BUGESERA - President Paul Kagame has called upon the Rwandan people to guard their dignity and emphasized that Rwandans won’t beg it (dignity) from anyone, as he blasted certain elements in the west for their arrogance, referring particulary to the indictments by a Spanish judge, Fernando Andreu Merelles, against Rwandan military officers.
Speaking yesterday during a function to mark the fourteenth anniversary of the Tutsi Genocide held in Nyamata Sector, Bugesera District in the Eastern Province, Kagame labelled Merelles’s indictments as western arrogance and said that the west could not determine the fate of Rwanda.
“There is a lot of arrogance in this; some people in the developed world think they have control of other people’s lives, that is criminal arrogance,” he said.
Merelles, early this year indicted 40 senior Rwandan military officers for alleged crimes against humanity after the 1994 Genocide, but that action has attracted widespread criticism, with people wondering why a judge would want to portray the people who stopped the Genocide as the ones who committed it.
The indicted officers were all under Kagame’s command during the 1990-94 Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA) liberation struggle that brought an end to the 100-day Genocide.
Kagame said that instead of the western judges talking about the Rwandan Genocide and indicting innocent people, they should be investigating human rights violation issues such as the slave trade.
“Those people assume they have the basis to accuse the entire leadership of RPF…what gives them that right? First of all they are wrong, what they are talking about is nonsense. If they are really concerned of human rights, then they are in a wrong country, they should be doing it in their own countries of France and Spain,” he added.
In 2006, a French judge, Jean-Louis Bruguière, also issued arrest warrants for nine Rwandan top military commanders for alleged role in the shooting down of former president Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane.
Kagame wondered how such judges were fighting for human rights yet they are collaborating with the Genocidires and turning them into witnesses.
“I am seeing it in a much wider context of arrogance of some people in the West who claim authority over human rights issues; some of them have no basis, no legitimacy and totally nothing to talk about,” he added.
The President challenged the two judges on human rights records:
“I don’t think there is any of them who has a better record of defending human rights than mine. Those commanders in RDF (Rwanda Defence Forces) are better placed to talk about human rights than any of those judges because, in there youthful period, they took up arms to fight a murderous regime that was being supported by those very countries where those judges come from.”
“Therefore we people who have fought for our rights are not the kind of people who are going to be brought down by such nonsense and are not the kind of people that are going to be humbled by those indictments,” added the Head of State.
“I wish I had a wider forum to express my views about these issues…. These judges don’t love Rwandans more than I do…I lead 10 million Rwandans, how many do they lead? They are nothing but vagabonds,” he added.
He said “the games the judges are playing” are a mockery of the one million people who were killed during the Genocide.
The President said he was looking forward to championing the cause to stamp out the western arrogance on the African continent.
“I want to have time and in a proper way and discuss this with my fellow Africans…we can’t sit back and let other people perpetrate crimes against us and then turn around to prosecute us.
“We shall not accept that kind of arrogance. We shall mobilize our people and our fellow Africans and I think it is high time they wake up to this reality that we have our dignity to fight for and we have been wronged more than we have wronged anybody…all Rwandans should be understanding this and rise to the occasion,” Kagame said.
He added: “Some people claim that the Government is trading in Genocide for political gains. Those who say so probably need to have genocide in their own countries so that they too can enjoy those profits,” the President said sarcastically.
“Anyway, what benefits are there for us to benefit from the Genocide?”
He talked about his previous disagreements with development partners when Ex-FAR/Interahamwe attempted to attack Rwanda from DR Congo, saying that nobody would stop him from protecting the people of Rwanda and the country’s territorial sovereignty.
“Some donors called me saying that what I had said was terrible and that if I happen to cross the border they would stop their aid. I told them that what I want is to have my people alive not money, then I asked them if they want to give money to people who have died.”
“I told them to take the money because all I needed was my people alive then I hanged up the phone. All this comes from this arrogance…,” Kagame said.
The President also lashed out at certain religions, particularly clerics who participated in the Genocide and have since refused to admit their crimes. The Head of State urged the nation to unite, and move on to the path of development.
“Let me take this opportunity to request Rwandans, during this period of remembrance, we should work hard to overcome the past and build the future and afford a smile on our faces.”
“The reason I am saying so is that those who killed Rwandans and those who still want to destroy our country have not succeeded; that is the best way to fight back when it comes to our enemies,” he said.
During the event, 133 remains were re-buried at Nyamata Genocide memorial site which accommodates close to 40,000 victims.
Nyamata is known as having been used as a pilot area for genocide long before it officially unfolded on April 7, 1994.
The President of Ibuka, an umbrella organization of Genocide survivors, Théodore Simburudali, gave an emotional speech reading a long list of Genocide survivors who have been killed over the last ten months.
He warned of the continued prevalence of genocide ideology in the country saying that it has become an epidemic that requires strong efforts to eliminate.