Part II: Genocide denial in minds and hearts

Glorification of hate and genocide In RDR’s Press Release NO. 8/2001 of May15, 2001 with a title: “RDR CONDEMNS THE EXPLOITATION OF THE 1994 RWANDAN GENOCIDE FOR POLITICAL ENDS” the RDR “denounces and condemns” what they term “the political exploitation of the 1994 Rwandan genocide” by General Paul Kagame in order “to suppress any political opposition to his tyrannical regime or to justify crimes committed by his militia, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), in Rwanda since October 1990 and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since August 1996. (...)

Glorification of hate and genocide

In RDR’s Press Release NO. 8/2001 of May15, 2001 with a title: “RDR CONDEMNS THE EXPLOITATION OF THE 1994 RWANDAN GENOCIDE FOR POLITICAL ENDS” the RDR “denounces and condemns” what they term “the political exploitation of the 1994 Rwandan genocide” by General Paul Kagame in order “to suppress any political opposition to his tyrannical regime or to justify crimes committed by his militia, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), in Rwanda since October 1990 and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since August 1996. (...)

The genocide of Tutsis is exploited by the RPF as a political weapon to disqualify any person or political party (allied or in opposition) contesting its political choices or leadership.

Charles Ndereyehe, a genocide ideologue now based in Holland repeats the same discourse in his article Solidarité entre les réfugiés, published in October 1998: that the people of Rwanda had never known a regime as cruel as the RPF.

Twelve years later, the Kayumba group adopted the language of comparing the incomparable. They write as if genocide that was committed against the Tutsi is not the most heinous crime.

A crime usually planned and carried out following years of racist and discriminatory policies against a targeted group.

The crime of genocide against the Tutsi emanated from policies of Hutu Power doctrine which characterised governments of Gregory Kayibanda and Juvenal Habyarimana.

And, now, those genocidal regimes who planned and perpetrated that crime, are now praised by the gang of four wrote with Nostalgia and worship:
“Rwanda is far less free now than it was prior to the genocide.” (p. 7-8)
“In fact, impunity for human rights violations is now far more deeply entrenched than it has ever been in Rwanda’s history.” (p. 18)
“Impunity for gross human rights abuses is worse than it was prior to the genocide. ” (p. 21) “Rwanda is less free today than it was prior to the genocide.

There is less room for political participation than there was in 1994.  Civil society is less free and effective. The media is less free. The Rwanda government is more repressive than the one that it overthrew.” (p. 21)

“The situation in Rwanda is the most repressive it has ever been.” (p. 21)
The RDR discourse of genocide denial has been assiduously echoed and supported by their friends and sympathisers in the North.

Filip Reyntjens, a Belgian academic considered to be an expert on Central Africa, is a Professor of African Law and Politics and Chair of the Institute of Development Policy and Management, at the University of Antwerp.

Reyntjens’ main concern since 1994 has been to blame the international community for not punishing the RPF for human rights abuses, despite “international condemnations.” His primary sources are himself and other known friends of Hutu extremism like Serge Desouter, Nick Gordon, and Stephen Smith.

To support this school of thought against the RPF, Reyntjens invokes a supposed “conspiracy of silence, induced in part by an international feeling of guilt over the genocide and a comfortable ‘good guys-bad guys’ dichotomy.”

He also says that: “The refusal to see the RPF for what it really is, a banal and tragically violent military dictatorship, is the product of a severe form of “political correctness,” which the RPF fully exploits by using the ‘genocide credit’ to hide its own past and current crimes.”

What Reyntjens expresses is very common among the friends of Hutu extremism who wish to portray the genocide against the Tutsi as “manipulation.” Sharing the same school of thought is Johan Pottier who says: “Kigali’s post-genocide regime knows how to make political capital out of the empathy and guilt that exist within the international community.”

He emphasizes the point by referring to what was said by former Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu in September 1995, that “the RPF knew how to exploit the international guilt to maximum benefit.”  

In December 1995, the FAR High Command wrote a 134 page document meant for the ICTR, about “The war of October 1990 and the tragedy of April 1994. Its title is: “Contribution of FAR to the Search for Truth on the Rwandan Tragedy.”

The FAR writes that the RPF was aware that the Tutsi minority ethnic group would ultimately be the victims of the RPF war, and set the international community against the Hutus to justify its attacks: “The RPF used genocide as a trump card in order to win support from the international community.” 

Another aspect of the genocide deniers and genocidaires’ tactic of dismissing the genocide as a “manipulation” is to also dismiss the Kigali government’s prosecution of the perpetrators as a political manoeuvre.

Thus the RDR charges that: ‘it is common knowledge that the RPF authoritarian regime exploits the 1994 genocide against Tutsis for political ends.’ Lists of alleged genocide suspects are dismissed as a political weapon for the current Rwandan government “to silence any real, potential or imaginary political opponent from the Hutu community.”

In an article by the Human Rights Watch boss, Kenneth Roth, with a title: The power of horror in Rwanda which was published in The Los Angeles Times of April 11, 2009. Roth alleges “the genocide has “provided the government with a cover for repression.”

Roth expressed frustrations that there was “no meaningful opposition.” And, that, Gacaca courts was “one tool of repression” and that Gacaca had “morphed into a forum for settling personal vendettas or silencing dissident voices.”

What he refers to as meaningful opposition, are groups headed and dominated by genocide ideologues and genocide deniers. Roth, without a pang of conscience, says that criminalising genocide ideology “leaves little political space for dissent.”

Impliedly, genocide ideology should be left to flourish and compete in the political arena. In a tone of threat or blackmail, Roth predicts people will “resort to their ethnic identity” to fight repression and that “the best way, to prevent another genocide, is to insist that Kagame stop manipulating the last one.”Here the HRW boss makes genocide more likely, and if it happens, it will be Kagame’s fault.

Chi Mgbako is an associate professor of law at Fordham Law School in New York City. In his article of July 22, 2010, he also accuses the Rwandan government that “by using the charge of genocidal ideology to stifle opposition and buttress its own power.”

The victims’ list includes Peter Erlinder and his made-up client in Rwanda.
Mgbako, cobble together gratuitous affirmations and accusations. For example, he says: “Although the government has denied recent allegations of abuse... the authoritarian tendencies of Rwanda’s ruling party are not a new phenomenon.”

To lend credence to his article, the only source is “a junior Rwandan government official who allegedly conceded that ‘genocidal ideology’ had become code for overt criticism of government policy.”

Mgbako claims Rwandan laws against ‘genocidal ideology’ and ‘ethnic divisionism’ “trivialise the genocide” and uses “these ill-defined crimes ...to solidify its power and oppress alternative political viewpoints under the pretence of advancing national unity.”

Unless one suffers from amnesia, or is a genocide denier, the denial of existence of genocide ideology in Rwanda, for an academic worth a name, is simply preposterous.

Most of what Mgbako said wasn’t new whatsoever. It was a mere repetition of what organisations like Human Rights Watch (HRW) have been writing.

On February 10, 2010, Georgette Gagnon, Africa director published a report alleging: “The Rwandan government and the RPF have strongly resisted any political opposition or broader challenge of their policies by civil society.

On several occasions, the government has used accusations of participation in the genocide, or “genocide ideology,” as a way of targeting and discrediting its critics.

The current RPF-dominated government has been in power in Rwanda since the end of the 1994 genocide.”  Most allegations and accusations were not different from another report by HRW two months later.

Jon Elliott, Africa advocacy director with HRW says: There has been no meaningful insistence that Kigali amend its “genocide ideology” law that is so broad it makes almost any kind of criticism of the RPF illegal.

Time to say ‘Never Again”
A day before Chi Mgbako’s article was published, in Sydney, Australia, a Canadian MP and former justice minister, Professor Irwin Cotler, delivered the ADC Gandel-NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Oration on Contemporary Anti-Semitism. 

Cotler said “There is no such thing as the absolute protection of free speech. All constitutional democracies exclude some categories of speech from protection, be it obscenity, fighting words or racist hate speech.”

Those who go against these laws, Cotler insisted “belongs in the dock of the accused.” One example among those, he mentioned is the Iranian president, Mahmood Ahmadinejad.

Prof. Cotler recaps:  “Calls by senior figures in the Iranian leadership for the destruction of Israel are frighteningly reminiscent of calls for the Rwandan extermination of Tutsis by the Hutu leadership.”

Cotler said Ahmadinejad’s Iran was increasingly resorting to incendiary and demonising language, including epidemiological metaphors reminiscent of Nazi incitement. Ahmadinejad and other officials, Cotler said, characterise Israel as a “filthy germ”, a “stain of disgrace” and “a stinking corpse”, while referring to Israelis as “the true manifestation of Satan” and “blood-thirsty barbarians”, as a prologue to - and justification for - a Middle East genocide, while at the same time denying the Nazi one.

All Cotler doesn’t know, is that the Hutu extremist leadership under the leadership of Victoire Ingabire, or the FDLR, considered a credible member of opposition against the government of Rwanda, still use the same hate speech.
Indeed, the danger is more than land mines, “in the hearts and minds” were the genocidal ideology which killed over a million lives of Rwandan Tutsi.

In the coded language of genocidaires, including Habyarimana, the ‘Rwandan people,’ meant Hutu. Many victims of the genocide against the Tutsi were killed by machetes than bullets and grenades. There is a lesson to be learnt.

tndahiro@gmail.com 

 

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