‘Group of academics’ or have the HRW Genocide negationists come out clean?

15 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda finds itself at a historical defining moment. The UN mandated International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is winding up its activities, and as such the Prosecutor Hassan Jallow, yesterday briefed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York.

15 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda finds itself at a historical defining moment. The UN mandated International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is winding up its activities, and as such the Prosecutor Hassan Jallow, yesterday briefed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York.

Jallow’s report is presented amidst a background of much debate on whether the ICTR indeed delivered justice to the people of Rwanda; given the outstanding cases of scores of Genocide fugitives secure in all corners of the world including Africa and the very lenient sentences those tried were slapped with.

Other contentious issues are to do with transferring the remaining cases to Rwanda for trial. However, the background to the submission of Jallow’s report, makes interesting analysis in the sense that it mirrors the complexity that has characterized post- Genocide Rwanda and the resultant responses.

The most interesting response, so far being that of the New York based human rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Now as I have written before, it is patently clear that HRW has a set position on Rwanda which we truly cannot do anything about, as this is a private international NGO entitled to its own views and positions, however flawed or politically disastrous these may be.

We get concerned however when it comes to bodies that represent governments and citizens of the world such as the UN - here we all hold a stake.

Of particular reference is a certain dubious petition that found itself on the desks of senior politicians and functionaries of the UN system in New York.

On the eve of the UNSC hearing, it was quite clear that the now spent force HRW had endured sleepless nights busy collecting signatures for a petition calling in short for the ICTR to prosecute Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) officials for crimes committed during the Genocide.

It would however be demonstrably foolhardy to just dismiss this petition without going further to unpack who the motley group of authors are.

It became clear that this is an alliance of strange bed fellows found in the western academia, those who have worked for the previous Genocide regime, including known negationists of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Human rights advocacy can be very complex business especially if you personalize it, a disease many western activists suffer from in a bid to build personal legends as having rescued African’s from themselves.

Little Rwanda becomes easy fodder for persons with such designs, for it carries the right characteristics to build such western heroes and sheroes of the human rights agenda.

Rwanda is in Africa, has a bad history of Genocide, assumed poor and perhaps isolated from the mainstream of the global human rights discourse, as driven by white liberal NGO’s.

Those who won Rwanda’s liberation did so out of sheer sacrifice in many decades of struggle, not as donor funded, over fed activists, birthed in the lingo of democracy and human rights.

The narrative of Rwanda’s liberation does not connect with some of these international NGO’s, thus the existing emotional detachment. It is not shocking therefore that we end up with the bizarre scenario in New York yesterday. Yet, it was a day of reckoning.

HRW officials lacking a substantive agenda against Rwanda, are now clutching at straws, as evidenced by the hurriedly set up ‘group of academics.’

With all the credible persons and organizations on the African continent, befitting to brief on the continent’s developments  be they negative or positive - one ponders who these people are.

Once an agenda rests on a particular beings personal legend, she/he is trying to build in a certain country, the results sadly are often disastrous.

This is the moral quandary HRW found itself in on the eve of the ICTR briefing in New York. It is clear that the organization has failed to galvanize support, from credible African organizations and activists, merely because of its dubious agenda most fail to understand.

After the Executive Director of HRW, Kenneth Roth failed in his attempts at tarnishing Rwanda’s leadership, his desperation birthed another instrument of destruction the ‘group of academics.’

The ‘group of academics’ have petitioned all and sundry, from President Barak Obama, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Hilary Clinton, Susan Rice, Gordon Brown among others.

The group issued a petition oblivious to the fact that it reads exactly the same as the letter written to the Prosecutor of the ICTR, Jallow, by HRW a few days ago. The point is it was a failed bid to represent themselves as independent petitioners to the HRW.

Why the need for a petition if all facts are in order? And who are the signatories?

These two questions are important and significant in our analysis and conclusion, in understanding the HRW agenda against the government and the people of Rwanda.

The mainly white signatories include some of those who served in the previous extremist President Juvenal Habyarimana’s regime, such as Professor Filip Reyntjens who was part of the then constitution making process; others include known negationists such as Noel Twagiramungu; close ally of Genocide fugitives in Quebec Professor Stephen Brown.

More hilarious and lacking sophistication on the part of the brains behind this limping plan, is the fact that families have also taken on this cause, these include widower Professor Roger des Forges (husband to the late HRW activist Alison), Professor Catharine Newbury and Professor David Newbury both of Smith college (I would again assume married).

This is the alliance of less than 50 quickly brought together people who have signed a petition, meant to change the direction of a whole country’s destiny. And the UNSC officials are expected to take them seriously.

And so as I have posited before quoting others who include respected academic Andrew Wallis, HRW is sadly the launching pad of the revisionist/negationist agenda. The petition did more good as it has exposed HRW sinister agenda against Rwanda, this matter can now be laid to rest.

They have literary been forced to come ‘out of the closet’ exposing their alliances – need anyone say more? Need Roth find anymore ‘horrors’ in Rwanda, or they have now settled in New York?


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