sourced their information from self-exiled individuals, often fugitives from justice, and organisations operating outside Rwanda, or what they consider the internal political opposition. It is anyone’s guess what these will say. Still, it is a wonder that anyone should believe them.
They are also known to use crooked means, including bribing people to confirm the tales they have invented, which they then pass on as genuine accounts of the situation in Rwanda.
As was evident in the recent claims, such creative approaches include the invention of the death of people who are otherwise hale and sound, and then seek to convince the world of their demise.
Ken Roth and his agents know all these claims to be false, yet they go on to make them. Why? One can only draw certain conclusions.
One is that they have an agenda in Rwanda that goes beyond concern for observance of human rights. There seems to be a political purpose behind the unrelenting attacks as indeed Rwandan legislators and foreign diplomats and observers have noted.
In this sense, the aim seems to be to demonise Rwandan leadership, bring it to the same level as the genocidaires organisations like FDLR and allied groups such as FDU-Inkingi and RNC whose cause they have adopted, and create a kind of moral equivalence. It would then be easy to replace the government or force it to negotiate with them as equals.
In another parallel operation, they want to launder the image of all these negative groups and portray them as victims of an unjust government. This is clearly a blatant inversion of roles and historical truth, which amounts to falsification of history.
That is why their strategy is to diminish Rwanda’s standing. They want to discredit the government, erode public trust in its institutions, and undermine the progress the country has registered.
Another conclusion is that Human Rights Watch and other rights organisations generally have strayed from their original mission.
There was a time when human rights organisations stood up for the defenceless against bullies and oppressors. They inspired confidence and trust. Now they side with bullies and have actually become bullies themselves.
Time was, too, when human rights were driven by a genuine desire to change the world and make it better for all its inhabitants. Sadly, that is no longer the case. Cause-propelled activism has turned into a profession and big business where individuals come to build careers, earn money and fame, and build power and influence.
It is now difficult to distinguish between certain governments, international organisations, major world media and human rights organisations in terms of personnel, philosophy and agenda.
The idealism that once drove activism is dead. In its place, self-interest reigns. From impartial, objective advocates and promoters of human rights, they have become partisan, serving certain interests.
That’s why human rights organisations like HRW invent abuse and chaos where they do not exist, in order to justify intervention and continued relevance, and to further interests of groups behind their very existence and operations.
In Rwanda, most of the rights groups are engaged in a witch-hunt. That’s why they will continue to paint the government in the devil’s colours and carry on with misinformation, lies and fabrication.
The views expressed in this article are of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Times.