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The World Must Respect Genocide Survivors

By June 20, 2011June 7th, 2023No Comments

Death in Switzerland

In the early morning hours of 31st last May, the body of a Rwandan girl was discovered by cleaners, dumped in the toilet of a high-speed train in Corvain, Switzerland. Marie Ange Mugeni (God bless her soul) had her head pushed into the toilet and her body inflicted with multiple stabs, and had a bayonet pushed down her throat. Her killers are yet to be found.

Perhaps more than the fact of the innocent 22-year-old being murdered in the prime of her life, is the kind of shockingly grisly death that this young girl was put to. What kind of perverted mind can devise such a macabre type of death, and why did a local newspaper rush out a dispatch to explain that the girl was a prostitute, because she had no known address?

For information, Ange was a second year student of Economics at the University of Lyon in France, and had stayed in the country for three years. She met her death as she was travelling to the neighbouring country of Switzerland, for the funeral of her uncle who had recently passed away. This is information that any newspaper could have established easily, with just little enquiry.

However, the local newspaper chose to cut and paste a standard report on an African death, because that is what its readership expected. And, indeed, the readers must have glanced through the lines and shrugged their shoulders in mild amusement, counting the death as a small brick off the pressures of immigration. Not for them a life lost, not for them dreams or aspirations shattered, not for them a future cut short.

The worth of Rwandans

No, Rwandans must reject any form of impunity, from whatever quarter. When impunity was allowed to thrive in Rwanda, more than a million innocent lives were summarily snuffed out. Every single life of a Rwandan must begin to count to everybody on this globe, the way it began to count to all Rwandans of all kind when Interahamwe and ex-FAR were routed thirteen years ago.

The life of a Rwandan must never again be counted as another number in the African immigration statistics by Western metropolitan police agents, knowing what Rwanda has gone through. It is a case that goes for all Africans, but the world must necessarily know that it abandoned that country when it most needed its support.

The world must wake up to the fact that Rwandans have rediscovered their worth, and they are ready to fight those who have given themselves the duty of pushing the Rwandan destiny into the gutter. This is what the Rwandans should push for, for it is their right.

The fact of outsiders meddling in internal affairs of African countries may sound hypothetical but in the case of Rwanda, going by what many groups in a number of countries of the world have been doing, there are many who are in cahoots with the genocide promoters of yesteryears. Of course, many countries in Africa have their stories to tell, regarding interference by Western powers.

 Case in Canada

Not long ago in Canada, we were treated to a repeat of the literally physical abuse that prevailed during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. A defence lawyer for Désiré Munyaneza, a genocide suspect accused of rape, murder, pillaging and war crimes, was cross-examining a genocide survivor in a manner that only a murderer can use to taunt a victim. To the female witness, the lawyer asked: “And why didn’t you lock the door? Why did you allow the accused to rape you five times?”

I don’t know about you but, personally, even the agony of writing about it is unbearable! How heartless can humans be? In the whole of Rwanda, every Tutsi in every nook was being smoked out of any hiding and being put to the most inhuman death imaginable.

For instance, if a woman was pregnant, she would be gang-raped, then the foetus would be cut out and knocked dead against a rock. Sharpened sticks would be inserted into her private parts and her head repeatedly bludgeoned with nail-studded clubs and abandoned where she died.

A man who was found with his family would be forced to club his wife and children, one by one, until they were all dead, and then he would be made to dig a mass grave for them and himself. That was not enough for his tormentors, however, and he was forced into sex with his dead daughters, after which he was made to throw everybody into the grave, before being clubbed dead slowly and thrown into the grave that he had dug.

It is very well known and very well documented, that there was no barrier, anywhere in Rwanda, to the Interahamwe/ex-FAR brutes. There was no door that they could not kick in, no room in which they could not force entry, no church that they could not blast with grenades and they could trample every single grass of the biggest swamp in the country, to find their prey.

Asking a lady why she did not fend off an Interahamwe militia member or an ex-FAR soldier is like asking a rat why it allows a cat to play with it before eating it. Or, worse, it is like asking a survivor of the 1994 genocide why they hid in mosquito-infested swamps instead of sheltering in habitable dwellings, on dry land!

 Mirage in France

It is as sickening as listening to a French judge, Jean-Louis Bruguière, pronounce a verdict of guilty, even without trial, to current president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, and high-ranking officers of the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF), for killing the architect of the Rwandan genocide, ex-president of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana.

In any case, with or without this mirage of a French court, who is the right thinking person in the world, leave alone many Rwandans who had the right, who would not have wished that Paul Kagame, the then guerrilla leader, had killed Habyarimana in time to stop the preparation of the genocide?

Unfortunately, we all know that guerrilla leaders do not work like that, otherwise there would be no need for the protracted wars that they lead. Guerrilla wars aim at awakening the masses to the injustices meted to them by their leaders, and at showing them that those leaders are not God-ordained or invincible.

However, awakening the masses to the wrongs and the vulnerability of their leaders will be contrary to popular belief that they (leaders) will have helped to spread. That is why it is necessary to intermingle with the masses and expose the myth that you are alien to them. A summary execution cannot achieve that, thus the need for a long-drawn-out campaign.

A country (France, in this case) that picks a bogeyman (Bruguière) to help it divert attention from its involvement in the genocide of another (Rwanda), needs to do its homework and understand this simple principle, if it does not want to sound ridiculous! Unfortunately, that Gaulois superpower only succeeds in exposing its hands that are dripping with Rwandan blood.

However, the most arrogant affront to Rwandans, and the most bizarre suggestion, is for Bruguière to assert that the Rwandase Patriotic Front/Army (RPF/A) chose President Kagame as their leader without knowing that all the years he and his fellow combatants risked their lives in trenches, they were serving his narrow interest of becoming president. An empty tin never sounded more hollow!

Twisting a knife in the wound of survivors

No one should be allowed to abuse Rwandans, ever again. For instance, the mockery of justice going on at the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, and in the benevolent states that think they are working in the interest of the reconciliation of Rwandans, must stop. Otherwise, its only achievement is like what you would accomplish twisting a hot knife in the wound of your patient.

All genocide suspects need to be tried in Rwanda, because only Rwanda knows what happened during those horrendous hundred days, in 1994. Only Rwandans know the connection between the all-consuming genocide of 1994 and the ‘creeping’ genocide that went on practically unnoticed from 1959.

The world owes it to Rwanda to stop the impunity with which individuals, organisations and countries continue to inflict pain on the genocide survivors in particular, and on all Rwandans in general. The media and the diplomatic world, especially, must face up to their duty of combating any form of arrogant behaviour of one individual or group over another individual or group, not only in Rwanda but the world over.

No one should be allowed to belittle, falsify, denigrate, negate or continue to perpetrate the 1994 genocide.

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