UN Congo report: “Double standards on human rights”

Posted: October 8, 2010 in Evidence Material
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By RNW Africa Desk, 7 October 2010 17:23

The report compiled by the UN High Commission on Human Rights on violations of international humanitarian law between 1993 and 2003 in DRC was published on 1 October. Following the report, Filip Reyntjens, professor of Law and Politics, Institute of Development Policy and Management at the University of Antwerp, wrote on the RNW Africa website earlier this week that it is clear that “the most serious and systematic crimes are placed firmly on the doorstep of Paul Kagame’s Rwanda.”

In response to Reyntjens article, The UN report on Congo’s atrocities: the end of impunity? [1] , Albert Rudatsimburwa, a Rwandan political analyst has this to say:

It is always interesting and rather entertaining to be privy to the view of Professor Philip Reyntjens on the politics of a country he has last visited 18 years ago. One might even be tempted to admire his sense of loyalty to the memory of the late Juvenal Habyarimana, President of Rwanda from July 1973 to April 1994.

After all, was he not greatly instrumental in consolidating the latter’s absolute hold on power by providing him, with the help of few others, with a rather well drafted constitutional text? The very text that gave Habyarimana the legal framework to reduce the Tutsis of Rwanda to a status of second class citizenship, effectively setting the wheels in motion in what would later become one of the worst crimes ever perpetrated by a state against its own people.

Relying on Philip Reyntjens for an expert view on Rwanda would be like communicating with the spirit of Socrates or Plato to get an update of the political situation of Greece.

So enough with the rantings of those feeding on the nostalgia from colonial days to Cold War when Africa used to be told what to do, what to think, how to act and never to speak.

Double standards
A new day is dawning on Africa, and Rwanda is spearheading this quiet revolution.

The recently leaked and subsequently released UN report on alleged crimes perpetrated by the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) amongst others in the DRC between 1993 and 2003 is yet another example of the clear double standards on human rights issues when it comes to dealing with Africa from a Western perspective.

The 1994 Genocide on the Tutsi is a fact recognised by International Law and backed by mountains of evidence which have allowed for the prosecution of those suspected in having had a hand in these atrocities in one way or another.

Here is another fact, no less important. Genocide is a legal term defined in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Understandable
In light of the definition, the reaction of Rwanda on the release of this report can only be described as understandable. No state in its right mind would accept such baseless allegations backed by no evidence whatsoever to be leveled against it. It is quite evident that the “intent” on the part of the authors and sponsors of this so-called report is to tarnish the otherwise blemish free success story of the current Rwandan Government led by Paul Kagame.

Why wouldn’t they? Isn’t it the same Paul Kagame who exposed the UN’s inefficiencies by stopping the 1994 Genocide in their presence? Was it not the same Paul Kagame led RPA  that single handedly solved the humanitarian catastrophe referred to in this report by repatriating and successfully rehabilitating over 3 million “Hutu” refugees who had been taken hostage by the former Rwandan Armed Forces (ex-FAR) right across the border?

It is indeed the same Paul Kagame who successfully raised his country from the ashes of her tragically violent and divided past to become the success story that it is today for the whole world to see. And this bothers those who feed on African misery to make a name for themselves as champions of human rights; those modern day messiahs who know so much better than us ignorant Africans that our only chance for survival is the repentance of our sins, however unreal they might be.

Disciplined and efficient
Africa is no fatality; Paul Kagame, more than any other African Leader, understands it. He found a solution to justice for the survivors and the perpetrators, stabilized and pacified a troubled Great Lakes Region and brought steadfast economic growth to East Africa.

The Rwandan Army that stands accused today of possible acts of genocide is cited as the most disciplined and efficient in the UN peacekeeping mission it is involved in.

This same discipline that the Rwandan Army has always shown was one of the keys to success in fighting the genocide without descending into a whirlwind of revenge killings. It was also one for defeating the FAZ and their mercenaries Yougo’s, the FAR, Interahamwe, Mai-mai and others. And it is well documented that Paul Kagame tirelessly called upon the “international community” to “do something” about the clear and imminent threat paused by refugee camps set up Rwanda’s border with DRC, a mere 200 meters away.

Thorn in the foot
It is also documented that the ex-Far with their allies were on the verge of launching multiple attacks on Rwanda to “finish the job” when the Government of Rwanda decided to send an “integrated exFAR-exAPR” contingent to solve the problem and repatriate all willing unarmed Rwandan refugees/hostage.  What would be the logic in sending a Hutu-Tutsi army to carry out massacres of Hutu civilians?

But for all these facts cited above, Paul Kagame is and will always be a thorn in the foot of those who regard humanitarian aid as a business with a future in Africa.

It’s a perfect zero-sum equation. One can’t stand the other.

Am I now suggesting that the Congo War was a “clean” war without atrocities? Not by a long shot! I will even go further to say that justice needs to be done to honor the memory of those who lost their lives in these conflicts. Like justice is needed for all the victims of all conflicts. How far do we want to go? Dresden, Hiroshima, Spain, Sumatra, Belgian Congo, Indonesia, Algeria, Biafra, Soweto, Iraq, Kurdistan, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Namibia, Wounded Knee?

Justice isn’t just an ideal to some; Rwandans more than anybody else want it. Not as Trojan Horse carefully crafted to destabilize us, but as a genuine exercise in truth and accountability for the benefit of all parties involved. For now, we say thanks for the gift of justice, but no thanks.

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