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From Rwanda to the People of the Netherlands

When earlier this month the Dutch Government decided to freeze their support to the Rwandan Budget, a few questions boggled my mind. What could have prompted such a sudden and unexpected move on the part of one of Rwanda’s best development partners?

When earlier this month the Dutch Government decided to freeze their support to the Rwandan Budget, a few questions boggled my mind. What could have prompted such a sudden and unexpected move on the part of one of Rwanda’s best development partners?

Had we, as Rwandans, in some way, fallen short on our commitments towards them? Had there been any prior warnings given to our Government in regards to such shortcomings? And if yes, had there been any bilateral talks to address those issues?

The truth of it all is that there are none to speak of. So in the absence of such reasons, are we left with the only explanation invoked by the Dutch Government of putting pressure of Rwanda for its “negative” role in the DRC? If this is the case, then it is of the utmost importance to put this news in perspective.

Indeed, how can an ex-European Colonial Power be unwilling to come to terms with its own violent past presume to dictate its conduct to a country struggling with rebuilding itself from the ground up 14 years after having been the stage of the worst human cataclysm of the 20th century?

It is once again unfortunate to see a People being taken for a ride by its own Leaders. The People of the Netherlands, many of whom I count as friends, deserve no less than the truth. The truth of this matter, which by the way is self-evident to most informed individuals, is that such decisions, though played out on the international political scene, have the mercenary motivation of trying to gain mileage on the local political scene.

But looking beyond the intricacies of local politics, one thing needs, in my humble opinion, to be made crystal clear to anyone willing to listen: “Holland doesn’t have the moral authority to judge Rwanda!”

If you don’t believe me, ask the Mothers of Srebrenica who are desperately waiting since 1995 for some form of apology from the Dutch Government for the actions of its soldiers during the Balkan wars…to no avail! 

Ask the Widows of Rawagedeh in Indonesia who lost over 400 of their beloved husbands to Dutch soldiers in 1947…their tears have fallen in vain for much too long. The list is endless…

Far from levelling baseless accusations against a country that has come a long way in reinventing itself, doesn’t it make more sense for progressive minds to seat and talk about issues before making rash and irrational decisions affecting more than just political ideologies? 

The Netherlands made most of its bread and butter on the blood, sweat and tears of others…doesn’t its People today deserve better?

Coming back to Rwanda, I believe very few people really remember or even understand what happened here during the 1994 Tutsi Genocide and the 40 years that preceded it.

First of all, the nature of it in itself differed from others known in recorded history. The complexity of it lies in the very fact that it was planned and organized by a limited group of individuals but executed by a big portion of the population, from the oldest to the youngest, intellectuals and illiterates, nuns, priests, scholars, peasants, street children, and the list goes on...  More than a million people were killed in the most horrible conditions in just 100 days.

This happened without the use of sophisticated methods of mass destruction, but rather executed by humans one victim at a time.

Halfway through the Genocide, the Rwandan Armed Forces, as they were referred to in those days, and the militias could count on an average of 50,000 thousand executants… today more than a million people are said to have been involved in the Killings. 

Husbands were forced to kill their wives, pregnant women were cut open, their unborn babies taken out and smashed against walls, women were impaled…even in churches wrongly thought to be safe havens for victims … the list is exhaustive.

Fourteen years later, Rwanda is trying to reinvent itself as a Nation by facing its own demons in full honesty. And indeed, if you compare development of other countries over this same period, Rwanda literally stands out. It is often cited as an example in effective fight against malaria and aids.

An example when it comes to its anticorruption policies, a clean transparent and accountable budget management. Of course it didn’t come overnight; it was the fruit of an intense development policy and collective efforts aiming at transforming one of the poorest countries in the world to become a mid income state by 2020.

And this would be achieved by transforming the agriculture based economy into a knowledge based society. Rwanda is often referred to as an example to illustrate that development support works.

Rwanda didn’t only invest in Rwanda, it also invested in the region. The country is a driving force in the coming of a sound East African Community.

Rwanda even assisted neighbouring Burundi with one million dollars for their contribution in that organization.

Rwanda has absolutely no interests in undermining the region, on the contrary.

Rwanda has pushed its vision to the extent that the Rwandan Army became the bulk of the peacekeeping force in Darfur.

As for the situation in the DRC, as that is the argument that was brought up by the Dutch Authorities, the case is much more complicated and complex to start finger-pointing and throwing accusations left right and centre without giving a real chance to the processes currently in place.

Isn’t it odd though, that the same International Community so quick to judge and impose sanctions never rises to the occasion when called upon to face its own demons and failures?

Indeed, the actors of this play though not equally visible, extend beyond the usual suspects of the DRC and Rwanda. It is time we stop the hypocrisy and take a long hard look at the facts on the ground to make long lasting commitments backed with real action for the sake of all our people.

Bullying Rwanda into submission is out of the question. I am hereby challenging the progressive minds of the Netherlands, and I know there are many, to put their Government to task when it comes to the decisions they make on their behalf.

That’s what democracy is all about, isn’t it? For once, let the lesson givers become the lesson takers. There is much to learn about how Rwanda goes about the business of reconstruction towards sustaining development.

We are survivors…we will survive this and any similar situation. That’s what we do best. The price we paid for survival comforts us in our vision of a Global World based on equality and respect of the People and Diversity.


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