Tharcisse Karugarama: Denial is the seed of future genocide

Posted: December 16, 2010 in Genocide Denial
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The international media seem to think that Rwanda’s genocide ideology laws are vague. Let me explain as clearly as I can: Without genocide ideology, there can be no genocide.

Human beings will not engage in systematic slaughter spontaneously. It begins with hate translated into words and ideas from rational-seeming men — political and religious leaders, intellectuals and journalists — before a single gun is fired or machete raised. And what binds these belief systems — from the ancient pogroms to the Holocaust to Cambodia and Rwanda — is the pivotal role of historical revisionism. Every genocide has depended on lies about the past.

This is why Rwanda treats genocide ideology as a deadly serious matter. Without it, the events of 1994 could not have happened.

And this is why we see Twin Cities attorney Peter Erlinder’s pattern of genocide denial as a deadly serious crime. This is not a matter of intellectual curiosity. Erlinder’s actions as a high-profile genocide denier and radical ideologue are precisely why these laws were brought into being.

Left unpunished, these actions give comfort to terrorists who regard him as an intellectual hero. Left unchecked, the promulgation of the Erlinder worldview — that the genocide is a figment of Rwanda’s imagination and that the victims were responsible for their fate — will cause unrest and disunity. Make no mistake: The Erlinder worldview will cost lives.

How do we know? Because it has happened before — on a scale that scars our soul and shames the world.

Tharcisse Karugarama is Rwanda’s minister of justice and attorney general.


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