Friday, July 02, 2004

In Rwanda, "Genocide" is the New "Terrorism"

Brian points me to a story which reinforces the complaints I've been making for a very great while now about the things the West allows Kagame's government to get away with.

The Rwandan government should reject a parliamentary request to dissolve one of the country's leading human rights groups unfairly accused by a parliamentary commission of harboring genocidal ideas, Human Rights Watch said today.

After three days of debate, the Rwandan parliament on Wednesday asked the government to dissolve the League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (Ligue Rwandaise pour la promotion et la défense des droits de l'homme, or Liprodhor) and four other civil society organizations because they allegedly supported genocidal ideas. The action was recommended by a parliamentary commission that also called for the arrest of leaders of the organizations.

[............]

During the parliamentary debate, the commission made sweeping and unproven accusations against Liprodhor and the other organizations, including a rural association for improving agricultural output and an association of widows whose husbands were killed during the 1997-99 uprising in northern Rwanda.

The commission interpreted 'genocidal ideas,' prohibited by law in Rwanda, so broadly as to include even dissent from government plans for consolidating land holdings.

"Under such a broad interpretation, any opposition to the government can be labeled 'a genocide ideology' and its proponents can be severely punished," Des Forges said.

The parliamentary commission, established following the late 2003 killing of several survivors of the 1994 genocide, gathered information from local officials and others in about three-quarters of the country.

It concluded that a 'genocide ideology' was widespread, found in six of the Rwanda's 12 provinces, at the national university, in a number of secondary schools and in many churches. One parliamentarian even alleged during debate that genocidal ideas had been found among survivors of the genocide, a statement that drew derision from other parliamentarians.

Information presented during the parliamentary debate this week included a number of inaccuracies, but Liprodhor had no opportunity to correct errors or to respond to allegations, neither during the time the commission gathered information nor during the debate itself.

The commission also called for action against several international nongovernmental organizations active in Rwanda, including Care International, Trocaire, 11.11.11 and Norwegian People's Aid. It alleged - in some cases wrongly - that these international organizations supported local groups labeled by the commission as having a 'genocide ideology.'

The commission and parliamentarians also castigated the Dutch government for aiding organizations said to have a 'genocide ideology.' The Dutch government, a generous donor to both the Rwandan government and to a number of civil society organizations, was scheduled on Friday to discuss further assistance to Rwanda.
Disgusting, isn't it? As anyone who has been reading this blog long enough will know, I've long maintained that the outside world has cut Kagame far too much slack out of a misplaced sense of guilt. What fighting "terrorism" is to many a repressive Arab state, battling "genocidal ideas" has become for Rwanda's rulers - a useful way to bludgeon dissenting voices into silence with the acquiescence of the outside world. Kagame is no saint, not even a great but flawed figure, and it isn't necessarily the case that there's no alternative to his Tutsi-minority government, any more than it's necessarily true that the only alternative to the likes of Egypt's Mubarak and Tunisia's Ben Ali is anarchy. If anything, Kagame's repression of all organizations not under his thumb is a cynical ploy meant to ensure that "there is no alternative" to the indefinite rule of his coterie.