A photo of Herero women was published by Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung in 1904, the year the Herero launched an uprising against German colonists, leading to an “extermination” order for the ethnic group. ullstein bild/GettyImages
Decades before the Holocaust, Germany carried out what many historians consider the first genocide of the 20th century in Namibia. German generals targeted two land-owning ethnic groups, an estimated 80% of Herero and Nama, killing 100,000 people; and throwing the survivors into concentration camps. Now, descendants of the survivors are suing Germany for an admittance of genocide, an apology, and reparations. If the Herero and Nama win, the case could set a legal precedent and encourage other indigenous groups to sue former colonial powers. HBO/Vice news
Today, Lawyers for Herero and Nama people and for the German government present argument in lawsuit demanding reparations for the first German- made Genocide. Think about this. Over 110 years since the Herero genocide by the Germans, descendants of the victims are still fighting for their right to justice in form of reparation. In comparison, It’s been only 24 years since the start of genocide of Tutsi in Rwanda. But our voices calling for reparation are becoming nearly silent than ever before.
As you may recall, I created this very platform 5 years ago in attempt to amplify our reparation campaign back then at the occasion of the 20th commemoration of Rwanda genocide in 2014. Our call went unheeded. I have to admit that our drive at some point stumbled too.
The Government of Rwanda which is the primary responsible legal entity, lacks the political will to recognize and ultimately materialize survivors’ right to reparation. And without political will from our own Government, the International community in return, lacks the appetite to revisit that ugly chapter that revives their guilty. The sense of guilty that they abandoned us at the hands of Hutu’s machetes. Yes Machetes not powerful German tanks or sophisticated gas chambers. The piece below should serve as an inspiration to all the genocide survivors across the globe that we must stand for justice until the last breath of our life.
In recognition of brave descendants of Herero and Nama people, I will dedicate the next couple of posts to the first Genocide of the 20th century–The Herero genocide by the Germans. You’re welcome to contribute by sending me an email at email@example.com
The Ovaherero and Nama delegation outside the District Court in New York [Kate Schoenbach/Al Jazeera]
New York, USA – A court in the United States has heard the first oral argumentation between representatives of the Herero and Nama people and representatives of the German government, in a case concerning damages for what has been termed the first genocide of the 20th century.
An estimated 100,000 Ovaherero and Nama people were killed between 1904 and 1908 as a result of a mass-extermination policy initiated by German colonial troops in South West Africa, currently known as Namibia, when the territory was a German colony.
US District Judge Laura Taylor Swain on Tuesday presided over the one-hour hearing in New York, where a delegation of 50 Herero and Nama people from around the world joined the plaintiffs in attendance.
“All we are asking for is restorative justice for the genocide,” said Ngondi Kamatuka, a Namibian-born American of Herero descent. “All we want is for there to be a jury who can weigh the preponderance of the evidence.”
The key question under consideration was whether a US federal court has the jurisdiction to hear the case, brought by the indigenous people who seek compensation for their ancestors’ suffering.
In order for there to be a firm basis for jurisdiction in the US under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, the Herero and Nama need to demonstrate that wealth derived from the property taken during the German colonial period has a direct link to commercial property in the US.
Kenneth McCallion, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, argued that a number of German properties in New York were purchased as a direct result of the wealth accrued from slave labour and expropriation of property during the genocide.
He also argued that the sale of genocide victims’ human remains to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) demonstrates a valid commercial link between the genocide and American commercial interests.
Germany’s lawyer Jeffrey Harris argued plaintiffs had not sufficiently demonstrated a commercial link. He also said that the presence of skulls at the AMNH was the result of a private donation from German anthropologist Felix von Luschan, and not a commercial exchange.
Germany consequently argues that the US does not have jurisdiction to hear the case.
Swain concluded the session by adjourning the case. She will render a decision on whether the US has jurisdiction over the case in the coming weeks, without setting a date.
Fight for justice
The descendants of the victims, a diasporic group from at least four countries, have been fighting for restorative justice for generations.
In January 2017, plaintiffs Ovaherero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro, Nama chief Johannes Isaack and head of the Association of the Ovaherero Genocide in the USA Barnabas Veraa Katuuo brought a class action lawsuit against Germany, accusing the state of genocide, theft, and expropriation of property when Namibia was under German colonial rule.
Plaintiffs demand reparations akin to those Jewish Holocaust survivors received after World War II. They also demand a seat at the table during bilateral negotiations between the Namibian and German governments concerning how to reckon with colonial-era atrocities.
This is the second time New York courts have considered the question of reparations for the Herero and Nama genocide. In 2001, the Herero People’s Reparations Corporation filed a civil lawsuit against German corporations. While unsuccessful in court, the Herero and Nama succeeded in sparking a debate that has continued to affect German and Namibian civil society.
Tuesday’s lawsuit goes further, forcing the German state to attend court and explain its position on a genocide that it has denied for decades.
Whether Germany now recognises the genocide as a crime under international law is still unclear. While German politicians have acknowledged the genocide in a series of public statements in recent years, the state continues to submit legal documentation to court that denies that the event constitutes genocide.
“The legal concept of genocide does not apply in this case,” states Germany’s motion to dismiss the case. End
Eric Kamuzinzi, (37-year old now), a genocide survivor who discovered a photograph of himself when he was 13 years old amidst the 1994 Rwanda Genocide against the Tutsi
When the Genocide erupted April 7, 1994, he was dressed in that jacket, a t-shirt and shorts. He wore the same cloths until September 1994 when the new government arrived and told them to return to their no-longer-existing homes.
Today, the 13 year-old Eric Kamuzinzi whose photo is one of the few remaining items that show the existence of Nyarushishi camp, is a complete transformation.
For nearly 12,000 Tutsis who lived in Nyarushishi from April to September 1994, it is a period they never wish for anybody else. And as KT Press reports, Kamuzinzi witnessed his father taken from a stadium by genocide militia, nearly starved to death and lived through presence of French commandos.
Type the word “Nyarushishi” into any online search engine, and this particular photo comes at the top. It features alongside those of French soldiers who had crossed into Rwanda from Zaire-current Democratic Republic of Congo. They came with journalists to document what had been billed as a “humanitarian mission”.
On the night of April 6, the Rwandan president is killed as his plane is shot down on descent above the Kigali airport. The hours that followed saw government soldiers and civilian militia ‘interahamwe’ set up roadblocks across Rwanda: the Genocide against Tutsi was underway.
The Kamparampaka stadium located in Cyangugu city center was where thousands of Tutsi fled. Local officials, the communal police, gendarme and army encouraged them to seek refuge there. It was the only safe place: or so they thought.
“My father was taken away as we held hands”
For days and nights, officials entered the stadium and read out names on a megaphone. Those whose names were mentioned were taken – never to be seen again. For every round of lists, survivors and perpetrators, have testified that at least 50 men and women were taken away.
“On many occasions Prefect Bagambiki himself was leading men who read lists…,” says Kamuzinzi in reference to the Prefect (governor) of Cyangugu Prefecture at the time. Bagambiki was arrested in 1998 on a UN indictment for Genocide, but was acquitted in 2004 by the UN court set up to try Genocide perpetrators.
“One day, they came. I was standing with my father and they took him away. It was the last time we saw him,” narrates Kamuzinzi.
In early May 1994, a new plan came up. To relocate the Tutsis in the stadium away from the city. The hilly Nyarushishi area, about 15km away – is where they were ferried in government buses escorted by soldiers. The relocation took several days.
According to testimonies by perpetrators to the UN court, the relocation was conducted so that when the mass massacre was carried out, the slaughter would be done far away from any public notice. Thousands of Tutsis were in the stadium and the regular read out of lists was going too slow.
The relocation was commanded personally by Lt. Colonel Innocent Bavugamenshi, the regional Gendarme commander.
Nyarushishi site was surrounded by acres and acres of tea plantations. Nobody live here. There was no single tree as the hills had for years been stripped bare of any vegetation.
“The cold was unbearable,” is how Kamuzinzi remembers the time they arrived around May 16. He remembers all the dates because he says that period was “worst time of my life.”
Aid workers from the International Committee of the Red Crescent (ICRC) arrived and set up a small tent health center on the edge of the camp. For weeks, they received dying and wounded tutsi who had been attacked, raped women and starving babies.
French commandos arrive
Inside the camp, people were organized according to the time when they arrived from the stadium. The ‘suburbs’ of the camp were numbered “Stade 1”, Stade 2 – and so on. When a resident mentioned the ‘stade’ with figure, everyone knew which part of the camp they were based.
Kamuzinzi has no recollection of when this photo was taken. But remembers many journalists came to Nyarushishi camp. But still vivid memory of the exact spot. He sat here every evening engulfed in thought of a bleak future.
KT Press retraced the journey to Nyarushishi with Kamuzinzi. Today, the site dotted with the blue tents back then, is lined with a well-established community.
In the foreground hidden away on the left of this photo was the ICRC facility. It was less than 10 meters away from the exact spot where Kamuzinzi is seated. He sat facing it.
In mid-June, the French government in Paris approved entry into Rwanda of its 2500 troops stationed across in Zaire on Thursday June 23. The first troops crossed into Cyangugu town.
In Paris, within hours the military headquarters announced three mass graves were found by the advancing commandos. But the discovery of the mass grave was mentioned in single sentences from the barrage of news stories which were concentrating on the troop deployment.
RTLM hate radio reported on the same day from Gisenyi – up north – that the French soldiers had come to “help us fight the RPF”. The broadcaster also said the French would be providing weapons. It called on “Hutu girls” (abakobwa b’abahutu) to put on frocks to welcome the French.
French academic and historian Gérard Prunier has documented rare details leading up to the decision to deploy French commandos to Rwanda. Prunier wrote in 2000 that France’s initial plan was to go to Gisenyi, but decided to enter through Cyangugu to “rescue” the Nyarushishi people.
By settling on going in Nyarushishi, according to genocide researcher Prof Linda Melvern, the politicians in Paris saw this as an opportunity to show the world that they were neutral. And so, accompanied by journalists the commandos drove into Rwanda.
During the same period, however, according to Prunier, in a less publicized move, French officers visited the ‘interim government’ at Hotel Meridien in Gisenyi. They delivered supplies and equipment.
The commander of the retreating former government troops Maj Gen Augustin Bizimungu declared in media reports from the time that his forces would launch an offensive against RPF.
It was on June 25 that first unit of 50 French commandos with mass of journalists arrived at the Nyarushishi camp. There are countless images of the deployment. Kamuzinzi remembers them taking cover on the overlooking hills. They set up an unmarked cordon between the displaced in the camp and militia armed with all sorts of crude weapons.
“The Men Who Killed Me”
What the Nyarushishi camp residents witnessed in the proceeding weeks will remain with the survivors for generations.
For weeks, women and young girls in the camp lived through horrific experiences. Samer Muscati, director of the International Human Rights Program at Toronto University law faculty, documented their plight in a book published in March 2012.
“The Men Who Killed Me” features testimonials from 17 survivors. Through their narratives and Samer Muscati’s powerful portraits of them, these 16 women and one man bear witness not only to the crimes they and their countrymen endured, but to the incredible courage that has allowed them to survive and flourish.
In interview with The Times, Eliezer Niyitegeka, the information minister at the time, confirmed that buses and trucks were crossing the border to “provide transport for refugees”. Niyitegeka died in March this year from a Mali jail where he was serving life sentence for his role in the genocide.
In Kigali, a new government comprising the RPF and other parties had been formed and sworn in July 19, 1994. RPF troops – who were now in government, arrived at Nyarushishi camp in September.
“You can’t imagine how happy everyone was when we saw inkotanyi,” said Kamuzinzi in our interview.
“We had been hearing Inkotanyi were in other places. So we waited eagerly for them to save us. There are times when rumors would circulate that Inkotanyi had come. This prompted people to run towards the hills to meet them only to find it was a false alarm.”
Cyangugu was within the infamous French “zone turquoise” – covering a large sway of south western Rwanda. While other regions had come under RPF control in early July, it would be weeks later, and eventual pullout of the French, that the entire territory was declared liberated.
The new government forces embarked on a resettlement exercise for the survivors. Kamuzinzi with his mother and siblings – like the tens of thousands others began the uphill task of rebuilding their lives.
Kamuzinzi’s mother had been a teacher before the genocide, just like their missing father. So she returned to class when schools opened in early 1995.
Kamuzinzi went back to secondary school at Karubanda seminary – eventually university in 2001 where despite the hardships at the time, he completed five years later.
Today, he is a social affairs officer in one of the sectors of Rusizi district.
Kamuzinzi tells us he first saw the Nyarushishi camp photo of him in 2015 when he got urge to do internet search.
“The feeling just arose so I went online and put the word ‘Nyarushishi’ in Google search. It was among top images. But there were many other photos from the camp showing French soldiers,” he narrated.
According to records we have obtained, the image was taken August 25, 1994, by journalist Jean-March Bouju reporting for The Associated Press (AP) news agency.
As for the missing father, Kamuzinzi tells us; “We gave his remains a decent burial at the memorial site” on June 23, 2018 when 3,516 newly discovered victims from the region were laid to rest at the Nyarushishi site where already 4,738 were buried.
Kamuzinzi got married last year. His wife also survived the horror in Nyarushishi camp. They had a two-month old baby girl when we conducted the interview three weeks ago.
Project compiled by: Fred Mwasa, Fulgence Kwizera, Ephraim Musabwe.
While I strongly disagree with de-criminalizing Holocaust and genocide denial, I think this piece that appeared in Washington Post today is worth reading. Unlike the author, I think Zuckerberg was absolutely wrong when he said he wouldn’t remove Holocaust deniers from his platform, claiming some aren’t “intentionally getting it wrong.” Let’s face it: If you deny genocide or holocaust , you are insinuating in other words that thousands testimonies of survivors are a work of fiction. You are discrediting the first hand accounts of brave soldiers who put an end to this tragedy. Those who deny Holocaust or any other genocide should be hold accountable not only to deter this immoral behavior but also to build a racial discrimination-free society that we dearly wish for our children and grand children. After all, Isn’t the role of law to keep in check bad guys within the society?
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg/Photo, Andrew Harnik/AP
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg got into trouble recently when he said he wouldn’t remove Holocaust deniers from his platform, claiming some aren’t “intentionally getting it wrong.”
In response, the Anti-Defamation League charged that Facebook has a “moral and ethical obligation” to prevent the “dissemination” of Holocaust denial. Others attacked Zuckerberg for not taking growing anti-Semitism seriously. Zuckerberg later clarified that he wasn’t defending the intent of Holocaust deniers.
The free-speech challenge that Facebook and similar platforms with global reach face is immense. Since World War II and especially since the Cold War, more countries have enacted legislation –with references to history, religion, culture, social peace and security concerns– that undermines a common understanding of what free speech entails. This has made free speech advocacy increasingly difficult on the international level.
This is a paradox. Due to increased migration, rapid urbanization and developments in technology, more people are becoming virtual and physical neighbors. Yet while this increases the need for shared norms about free speech and its limits, the world seems to be moving in the opposite direction.
Facebook has over 2 billion members from every corner of the planet — all communicating within the context of vastly different legal systems, histories, cultures, religions and social norms — creating an overwhelming amount of competing priorities. To illustrate this point, consider the contrasting norms in the two countries with the most Facebook users: the United States and India. While it’s not controversial in Texas to tell others that you slaughtered a cow and had some great steaks, doing so in India could get you killed. The cow is sacred in Hinduism, and in parts of India, killing a cow is punishable by life imprisonment. Just a couple of months ago, a man was beaten to death in India after a mob accused him of slaughtering a cow. What should Facebook do if somebody in India establishes a group for beef-lovers?
Or what about the profound differences in nudity norms in countries like the United States and Denmark? In Denmark and other European countries, nudity is not by definition seen as pornography or as explicit sexual content. It was therefore not controversial when a well-known Danish author included nude photos in a book a few years ago and published some on Facebook. In the United States, though, both Apple and Facebook censored the photos for violating community standards. Facebook notified the author that if he didn’t take down the offending content, his account would be permanently deactivated. More recently, Facebook made a joke of itself by removing museum ads for Peter Paul Rubens’s paintings of naked women. Not even a painting of a half-naked Jesus on the cross was able to escape its censors.
It is easy to laugh at this as some odd conflict that should not be that difficult to solve. But Holocaust denial and what to do with it is of course no laughing matter. “It’s a form of anti-Semitism,” the respected Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt said in response to Zuckerberg’s comments. “It’s about attacking, discrediting and demonizing Jews.”
In spite of this, Lipstadt has never been in favor of criminalizing and banning Holocaust denial. She has argued that the best way to defeat deniers is through open exposure and establishing the facts. When British Holocaust denier David Irving lost a libel suit to Lipstadt and was later imprisoned in Austria, Lipstadt saidshe was “uncomfortable with imprisoning people for speech. … I don’t think Holocaust denial should be a crime. I am a free speech person. I am against censorship.”
Lipstadt is right. Bans and criminalization are simply not the most effective way to fight anti-Semitism.
First, a ban risks turning deniers into martyrs of free speech, which they are not. They deserve to be denounced, mocked and ridiculed in every possible way, but that becomes more complicated if it can be framed as a free speech issue.
Second, criminalization of Holocaust denial may amplify conspiracy theories rather than undermine them. People who are already generally skeptical of government might think it is trying to hide the “real” facts by banning Holocaust denial.
Third, a ban risks weakening our ability to defend the historical truth with facts and documentation. A ban may turn the truth about the Holocaust into something akin to a religious dogma, of which we just know it’s true because it’s true and no questions can be asked. This is what happened to the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation, when many Catholics were totally unprepared for the theological challenge from the Protestants.
Criminalization and bans also have a negative effect on free speech. For example, when Germany passed a law demanding Facebook and others to take down hate speech within 24 hours or risk a fine of about $58 million, Russia later copied the legislation, which it will likely apply in a far less liberal way. As another example, ten years ago, the European Union made it mandatory for all members to pass Holocaust denial laws and toughen the laws against hate speech. So far, 16 member states have done so. These laws against hate speech have triggered a wave of memory laws in Europe and beyond, intended to protect certain versions of history against criticism. It is identity politics on the governmental level.
In Eastern Europe, several countries passed laws criminalizing the denial of crimes under Communism. Others passed laws criminalizing the denial of the Armenian genocide. A Turkish politician was prosecuted in Switzerland for saying it was a lie to call the mass killing of the Armenians a genocide. The Latvian parliament passed a law criminalizing the denial of Latvia’s occupation by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Post-Maidan Ukraine made it a criminal offense to insult the memory of Ukraine’s 20th century freedom fighters, among whom were organizations and individuals who participated in the mass killings of Jews in the Nazi-occupied territories during World War II.
In May 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that made the denial of Nazi crimes and “wittingly spreading false information” about Soviet activity during World War II criminal offenses. The most recent example of legislation inspired by European Holocaust denial laws is Poland’s criminalization of the expressions “Polish death camp” and “Polish concentration camp” when referring to Nazi death camps in occupied Poland during the war. After severe criticism, the Polish parliament softened its stance and reduced this violation to a civic offense.
There is little doubt that anti-Semitism as a general trend in Europe has been on the rise. At the same time, a growing number of E.U. member states have criminalized Holocaust denial and passed other laws targeting hate speech against Jews and other minorities. In 2007, Italy’s cabinet approved a law making Holocaust denial a crime with a possible four-year prison sentence. Nevertheless, a recent report found that anti-Semitic incidents across the E.U. have increased between 2006 and 2016.
We should be careful to draw sweeping conclusions, but the limited data we have indicates that banning Holocaust denial isn’t the most effective way to fight it and similar incidents of anti-Semitism. Maybe Zuckerberg had a point after all. End.
This Article first appeared in Washington Post today. Flemming Rose is an author and senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He was formerly an editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, where he was largely responsible for the controversial 2005 publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
Last week, my co-worker asked me for a recommendation of top 5 books on Genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda. This a tough question to answer since there are a lot of great options out there. From my personal experience tough, here is my top 5 recommendation. The order one to five does not really matter at all. In fact, my most favorite reads are at the bottom of the list.
Leave None to tell the story- Genocide in Rwanda (1) This book is perhaps my most favorite account of genocide because of the level of details it provides. The Author, Alison Des Forges , documents genocide preparation, development and consolidation of the Hutu Power ideology in each and every commune (County) of Rwanda. The book does not even shy away from mentioning the names of those Hutus who were at the helm of killings in their respective localities. Reading this heavy weight piece of work, I realized how little I knew about the very tragedy I survived—the genocide against the Tutsi. Free PDF is available here.This book was also recently published in Kinyarwanda as ‘’Ntihazasigare n’uwo kubara inkuru’’ which I would highly recommend as well.
The Rwanda Crisis, History of a Genocide: In the Rwanda Crisis, journalist Gérard Prunier provides a historical perspective that Western readers need to understand how and why the nearly total extermination of Rwanda’s Tutsi population came to pass. Gerard Prunier probes into how the genocidal events in Rwanda were part of a deadly logic – a plan that served central political and economic interests – rather than a result of primordial tribal hatreds, a notion often invoked by the media to dramatize genocide.
3. A people Betrayed the Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide: Linda Melvern reveals how the great powers failed to heed the warnings of the coming catastrophe, and refused to recognize the genocide when it began, ignoring obligations under international law, specifically the 1948 genocide convention. A set of secret documents leaked to the author from within the Security Council proves that the circumstances of the genocide were suppressed or ignored. Linda Melvern’s Consipiracy to murderpublished in 2004 is equally a must read.
4. Life Laid Bare, the Survivors in Rwanda Speak.Originally published in French as ‘’ Dans le nus de la vie’’ the French author, Jean Hatzfeld skillfully describes the daily survival stories of 14 survivors who miraculously survived the extermination of Tutsis thanks to the papyrus swamps along the Nyabarongo river in Bugesera. The book demonstrates the uncertainty and pervasive effects of genocide in the lives of survivors. Jean Hartzfeld’s other books such as the ‘’Antilope’s strategy: Living in Rwanda After the Genocide’’ and ‘’Machete season ‘’are worth checking as well.
5. You can’t talk about books about the Rwanda genocide against the Tutsi without mentioning We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families, by Philip Gourevitch of The New Yorker.
This book describes Gourevitch’s travels in Rwanda after Genocide, in which he interviews survivors and retells their stories but also provide a very useful context in which the genocide broke out. In the last chapters of this book, Gourevitch discussed a topic that caught my attention with a lot of interest. How the international community soon forgot the bleeding wounds of survivors and focused all the attention to Genocidaire who fled west to the Congo after committing a brutal genocide. End, Albert.
Authorities in Myanmar made preparations for attacks against the Rohingya with “genocidal intent” in the weeks before last year’s purge, a rights watchdog has claimed.
A report by Fortify Rights, a Bangkok-based organisation, alleges that officials carefully planned a systematic assault on the Rohingya community.
Rohingya militants provided an opportunity for attack when they conducted a series of coordinated strikes on border police outposts in August last year, claiming the lives of 12 security personnel. The ensuing military-led crackdown, during which the army allegedly committed rapes, massacres and arson attacks, drove hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.
The report, They Gave Them Long Swords, identifies more than 20 army and police officials responsible for alleged atrocities. These include figures at the highest level of the military command structure such as Myanmar’s commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing, and joint chief of staff, Mya Tun Oo.
The study, published on Thursday following nearly two years of research, contains legal analysis and hundreds of interviews with survivors of violence, Rohingya insurgents, and government and military officials in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Security forces armed non-Rohingya civilians in the months before the 2017 violence, claim the researchers, even as steps were taken to make Rohingya communities more vulnerable to the coming assault. Among the alleged measures were moves to disarm civilians, suspend humanitarian aid, impose curfews and substantially increase troop numbers.
Matthew Smith, chief executive of Fortify Rights, said Myanmar’s failure to hold senior military officials to account for their deliberate targeting of civilians meant the country should be referred to the international criminal court, which could act as a deterrent against future crimes.
“The ICC was created precisely for situations like this, when a government fails to investigate and prosecute mass atrocities. The preparations and the crimes themselves – massacres, mass rape, atrocious attacks – all speak to genocidal intent,” Smith said.
“So long as impunity continues, we’re likely to see more atrocities.”
The Rohingya, a stateless, predominantly Muslim community, have resided for generations in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state, where they endure restrictions on basic rights such as freedom of movement.
The group has been subjected to a series of military crackdowns over the past six years, the worst and most recent of which began last August. Coordinated attacks on border police by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) were answered with a counter-insurgency campaign that prompted an estimated 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh. The violence claimed 6,700 lives in its first month, according to medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières. The UN’s human rights chief has said he believes “acts of genocide” may have been committed during the conflagration.
The government and military of Myanmar have strongly denied accusations of genocide and crimes against humanity, claiming the “clearance operations” that began last August were a justified response to acts of “terrorism” by Rohingya insurgents.
The government has denied visas to a UN delegation tasked with investigating alleged abuses and barred Professor Yanghee Lee, the UN’s rights envoy to Myanmar, from entering the country, claiming that she has made “biased, one-sided and unfair accusations”.
Esther Mujawayo-Keiner in her office at the Psychosocial Center for refugees in Düsseldorf
Germany’s public international broadcaster (DW) published an inspiring story yesterday of Esther Mujawayo, a genocide survivor who rose above her own trauma and now giving back to her community in Germany. Read her full story of courage and resilience below:
Esther Mujawayo-Keiner lost her husband, sister, parents, aunts and uncles in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. She and her three daughters survived almost through a miracle. She was on maternity leave when all of her Tutsi colleagues were murdered during a meeting. And in the night that her family’s hideout was discovered, the women were spared.
The genocide claimed the lives of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. When it was over, Esther felt as though she was going insane. She was no longer sleeping or eating and her memory was failing her. Together with other female survivors, she founded AVEGA, a widows’ association. “By creating AVEGA, we gave our lives new meaning. We learned to cry together and we learned to laugh again,” Esther explained. The women realized that what they were feeling was not insanity but trauma. With this realization, their healing process began. “Our motto was to become alive, alive again. And, slowly, slowly, we did.” As Esther regained the ground under her feet, she decided to take a sabbatical year and train as a psychotherapist in the United Kingdom. She wanted to help other trauma survivors become alive again.
Putting horrific memories in the bin
In 1999 Esther moved to Germany with her daughters and her second husband. Since 2001, she has worked as a trauma therapist for African refugees at the Psychosocial Center for Refugees in Düsseldorf. “When refugees come to me first, they are in a very bad condition. The trauma make it hard for them to even remember to find [the way] back to the center. Sometimes they do not come back for months because they have completely lost their concentration.” More than 400 refugees seek help at the center every year. Most of her patients are suffering from memories of their war-torn home countries, and from the dangerous journeys they had to make to get to Germany. “I am currently working with one family who arrived in Europe by sea. Their children witnessed people falling off the overcrowded boat. Some passengers died on the journey, so the children were surrounded by dead bodies for days on end. Now, one of the little girls is haunted by nightmares of the boat ride. I gave her pen and paper during our first session and she drew a boat filled with dead bodies,” Esther said, adding that she provides her patients with a place to empty their heads, to leave all their horrific memories in her dust bin.
The importance of community
Esther Mujawayo-Keiner in Vienna at the Women’s World Awards 2009, where she received the World Social Award
For Esther, her children’s survival was what saved her. Her three daughters gave her a reason to continue and to rebuild their lives together. She sees the same sort of resilience in many of the female refugees at the center. “Even though they have lost everything, they still keep their role as a mother, as the caretaker of the household. The women still have a strong sense of purpose, which makes it easier for them to start their lives here.” The empowering impact AVEGA had on her life after the genocide taught Esther the importance of community. “I encourage the refugee women to go out and meet other refugees. Alone, you are just by yourself, but together you can be strong again.”
Uncertainty hinders healing
Two decades after the genocide, Esther sees Rwanda as a shining example of how to recuperate from tragedy. “From the worst, most terrible experience, we managed to make something good, something beautiful.” Esther describes Rwanda as a mosaic, with people scattered from different groups coming together and working hard to make the country into what it is today. What worries her is that many of her patients do not have the same opportunity to take part in a rebuilding process. She says that one of the most important aspects in healing is stability. The constant worry of not being granted asylum leaves many trapped in a state of fear. “When you are constantly thinking you will be deported tomorrow, you cannot integrate, you cannot learn the language, you cannot start to live again.”
Growing from trauma
For Esther Mujawayo-Keiner, Rwanda’s progress embodies post-traumatic growth. “There is a theory that says you can take your unfortunate history and use it to grow, to be even better.” Post-traumatic growth is something she sees in many of her patients. “There is a boy who came to me when he was 16 years old. He was dissociating and he was thinking he was mad. He got triggered and panicked just from the sight of a train conductor. The uniform reminded him of the people who killed his family.” Today, the former refugee is married, has two children and works at a bank in Düsseldorf. Sometimes, he gives Esther a lift to work in his new car. It is moments like these that convince her that “it is possible to become the man or the woman you used to be again, to become alive again.”
Article first appeared at DW/Africa by Marie Sina.
Immaculee Mukantaganira lighting a candle in Kalamazoo MI, during an event commemorating the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Photo/Bahizi Olivier.
Chicago Tribune published today a very moving story and video clip of four Chicago-area residents who have survived genocide in different parts of the world including our very own Immaculee Mukantagara, a survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Below, Read Immaculee’s story as written by Howard Reich and find out the precious possessions she kept for over two decades before donating them to the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie (Zbigniew Bzdak).
When I was a child, there was no peace in my region and in Rwanda. Sometimes we had to spend night in the forests, because we could not be in our houses, with the fear of being killed, because we’re Tutsi. My parents’ house was burnt twice during my childhood.
It was just a challenge to grow up in the environment, just because, you know, Tutsi were denied education. Tutsi could not attend high school. So some parents would try to do everything possible for their children to go in private school. And private school, weren’t many. There were very few in the country. And so we had many Tutsi were fleeing to neighbouring countries, so that they can live their life, they can live without a fear of being killed.
So for me, when I got married, and I had my children, and when in 1993 we realised that the genocide was being planned, and there was reason (to believe) Tutsi were going to be exterminated.
(The) government had been preparing, planning for the genocide. In the city, you could hear shots everywhere. Military on the road are saying, “Every Tutsi will die, have to die.”
The strategy of killing people was to tell them: “Let’s go to one area, so that you can protect you better.” I was reading this morning about the Holocaust and realized that that was the same thing. They will promise them to go to this place and protect them, but then that was their way of making sure that they have everyone so that they can kill them.
(We) had to wait for our destiny, which was death.
And they divided us. They started measuring faces of Tutsi, and they start saying: “You know, Tutsi are tall, they have long nose, and Hutu are this.”
So they started classification. They started classifying us.
And so they gave us identity card; we have an identity, Tutsi, and Hutus had an identity, Hutu.
When those militia came to the house, they started asking for identity. We were all Tutsi in the house.
So they say: OK, now let’s go. We went out of the house, and they took us to the forest that was close to the house, and when we got in the forest, they started killing one by one.
When they got to me, it was like militia will come, and there was a military beside him, and he started approaching me and pushing me. And I told him, “Please don’t kill me. If you don’t kill me, I give you money.”
And I have money in my dress, in our traditional dress, you can put money inside. So I pull out the money, and I gave to him. And I said, “If you don’t kill me, there is more money inside the house.”
So he pushed me like far from the line. And he continued his killing. But when he pushed me, for some reason, I wasn’t even sure what I was doing, really, I was just saying: If you don’t kill me, and I was just waiting for my death. But for some reason I moved backward in the forest.
And I kept moving backward. They continued with the killing, and when I got farther from where they were, I sat under a tree. My son was on my back.
We were rescued. But everything I did during that time, I didn’t know my two girls had died. I didn’t know my husband was killed. Because I didn’t see them killing him.
I was hoping to see my two daughters, but they were gone. And I started telling myself, so now why, why did I survive? Everything I did, everything I tried, I was hoping if my husband died, at least my children will have a mother.
If my husband survived, I will see him. But they were gone.
That was the worst of my life. Surviving and not seeing them.
So now I know it has been 24 years after we lost them.
For so many years I didn’t — I kind of like postponed finding the bodies of my girls. It was just so hard for me. And last year I decided to go and do it.
I wanted to find a skeleton, at least. But what I found was just unbelievable.
Clothing of sisters Clarisse and Raissa recovered from a grave in Rwanda and donated by their mother Immaculee Mukantaganira to the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie (Zbigniew Bzdak)
So I found the two girls, they were 5 and 3 when the genocide took them. So I was about to find their bodies, because I don’t want to say I only found bones. It’s their body; they were together. So I call them “body,” just to restore their dignity.
Why did you save these objects?
When I went to find the bodies of my girls, when they found them, that was the only thing that can tell me that was them. That’s why I’m sticking to them. So I recognized those, it’s just unbelievable. Everything is gone but their clothes.
So I took them, and I decided to keep them. Because that’s the only thing from (them) that I have. Today they (would) have grown to conquer the world and they would be married, and they would be surrounding me. They were just bright kids. Very bright. But God only knows.
Why is there genocide?
I always ask myself that question. Why? Why? Why was it a genocide in Rwanda? Why was it the Holocaust? What makes people so evil? You know, to kill their neighbor. Because in Rwanda, when husband kill the wives if they were Tutsi. What makes people so evil to do that?
I don’t have an answer for that, because I don’t know what was in people’s mind. But what I noticed myself is that when I was hiding, I heard someone saying: I am on my 943rd kill. And that sentence keeps, stays in my mind. And I’m thinking: What? I mean, how can someone say that so proudly?
And I realize, you know, genocide is planned. People don’t decide to do genocide overnight. And those (who) planned the genocide prepared to kill us. And they taught them to kill the enemies. And they tell: These are your enemies; you have a common enemy. And they would tell: Tutsi are your enemy. But we were not. We were neighbors. We are good neighbors. We are all friends.
But they prepared them. They mentally brainwashed them. I felt like in 1994, the majority of the Rwandan population was illiterate. They didn’t go to school. Some did not even do primary school, others did not do secondary school.
When you don’t have education, you don’t have the critical thinking to decide for yourself. And you just follow blindly. So the elite who has his personal interest is using all his power and doing all he can to brainwash people. So my thinking is that education is critical to the well-being of a nation, of the society, and it’s critical for peace.
How has this experience changed you?
The experience of the genocide has changed my life forever.
First of all, you don’t have your surrounding. So the loneliness and the care that you don’t have from those people — I had a family, very strong and very caring family. And we’re Christian people, and we had so many friends, and all of that was taken away in 100 days.
And so you find yourself in this world, and you’re trying to survive, but you don’t have the family that surrounded you — what is happening?
The women who were raped, I mean, it’s difficult. But it makes you more compassionate. I’ve become more compassionate.
If I see someone falling on the street, I don’t care if they say: Be careful, because you don’t know. I will jump and grab him.
Spéciose Mukakibibi, photographed in 1995, aged 37. Hutu militiamen attacked her with machetes and killed three of her five children. Photo: Jenny Matthews/Panos.
The New Yorker, one of the most famous magazines in the United States, published a great piece yesterday featuring genocide survivors’ outrage towards the early release from prison of the genocide’s perpetrators. Below, Read the entire article by Gina Moore:
In July, 1993, an eleven-year-old named Damas Dukundane got a new pair of shoes. His mother bought them, unused, and paired them with a new blue suit. She was not terribly religious, and her son’s baptism would be the only time in her life that she would enter the brick church in the unremarkable village of Kaduha, in rural Rwanda. What the rest of the family looked like on that day, in their nicest clothes, Damas does not remember. There are no surviving photographs, and no surviving witnesses, either.
One year later, his father was missing, and his mother, like so many mothers from the area, had fled to the church, with her five children. Outside, they huddled in a crowd of hundreds, praying for their lives. The village’s men encircled them protectively, raising machetes and sticks, hoping to intimidate the interahamwe, the Hutu militias moving house to house and church to church in a national rush to exterminate the country’s ethnic-minority Tutsi population.
“At first, we were stronger than them, because we were the ones with nowhere else to go,” Damas recalled recently. “We were the ones who were fighting for our lives. Then the military came with guns, and that’s when people realized—we can never win a fight with the military.”
This is how the genocide in Rwanda unfolded. From hilltop to hilltop, across a country famous for its undulating landscape, interahamwe chased their neighbors with machetes and clubs. They were trained, dogged, and successful. But the most efficient, large-scale killing happened when soldiers arrived with automatic weapons and seemingly limitless ammunition. “When they started shooting into the crowd, the people ran. We realized this time there was no way they can fight,” Damas said. “That is how the apocalypse of us happened.”
The man who brought the military to Damas’s church was Aloys Simba. In 1994, Simba was fifty-five years old, an ex-colonel celebrated for helping to bring Juvénal Habyarimana, then the President, to power in a coup in the nineteen-seventies. On the evening of April 6, 1994, for reasons that are still a matter of historical dispute, Habyarimana’s plane was shot down. After the crash, the Tutsi became prey for legions of armed, agitated Hutu militiamen. Killings quickly began, and then spread. Virtually every hilltop became a death site that rainy season, as Hutu extremists killed an estimated eight hundred thousand of their neighbors in just a hundred days.
Simba armed the soldiers who attacked the Kaduha parish. He ordered them to chase every last Tutsi who might escape and kill any Hutu comrade who showed mercy. He forced the condemned to dig their own graves. In 2005, Simba was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity at an international war-crimes tribunal, in Arusha, Tanzania. Other places where he killed—Murambi, Kibeho—are, in today’s Rwanda, touchstones of collective memory. His conviction was affirmed in 2007, after an appeal.
Soon, if all goes as planned—and there is little reason to expect that it will not—Simba, a giant of genocide, will be a free man. He is expected to be paroled, along with Dominique Ntawukulilyayo, who, after promising twenty-five thousand Tutsis safety, lured them to a hilltop in Kabuye before having them slaughtered, and Hassan Ngeze, a journalist whose hateful propagandist newspaper, Kangura, many Rwandans still see as the real fuel of the genocide. The court regards Ngeze’s conviction for inciting genocide as a “landmark” in international justice, though his life sentence was reduced to thirty-five years on appeal.
“We really thought someone like Ngeze, at least, who really incited the extremists to kill their neighbors, should stay in prison for life,” Freddy Mutanguha, the vice-president of Ibuka, a national association of survivors of the 1994 genocide, said. “He made too many victims in this country. It’s really very insulting.” He called the court’s practice of early release “a new form of impunity.”
Whether to release the three men is up to one judge, Theodor Meron, the president of the Mechanism for the International Criminal Tribunals, whose decision cannot be appealed. Though thousands of procedural considerations went into setting up the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, twin courts tasked with trying the perpetrators of near-simultaneous genocides, the ad-hoc system nevertheless failed to establish clear standards for sentence reductions. Now, more than twenty years after the trials began, the guilty who have been imprisoned in seventeen countries around the world are asking to get out early. A study from 2014 found that nearly half of the convicts from both courts have been released, the vast majority of them before serving full sentences.
The first decisions in paroling genocidaires cited domestic parole regulations, which often grant eligibility after two-thirds of a sentence has been served; over time, as Meron has noted, the Tribunals have come to rely on two-thirds of time served as an eligibility standard. But critics question any parole system for the world’s gravest crimes. Early release of rehabilitated criminals may make sense in states that are trying to reduce the costs of incarceration, and where authorities can monitor the activities of parolees. But the criminals convicted by international tribunals have perpetrated a scale and degree of harm that domestic regulations were not designed to account for; furthermore, they are not supervised after their release, and there are no legal grounds for detaining them should they once again begin stoking ethnic hatred or worse. In a letter to the court, the Rwandan government has adamantly protested the request, writing that the men’s crimes “offend all standards of humanity, morality and decency” and continue to harm Rwanda and Rwandans a quarter-century later. Damas wholeheartedly agrees. “This may not be something the whole world is ready to understand—it’s just my opinion—but, if we are going for justice, Simba cannot be let out,” he told me. “It would be unfair for the small people who took those machetes, who came running after us, who had no idea of whatever was happening up the chain of command.”
More than a million of those “small people,” the petty genocidaires, were tried over nearly a decade in Rwanda’s gacaca, or “grass courts,” a system meant to insure that not a single Hutu crime went unpunished. Early releases came after both confession and contrition, which the accused often demonstrated by showing the community where he had left the bodies of those he killed. At gacaca, remorse, like innocence, required proof.
The system is different for those convicted in the U.N.-created Tribunals. In granting early release to the convicted, the Tribunals presume their rehabilitation—even when they demonstrate precisely the opposite. So far, we know very little about the remorse of the three men asking now for early release: a confidentiality rule protects the contents of their applications. Johnston Busingye, Rwanda’s Minister of Justice, said that the government twice asked to see the applications prior to its response, but the court never replied. “This is not a deal with thought for the victims,” he said. “This is a deal between the convicts and the court.
In fact, Busingye said, this is the first time since the early release of Rwandan genocidaires began in 2012 that the court has bothered to ask for the Rwandan government’s input at all. The court is not required to consult with Rwandan officials before ruling on early-release applications, nor is it required to inform any of the eighteen hundred people who were offered witness-protection services in exchange for their testimony. In 2016, when Ferdinand Nahimana, who co-founded a hate radio station that broadcasts the names and locations of surviving Tutsis, was released after serving two decades of his thirty-year sentence, the Rwandan government and its citizens, including those who testified against him, found out on the radio.
When the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda concluded its last trials, in 2012, its sixty-two convictions were hailed as a triumph of justice, both in the narrow criminal sense and, more broadly, as a method of historical documentation and a foundation for reconciliation. So far, nearly twenty per cent of its convicts have been released early. If the three pending requests succeed, the lawyers for the Rwandan government expect Théoneste Bagosora, who is regarded as the mastermind of the genocide, to file a similar request later this year.
Human-rights advocates say that paroling the perpetrators threatens the entire logic of international criminal law. “You convict people for genocide, they get relatively low sentences, and then they are eligible for early release—it completely undermines the process,” Toby Cadman, a co-founder of Guernica 37, an international-justice law firm in London, told me.
Or, as Damas put it: “If Simba is let out, who is left in?”
More than hate, more than fear, more than machetes or machine guns, scale has always been the genocidaires’ most powerful weapon. The world remembers mass murder, mass rape, mass crimes, and speaks with pathos of nameless, faceless victims—and the tribunals tell us, through millions of pages of testimony and other overwhelming proof, that those mass crimes were committed by these relatively few men. The perpetrators’ ability to execute atrocity outstrips our capacity to imagine it. We cannot grasp it. The overwhelming proof overwhelms us. A countable collection of perpetrators has become as faceless, as abstract, as the thousands and thousands of people they’ve killed.
This is not, of course, how Damas feels about Aloys Simba. Damas, whom I first met in Rwanda nearly fifteen years ago, is now the father of three children, and an adopted member of my family. But, after the soldiers sent by Simba shot into the crowd at Kaduha parish, he never saw his own family again: his mother ran, with a newborn in her arms and Damas’s siblings trailing behind, down a hill. Damas, at eleven, had refused to follow. He fled up the hill instead, and he was pushed by a stranger into the priests’ living quarters. He hid under a bed there, as the massacre that began at dawn dragged into dusk. “There was screaming, screaming—there were so many people to kill—and more screaming, until it was the last voice,” he said. “And then that was that.”
This, Damas has learned, is the injustice of international justice: the killers, like their victims, become nameless, faceless statistics. And if we cannot name them, and we cannot imagine their crimes, we will hardly notice when they are let go.
Jina Moore was previously the East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times.
Jacqueline Murekatete, Esq. Photo/Museum of Jewish Heritage
Jaqueline Murekatete, the Founder and president of Genocide Survivors Foundation, adds her voice to the bulk of imminent personalities calling to revisit the potential decision to grant unconditional early release of genocide convicts Aloys Simba, Dominique Ntawukuriryayo and Hassan Ngenze. The trio are currently serving their sentences in a United Nations prison based in Mali. In a letter she published last week, Murekatete who is a survivor and an attorney with the New York Bar Association questions both the legal and moral basis of granting early release to the masterminds of the most heinous crime the world has ever known.
In many legal systems, people convicted of various crimes which lead to individual death or no death at all are given a life sentence without parole. Light sentences and early release for genocide convicts, people responsible for mass murder, trivialize the crime of genocide and encourage a culture of impunity. Murekatete argues.
Click here to read the entire letter in PDF format as it appears on Genocide Survivors Foundation website.
Genocide criminals Octavier Ngenzi and Tito Barahira. Photo/Rushyashya.
A French court on Friday upheld life sentences for two former Rwandan mayors for taking part in the massacre of hundreds of ethnic Tutsis during the country’s 1994 genocide.
Octavien Ngenzi, 60, and Tito Barahira, 67, had launched an appeal after they were found guilty in 2016 of crimes against humanity, genocide and summary executions in their village of Kabarondo.
Relatives of the pair sobbed quietly as the ruling was read out in court, while Ngenzi and Barahira listened in silence.
They will have five days to decide whether they will appeal the ruling again to a higher court.
“This decision is just and sends a message: no to impunity for all those who took part in the genocide and who thought they could find refuge in France,” said Alain Gauthier, head of a group which has pushed for French investigations into the genocide.
Some 2,000 people seeking refuge in a church were hacked to death in Kabarondo during seven hours of carnage, among some 800,000 people killed during the genocide by Hutu extremists.
Ngenzi and Barahira’s were the stiffest genocide sentences ever handed down by a French court, after former Rwandan army captain Pascal Simbikangwa received 25 years in solitary confinement in 2014.
All three were arrested in France and judged under universal jurisdiction which permits states to rule on serious crimes regardless of the suspect’s nationality or where the wrongdoing was committed.
Ngenzi and Barahira had denied the charges that they acted as “supervisors” and “executioners” in the massacre.
Ngenzi has been in custody since 2010 when he was captured in the French overseas department of Mayotte off the east coast of Africa, where he had been living under a false name.
Barahira was arrested in 2013 in the southwestern French city of Toulouse where he was living.
The genocide has been a source of tension between France and Rwanda for decades.
Rwanda has long accused France of complicity in the mass killings through its support of ethnic Hutu forces who carried out most of the slaughter.
Photo/Nato. Bernard Kouchner ( Ex.Minister of Foreign Affairs, France)
When I opened up my social media feed yesterday, the news about Bernard Kouchner, the French ex- Foreign Minister was a headline. In an interview with a French daily newspaper, La Croix, Kouchner said on Sunday 7/1/2018 that in 1994 France had “committed a very heavy political mistake” in Rwanda. The “French decision makers did not want to see” at the time that they “were friends with the ‘genocidaires’ in this country” he said. While many people seem to have praised this statement as a step forward in uncovering the role of France in the extermination of Rwanda’s Tutsis by French-backed Hutus, I have to confess that I received this statement with mixed feelings.
First, the statement seems to be a sharp U-Turn from his own statement on Al Jazeera back in 2014 in which he called France to apologize for its role in the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. It is unclear whether yesterday’s statement is actually a self-contradiction or whether it reflects Kouchner’s current version of the events of 1994.
Second, Reducing French’s involvement to just ‘’ a political mistake’’ is an understatement and a deliberate aberration to common knowledge. This was a genocide Co-authored by France as a political tool to maintain French influence in Rwanda at the cost of over one million Tutsis men, women and children. We, the survivors, saw this with our own eyes: we saw French soldiers hand in hand with Hutu Killers, training them, manning check points with them to prevent us from escaping. As we were being hunted down like wild animals in 1994, France is perhaps the only country in the world that rolled red caped for the genocidal government right in the midst of genocide. If France did not shy away from shaking hands with those devils then, why is it dragging its feet when it comes to do the right thing now?
Today, thanks to ordinary French people themselves, writers, journalists and students, the role of France during the Genocide of Tutsi in Rwanda is crystal clear than ever: France had not made just ‘’ a political mistake’’. France made a criminal and well calculated political choice to be accomplice at the highest level in the last genocide of the 20th century. Any statement different from this fact is simply a nonsense that should not be insinuated by a respectable statesman and activist like Bernard Kouchner whose organization—Doctors Without Borders won a Nobel peace prize.
Finally, having been trained in French-based law myself, I remember a provision in French text laws that reads’’ le complice est puni comme auteur de l’infraction’’ which translates, the accomplice shall be punished as the perpetrator of the crime. This is exactly what should be done sooner or later. As we approach the 25th anniversary of genocide against the Tutsi, It is high time for current and former French officials like Bernard Kouchner to own their shameful responsibility by arresting genocide suspects still roaming free in France then apologize and ultimately pay reparations to the survivors. That’s the right thing France should be doing instead of playing with politically correct but empty words.
Dr. Philippe Basabose, Umwarimu akaba n’umuyobozi w’ishami ry’indimi, ubuvanganzo n’umuco muri Kaminuza ya Memorial mu gihugu cya Canada munyandiko yasohoye kuri uyu wa gatandatu arasesengura ingingo zikomeye zirimo ubutabera, kwibuka, imbabazi, n’ubwiyunge nyuma ya Jenoside yakorewe abatutsi mu Rwanda. Kanda hano usome Inyandiko irambuye ya Dr. Basabose.
Dr. Basabose aragira ati: ”Muri iyi nyandiko ndibaza bimwe mu bibazo tutibaza cyangwa tutibaza bihagije byerekeranye n’iyi nsanganyamatsiko yo « kwibuka no kwiyubaka », imyibukire ya génocide yakorewe abatutsi muri rusange n’ingaruka z’iyo myibukire ku barokotse, kuri mémoire ya génocide no ku muryango w’abanyarwanda ubwawo. Ibitekerezo byanjye si kamara, bishobora kujorwa no kunganirwa. Uko kwemera kujorwa no kunganirwa mu bitekerezo ni na byo nshingiraho uburenganzira mfite bwo kujora ibyo mbona bikwiye kujorwa. Icy’ingenzi ni uko byose bikorwa mu ntego yo kwirinda ko ibyatubayeho byakwibagirana cyangwa byavugwa uko bitari. Guceceka cyangwa kwikinga urushyi mu maso igihe hari ibigomba kujorwa si ukubaka, ni ugusenya, kandi bigira ingaruka zaba iza vuba cyangwa izitinze. Iyi nyandiko ndizera ko nta we izakomeretsa. Uzumva hari aho imukomerekeje azagerageze afate akanya gato yibaze niba nta mpamvu ze bwite zituma yirinda kuvuga ibyo yemera ahubwo agahitamo kuvuga cyangwa gushyigikira ibyo atemera, bikanatuma adashaka kureba cyangwa kumva ibintu bimwe na bimwe. Nibiba ari uko bimeze ubwo azisuzume yibaze niba mu by’ukuri ari ngombwa ko akina uwo mukino wo kwihishanya/gucengana na we ubwe”.
“Gutera imbere ni byiza, kwibaza ejo hazaza ni byiza, kurata ibyo wagezeho si icyaha. Ariko kwibuka si inkera y’ibyivugo n’imihigo”. Dr. Basabose
Ku kibazo cy’ubwiyunge: ”Iyo ubwiye uwarokotse ngo wowe n’uwakwiciye nimuze mbubakire umudugudu wanyu bwite uba ushaka gukemura ikihe kibazo: cy’imiturire cyangwa cy’imibanire ? Ese uwigisha iyo vanjiri afite ukwihangana kwamutuza mu mudugudu nk’uwo bibaye ari we bireba ? Ese ko hari aho bubakiye abarokotse batabashyigikiranyije n’ababiciye, uwareba imibereho muri iyo midugudu yasanga abasabana amazi n’ababiciye ari bo babayeho neza, ari bo bafite ibikomere bike ku mutitma ? Agahwa kari ku wundi koko ngo karahandurika.” Dr. Basabose
Ku kibazo cy’ubutabera: ”Ese ko nigeze kumva iby’indishyi bisunutswa mu biganiro muri Leta, byaje guherera he ? Ese ibibazo birimo bidashyirwa ahagaragara ni bwoko ki ? Gufasha umurescapé ni byiza ariko kumuha ubutabera bikarusha. Impuhwe zidatanga ubutabera (pitié sans justice) ni izo kwibazwaho.”
Nizeye ko usoma kandi ugacurura iyi nyandiko itagira uko isa uyu muhanga atugejejeho. Muri ”comments” hasi andika igitekerezo cyawe, imirongo yakunyuze cyangwa icyo ubona ukundi. Inyandiko irambuye ya Dr. Basabose Kanda hano. End
Karerangabo Stanislas wo mu Murenge wa Rweru mu Karere ka Bugesera afunzwe nyuma yo gutema inka ebyiri z’umuturage warokotse Jenoside yakorewe Abatutsi mu 1994. Uyu mugabo w’imyaka 52 wiyemerera icyo cyaha, yatemye izo nka azisanze mu kiraro mu rugo rwa Kigabo Francois, mu gitondo cyo kuri uyu wa Gatatu tariki 11 Mata 2018.
Ubu atuye mu nzu y’ubakiwe muri gahunda y’ubumwe n’ubwiyunge yo kubanisha abakoze Jenoside n’abayikorewe.
Karerangabo yanafungiwe uruhare yagize muri Jenoside yakorewe Abatutsi mu 1994, ariko aza gufungurwa nyuma yo kwirega akanemera icyaha.
Inkuru dukesha ikinyamakuru igihe,yanditswe uyu munsi ku itariki 13/12/2017 iravuga ko mu gitondo cyo kuri uyu wa Gatatu mu murenge wa Cyabakamyi, mu Karere ka Nyanza, uwitwa Emilienne Uzamukunda, w’imyaka isaga 70 warokotse jenoside yishwe atemwe.
Bivugwa ko Uzamukunda yari incike ya Jenoside yakorewe abatutsi akaba yibanaga mu Mudugudu wa wa Kabeza, Akagari ka Kadaho, Akarere ka Nyanza.Urupfu rwe ngo rwamenyekanye ubwo abaturanyi bategerezaga ko abyuka mu gitondo bagaheba, bajya kureba bagasanga umurambo we mu nzu.
Umuyobozi w’Akarere ka Nyanza wungirije ushinzwe imibereho myiza y’abaturage, Umutesi Solange yabwiye IGIHE ko abamwishe n’icyo bamuhoye bitaramenyekana, bikazagaragazwa n’iperereza.
Yagize ati “Ayo makuru ni yo, yishwe n’abagizi ba nabi ariko iperereza riri gukorwa kugira ngo abakekwa bashyikirizwe inzego z’ubutabera. Niryo rizerekana icyo yazize, niba abamwishe babikoreshejwe n’ingengabitekerezo ya Jenoside cyangwa ibindi.”
Umuvugizi wa Polisi y’u Rwanda mu Ntara y’Amajyepfo, IP. Emmanuel Kayigi, yatangaje ko uyu mukecuru yishwe abanje gufungwa umunwa nyuma akaza guterwa icyuma mu mutwe.
Ati “Bigaragara ko bamupfutse umunwa, hanyuma bamutera n’icyuma mu mutwe. Bigaragara ko ari abantu bari bagamije kumugirira nabi.”
Yakomeje avuga ko n’umugabo we yishwe n’abagizi ba nabi mu 2007, ariko ko batahita bemeza ko urupfu rw’uyu mukecuru rufitanye isano n’ingengabitekerezo ya Jenoside.
Bivugwa ko abarokotse jenoside cyane cyane ababa mu byaro bicwa baba ari benshi ariko bikaba bitavugwa mu bitangazamukuru.
Prof. Philippe Basabose, arasesengura umuzi n’umuhamuro w’itotezwa riri gukorerwa umuryango wa Rwigara. kanda hano usome inyandiko irambuye.
Hagati aho reka mbasogongeze kuri bimwe uyu muhanga yakomojeho muri iyi nyandiko ye: Aragira ati: Nk’aba rescapés iki kibazo kiratureba ku buryo bw’umwihariko. Umurescapé yabonye kurusha abandi bose ububi bw’ikibi. Gufata iya mbere mu kwamagana ikibi aho cyaba kivuye hose n’uwo cyaba kibayeho wese ni bwo buryo bwiza bwo kugarura ubumuntu mu bantu kuko twabonye ingaruka z’ubunyamanswa mu bantu. Ni byo Mihigo mu ndirimbo yita kuba imbuto z’umugisha zera ku giti cy’umuruho, amashami y’ibyishimo ashibuka ku ishavu. Kutarwanya ikibi wararokotse ikibi nta mugisha urimo.
« Wiceceka. Guceceka bicira urubanza utotezwa, bimusiga icyaha, byongerera imbaraga umutoteza. Vugira urengana kuko ejo ushobora kuba ari wowe uzaba utabaza ». Philippe Basabose.
Basabose arasoza iyi nyandiko yibaza kandi natwe abasomyi atubaza ati:
Ese kuki duceceka abantu batotezwa ?
Turetse abakina ku mubyimba umuryango wa Rwigara, cyangwa bashimishwa no gusoma isubiranamo ry’abatutsi, umuntu ntiyabura kwibaza abakora nk’aho ibiba bitabareba ikibibatera.
Ese ibibi abantu babonye (génocide, gutotezwa, gukorerwa ivangura) byaba byarabahumye imitima ku buryo akababaro k’undi nta cyo kakibabwiye ?
Ese abantu babaye minimalistes ku buryo bumva kuva nta we ubica ku bwinshi nko muri 94 nta kibazo biteye ?
Ese abanyarwanda bamwe kubera guhezwa ku butegetsi (baba abari mu Rwanda cyangwa abari hanze) kuba ubu hari ubutegetsi bibonamo bituma bumva ibyo bwakora byose nta cyo bitwaye kubera biruta uko bari bameze mbere ?
Iyo zone de confort irenza amaso ikibi ko yaba ari akaga ! Ese byaba ari ubwoba bwo guhutazwa ? Bibaye se ubwoba, twavuga ko no gushinyagurira utotezwa ari ubwoba bubitera ?
Kuko hari Uceceka kubera kwanga kwikoraho, umuntu ashobora kumwumva. Ariko se ntabacurira ahatemba utotezwa kandi bicecekeye n’ubwo atari byiza nta cyo byabatwara ? Byaba se ari ugukorera kurebwa neza ?
Icyaba kibitera cyose, kutamagana ikibi ni ukugitiza umurindi, rimwe na rimwe ukazabona ko cyari kibi ari uko cyakugezeho cyangwa cyageze ku wawe. Nyamara abanyarwanda mu bushishozi bwa bo nta cyo batavuze. Bati « Ururiye abandi ntirukwibagiwe », « Umugabo mbwa aseka imbohe », « Iyo umuturanyi arwaye ibibembe ugura ikigarago », « Ubamba isi ntakurura », « Ineza yiturwa indi » (inabi ikiturwa indi), « Inyana y’umugome ntiyugama izuba », n’ibindi n’ibindi. Ese umujinya utuma ibi byose biba kutawamagana aho ntibizageza igihugu habi ? Ibyiza byose waba ukora, njye numva amahano nk’ariya akorerwa umuryango wa Rwigara abitesha agaciro.
Tumaze kumenyera umuco ko Leta/umutegetsi uriho akiza uwo ashaka, akica uwo ashaka, bigacecekwa, ntihagire inkurikizi na mba iba, nyir’ukwicirwa na we akaruca akarumira ndetse byaba ngombwa akanahonga kugirango akomeze abeho. Ibi bituma abantu bumva ari uko bimeze ari na ko bigomba kumera, ko urenganijwe agomba guceceka, yataka agahutazwa kurushaho kandi akaba yizize kuko yanze guceceka. Ngibyo ibyo umuryango wa Rwigara uri kuzira. Bati barahungabanya umutekano ! Ni byo !? Ese ari utatse ko yiciwe, ko arenganywa, n’umwica cyangwa ushinzwe kubahiriza umutekano w’abaturage ariko ntakurikirane uwishe, uhungabanya umutekano ni nde ?
Ese iri totezwa ko ridahesha Leta isura nziza ahubwo buri ntambwe itewe igenda irushaho kugaragaza akarengane umuryango wa Rwigara ukorerwa, yashatse inzira yo kurangiza ikibazo neza (sortie honorable) ishoboka ? Gutsimbarara ku gitekerezo kandi buri ntambwe yo kugishyira mu bikorwa yerekana ko ari kibi ni ukubura ubushishozi. Iyo nzira nta yindi uretse kureka gukomeza gutoteza umuryango wa Rwigara, kubasubiza imitungo ya bo no kubaha ubutabera bakwiye. Ntibagombye kuba bafunzwe banasiragizwa mu nkiko baregwa ibyaha bidafashe.
Bagombye kuba bari mu nkiko barenganurwa ku byerekeye urupfu rwa Rwigara, imitungo ya bo yigabijwe n’abagombye kurinda ubusugire bwa yo n’ihutazwa ryabakorewe. Ibyo bitabaye uko byagenda kose, uko byavugwa kose, amateka yo azabagira abere. Kandi icyo bakorerwa cyose buri ntambwe y’itotezwa rya bo igenda irushaho kubaha intsinzi (kabone n’iyo bazavuga ko batsinzwe urubanza). Intsinzi ya bo iri aha : 1) banze guceceka akarengane kandi ni ubutwari; 2) ubarenganya yabuze ingingo ihamye yo kubashinja kandi uko ibirego bigenda bihimbwa binahindurwa bigenda birushaho gusa n’ikinamico; 3) kwanga guceceka nyuma yo kwicwa kwa Rwigara, c’est l’hommage le plus digne pour Rwigara. Mu maso y’abadatinya kubona ukuri, iyi famille iri en situation de victime kandi victime ntatsindwa. N’iyo byiswe ko yatsinzwe biba bimwe by’urubanza rw’ikirura n’umwana w’intama.
Nanzure gira nti : « Wiceceka. Guceceka bicira urubanza utotezwa, bimusiga icyaha, byongerera imbaraga umutoteza. Vugira urengana kuko ejo ushobora kuba ari wowe uzaba utabaza ».
Professeur Philippe Basabose ni Umwarimu akaba n’umuyobozi w’ishami ry’indimi, ubuvanganzo n’umuco muri Kaminuza ya Memorial mu gihugu cya Canada.