Ask any Rwandan if the name Leon Mugesera rings a bell, and one is sure to get a 75 percent positive response. The man gained notoriety in November 1992 when he gave a very impassioned speech in Kabaya that would later go down in history.
For one who was a prominent member of the central committee of the ruling Mouvement Républicain National pour la démocratie et le Développement (MRND), Mugesera’s well-publicised call gave an indication that it was sanctioned by the party hierarchy before being put into practice 18 months later.
The now famous speech broadcast on Radio Rwanda incited Hutus to take up arms against Tutsis. It particularly called upon Hutus to “throw all Tutsis in River Nyabarongo, (a tributary of the Nile), and send them back to Abyssinia”.
This was an allusion to claims by hardliners that Tutsis were not pure Rwandans but immigrants from Abyssinia (Ethiopia).
Some residents around Lake Victoria till today do not eat fish that feasted on the tens of thousands of floating corpses which had flowed into the lake, courtesy of Mugesera’s acolytes.
When calls for his arrest became too loud, Mugesera was exfiltrated to Canada where he still lives today, despite a court order to deport him and his family that was passed in July 1996.
Mugesera’s case would not have come out of the woodwork if it was not for an incident that was widely reported in Canadian newspapers this week.
A 27-year old Rwandan, Remy Maliragora, was expelled from Canada for being a member of one of the street gangs in Ottawa, the Ledbury-Banff Crisps ( LBC) and having a petty crime record as long as an arm.
The Canadian authorities jostled for media time to announce triumphantly that they had managed to deport a foreign petty criminal. They said the action should serve as a warning to non-Canadian criminals:
“Our government is committed to enforcing removal orders against those convicted of serious crimes. On this, we have zero tolerance,” Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day was reported as saying.
Maliragora was allegedly convicted of carrying a concealed weapon, assault, breaking and entering and uttering threats, among others.
So last Sunday, officers from Canada Border Services Agency, paid him a visit and gave him the boot.
He was the second foreign member of the gang to be deported this year; it comes following that of a 23-year old Ethiopian who was given safe but firm passage to his home country but without the benefit of passing through Mugesera’s “shortcut” via the Nile.
Weeding out unsavoury characters from our midst is in itself not a bad idea indeed, but the yardstick by which we measure candidates for expulsions should be realistic.
Will the Canadian authorities really manage to convince us that Maliragora’s case is worse than that of Mugesera’s who has the deaths of over a million people who perished in the 1994 Genocide of Tutsis on his conscience?
I will quote from the 1996 ruling by Pierre Turmel, the Adjudicator in Mugesera’s deportation hearing where he examined all elements that support a request to show Mugesera the door.
“The constituent elements of the various offences alleged in Canadian law are:
1. Participation in a murder by abetting someone in committing a murder,
2. Counselling another person to commit a murder,
3. Commission of the murder by the other person,
4. Counselling the commission of a murder where no effect produced,
5. Advocating or promoting genocide by killing the members of an identifiable group,
The mental element required for each of the offences is guilty intent (mens rea).
Having regard to the foregoing, I find that all of the constituent elements that are required by each and every one of the Canadian offences are present.
…. For these reasons, I find Mr Mugesera to be described in each and every one of the allegations made against him.
Consequently, in accordance with the provisions of subsection 32(2) of the Act, I hereby order that he be deported from Canada.”
The “Nyabarongo technician” has never been bothered with the deportation order; he always seems to have some powerful backers who are adept at pulling strings in the higher echelons of power, while the likes of Remy Maliragoras of this world bear the brunt of the full force of Her Majesty’s laws.
This is not in defence of the deported man, but it is a call to the conscience of Canadian authorities to take the risk of fighting crime instead of having their kids have lunch with Goebbels, everyday.