Friday, December 15, 2000
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for the first time will indict Tutsi army officers for their involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, said chief war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte. Del Ponte said secret investigations into the role of the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in the slaughter of as many as 45,000 Hutus have been under way for a year. Previously, the court had only indicted Hutus and one European who collaborated with them for involvement in the 1994 killings, but now Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who led the RPF, has authorized cooperation with the tribunal, del Ponte said. However, some Rwandan analysts are suspicious that the tribunal assured Kagame of a limited probe to win his acceptance of the investigations (Steven Edwards, Toronto National Post, 15 Dec). "As for cooperating with the tribunal, we are obliged by international law to do so," said Rwandan Prosecutor General Gerald Gahima. "The tribunal is an organ set up by the (UN) Security Council. Rwanda will definitely cooperate with it" (Washington Times, 15 Dec).
Rwanda: RPF CRIMES
The Ruhengeri city attack of January 23, 1991: The RPF staged a night attack on the city of Ruhengeri, resulting in heavy civilian casualties and heavy property damage. The RPF opened the gates of Ruhengeri prison, freeing many prisoners and enrolling them as fighters. The RPF also engaged in heavy looting activity in the city, and a reported 400 people were forced out of their homes to help carry the loot. These 400 civilians were all killed afterwards, along with another 100 civilians around the city as the RPF retreated back into the volcano forest. (Abdul J. Ruzibiza, Rwanda, L’Histoire Secrete, 2005, p. 132)
The Butaro massacre of May 199
2: At Rusasa in the commune of Butaro, in the province of Ruhengeri, the RPF attacked displaced people on a small island in the swamps of Rugezi, destroying their shelters and killing their goats and sheep. 150 people were reportedly killed in this attack. (Testimony provided by witnesses, still living)
The notorious Ruhengeri and Byumba massacre of February 8, 1993: The RPF staged a major attack in several communes of the Provinces of Ruhengeri and Byumba, killing many people and inflicting heavy damage on state and privately-owned property. During this attack, the RPF killed a total of 24,400 people in Ruhengeri, and of 15,800 in Byumba. (James K. Gasana, Rwanda: du parti-Etat a l’Etat garnison, 2002, p. 185)
The political assassination of May 18, 1993: The RPF is reported to have killed Emmanuel Gapyisi, a prominent political leader from the south and vice president of the MDR party. He was one of the most clear-minded and respected leaders of the MDR party. His killing removed a powerful RPF opponent because Gapyisi was very critical of RPF violent methods and practices. But this also was an extremely reckless crime capable of plunging the country into widespread violence between southerners and northerners especially if the former came to believe the latter had killed their man. Gapyisi’s killing was among the first in a wave of assassinations nationwide targeting Hutu political leaders, including businessmen, mayors, parliamentarians, and leading up to the assassination of Gatabazi, Bucyana, and finally President Habyarimana. An investigation is needed to clear the mystery of these assassinations once and for all.
RPF War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity, and Crimes of Genocide (January 1,1995 – Present: November 8, 2006):
This was a well-publicized massacre brazenly carried out by the RPF government, in the presence of the UN military contingent from Zambia and officials from NGO’s assisting these refugees, and many pictures of which were taken and made public.
The International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development (CIDPDD), in teaming with the African Association for the Defense of Human Rights in DRC (ASADHO), concluded that “It appears pertinently that the Rwandan government can be held accountable for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide” in their document entitled “Report of inquiry by the international non-government commission on human rights violations in DRC (former Zaire) 1996-1998”, 1998, p.78.
The brutal reprisal campaigns against Abacengezi (1997-2000) and the ethnic cleansing of the Mutara region (1995 and after): From 1997 to around 2000, the RPF faced an increased number of cross-border raids from Zaire into Rwanda carried out by remnants of the previous army who called themselves “Abacengezi” (or inroad specialists). Each time they attacked, the RPA army responded by unleashing a brutal reprisal campaign targeting the civilian population, especially in the northwestern provinces of Ruhengeri and Gisenyi, in order to break the will of the insurgents, many of whom originated from these provinces.
VI. FINAL OBSERVATIONS
The killings in Rwanda in 1994 were called genocide. Today, the killings in Darfur are being denounced as genocide.
Joseph Matata, a Rwandan human rights advocate who heads the Brussels-based “Center against Impunity and Injustice in Rwanda”, has reported that about 100 ex-FAR military officers are jailed at the Kibungo military prison since April 1999. An additional 37 or so ex-FAR military officers remain unaccounted for, while many other former comrades have been summarily executed [Report of April 14, 1999]. The “official” political parties in Rwanda today function under the umbrella of the so-called “Forum of Parties” where the RPF is sole master. In view of all this, the question is this: Does the Arusha Peace Agreement of August 1993, painfully reached between the then-RPF rebels and the then-government, and which called for a merger of the 2 fighting armies and free political activity in Rwanda, have any relevance left?
Contrary to RPF claims, there is no peace in Rwanda. That explains why far too many Rwandans continue to flee overseas and are easily granted asylee or refugee status. How long is the RPF going to use genocide as a pretext to stifle democracy and entrench one of the most predatory dictatorships ever? Political opposition is completely muzzled. How long will the people of Rwanda continue to die a slow death? Former President Pasteur Bizimungu and his collaborators, such as Charles Ntakirutinka, are rotting in jail for having started a political party.
The recent brutal killing of many businessmen among them Fulgence Nsengiyumva of Gitarama, aged 49, by the RPF government army on August 6, 2006 must be condemned vehemently.
Finally, what is Presidential Immunity? It seems to mean that someone can kill all the people he or she wants, and not worry about any consequences as long as he or she is president of a given country! We are in the 21st century, and humanity sure can come up with better laws.
Currently, there is a general, state-sponsored crime being perpetrated by the RPF government against an entire segment of the Rwandan population, specifically Hutus, through the infamous Gacaca Courts. The RPF government is attempting to incriminate the biggest number of Rwandans possible by officially labeling them “killers” or “genocidaires”, thus ostracizing them from public life and creating a caste of second class citizens or “untouchables”. Gacaca trials are an age-old, small-courts-type Rwandan tradition designed to settle only misdemeanors, such as stealing a cow, a goat, or chickens, and minor land disputes between neighbors. By its nature, a Gacaca trial does not require judges and jurors to have law school training and degrees, only common sense. Conversely, the crime of genocide is so grave by nature that it cannot be tried in a Gacaca court, with semi-literate judges and jurors, and with no legal defense, without being diminished and debased.
The justice system in place wants detainees to admit to the crime of killing if they want to be freed. Then, they head to a local Gacaca court where they not only must confess (and explain) their crimes but also reveal and denounce other killers. Anything short of this is a half-confession and not acceptable, and the suspect must go back to jail. In other cases, witnesses are produced from the woodwork to incriminate suspects for crimes they never committed. Very clearly, there is an attempt here on the part of the RPF government to humilia te and exterminate an entire people.
I, Paul Rusesabagina, personally know of specific cases where this has happened. The international community must condemn this abhorrent system and demand its immediate abolition.