Author Archives: Justice4Survivors

Impunity for Genocide Perpetrators: How the UN Residual Mechanism Fails to Deliver Justice

By Noam Schimmel, First published at Mcgill university’s  Center for Human rights and Legal Pluralism today.
maxime-niyomwungeri-455213-unsplash

Photo: Mcgill university’s  Center for Human rights and Legal Pluralism today.

If you were asked to consider what would be a just sentence for someone who organized and implemented the mass murder of several thousand – possibly tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of individuals, innocent people killed because of their religion, ethnicity, perceived race, or real or imagined political beliefs – and who had to command responsibility for these murders, you would probably intuitively and reasonably suggest a life sentence given the gravity of the crimes and their radical undermining of law, morality, social norms, and human rights.

Or perhaps you would suggest a life sentence for each murdered victim, which demonstrates the value society and its laws place on the life of each individual. This principle is used in sentencing in some national jurisdictions, such as the United States.

But international criminal tribunals such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Residual Mechanism) that responds to appeals of sentences made by these tribunals— and requests for early release from convicts —often radically undervalue the lives of the innocent in their sentencing.

The sentences given by these tribunals make a mockery of the principle that a sentence should be commensurate with the crimes committed. Much (though not all) of the sentencing of both of these tribunals and the Residual Mechanism transmits the message that the more individuals one murders and maims the less an affront to law, morality, and humanity is the crime.

The ICTR and ICTY have sentenced criminals guilty of the organization and implementation of the mass murder of hundreds or thousands of individuals and/or of the incitement to genocide—acts often preceded by the torture of extreme brutality and depravity—to shamefully and unconscionably short sentences.

But the demonstration of the egregious nature of these crimes has largely failed and their deterrence is hardly what has happened in practice. 

These international tribunals were set up to demonstrate that war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide are egregious crimes that shock the conscience of humanity.

Their purpose was also to send out the message that said crimes will be punished in accordance with their severity, the danger they pose to respect for human rights and human dignity, as well as to deter such crimes in the future.

But the demonstration of the egregious nature of these crimes has largely failed and their deterrence is hardly what has happened in practice. The sentencing regimes that these tribunals have adopted sent quite the opposite message to international criminals.

Lt-Col.-Simba-Aloys

Lt-Col. Simba Aloys,  Aka, The Butcher of Murambi, Released early after being convicted of Genocide by the ICTR.

Moreover, the Residual Mechanism has continued in that ignominious and irresponsible way. Unfortunately, this profound perversion of justice remains scarcely acknowledged or discussed. Their indefensibly light sentencing undermines the moral and legal integrity of international criminal law, international human rights law, and international humanitarian law.

Furthermore, the countries that fund and support international criminal tribunals betray the values inherent in their own legal systems by not protesting the structural and systemic moral and legal failures at the heart of sentencing of these tribunals and of the Residual Mechanism.

Amongst other issues, light sentencing and early release of convicted criminals embolden and sustain the vicious misogyny that characterized the massive and savage attacks on women, which were particularly characteristic of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi. As such, they are an affront to the rights, dignity, freedom, equality, and security of Rwandan women and of women generally.

 

The UN Residual Mechanism’s early release of convicted Rwandan genocidaires may inspire potential future mass murderers – especially murderers ranking lower in the hierarchy – to conclude that there is a reasonable chance that if apprehended for crimes against humanity and genocide their punishment will be minimal, and their chance of eventually acquiring freedom fairly high – however much they maim and murder.

Frequently, individuals who benefit from early release show no remorse, are not rehabilitated and have made no effort to repair. Furthermore, they go on to engage in genocide denial, incitement to hatred, and they use their freedom to harass, defame, and torment genocide survivors and those associated with their past victims; in the case of Rwanda, Tutsis.

In fact, such early releases granted by the UN Residual Mechanism raise the question of how states such as Rwanda should respond. These early releases pose a direct threat to the rights, welfare, and safety of genocide survivors and potentially to the stability and public safety of Rwanda and the Rwandan people as a whole. These are not abstract, symbolic issues. They are of real import and practical consequence.

As someone who has worked closely with genocide survivors in Rwanda for many years, I learned from survivors that the inadequate sentencing of the ICTR added to their well-founded fears for their safety, exacerbated their trauma, and increased their psychological suffering and sense of acute loneliness and vulnerability.

It also severely undermined their – and the broader community’s – faith in the international legal system, which has already betrayed them catastrophically by failing to enforce the 1948 Genocide Convention in their unwillingness to prevent or stop the genocide.

Because the sentencing of the international criminal tribunals has so frequently failed to reflect the gravity of the crimes which they punish, national jurisdictions are likely to increasingly call into question their value, credibility, and integrity, both legally and morally, and rightly so. The same is true of the UN Residual Mechanism as it continues to repeat the mistakes of the ICTR.

It has already done so in ten cases where it has granted early release without legitimate cause, and without paying due regard to the concerns of genocide survivors. Because the sentencing of the international criminal tribunals has so frequently failed to reflect the gravity of the crimes which they punish, national jurisdictions are likely to increasingly call into question their value, credibility, and integrity, both legally and morally, and rightly so.

This undermining of the authority of international criminal law, and the ensuing potential loss of trust and of cooperation with its tribunals and the Residual Mechanism – which cannot function effectively without such cooperation – will squarely rest with those particular judges (because it is not all of them) whose sentencing and early releases so often have been and remain incommensurable with the crimes committed.

As the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi takes place in April of this year, it has become apparent that the United Nations, which failed to prevent or stop the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and actually enabled it by withdrawing UN troops, is now shamefully failing Rwandans again.

The UN Residual Mechanism continues to neglect to legitimately and substantively deliver justice, and instead delivers impunity for genocide perpetrators and callous indifference to genocide survivors. Perhaps most noteworthy of the failures of the ICTR and the Residual Mechanism, is how it willfully marginalizes genocide survivors by denying them a right to express their concerns about issues such as sentencing, and in so doing contributes to structural violence against them in the form of increasing their trauma, devaluing their experiences and perspectives, and silencing them before the law.

As Theodore Meron, then President of the Residual Mechanism wrote in his decision to grant early release to Aloys Simba, “In regard to the views of victims and other individuals about the impact that Simba’s potential early release would have on the victims, I recall that the Statutes, the Rules, and the Practice Direction do not provide for the victims’ views on an application for early release, commutation of sentence, or pardon by persons convicted by the ICTR, the ICTY, or the Residual Mechanism.”

In this way, the Residual Mechanism and its former President, Theodore Meron, who consistently favored genocidaires in granting them early releases even when they denied their crimes and lacked remorse, have made it clear that international law actively favors genocidaires willfully and cruelly. It does so with staggering moral blindness and equally unconscionable arrogance and thus contributes to the suffering and violation of the rights and welfare of genocide survivors and the ongoing injustices they face.Ends


About the author

Noam Schimmel is Visiting Associate Professor of Ethics and International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. He researches in the areas of human rights, development studies, the politics and ethics of human rights law and its application, and global justice. He recently was Research Visitor at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Oxford Faculty of Law, where he researched reparative justice, the human rights of Rwandan genocide survivors, and the human rights responsibilities of NGOs.

100 darkest days

Great piece. Thank you for sharing in such a poetic tone of yours.

strongblacktree Stories/Poetry

A year came, it was the seventh day of april 1994.

I remember the hundred endless darkest days when fear nocked on the doors of tutsis.

With confidence and support they rushed, machetes and swords they carried.

Cries of innocent children heard everywhere around the country, it was the rainy season but the beginning of massacre.

Brave tutsi men tried to protect their families but pangas was on their neck, women and young girls being raped at the daylight, no mercy were shown for the smiling babies.

Brothers and sisters turned enemies, neighbours turned into strangers.

The so called priests, bishops and pastors who we called fathers were the ones to deliver us in the hands of the killers. The order was to destroy and eliminated every tutsi blood.

The world watched millions of tutsis being slaughtered and massacred but did nothing to stop the genocide.

Thousands of tutsis was…

View original post 67 more words

The Darkest Day That Only Survivors Can Understand

Shiki and Mom

L-R, My wife and my mother -in- law slightly before she was murdered in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Every genocide survivor has at least one darkest day in his life. A day that made his entire life fall apart forever. A day that only those who lived it can understand. May 7th is that trying date for my wife, her brothers, our best friend Frida and many other survivors who lost their beloved ones on this day, during the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, 25 years ago.

It is in the spring of 1994. The same period that the fate of all Tutsi across the country of Rwanda was sealed.

From April 7 to Mid-July 1994, we, the Tutsi were targeted for total annihilation. Our fellow countrymen and their Hutu Supremacist government aimed to wipe all traces that we existed — a goal that they almost achieved.  At the end of 100 days of slaughter, more than 85 % of Rwanda’s Tutsi population inside the country were systematically slaughtered. Over 1 million women, men, and children decimated simply because they were born Tutsi or identified as such.

On this day, 25 years ago, my wife narrowly defied death when the Hutu killers got to their home in Kagarama—One of Rwanda’s capital Kigali neighborhoods.  Her mother did not survive that day. Armed with rifles, the Hutus fired at everyone in the house leaving them for dead in cold blood. The Hutu Killers left their bodies lying right in the front yard of their home.

That image, of a lifeless body of a mother, surrounded by her semi-conscious children, all lying on the ground still haunts one of the children, a 7-year-old girl, who became my wife, twenty years later. Covered in blood, and heavily bleeding, my wife and my brother -in- law, Aristarque, woke up and started a journey towards nowhere.

What happened later and how they eventually survived is a story for another time.

The call to wipe out all the Tutsi of Rwanda reached each and every corner of the country. From the capital Kigali to Nyanza in the south, no single inch of Rwanda’s soil that did not drink the blood of Tutsi.

My wife shares her darkest date with our friend, Frida, who was in Nyanza at the time of genocide—a district in the southern part of Rwanda.  On that day, too, Frida watched her entire family being brutally butchered with machetes by the Hutus. She was left for dead and buried alive in a pit hole along with her family members.  She is the sole survivor in her immediate family.  Her story of courage and resilience is covered in a memoir she re-published in 2017.

The brutality my wife experienced at the hands of Hutus on that Saturday of May in 1994, left deep visible and even deeper invisible scars in her life.

Today, visible scars are healing. She got used to doing everything with one hand. She successfully learned how to write again using a different hand. She drives a car. She is even faster than me at typing.

_Al shiki 4817

My wife, Shiki, and I, April 2018.

It is impossible, though, for her to forget that she once had a normal life before the dark date of May 7. Impossible to forget that she was once able to tie her hair or peel vegetables without any help.  Impossible to forget this dark day that robbed all her childhood’s innocence.

The invisible wounds, however, will apparently stay with genocide survivors as long as they live. Nightmares and flashbacks of the terrible images my wife and many other survivors witnessed haunt them on a regular basis.

‘’This makes me sometimes wonder if surviving in itself is a good thing or NOT. It is  difficult to live with such a heavy burden of memory on my weak shoulders.”  My wife, Shiki, told me recently.

The dark day of May 7, 1994, robbed me a chance to ever see a hero that gave life to my wife. My children will never afford the luxury of having a grandmother. The Hutus took her life so soon, so young.

Although I never met her before, I see her every day through her beautiful daughter that I married. We talk about her all the time.  Her love, her courage and above all, her resilience against all odds.

She endured what no one should experience in life.

Three years before the ‘’final solution’’ of 1994, her husband, my father-in-law, was killed in anti-Tutsi pogroms that targeted the ‘’Bagogwe’’—The Tutsi sub-group living in the Northwestern part of Rwanda. Unaware of the fate that was waiting for her and all the Tutsi in 1994, my mother-in-law fled to Kigali literally with nothing.

She raised her four children as a single mom and found a modest job, teaching in primary school during the day and at the same time, working as a private tutor in the evening to make some extra money.

The cursed day of May 7, 1994, swiped away the life of an iron woman, my mother-in-law.  May her soul rest in peace. May the souls of Frida’s family and others who lost their lives on this day 25 years ago, rest in peace. They are alive because we survived.

By Albert Gasake

Here Is Why Genocide Survivors Are Not Compensated, 25 Years On

gsf

Photo credit: Genocide Survivors Foundation/New York Bar Association.

Throughout the conferences I attended in the United States lately, I raised up, again and again, the issue of lack of adequate reparation for the survivors of  Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, 25 years on.

In response I got the same old story from the officials: reparation is divisive,  logistically impossible, the Government and genocide convicts are too poor to compensate and too busy with development priorities, etc.
Like I argued in this article 6 years ago, the only issue here was and remains LACK OF POLITICAL WILL.
As we speak, A technical feasibility study showing among others, sources of funding, is buried in the drawers of the government since 2014.
Truth is that a Government that spends millions of dollars sponsoring the richest Soccer Team in the world, Arsenal,  is certainly not too poor to provide reparations.  Ends.
By Albert Gasake
Related articles:

My Hope, 25 Years On

Mireille picGuest blog post by Mireille Ishimwe. A few weeks ago as I was visiting my family during spring break, I learned that according to a census done by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda in 2007, there were around 300,000 Tutsis survivors of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis. I could not believe that we were that few in numbers.

How did I not know that crucial part of my history? I was ashamed and felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility towards the people we lost, the survivors, my country, the world, and the future generations.

An obligation to live right and to do as much good as my limited powers will allow me.
My hope as you read these lines is that you are stirred enough to develop a thin skin for injustice. And, if strength is bestowed unto you may you stand up against wrongdoing wherever you see it, be it in your community, or family.

On April 7, 1994, “agahumamunwa” the unnamable befell on our hills. For the next three months, our fate was thrown down, like worthless branches, without a grave.

Some still struggle to talk about it, some choose to bury the bits of memories, if not for eternity, at least for some time. I call them pieces of us that left us.

I do not have a name for them. It is as if you become another person and you spend the rest of your life trying to build yourself-whole again.

Most of us, genocide survivors, live with constant soreness within. We experience endless triggers.

Watching a happy family, being happy for them, but gripping with the loss of your own. Wanting to get up every morning, but your limbs betray you, like a dear woman, I know who has been paralyzed for the past 25 years after she was beaten, abused in all kinds of ways and left for dead by genocide perpetrators.

The triggers can be as simple as going to the Doctor’s office, being asked about your family health history and not knowing the answer because most were killed, young and healthy. We do not control when they happen, sometimes they are bearable other times they are suffocating.

The list of our brokenness is long. I could go on and on… Nevertheless, so is the list of our strengths.

Look around you, pay attention to the survivors in your life.

Men and women who locked eye with the devil and never forgot his stare, yet decided to look up, drew strength from God and chose to walk right.

I say, God, because leading an ordinary life, smiling, getting married, moving to a new country or staying home, seeking justice for your loved ones everything the survivors did to re-build themselves up, the tenacity it took was “Divine.”

I praise all genocide survivors for inspiring the world to look up.

I end my plea asking us to love one another through our brokenness. The ones we lost would not want us, to be continually vexed and undone nor do they want us to be silent.

I believe they wish for us to embrace hope, to comfort weaker hearts than ours, to achieve our life’s purpose, and to always remember.

Ours is a long and onerous journey. Thus, I pray that this commemoration brings you renewed vitality, I pray that another shattered part of you heals and joins the rest of you in looking up and moving right.

I also encourage us to pick up our thread, weave our stories, and sew them carefully, lovingly.

Mireille Ishimwe is a genocide survivor currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Pharmacy at Manchester University. She was 2 years old in 1994 when the genocide broke out.  

Genocide: Forgiveness is a Betrayal

FRANCE-24-LOGO

Photo/Logo France24.com

I spoke to France 24/Spanish Channel,  yesterday.  They asked me my views on forgiveness and reconciliation.  I have to admit that the duo is certainly  NOT my favorite topics to discuss. Next, my favorite topic came up: Justice for the victims. They asked me why i feel strongly about reparative justice and accountability. Much to my surprise, they also asked me about Kagame, the current President of Rwanda!  Here is a snapshot of what I had to say in English.  You can read the original part 1 and part 2  of the article here in Spanish. 

“The blood of my parents keeps asking for justice”

…..After 25 years, Albert Gasake became the defender of the victims of the genocide because, although he recognizes the advances in his country, he believes that justice and reconciliation are far away. “When the survivors who live among the perpetrators continue to be intimidated, harassed, their cattle are killed every year, I do not necessarily see a reconciliation,” he says.

And to Kagame? “I see a powerful ruler feared by all his subjects.” Albert, like Luck, did not know the murderers of his family. They never came to him seeking reconciliation for what, he says, the victims’ forgiveness of their victimizers is “at least the way I understand it, egocentric”.  “The blood of my parents is still asking for justice, I do not forgive, in fact, forgiveness will be a betrayal for my loved ones who were killed by the Hutus so soon,” he says.

Forgiveness will be a betrayal for my loved ones who were killed by the Hutus so soon. “

Albert Gasake

Despite this, Albert was able to reestablish his relations with some Hutus. “I have no problem with the innocent Hutus, but I do have a problem with those Hutus with bloody hands.” He assures that, 25 years later, the murderers are still free. “Despite the request for reparations for the survivors, the Rwandan government and the international community do not have the political will to establish reparation mechanisms for the survivors.”

Therefore, Albert’s struggle does not end. “The marginalization and the untold stories of poor survivors who live in the countryside with their assassins sometimes keep me awake at night,” he says, and that is precisely his driving force.

Click here to read Part 1  of the original France24’s -Spanish article. First appeared on France24.com today 4/8/2019. A direct translation is available. 

Click here to read Part 2  of the original article in Spanish. A direct translation is available. 

Ends.

 

25 Years Later, A Past That Is Ever-Present

 

 

Kaka Conso Al

L-R/ Al, Consolee and Kaka at a Remembrance March in South Bend, IN. 4/27/19.

I was literally naive when the annihilation of my family and one million more  Rwanda’s Tutsi started in 1994.

It all started exactly on this day, April 7, 1994. For many, this genocide is already a historical event belonging to the past. It happened a quarter century ago anyway.  But for me,  and other survivors, the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda is a past that is ever-present. 

No single week that goes by without nightmares and flashbacks of the horrors we have seen. And this is common to all the survivors I know. 

Every day we talk about the ones we lost. The best and short-lived moments we had lived together and the cruelty they experienced at the hands of Hutus.

They say time heals all wounds but there is not enough time in the world to heal a wound this deep. 

At first, many things did not make sense in my 10-year-old mind. I could not understand why we,  the Tutsi, were hiding,  being murdered in cold blood and our houses were burnt down while our Hutu neighbors were just living a normal life. Going to the market, bars and even celebrating weddings.

But I quickly understood one thing: that being a Tutsi, or at least being identified as such, was a terrible crime punishable by horrific death. I also realized that my parents and grandparents were guilty of this crime too – the crime of having been born. A crime against the very who we were.

Fastest Genocide ever

It all happened ruthlessly and efficiently – so fast.  Checkpoints in every street intersection.  Burning of our home. Hacking our cattle. Hate radio, RTLM, sensitizing the Hutus to ‘’work’’, Machetes and whistles.  Hutu Militia Chanting: ‘’tubatsembatsembe’’ (exterminate them all), and our names were just reduced to Cockroaches and Snakes, only good for nothing other than being crushed on the head.

At the end of three months of slaughter,  my mother, my father, my three sisters including our 8-month old, my cousin, Ruzigana, who was home for spring break, my aunts, my uncles, and countless other family members were murdered. My cousin Kayitesi was in the last week of her first pregnancy and her husband Ndamage were all exterminated. Their unborn baby was not spared too. My cousin Musabeyezu and all her two children and her husband, Habyarimana–No one survived to tell their stories.

I will spare you the details of how the Hutu butchered them. But I was there. And  I remember every single detail.  Although I was too young to comprehend the political machinery behind the genocide, I was old enough to realize its horrors.

We were experiencing a crime without a name– at least a name known to me. At the end of 100 days of extermination, over 1 million Tutsi and some Hutu moderates were slaughtered.  The United Nations and the entire world finally named the crime. It was a genocide.  5 out of 6 Tutsi who were inside Rwanda were decimated because of being Tutsi.

25 years, later, the memories are still fresh.  The genocide of Tutsi is perhaps a past. But it is a past that ultimately never goes away.

By Albert Gasake

Reflection

brown wooden dock over body of water

Photo by Vincent Albos on Pexels.com

For those in Washington DC area, please join us at George Washington University for a discussion reflecting on the legacy of genocide in the lives of its survivors, 25 years later.

I will address the legacy of the 1994 Rwanda genocide against the Tutsi after twenty-five years, the challenges Rwandan genocide survivors face seeking to secure their human rights and welfare, and efforts to advance reparative justice for genocide survivors.

A collaboration with GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

This program relates to the exhibition Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms. Free, but reservations are required. Register online.

New York Times: Rwanda’s Children of Rape Have Come of Age

Twenty-five years after the genocide, its effects are shaping a new generation.

What are the effects of being born of rape in the name of genocide? How are mothers who survived this brutal violence in Rwanda dealing with the trauma and complexities of their lives and the long-lasting, multigenerational impact of what was done to them?

In 2018, I returned to Rwanda to revisit some of the families I met 12 years before when I began a project documenting the stories of women who were raped during the 1994 genocide and the children born of those horrific encounters. The mothers have now disclosed to their children the circumstances of how they were conceived, and the children are speaking for the first time as adults, reflecting on being called “children of the killers” while they were growing up. Click here to read the entire story and absolutely fascinating pictures by Jonathan Torgovnik as appeared in the New York Times today

End.

Source: The New York Times

How well has Rwanda healed 25 years after the genocide?

economist

Photo/The Economist

Twenty-five after the genocide, Rwanda is still an enigma. Its recovery in economic, social and psychological terms is hotly debated. Almost every aspect of the past and present is still argued over. What exactly caused the genocide (which started after a plane carrying Rwanda’s president, Juvénal Habyarimana, was shot down by unknown assassins)? How many people died? Could outsiders, in particular, the UN, have halted it?

More recently, has President Paul Kagame, the Tutsi rebel commander who stopped the genocide at gunpoint and has ruled ever since, genuinely sought to heal the wounds? Or does he cynically exploit the horror to legitimize his ruthlessly authoritarian and predominantly Tutsi regime? Are the Hutus, still a large majority, quietly determined to take over again one day? Could democracy ever take root in Rwanda—or is a firm grip on government the least bad option?

What is undisputed is that the killing that began on April 7th 1994 was genocide. Probably three-quarters of all Tutsis in Rwanda—men, women, children, and babies—were murdered. The true number is unknown. The un guesses 800,000: mostly Tutsis, but also 30,000 or so moderate Hutus. Mr. Kagame prefers a round figure of a million. The meticulous Alison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch was able to substantiate 500,000 deaths. She was later barred from Rwanda for criticizing Mr. Kagame’s regime.

The slaughter was shockingly swift, lasting only 100 days. Probably most adult Hutus took part or witnessed the killing without objection. Hutus were then 84% of Rwandans, so their Tutsi neighbors had nowhere to run. As Philip Gourevitch, a journalist, put it: “The entire Hutu population was called upon to kill the entire Tutsi population.”

Hutus with babies on their backs hacked down Tutsi women similarly encumbered. Hutu priests oversaw massacres of Tutsis in their congregations. Hutu husbands killed Tutsi wives. Hutus were told that if they failed to kill, they would themselves be killed. Though the Rwandan army often lobbed grenades into churches and schools and fired on Tutsis cowering there, most murders were carried out by civilians wielding machetes and clubs.

The issue of justice still reverberates and rankles. A year after the genocide about 120,000 suspected perpetrators were put in prisons built for 45,000. Another 300,000 were eventually incarcerated in appalling conditions. Some 46,000 Rwandans, most of them génocidaires, are still behind bars.

Such was the scale of the genocide that from 2002 until 2012 a huge web of community courts known as gacaca (pronounced “gatchatcha”) was set up, under trees and in village courtyards, to dispense justice in a more traditional fashion, by asking witnesses to tell their stories before amateur judges. “No one claims that Gacaca justice was perfect but very few here doubt that it saved Rwanda,” says Nick Johnson, a British law professor. With justice has come a measure of reconciliation. “No other country today has so many perpetrators of mass atrocities living in such proximity to their victims’ families,” writes Phil Clark of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

Mr. Kagame’s great claim is that there has been no large-scale violence inside Rwanda for the past 24 years. Mr. Clark, who has conducted more than 1,000 interviews with Rwandans on both sides of the Hutu-Tutsi gap in the past 16 years, says his respondents nowadays describe “peaceful but uneasy community relations”.

In part, this has been achieved through a widely understood if unspoken, a contract whereby people have traded political freedom for peace and economic development. The economy has recovered rapidly. Infant mortality has halved since 2000, a feat UNCEF rates as “one of the most significant in human history”. In 1995, when the country lay in ruins, GDP per person was $125. Today it is around $800, though some economists question Rwanda’s rosy statistics.

Few Rwandans have the nerve to dissent. A Rwandan journalist warns that “no one will ever tell you truly what they think.” A Western diplomat concurs. “People just won’t talk freely.” Mr. Kagame may have slightly loosened his elaborate system of spies and social controls of late, yet there is precious little space for political competition. He won 99% of the vote in 2017. A compliant Green Party was allowed seats in parliament last year, but its members recall how, in 2010, unknown killers cut off its vice-president’s head. Last year two opposition leaders who had sought to run for president were freed from prison, including Victoire Ingabire, a Hutu who had been sentenced to 15 years on trumped-up charges of inciting “divisionist” (ie, Hutu v Tutsi) rebellion. Her spokesman was murdered this month.

Mr. Kagame has scaled back his military adventures abroad. Initially, these were intended to hunt down génocidaires lurking mainly in the forests of neighboring Congo, but they expanded into calamitous regional wars during which Congo’s minerals were looted and multitudes died. Recently, Mr. Kagame has fallen out badly with Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, once a close ally, whom he now accuses of harboring Rwandan “traitors”. He particularly detests the Rwandan National Congress, a group of fellow Tutsis who were once his closest comrades. It has supporters across a wide diaspora, including in Belgium, South Africa, Uganda, and America. Several have been assassinated on foreign soil.

Twenty-five years after taking power, Mr. Kagame faces two tests. The first is whether he will be able to hand over smoothly to a successor. The second is whether, when he does go, Rwanda’s terrible wounds will reopen.

Mr. Kagame’s boosters argue that only he has the authority to hold together so fragile a country. That argument loses force with each passing year. Under a fifth of the population is old enough to have been adults during the genocide. Most children have grown up with the idea of “Rwandaness”, inculcated into them in education camps, known as ingando, that try to minimize ethnic differences. More will begin to demand freedoms enjoyed elsewhere. Without the safety valve of democracy, protests and anger could again take on an ethnic tinge, awakening the demons that Mr. Kagame claims to have banished.

Source: First appeared in The Economist today 3/28/2019.

A Baby Step In The Right Direction:  US Senate’s Resolution Observing the 25th Anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda

menendez

K Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.0. Photo/Twiter

The Democratic Senator of New Jersey, Bob Menendez, today introduced a Resolution marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, which cost the lives of over one million people.

“This April we join with the people of Rwanda and the global community to solemnly commemorate the 25th Anniversary of this terrible moment in history,” said Senator Menendez in a press release available on his web site.

The draft resolution does not shy way to call out the US government’s refusal to intervene in Rwanda as the genocide was unfolding.

“As we commend the people and government of Rwanda in continuing to take steps toward peace, reconciliation, and accountability, we also acknowledge the tragic failure of the international community, including the United States, in providing urgent assistance in helping to prevent and stop the organized campaign and the mass killing that ensued.” Added the Democratic Senator of New Jersey.

First of its kind

While it’s not the first time that the United States recognizes its failure to stop the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, this resolution–once voted, will be the first of its kind since the Clinton administration.  Usually, the State Department would issue a low- profile and often generic statement every year,  to mark the 1994 Genocide commemoration.

On March 25, 1998, President Bill Clinton expressed regret for failing to halt genocide in Rwanda, saying that he didn’t “fully appreciate the depth and the speed with which [Rwandans] were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror.”  It turned out to be a blatant lie.

Now we know how much the Clinton administration knew. Classified papers show Clinton was aware of ‘final solution’ to eliminate all the Tutsi of Rwanda.  Truth is that the United State simply chose to ignore Rwanda.

 A Baby step in the right direction

The Menendez resolution once adopted, will be a small positive step forward. There is so much however,  the US Senate and Government can do to mend its failure to abide by the international law in refusing to intervene in Rwanda.

Contributing to the establishment of the International Trust Fund for the survivors is one of the most comprehensive ways the US can explore to bring closure to its failure with dignity.

On a pragmatic level, the Senate should among others,  make it mandatory to teach the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in all secondary schools and erect a major genocide memorial in the USA, to educate the young generation about the world’s fasted genocide. Ends.

By Albert Gasake

Related articles:

78 Years Later, Bodies of Hundreds of Holocaust Victims Discovered

Items

Items recovered from a mass killing site. Photo/USHMM

A mass grave with the remains of a suspected 1,000-plus Jewish people slain by the Nazis has been found in Belarus.

Bones of men, women, and children with gunshot wounds to their skulls have been located at a building site in the city of Brest on the Polish border.

The skeletons of around 600 have been found so far, with Belarus soldiers – deployed to undertake the macabre work – now locating the remains of some 40 people each day in the sinister burial place.

City official Anna Kondak said: ‘We expect the number of victims to go over 1,000.’

The dead are believed to have been Holocaust victims of the Nazis from the Second World War, say officials.

The victims were from the Brest Jewish ghetto where up to 28,000 lived in 1941-42, it is understood.

Some 17,000 people are known to have been shot in October 1942 near Bronnaya Gora railway station, while thousands more were also presumed to have been slaughtered.

Historic accounts say victims were ordered by Hitler’s forces to strip naked before being shot.

The recent discovery of human remains came during excavations for a new luxury residential development and a shopping mall said city officials.

The building work has been suspended while the remains of the mass murder victims are disinterred.

Kondak said: ‘During three weeks, every day about 40 remains are being found.

‘Now the overall number is around 600.

‘As far as we know, there are two major graves here.

‘We have almost finished with the first one. After this, experts will start on the second one.’

Governor Alexander Rogachuk said: ‘We will not allow the building of anything on bones of people.’

Local reports say the human remains have been found in a 20-meter long pit, some 1.5 meters deep.

One account said they included ‘men, women, and children, all with gunshot wounds in their skulls’.

Previous mass graves have been located in Brest in 1950 – when some 600 victims were re-buried at Trishinskoe cemetery, and in 1970 when 300 victims were re-interred at Proska cemetery.

Rogachuk is reported to have held a meeting with representatives of the Jewish community in Brest and suggested to re-burying the remains at ‘Severnoe’ cemetery.

This burial ground already includes victims of the Holocaust.

The Jewish community is demanding that religious traditions should be followed during re-burials.

Records say that only 19 people out of up to 28,000 were alive after the Brest ghetto, which had been founded on 16 December 1941, was ‘liquidated’ in October and November 1942.

The Kats sisters who survived the mass slaughter in Brest ghetto – concealed in an attic – heard the mass killing.

‘Workers came to dig graves early in the morning,’ said their account.

‘I heard a child crying: ‘Mama, let this bullet be very soon, I am so cold…’

‘It was in November, and they had to get undressed and stay naked.

‘Mothers undressed their children and then got undressed themselves.

‘About 5,000 people are lying there, behind our fence, at block 126 Kuybysheva Street…’

A petition has been started in Brest demanding that building work is permanently halted at the site of the mass shooting.

So far 492 people have called for a memorial park to replace the residential development and shopping center.

The matter is being discussed by the city authorities.

Source: Dailymail. First published yesterday 2/21/2019.

France: Arresting Genocide Suspects, Not Our Problem

The role of France in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi has become a piece of common knowledge now. Watch France 24 report revealing new documents suggesting that orders not to arrest those responsible for the genocide of Tutsi came straight from Elysee, the French President office. Click here to watch the entire video report. 

Albert.

Adding Insult to Injury: ‘Black Earth Rising’ and the Rwandan Genocide

kATEBlack Earth Rising, a British limited series, centers on Kate Ashby, a young genocide survivor who – spoiler alert – realizes in the course of the story that she is, in fact, a survivor of a massacre committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the very group that ended the genocide. Director and writer, Hugo Blick, invoked his artist’s right to explore stories that “evoke ideas of truth” to shed light on neglected aspects of Rwanda’s recent history, i.e., the fact that the Tutsi-led RPF did some bad things too. However, Black Earth Rising’s main failing is not the topic it “dares” to tackle, but rather its complete lack of contextualization.

Blick’s expression of narrative complexity, which is expressed through successive twists leading to the revelation of collective responsibility in the genocide against the Tutsi, crucially eschews depth and analysis. It makes little more than a cursory attempt to explain why the genocide happened, or even why Kate Ashby, its main character, almost died along with her family before being adopted by her British mother. The myopic reality of the series paints all the characters with the same brush, and this may be because it fails to see the background motivations behind their actions and the astonishing complexity of violent conflicts.

Blurring fact and fiction

Black Earth Rising constantly blurs the boundaries between reality and fiction. This version of Rwanda is governed by a leadership straight out of Blick’s imagination, while the chronology is voluntarily left vague. Interviews were given by Hugo Blick also show a tendency to confuse the role and responsibilities of institutions related to its stories, such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The alleged crimes of the RPF that inspired the story’s biggest twist are not particularly new, contrary to what the show makes it look like. In fact, much of the storyline gives the feeling that Hugo Blick stumbled upon a Wikipedia page about the genocide in Rwanda and, electrified by what he discovered, gave free rein to his imagination. And therein lies the rub: Hugo Blick freed himself from the constraints of reality to enjoy all the liberties fiction can offer, while still presenting its work as a reliable comment on Rwanda’s recent history. But artistic freedom is not an absolute right; viewers, on their part, deserve honesty. If an artist chooses to tell the story of others, a little due diligence should be a minimum requirement.

Narratives create beliefs

One could argue that giving these overtly fictional characteristics, Black Earth Rising should be taken with a pinch of salt. Yet, that would be overlooking the power of narratives. Once created, narratives spread like wildfire to impact our perception of a topic. This is especially true given that only a handful of narrative films have even touched on the massacre of a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus by a genocidal government and the history of the genocide of the Tutsi is not taught in schools. Black Earth Rising could, therefore, become for many viewers a source of knowledge and imagination about Rwanda.

When Hugo Blick limits its depiction of the genocide through short animated clips and lip service (through the words of a character admitting briefly that the genocide was absolute horror), the overwhelming majority of the storyline focuses on abuses by both sides, suggesting at least a moral equivalence. The genocide, the decades of exclusion and brainwashing that preceded it and its meticulous preparation and execution are only a means to get the story started. It also failed to communicate the crude reality of what genocide really is: a policy of deliberate and systematic annihilation of an entire group. All Tutsis were supposed to die, men, women and children, even babies who had committed the “crime” of being born Tutsi.

Disrespecting survivors

Can we only imagine the indignation a contemporary series using a similar approach to the Holocaust would have raised? If the BBC had decided to broadcast the story of a woman who, having believed all her life to be a survivor of the Holocaust, discovered that she was, in fact, one of the victims of the attacks by Allied forces that the German people suffered during World War II?

It is not the first time tv shows runners find their inspiration in Rwanda’s history to provide a dramatic backdrop for their characters. In 2003, President Bartlet of The West Wing was confronted with genocide in the fictional African country of Equatorial Kundu. More recently, the show Madam Secretary forced its titular character to decide whether to intervene or not in the Republic of West Africa, where a little-known genocide was taking place. But at least, these shows had the decency to locate their storylines in fictional African countries.

For genocide survivors, or even viewers appreciating honest storytelling, one can only regret that the creator of Black Earth Rising did not choose to do the same. Ultimately, the limited series is a disappointment whose casual way of addressing a raw and complex history only adds insult to the injuries of millions of Rwandans.

Source: By Laetitia Tran Ngoc, First appeared at International Policy Digest yesterday.

A New Way to Immortalize Genocide Victims Launched

Kigali Memorial Centre children

Photo/Kigali Memorial Genocide

A team of genocide survivors launched on Monday this week, a new website designed to serve as a central database of names, photographs, and brief biographies of over one million people murdered in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.  The initiative, according to a press release issued on that occasion, is an effort to honor their memory and restore their identities.

‘’It is necessary to name the victims of genocide against the Tutsis so that they are no longer reduced to just numbers. They are not a million of people without names, not a million strangers.’’  Said the survivors’ representatives who signed the statement.

Survivors are the first witnesses to the genocide today. Their children are the second-degree witnesses and this database will obviously be another kind of virtual memorial, where the young generation will get to add a human face to the one million lives lost during the 1994 annihilation of Rwanda’s Tutsi, continued the statement.

A 2004 Rwandan Government’s census of the genocide victims revealed that 1,074,017 were murdered during the 100 days of genocide. The same report indicates that 93.7% of the victims were killed because they were identified as Tutsi, 1% because they were related, married or friends with Tutsis, 0.08% because they had physical traits similar to those of Tutsis and 0.8% because they had ideas contrary to those of the Hutu regime of the time, or hid people chased by the killers .

Creating a virtual database of genocide victims’ name and stories certainly marks an important new way to immortalize them, although, the real impact of this initiative will depend on the extent to which survivors will actually share the details of their loved ones with this website. Click here to visit ‘’ https://ibukatutsigenocide.org/’’ and add the name of your loved one too. Ends

By Albert Gasake

Bishop Rucyahana yasobanuye imvugo ye yafashwe nko gukomeretsa abarokotse Jenoside

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Rucyahana John. Photo Igihe.com

Perezida wa Komisiyo y’Igihugu y’Ubumwe n’Ubwiyunge, Bishop John Rucyahana, yongeye gushimangira ko gutanga ubuhamya bw’ibyabaye muri Jenoside yakorewe Abatutsi bidakwiye guharirwa abayirokotse gusa.

Ni igitekerezo kitavuzweho rumwe n’ab’ingeri zinyuranye benshi bahuriza ko gipfobya ubuhamya bwatanzwe n’abarokotse Jenoside mu myaka hafi 25 ishize.

Mu kiganiro cyihariye na IGIHE, Bishop John Rucyahana, yashimangiye ko buri muntu afite uburenganzira bwo gutanga igitekerezo ku byo yavuze.

Ni ikiganiro cyagarutse ku ngingo nyinshi zirimo izijyanye n’ubumwe n’ubwiyunge nk’urwego amaze imyaka myinshi akurikiye ndetse no ku mibereho ye bwite.

Ubusanzwe Rucyahana yavukiye mu Karere ka Burera mu Ugushyingo 1945, amashuri abanza ayigira ahitwa Kinoni, Gitare n’i Murunda.

Ni umwe mu mfura z’ishuri ryisumbuye Inyemeramihigo ryahoze ryitwa‘College d’Humanité Moderne’ mu Karere ka Rubavu.

Nyuma yo kurangiza amashuri yisumbuye yahungiye muri Uganda, yigayo ibijyanye na Tewolojiya, akomereza muri Leta Zunze Ubumwe za Amerika aho yakuye Impamyabumenyi y’Icyiciro cya Gatatu cya Kaminuza muri Tewolojiya.

Arangije kwiga yabaye pasiteri akora no muri Komisiyo y’Ivugabutumwa mu Itorero Anglican aza no kuba Bishop muri Diyoseze ya Shyira.

Yabaye umwarimu mu mashuri abanza ndetse n’ayisumbuye. Ni we washinze ‘Sunrise School’ mu Karere ka Musanze, akaba yaranaribereye umwarimu. Ubu ari mu kiruhuko cy’izabukuru mu Itorero Anglican.

Ikiganiro yagiranye na IGIHE

IGIHE: Imvugo yanyu y’uko gutanga ubuhamya mu cyunamo bidakwiye guharirwa abacitse ku icumu ntiyakiriwe neza na benshi. Bamwe basabye ko usobanura neza icyo washaga kuvuga.

Bishop Rucyahana: Abatarakiriye neza ubutumwa tuvuga bafite umudendezo n’uburenganzira bwo kumva uko babyumva kandi bafite n’uburenganzira bwo kubivuga.

U Rwanda ni urw’abanyarwanda na Jenoside yakorewe Abatutsi ni ishyano ryabaye mu Rwanda rikorerwa Abatutsi b’Abanyarwanda rikorwa n’Abanyarwanda, ariko amateka n’ubuhamya bw’ayo mateka ntibigomba guharirwa abakorerwaga amarorerwa gusa.

Bamwe babyumvaga ko ari ukuvuga ngo abakoze Jenoside abe aribo batanga ubuhamya. Oya hari abandi batakoze Jenoside babireberaga.

Hari ababonye aho Abatutsi bicwaga muri Jenoside imibiri yabo yagiye ishyirwa, abacitse ku icumu ntibahazi ariko hari ababibonye bagomba gutanga ubwo buhamya kugira ngo ya mibiri ishyingurwe.

Hari abandi bantu bafite amakuru yafasha abanyarwanda gukira vuba, bakanahumuriza abacitse ku icumu, bacecetse, abo bantu nabo bagomba kugirwa inama yo gutanga ubuhamya.

IGIHE: Nk’umwana wariho mu gihe cya Jenoside, ni ubuhe buhamya agomba gutanga?

Bishop Rucyahana: Ntiwagereranya igikomere cy’uwacitse ku icumu n’igikomere cy’ucirwa urubanza rw’uko yakoze Jenoside cyangwa umwana utarayikoze ariko akaba acirwa n’urubanza n’uko se yayikoze. Uwo mwana agomba gutanga ubuhamya bw’ibyo azi kuri se kandi akitandukanya nabyo, ariko agomba kuvuga.

IGIHE: Kuba iyi ngingo itarakiriwe neza ntacyo byahinduye mu mitekerereze yawe?

Bishop Rucyahana: Njye ntabwo mbacira urubanza nta nubwo bimbabaje rwose ko babivuze kandi ntibizambuza kuvuga no gushishikariza abanyarwanda gukora icyo bagomba gukora kuko niba umwana yihannye ko ababyeyi be bakoze Jenoside ntabwo byari bikwiye guhungabanya uwacitse ku icumu.

Wa wundi wabonye aho bashyize imibiri y’abishwe muri Jenoside agaceceka ntabivuge kuko adashaka kubabaza uwacitse ku icumu, azamubabaza [uwacitse ku icumu] kurushaho kuko akomeza kurira no kubabara no kugira agahinda kuko atashyinguye uwe. Ariko igihe utanze ubuhamya wa wundi arababara akarira agashyingura uwo muntu akazagera ubwo aruhuka.

IGIHE: Ese ubona ari iyihe mpamvu abantu bamwe badakangukira gutanga ubuhamya bw’ibyo babonye?

Bishop Rucyahana: No kubabwira ngo mubivuge ntabwo byoroshye, ariko nimubivuge dukire twese. Uzi kugira ngo ube wariciwe umuntu atari urupfu ari urugomo, ari ubugome, ubure no kumushyingura hari ubizi acecetse.

Uranyumvira agahinda uriya muntu wacitse ku icumu afite? Kubura uwe akabura n’umurambo ngo awushyingure hari ubizi ucecetse kandi wabwira uriya muntu ngo abivuge kuko atinya ko ari ukumukomeretsa akababara kandi ni uburyo bwaturuhura twese nk’umuryango nyarwanda.

IGIHE: Ubona imibanire y’abanyarwanda iganisha ku bumwe n’ubwiyunge ihagaze he muri iki gihe?

Bishop Rucyahana Aho tugeze uyu munsi ni heza turashima Perezida Kagame, turashima Leta y’u Rwanda, turashima buri munyarwanda wese wihanganye kuva aho twari turi hahandi tukaba tugeze aho tugeze uyu munsi ni heza. Ariko turacyafite urugendo rurerure ntabwo birera ndo de.

IGIHE: Tujya twumva imiryango imwe n’imwe idashyingirana kubera amoko. Ni bimwe mu bitarera ngo de?

Bishop Rucyahana: U Rwanda aho tugeze uyu munsi naseka, kuko tugeze aho bigaragara ko bishoboka naho ibyo gushyingirana n’ubu abahutu n’abatutsi barashakana.

Hari n’uwasigajwe inyuma n’amateka wambwiye ko yashyingiranwe n’undi munyarwandakazi utari uwasigajwe inyuma n’amateka, baragenda bashyingirana hirya no hino. Ariko icyo si cyo gipimo, uko babana ntabwo birera ngo de. Turacyafite abagisitara ku myanzuro ya gacaca, turacyafite abatarashobora kwatura ibyo bakoze.

IGIHE: Benshi mu bagukurikira, bakubona nk’umunyapolitiki kurusha umupasiteri. Nihe wowe wisanga cyane?

Bishop Rucyahana: Abambona batyo nabanza kureba ngasuzuma amaso yabo uko areba n’uko ntabishobora. Ubumwe n’ubwiyunge ni ikintu Leta yashyizeho ariko kiri muri Bibiliya.

Abo bavuga ko ndi umunyapolitike ntakorera Imana ntibasomye Bibiliya, muzababwire bajye gusoma mu 2 Abakolinto 5, Abefeso 2 n’igice cya 4, barebe icyo duhamagarirwa. Ni ukugira ngo dukundane, ni ukugira ngo tugire ubumwe. Nicyo nshinzwe muri Komisiyo y’Ubumwe n’Ubwiyunge.

IGIHE: Ni iki mwishimira mu buzima bwanyu uyu munsi?

Bishop Rucyahana: Ikintu cyanejeje mu buzima bwanjye ni uko nakiriye umwami Yesu nkamenya ko ari umukiza wanjye, akanyobora kandi akaba yarankijije.

Nkaba nkorera abanyarwanda mfite umutima nama unyemeza gukora ibyo ngomba gukorera Imana n’abanyarwanda bagenzi banjye.

IGIHE: Ni iki cyakubabaje?

Bishop Rucyahana: Icyambabaje rero ni ukuba narabaye mu buzima bwacishijwe bugufi ntiyumvamo icyo ngomba kuba ndicyo. Guteshwa agaciro nk’umunyarwanda no kuba mu buzima butari uwo ndi we, ukaba Uganda cyangwa ukaba ahariho hose wumva uri mu ntambara yo gushaka kumenya uwo uri we ariko ntube uwo uri we kubera aho uri.

Ibyo nicuza byo ni byinshi cyane, hari ibyo ntakoze kuko ntari mfite ubushobozi bwo kubikora, ibyo ntabwo bincira urubanza kuko ntari mfite ubushobozi bwo kubikora. Hari ibyo ntavuze nagombaga kuvuga, ariko ntafite uburyo bwo kubivuga cyangwa kubera uko nari meze. Ibyo ni ibintu wicuza mu buzima bwawe.

Mu buzima twabayemo hari igihe utakoraga icyo wagombaga gukora kuko utari ufite ubushobozi bwo kugikora, hari icyo wagombaga kuvuga ntukivuge kuko udafite ubushobozi naho uvugira. Ibyo rero bikubabaza mu buryo udashobora kubyiyumvisha.

IGIHE: U Rwanda wifuza kuraga abana bawe ni urumeze rute?

Bishop Rucyahana: Ni aho umunyarwanda n’umunyarwandakazi azaba afite agaciro n’umunezero wo kuba mu Rwanda rumuhesheje ishema nk’umunyarwanda, ariko kandi nibutsa n’abanyarwanda n’abo bana nduraga ko bagomba kugira umuhate n’inshingano zo kurugira icyo ruri rwo.

Source: Igihe.com/ Emma-Marie Umurerwa. Feb7/2019.

How the Southern Africa States Became a Safe Haven for Genocide Fugitives

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The extradition of a genocide convict, Vincent Murekezi, yesterday, marks the beginning of a long-overdue obligation of Malawi—a southern African country that has been criticized for sheltering genocide fugitives for more than two decades.

While Malawi is not the only country to extradite genocide suspects recently, Malawi becomes perhaps the first southern Africa country to send fugitives to face justice in Rwanda.

Under the international law, all states have the obligation to extradite or prosecute genocide suspects before their own courts irrespective of the location of the crimes and irrespective of the nationality of the victim or the perpetrator. In fact countries, including Denmark,  Congo, Belgium, The Netherlands, United States, and Canada have recently extradited, prosecuted and in some cases, convicted perpetrators for their involvement in the extermination of Tutsi in 1994 genocide.

Up until now, several high-profile fugitives, are believed to live quite comfortably in southern African countries mainly Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

One of the most wanted genocide criminal, Protais Mpiranya, is among those who are reported to be sheltered by the Zimbabwean government, operating businesses in Harare, on top of acting as a mercenary for the ruling party ZANU-PF to silence the opposition. The US government put a 5 million prize on his head as part of the Rewards for Justice Program. He uses several aliases, including Yahaya Mohamed, Hirwa Protais Alain, Alain Protais Muhire, James Kakule, and Mambo Mapendo Augustin.

In the immediate aftermath of the genocide, many Rwandan Hutu refugees including genocide perpetrators, sought asylum in these countries often under fake names, making it even more difficult to track them down. An estimated 5000 to 10,000 Rwandans have already settled in this region since 1994.

Although the recent move to send the first genocide suspect to Rwanda by the Malawian government might be a too late, too little of a gesture, it sets an important precedent that should be followed by other southern African states such as Zimbabwe.

It remains to be seen, however, if this new momentum to bring genocide suspects to account will eventually gain some traction in the rest of southern African countries. Ends

By Albert Gasake

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today, January 27th, 2019 marks the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. At this occasion, I suggest you watch this incredibly inspiring story of a Holocaust survivor sharing how he survived after 3 years in Auschwitz concentration camp. Click here to watch the video. Credit: BuzzFeed

U.S Enacts Genocide Prevention Law Named After Elie Wiesel

When my family and 1 million more Tutsi were being hacked by machetes in Rwanda, the United States refused to intervene because preventing genocide was not a ’’ National Security’’ matter.  From now on, that will not be a valid excuse anymore.

trump

US President/Donal Trump

US President Donald Trump signed a law on Monday declaring that the prevention of genocide and other atrocities is “a core national security interest” of the United States, adding that it is also “a core moral responsibility.”

The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, named for the world-renown Holocaust survivor and famed author, was signed into law by Trump after it passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate in December.

The law is intended to prevent genocide and other atrocities “which threaten national and international security, by enhancing United States government capacities to prevent, mitigate, and respond to such crises.”

The new law obligates the US to mitigate threats to its national “security by addressing the root causes of insecurity and violent conflict to prevent the mass slaughter of civilians; conditions that prompt internal displacement and the flow of refugees across borders; and other violence that wreaks havoc on regional stability and livelihoods.”
The US will enhance its capacity to “identify, prevent, address, and respond to the drivers of atrocities and violent conflict” as part of its “humanitarian, development and strategic interests.”

It also entails the establishment a Complex Crisis Fund that will deal with strengthening local civil society, such as human rights groups, and nonprofit organizations that are already on the ground, working to thwart and deal with atrocities as they occur.

According to the new law, “Appropriate officials of the US government” must consult at least twice a year with representatives of nongovernmental organizations and civil society actors in an effort to “enhance the capacity of the US” to identify the conditions that could lead to such atrocities, “including strengthening the role of international organizations and international financial institutions in conflict prevention, mitigation and response.”
It also “encourages” the National Intelligence director to give a detailed review of countries and regions at risk of genocide in annual testimony to Congress, “including most likely pathways to violence, specific risk factors, potential perpetrators, and at-risk target groups.”
The secretary of state is also expected to write an evaluation report every three years.

Speaking in December, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin said that “America’s strength around the world is rooted in our values.”

“It is in our national interest to ensure that the United States utilizes the full arsenal of diplomatic, economic and legal tools to take meaningful action before atrocities occur,” said Cardin. “Earlier this month, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum identified Burmese military actions against the Rohingya as genocide. From Burma to Iraq, South Sudan to Syria, atrocity crimes tragically persist all around the globe.”

He added that the Prevention Act will help ensure that the United States does a better job of responding earlier and more effectively to these heinous crimes. “I urge our House colleagues to pass this landmark legislation before the 115th Congress adjourns.”

Sen. Todd Young, an original co-sponsor of the law and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, explained that the US has a moral and strategic imperative to help prevent and respond to acts of genocide and other mass atrocities, and this legislation would ensure that the US government is better prepared to fulfill this serious responsibility.

Prior to the signing, Sara Bloomfield, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum director, said that “senators Young and Cardin’s leadership on the bill honors Elie Wiesel’s vision for the museum as a living memorial that would help save victims of future genocides and in doing so honor the victims of the Holocaust.

“This legislation is an important effort toward developing a bipartisan congressional blueprint for making ‘never again’ real by taking practical steps to mitigate the systematic persecution of vulnerable groups,” she said.

Source: First appeared in Jerusalem Post

BY ILANIT CHERNICK

JANUARY 16, 2019

Children of Tutsi Genocide Survivors In Rwanda inherit Parents Trauma

[1].henriette with daughter, noemi

Genocide Survivor Henriette with daughter Naomi. (Credit/Foundation Rwanda)

Researchers at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University – in collaboration with a Rwandan therapist and genocide survivor – have taken a close look at the genocide against the Tutsi people of Rwanda almost a quarter of a century after it occurred.

As many as 1 million Tutsi people were murdered in the mass slaughter during the genocide, which began in the 1990s. It was led by members of the Hutu majority government during the 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994. Hutu civilians used machetes, clubs, blunt objects, and other weapons and were encouraged to rape, maim, and kill their Tutsi neighbors and to destroy or steal their property. The killing ended after the Tutsi-backed and heavily armed Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), led by Paul Kagame, took control of the capital and the country.

The genocide was planned by members of the core Hutu political elite, many of whom occupied positions at top levels of the national government. Perpetrators came from the Rwandan army, the gendarmerie, and government-backed militias. A ceasefire in the civil war was reached in 1993.

The rapes used as a weapon of war led to promises that persist today, including HIV infection, including of babies born to mothers infected with the AIDS virus while being raped. Due to the wholesale slaughter of both men and women, many households were headed by widows or totally orphaned children. The destruction of infrastructure and the severe depopulation of the country crippled the economy, challenging the nascent government to achieve rapid economic growth and stabilization. Severe post-trauma was the result for many.

The children of Tutsi survivors who weren’t even born at the time of the slaughter are among those most affected by trauma, according to the new Israeli study, which has just been published in the journal Psychiatry Research.

The study assessed complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) among Tutsi genocide survivors and its impact on their children. The researchers found that the intergenerational effects of genocide were most prominent among offspring of survivors who suffer from CPTSD.

Open tombs of the hundreds of thousands of murdered Tutsi at the Rwandan Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda. (Credit: Ryan M. Bolton/ Shutterstock.com & breakingisraelnews.com)

The parent groups did not differ in level of exposure to the genocide nor in the percentage of participants who underwent other traumatic events. When examining separate types of genocide exposure, 41.1% of the parents reported being injured, 89.8% reported seeing people being killed, 88.1% saw people wounded, and 67.8% and 91.7% had at least one family member who was injured or killed, respectively. The offspring in the three groups did not differ in any of the background characteristics. All offspring were single and only one reported experiencing a traumatic event.

These offspring suffer from more symptoms – such as nightmares and preoccupation with the horrors – and feel less equipped to handle adverse situations.  The findings also hint at the possibility that while both parental PTSD and CPTSD increase secondary traumatization in offspring, parental CPTSD additionally affects offspring self-perceptions.

Whereas PTSD includes symptoms such as nightmares and overall restlessness, CPTSD includes even more serious problems such as affective dysregulation (a term used in the mental health community to refer to an emotional response that is poorly modulate, and does not fall within the conventionally accepted range of emotive response), a negative view of oneself and disturbed relationships.

Following studies pointing to additional consequences of extreme traumatic events such as genocide, which are not covered by the existing diagnosis of PTSD, CPTSD is scheduled to appear in the upcoming 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a new diagnosis.

The preliminary findings, published in the journal, highlight CPTSD as a rather-frequent debilitating condition among Tutsi genocide survivors. “For the first time, to the best of our knowledge, these findings demonstrate that CPTSD may have grave consequences not only for survivors themselves but also for their offspring who were born after the genocide,” said Prof. Amit Shrira, of Bar-Ilan’s department of social sciences, who co-authored the study with Dr. Ben Mollov, a Bar-Ilan political scientist who specializes in conflict resolution, and Chantal Mudahogora, a therapist who survived the Tutsi genocide and currently lives in Canada.

Most existing literature on the subject focuses on the effects of parental PTSD, but the researchers said they knew of no works that looked at parental complex PTSD, he added. This pattern is also evident among Holocaust survivors and their offspring, whom Shrira has studied extensively.

“We need to understand that genocide and massive trauma can leave their mark not only on survivors who were directly exposed but also on their offspring and probably on other family relatives, as well,” added Mollov.

“We also know from previous studies that the effects of trauma may extend across several generations and linger for decades after the focal trauma took place. These insights should guide policymakers and clinicians when planning interventions aimed at mitigating the plight of traumatized individuals and their families, particularly in terms of increasing resilience.  This can also bear relevance for improved intergroup relations,” he said.

ben-mollov-left-and-chantal-mudahogora

Ben-Mollov-left-and-Chantal-Mudahogora. (Credit: Breaking Israel News.)

It became possible for Shrira and Mollov to study the genocide against Tutsi of Rwanda and cooperate with Mudahogora when Mudahogora heard Mollov present a research paper in Bangkok. When she shared with him her concern about the effects of post trauma on survivors of the genocide and their offspring, Mollov brought Shrira, who has studied extensively intergenerational trauma suffered by Holocaust survivors and their offspring, into the research partnership.

As the researchers learned more about survivors of the Tutsi genocide, they were especially surprised to discover that they live among the Hutus who took part in the mass killing, They also became aware of the fact from Mudahogora that through the “Unity and Reconciliation Program” spearheaded by the Rwandan government, together with non-profit organizations and faith-based groups, both ethnic groups are making progress in living together peacefully and in harmony.

There are even cases of Tutsi survivors who married Hutu perpetrators and embraced them into their families. The researchers intend soon to gain a better understanding of this phenomenon among survivors and their offspring.

The researchers hope to present their findings at a seminar in Rwanda and offer assistance in developing applied research and intervention strategies, such as treatment of trauma and seeking to promote unity and reconciliation, to Rwandan stakeholders.

With the agreement between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rwandan President Kagame to open embassies in each other’s countries and establish closer ties, the researchers hope that their applied research can help strengthen Israeli-Rwandan relations for the social benefit of Rwanda.

Despite limitations, our preliminary findings highlight CPTSD as a rather frequent debilitating condition among Tutsi genocide survivors, and for the first time to the best of our knowledge, document CPTSD association with more severe responses among survivors’ offspring.

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, First appeared in breaking Israel News, today.

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