Monday, April 20, 2015

RWANDA GENOCIDE: A Commemoration that Kills Again

BY Dr. Abdallah Mwiseneza

It is really unfortunate to have someone who seems to be educated light Bwana Jean de Dieu Basabose but when you look at his approach to peacebuilding in Rwanda he is prone to advancing one narrative on the Rwandan genocide of 1994 that it is a genocide against the Tutsis of which he belongs. I am a Hutsi who survived two genocides that were perpetrated by Rwandans. A Hutsi is a Rwandan person whose parents come from both Hutu and Tutsi tribes. Such kind of people have been marginalized by both community since the 1994 genocide. Hutus do not trust us because they believe that we identify ourselves more with our uncles on our mothers’ sides and on another hand Tutsis call us Interahamwe because they believe that we carry our fathers’ identity. However, in this article I want to be more professional and focus on issues at hand that I would like to highlight in this article. Those issues have affected Rwandans for the last 21 years and have been avoided in most if not all genocide functions that I have been attending ever since. Without dealing with them it does not matter whether we have been mourning for the last 21 years and a lot of donors money has been pumped into peacebuilding and conflict resolution projects and many prayer groups vigil we would conduct we will never achieve a lasting peace and reconciliation in Rwanda. Today I want to take one of these cases as addressed by one of Rwandans involved in peacebuilding so that we identify the missing parts and see how we can patch them together to build a new cohesive Rwanda.
I would like to correct Bwana Jean de Dieu Basabose on his articles regarding genocide in Rwanda. First, for those who don’t understand well what really happened in Rwanda in 1994 and afterward they might be misled by Jean de Dieu Basabose explanations of what really took place in Rwanda 21 years ago. I was 16 then old enough to see what was going on. I am now 37 old enough to be educated like Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose and also enlightened enough to differentiate academic facts from fictions and propaganda.

It is true that Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose has more than 10 years' experience in peacebuilding and has facilitated numerous training sessions and workshops on mediation, networking, community organizing, organizational governance, peace monitoring and communication, especially in Rwanda.  However, his efforts to build peace as he calls it are more undermining to peace and reconciliation in Rwanda because it lacks the following:

·  Truth: His peacebuilding approach does not incorporates search for truth among Rwandan communities. He builds his peacebuilding efforts on the RPF official narrative that Hutus killed Tutsis therefore they should assume responsibilities of the sins committed by their clansmen and ask for forgiveness since they are criminals by default. This is not true because we now all know the truth that not only Hutus who killed other Rwandans.  Jean de Dieu Basabose who is an Insight on Conflict's Local Correspondent in Rwanda has not lived up to one of their themes which is about Reconciliation is generally understood to be the reestablishment of friendly relations, though it assumes different forms and roles in different contexts. In the case of armed conflicts, reconciliation incorporates the search for truth, justice, forgiveness and accommodation between conflicting groups or people.” Here I would say that in the case of Rwanda and Rwandans, reconciliation incorporates the search for truth, justice, forgiveness and accommodation between conflicting which in this case are both Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda.  Allow me to use the above definition to demonstrate how Mr.  Jean de Dieu Basabose has not been living up to his calling of a peace builder in local contexts but to self-promote and advance the Kigali mission of winning international sympathy and undermining the wellbeing of Rwandans both living inside and outside of Rwanda. The truth is that Rwandan genocide took place and killed both Hutus and Tutsis as we find it in the Kigali’s record that over a million Rwandans were killed. In a country which has 6 million Rwandans of which 14% were Tutsis and 84% Hutus it means that if a million Tutsis had been killed then all 14% would have been wiped out including Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose who survived. Statistically this is incorrect because according to the IBUKA records more than 500 thousands Tutsis survived during the genocide out of 14% of 6 million Rwandans. This means that in 1994 there were 840000 Tutsis in Rwanda. Therefore, Hutus were 5,040,000 whereas Twas were around 60,000. 

Now let’s come back to the truth that promote reconciliation in Rwanda and empowers peacebuilding initiatives is that according to IBUKA more than 500,000 Tutsis out of 840,000 Tutsis survived. This means that the brutal genocide of the 1994 took the lives of 340,000 innocent Tutsis not one million as Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose wants all of us stupidly to believe. I would expect better narrative from Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose because he is one of the few Rwandans who have had opportunities to study in Western countries where the academic fraternity expects you to be of good standards when you address issues that affect lives of people and avoid being easily drawn into political biasness of Rwanda. Like so many Rwandans who are yearning for a genuine reconciliation in Rwanda, I would expect him to be objective in how he addresses the issue of peace and conflict in Rwanda because we are all looking up to him so that we forge a better Rwanda for all Rwandans regardless of their social background. According to IBUKA, more than 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in 1994. Let’s assume it is true for now. Let’s look at the tangibles such as 340,000 Tutsis killed out of 1 million Rwandans we will find that close to 600,000 Rwandans are unaccounted for and were members of the Hutu communities. Both Ibuka, Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose, and the international community tell us that only moderate Hutus killed by the same Hutus who were carrying out the massacre. If that is the truth that we seek to find in order to mold Rwandans into a one united and reconciled community, then who killed this 600,000 Hutus in 1994 if not the Tutsi dominated the Rwandan Patriotic Front headed by Paul Kagame? If Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose could write another article in the Insightonconflict to clarify who these 600,000 victims are and who killed them, then he would be contributing positively to peacebuilding initiatives that all Rwandans aspire for. To prove my argument is that in 1995 the UNHCR commissioned an investigation on the RPF killing in Rwanda which was carried by The "Gersony Report" is the name given to the 1994 findings made by a team under Robert Gersony, which was under contract to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and identified a pattern of massacres by the Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels during and after their military victory in the civil war in post-genocide Rwanda.


Another good readings on the true of what really happened in Rwanda in 1994 that I can suggest to Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose is the report compiled by the two American academics Christian Davenport and Allan C. Stam called “What Really Happened in Rwanda during the 1994 Genocide” then you will understand that, apart from the western politics, actually more Hutus than Tutsis were massacred by the current regime in Kigali not the other way round. This means that we should not only commemorate a Tutsi genocide but a Rwandan genocide because we all killed each other and we all lost our beloved ones that we should have to mourn for and accept our country’s history as Rwandans. Once we tell to the whole world this plain truth with the same earnest and energy we used to tell them lies, then Rwandans will some inches away from genuine reconciliation.

·         Justice: Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose and his Shalom project have told us the truth about the 1994 Rwandan genocide, then all Rwandans both Hutus and Tutsis would have been empowered to look for justice as one of the genuine pillars of reconciliation. According to the UN Mapping report on DRC 2003 and the BBC’s documentary The Rwanda’s Untold Story, the shooting down of the Rwandan presidential plane that was carrying two Hutu presidents, Habyarimana Juvenal of Rwanda and his counterpart Cyprian Ntaryamira of Burundi who perished in that terrorist act, this sparked the Rwandan genocide. Paul Kagame is the one who ordered the shooting of the plane and he should be held responsible for this terrorist act so that Rwandans both Hutus and Tutsis can find justice for their loved ones killed by both Interahamwe and Inkotanyi/RPF.

So far this has never happened in Rwanda. People like Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose have continued advocating for a crooked justice and shady peacebuilding activities in Rwanda in order to protect their own selfish interests and fundraise in Western countries lying that they are promoting peacebuilding among Rwandans and yet their activities are the main ingredients of deep hatred and resentment among Rwandans because they are partisan in design and implementation. For example the pro-Kagame peace organizations such as Shalom of Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose ask Hutu kids and youth to ask for forgiveness to their Tutsis colleagues for the sins committed even before they were born, simply because they are Hutus and yet some of these kids lost their parents to RPF gun bullets, but they have no rights to seek justice because they are Hutus and are considered to be a second class citizen. Wouldn’t an n organization such as Shalom Peace Education seek justice for all regardless of political consequences in order to build a new Rwanda that makes us all comfortable of being Rwandans rather than promoting that narrative that Tutsis are the innocent victims and Hutus are bloody criminals and yet they were killed most?

In Rwanda there are those Hutus who have been behind bars since 1994 without any justice nor even appearing before any court of justice. Recently, it emerged that more than 8,000 Hutu prisoners have no file or any kind of record that demonstrate what they have been accused of and yet 18 years later they are still behind bars and most probably they will be executed, simply because they were born Hutus. This issue was also discussed during the annual RPF retreat of Umushikirano. If organizations such as Shalom were genuine about reconciliation then they should have started from Rwandan prisons because they know well that many of the accused are innocent.

·         Forgiveness: It is hard to know who should forgive who in Rwanda. Apart from the roadside shows of the Kigali’s government supported by the organizations in peacebuilding in Rwanda and religious people such as Pr. Rick Warren who is the founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in USA, there is no forgiveness among Rwandans 21 years later. Kagame and his men such as Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose will tell you that they have done a great work now communities are living together peacefully, but it is white lie. Rwandans are coexisting not living together. They have no options but to coexist. Majority of Rwandan families from the Hutu community has lost their believed ones to RPF kidnapping and disappearing and have not even bothered to report this because they know well who did it. When they don’t say anything does not mean that they are happy or reconciled they just want to live and see another morning rise but inside themselves they know how much hurting they are experiencing.
Organizations in peacebuilding and religious activities in Rwanda together with the RPF government will call the media personality, especially the international media and bring well-rehearsed Hutus and force them to give bogus testimonies detailing how they are happy and forgiven. However, this is not what you see down on the grassroots level. Where there is reconciliation and forgiveness all communities are treated equal but that is not the case in Rwanda. Hutus are to be seen not heard. When countries like: US, UK, France, Canada, Australia, Germany and etc. give scholarships to young Rwandans to go and acquire much needed knowledge in those countries, that is when you recognize who owns Rwanda. Out of % only less than 1% of Hutu children you find getting such opportunities and the rest is a reserve of the chosen few who are Tutsis. In a land where there is reconciliation and forgiveness each group confesses and ask for forgiveness of the crimes committed, but that is not for the RPF duty to acknowledge the killings of millions of Hutus both inside and outside Rwandan territory. This is because people like Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose believe that they are the only once who are the victims the rest of Rwandans who died it was a collateral damage and their lives do not deserve justice. The Tutsi government in Kigali does not feel that there is any need for accommodation because they have the power and people who will be broadcasting their propaganda to show how much they suffered in the hands of extremists Hutus in 1994. This led us to the last but not least theme of reconciliation that have been ignored by both the Kigali government and Basore’s approach to peacebuilding in Rwanda. This is accommodation.
·  Accommodation: many so called peacebuilding organizations in Rwanda have not promoted accommodation values. This is because of two elements involved one being that the Tutsi led government in Kigali has never tolerated a genuine reconciliation among Rwandans because it fears that once reconciliation in achieved then it will lose its cling on power. Once Rwandans are genuinely reconciled, Tutsis will have nothing to fear and will swing their political allegiances to more content based politics than tribal politics. This will rob the Kagame government support of many Tutsis who see Kagame as their savior in case Hutus revolt against his regime. Once Hutus and Tutsis are genuinely reconciled they will need to speak out the truth about what happened in 1994. This truth is a bitter pill to the Kagame’s regime and people who support him because there is no truth in Rwanda that does not involve who shot down the Habyarimana’s plane which sparked massacre in Rwanda. This involves Paul Kagame as the main suspect who are likely to face international anti-terrorism court to answer to the charges. This deprives the RPF regime powers that they have been enjoying for the last 21 years based on fear mongering among Tutsis. Therefore it could be a mistake to entertain accommodation of Hutus in Rwanda. Another element involved is the so called peacebuilding organizations in Rwanda such as Shalom Educating for Peace, survive because they sell their product as people who are promoting peace and reconciliation among Rwandans. If there was no conflict among Rwandans these people would be out of jobs and won’t be able to pay their bills. Therefore they preach water on one hand and take wine on the other hand. If these people were genuine to themselves and the causes they are forwarding Rwanda would be reconciled today but they are not. Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose go out there in Western countries and boldly lie to the world in spite of numerous facts that prove that both Hutus and Tutsis killed each other during the Rwandan genocide and Tutsis under Kagame’s leadership killed innocent Hutu refugees in DR Congo where more than 8 million of Rwandans and Congolese were slaughtered by the RPF military between 1996 and 2003.

As I conclude, Paul Kagame and his people fear accommodation theory because it means taking the national cake and ask them (Tutsis in power) to share it with Hutus. This would mean that the 84% Rwandan Hutus would be given equal opportunities to participate in the scholarship pool that young Tutsis have been enjoying for the last 21 years taking more than 90% of education opportunities despite that they only make up 14% of all Rwandans. This action has denied many young Hutus opportunities to further their education, instead were sent to vocational education so that they will not assume any professional office in Rwanda.  Lack of accommodating regime in Rwanda has denied millions of Rwandans to know the truth about the shooting down of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents who perished in the plane. Lack of accommodating society in Rwanda, especially those who have access to means of leadership, economy, and military defense have denied millions of the Rwandan Hutus to actively participate in national building process which undermines national cohesion, which is a pillar to genuine reconciliation. Lack of accommodation means that Hutus who lost millions of their relatives to the Kagame led soldiers will never access justice. Only Tutsis will always be given opportunities to mourn for their dead killed by the current regime in Rwanda. Lack of accommodation means that Hutu children who were orphaned by the RPF will never have opportunities to access FARG and other funds set aside by both the RPF government and donors to support genocide orphans so that they can easily access education. Rwandans who are not pursuing truth, justice, and genuine reconciliation such as Mr. Jean de Dieu Basabose continue to be the hindrance to building a cohesive nation of Rwanda 21 years later.

There is no doubt that the Rwandan Genocide Commemoration focuses more on marketing Paul Kagame as a savior of Rwanda than promoting healing and reconciliation among Rwandans. In addition, the commemoration month is like an apocalyptic day for many Rwandans and so it has been in the last 18 years. This is because it is the only time the RPF soldiers are allowed to kill any Hutu they fell pleased to do so. It is also a one month that Rwandan Hutu business people are openly asked to give money to Tutsi survivors, those genuine survivors who witnessed the genocide in 1994 and the bogus genocide survivors who were hiding in Uganda when the genocide was taking plane in Rwanda, they all use the Tutsi ticket to extort money from helpless Hutu business communities to buy their existence. It is the only month that radio FMs are shut practically in most of all Hutu families, not because that is what they want but because they want to hear anything happening outside of their houses, especially the footsteps of the Kagame’s men who come in the twilight to kidnap innocent Hutus and make them disappear without any substantiated reasons. The month of April is referred to as the dead month by most of the Rwandans because that is when many unrecorded deaths that take place without any follow up as long as the victims are from the Hutu tribes they know that Rwandan justice does not protect them in the month of April.

Dr. Abdallah Mwiseneza is a PhD holder in International Political Analyst from the University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9RH, United Kingdom. He also holds a Master’s degree in international economics from the University of Maine, in USA. He is currently a UN adviser on international politics and wealth management in Sierra Leone

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