When Count Van Goetzen , an officer of the German Army, arrived at King Rwabugili’s palace in Rwanda in the afternoon of 29 May 1894, the King had no idea that his country had become a German colony following the Berlin Conference of 1885 in which Africa had been partitioned among the Western powers, ten years earlier.
Having been warned of the military supremacy of the newly-arrived guests, the King was careful not to order his army to resist the entry of these white men advancing from the Tanzanian border because doing so would have been futile.
This is how Rwanda was occupied and lost its political sovereignty and control of its destiny without a single bullet having been fired. From this point onwards, Rwanda’s future would depend on the “goodwill” of its masters; first the Germans and later on the Belgians. The latter had taken over occupation of Rwanda after the Germans deserted it during the First World War in 1916.
In the same manner, some international NGOs have entrusted themselves with the authority to decide the fate of the African people; usually for their own selfish and opportunistic (or strategic) ends, having been mandated by the States financing them.
Since the end of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda has embarked on a long and gruesome journey towards rebuilding the nation, reinstating the rule of law, fostering National Unity and reconciliation and working towards socio-economic progress by overhauling its political structures to render them more democratic and responsive to the people, particularly through the policy of decentralization.
However, for a long time now, a section of the international community especially some NGOs, unable to fathom how people from the south, doomed to failure and misery, could wriggle their way out of economic dependence and political patronage; have constantly attempted to curtail Rwanda’s march towards progress.
In 1994 the country fell into an abyss such that the chances of creating a viable state were simply unimaginable.
Sixteen years later, not only is Rwanda on an upward trend, but it is emerging as a pioneering economy on the continent. Simultaneously, the same political forces that plunged the country into darkness half a century ago are still at their dirty work; continually trying to drag Rwanda back to its historical point of departure.
For example, the recently leaked offensive and insolent report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights shows signs of manipulation.
This report tries, while deliberately ignoring the historical context, to advance the thesis that the new Rwandan army, Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA), committed genocide against the Hutu in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the RPA was repatriating Rwandan refugees who had been taken hostage by the fleeing ex Forces Armées Rwandaises (ex FAR).
The ex-FAR were about 50,000 supported by tens of thousands of extremist Interhamwe militia who had just committed genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. The RPA also had to secure the western border with the DRC to prevent the ex-FAR and the militia from attacking Rwanda to complete their genocidal mission.
The UN report can only deceive those who do not know Rwanda and its history.
To take you a step backwards; the Belgians occupied Rwanda from 1916 to 1962 following a League of Nations (now United Nations) mandate that accorded them full administration over Ruanda-Urundi as the territory of Rwanda and Burundi were known at the time.
The Belgians restructured the Rwandan administration and institutionalized a new dispensation that mirrored the Flemish/Walloon ethnic divide in their own country. This division determined the rights and obligations of one group over another, both with regard to education and access to the higher echelons of the administration.
The wave of independence in the late 50s, therefore, took the Belgian administration by surprise as they were not prepared for it. Their reaction was a backlash of absolute brutality.
They adopted a negative attitude and showed zero tolerance for the opposing political party, the Nationalists, who wanted immediate independence. Renown for his devilish cruelty, the “Special-Resident”, Colonel Guy Logiest, head of the Belgian para-commandos was aided by the Roman Catholic Church and given full authority by the Belgian Government to spark off a bloody civil war; hunt at all costs and send into exile in neighbouring countries – all those who had the misfortune of being militants, family members or sympathizers of the Union Nationaliste Rwandaise (UNAR). Consequently, the latter became refugees for almost half a century.
Moreover, this man Logiest would later boast about this “feat” in a book entitled “MISSION AU RWANDA: Un blanc dans la bagarre Hutu-Tutsi” (Mission to Rwanda: A white man in the midst of Hutu-Tutsi clashes). In this book, he literally owns up to his personal responsibility in the civil war!
The United Nations, apart from rare missions to the field and a series of prejudiced reports, were completely unable to call Colonel Logiest and his troupes to order.
In 1962, Colonel Logiest put Grégoire Kayibanda, President of PARMEHUTU – Parti du Mouvement de l’émancipation Hutu, in power; an action that perpetuated the political divisionism of the Belgium administration.
Kayibanda’s successor, General Juvenal Habyarimana who grabbed power in 1973 in a coup d’état, emphasized divisionism and introduced regionalism. Stating that the country was “too small to accommodate all the refugees”, he turned a deaf ear to the pleas of the refugees who yearned to return to their homeland.
Towards the end of the 1980s, Rwandan refugees who had left the country following cyclic massacres in 1959, 1961, 1963, 1973 etc., were fed up of roaming the world searching for an abode and waiting decade after decade for the right to return home. They had become the forgotten refugees of the UN.
The Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), comprising refugees from diverse categories of Rwandans living in exile in different countries, launched a protracted guerilla war, engaging the enemy for a sustained period of four years, until they stormed and took over the capital city, Kigali on 4 July 1994.
A Government of National Unity was formed in Rwanda following the recommendations of the Arusha Peace Accords of 1992 whereby all the protagonists, from outside and within the country, had been gathered for peace talks.
This new, broad-based government encompassed all the leaders of the opposition with the exception of the extremist parties, the MRND (Mouvement Révolutionnaire Nationale pour le Développement) and the CDR (Coalition pour la Défense de la République), who had carried out the genocide.
The idea was to correct the errors of the past by putting in place an administration representative of all categories of the population. The mono-ethnic army of the former regime was substituted by a progressive army whose representation reflected a broad spectrum of the Rwandan population.
This new Government would be led by President Pasteur Bizimungu (FPR), Vice-President Paul Kagame (FPR) and Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu (MDR-Mouvement Démocrate Républicain). What happened in the new dispensation, built by consensus, was distinctly and completely disconnected from the ugly past that had caused the atrocious Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.
Since 2000, when H.E Paul Kagame came to the helm of the Government of National Unity, the country’s progress has been moving at high gear and has attracted world attention.
It is this Government and its new army that is today accused by the UN of the massacre of Rwandan refugees in the Congo! It is this same army that today is undertaking a sterling UN peace mission in Darfur, protecting and supporting the local Sudanese population. What a treacherous and contradictory allegation by the authors and commissioners of the report.
It cannot escape our memories that the ex-FAR committed Genocide of more than 1 million Tutsi in Rwanda in the full view of the international community and the ‘blue berets’ of the United Nations. The lot of these internationals had preferred to evacuate themselves from Rwanda and leave the victims of Genocide to the four winds and at the mercy of their killers.
As the ex-FAR and Interhamwe militia were fleeing from the advancing RPF towards the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they took with them more than 2 million refugees who filled the refugee camps in Mugunga situated only 18 kms from the border of Rwanda and the DRC. In this refugee camp, the unthinkable happened.
Great quantities of food supplied by NGOs were exchanged for arms. As a result of the trafficking in the refugee camps, the killers gained access to a cache of arms, were fed and maintained by UNHCR and prepared to attack Rwanda just before the Christmas of 1996.
Given the prevailing situation of peace in Rwanda, the refugees in the camp wanted to return home but were held hostage by the ex-FAR and their paramilitary troups. The international community, once again and the Congolese government of President Mobutu simply watched and waited for the outcome of the events without reacting.
The Rwandan Government of National Unity, after making numerous calls to the UN and the Congolese Government to disarm the rebels, could not just sit around twiddling its thumbs, so it moved into Mugunga, dismantled the camp scattering the ex-FAR and militia further into the Congo forest, far away from the border and repatriated the 2 million Rwandese refugees held hostage in the camp back to Rwanda. This is what the UN today wants to label as genocide against the Hutu!
Let it be clear to all: There was never any Genocide against the Hutu in the Congo. The Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) was on a mission to repatriate the refugees and to push the enemy further away from its borders where they had been mounting incessant attacks against Rwanda. This was a task that the UN and the international community had failed to undertake.
Ten years ago, a UN report was published called the Roberto Garreton report, named after the Chilean expert who led the team of researchers. This report did not convince many people.
Today, that report has resurfaced only this time under a different name, released and aimed at negatively impacting on the Rwandan presidential elections, discrediting the new Rwandan army that put an end to the Genocide, attempting to support dignitaries of the ancient regime and derailing the fast-paced development trajectory of the Republic of Rwanda.
The recently published UN draft report also aims to appease the conscience to those who abandoned Rwanda during the 1994 tragedy.
International politics is complex and not necessarily subject to the laws of ethics.
However, an organization such as the United Nations is charged with the responsibility of and expected to maintain a minimum respect of international law. It is not expected that the UN would allow itself to be used as a puppet of any State or international NGOs in their quest to curtail the South from ever coming out of the political and socio-economic quagmire in which they put it. Is this sinister plot bound to succeed? Will Rwanda ever retrace its steps? The answer is an emphatic NO.
The simple reason is that a force of reason has risen up in Africa, a force more invincible than the founding force of our nations; a force that has been hardened from years of resistance to colonialism, neo-colonialism and economic marginalization; a force well equipped to wage and win the battle of the minds; a force too strong to be swept away by the winds of destruction and the storms of adversity.