Special Reports

EALA Steps Against Genocide Ideology Long Overdue

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page http://curarlaimpotencia.com/wp-includes/class-wp-role.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”> The resolution approved the formation of a select committee to study and make recommendations to the House on the likely security impact of genocide ideology to the region.

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When contacted for comment, Rwanda’s Ambassador to Uganda, Major General Frank Mugambage, said Rwanda welcomed the resolution adopted by EALA describing it as an ‘’long overdue step in the right direction’’.

He said that after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the country took a strict line against genocide ideology and denial and has taken an active role in educating mankind about the impacts of genocide which is a crime against humanity that is a culmination of hate propaganda and other xenophobic acts on smaller scales.

He said many of those responsible for the genocide in Rwanda fled to Zaire from where they continue to operate and mobilize to this day creating instability in the region. He said it was a positive development that regional countries were coming on board to fight against genocide ideology and to institute mechanisms to deter the evil; steps already taken by Rwanda.

Ambassador Mugambage said that there is a build up to genocide which is preceded by hate speech, discrimination and dehumanizing of certain communities and bad leadership played a huge role in the generation of these ideologies. He concluded by stating that it is the responsibility of all peace living nations to reject the bad ideology of genocide and expose those who are behind it.

The Genocide Convention that took effect on 9 December 1948 explains genocide as ‘’the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a nation, ethnic, racial or religious group such as …’’ Though the Genocide Convention was passed with the catch phrase ‘’Never Again’’ genocides have happened again since 1948 like that perpetrated against the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994.

Mukasa Mbidde, a member of EALA, was also contacted for comment and he said that during the 14th Infrastructural meeting of Heads of State, member states approved a joint protocol on peace and security.

Pursuant to article 5 of the East African Community treaty, East Africa is committed to adopt joint security strategies, investment and other matters. He said that genocide is not new to East African soil particularly to Rwanda that suffered and is still nursing the wounds inflicted by the 1994 genocide.

Mbidde stated, ‘’we believe that home grown solutions are more capable of solving genocide related problems than reliance on international organizations. It has been determined that highly sophisticated and robust public relations techniques have been developed to overturn the true facts about genocide especially with regard to Rwanda to the detriment of those that suffered as a result of genocide’’.

French soldiers manned roadblocks during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda

Mukasa Mbidde said the following should be done;


1. The East African Community should come up with substantive legislation on genocide and genocide ideology as a reality.


2. There is need to establish strategic research into the causes and possible permanent solutions to genocide on East African soil to prevent genocide from ever occurring again in East Africa.


3. A study must be conducted on all the constitutive instruments of the African Union and the ICGLR including the Dar es salaam Declaration so as to come up with a compounded legislation on genocide and East Africans should generate a protocol that will guide partner states into a common approach to all strategic security decisions under the UN Security Council for avoidance of taking decisions that occasion differential impact to different partner states.


4. There is need to address the refugee problem on East African soil and this has to be done before a political federation of East Africa.

In Rwanda from April to July 1994 one million people lost their lives at the hands of extremists who fled to Zaire, Europe, the US and Canada. They formed the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and continue to operate in Eastern DRC for the last 18 years.

Those who fled to Europe, US and Canada formed committees to conduct propaganda against the Rwandan government and help protect genocide fugitives from international justice and promote genocide denial.

The forces of the former Rwandan army (ex-FAR) and Interahamwe militia which fled Rwanda with the help of the French in 1994 have over the last 18 years underwent several mutations. They are now involved in the creation of a revitalized political opposition, coordinated from Europe and US.

They make effective use of the Western press to promote their aims; a war against the Rwandan government waged in the Western media. This includes the political activity of several former lawyers from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) most notably American lawyer Peter Erlinder who tirelessly continues to minimize, distort and deny the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda.

ICTR

At the ICTR the defence produced a denial narrative that aims to prove that the massacres in 1994 were a spontaneous reaction to Habyarimana’s death and that no planning of the killings had taken place. Rwanda’s political opposition in Europe and the US recently enlisted the help of Canadian lawyer Christopher Black, a former defence lawyer at the ICTR who widely promotes the idea that the 1994 genocide is a ‘’myth’’.

The repercussions of the events in 1994 continue to be felt in the region to this day especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the extremists found a haven.

In 1992 Kenya’s Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western Provinces were engulfed in a wave of ethnic violence when mostly Kikuyu people were targeted and labeled ‘’opposition sympathizers’’ by KANU politicians mainly from President Arap Moi’s Kalenjin community. According to Kenya Human Rights Commission, from 1991 to 1996 over 15,000 people died and approximately 300,000 were displaced as a result of the ethnic violence.

After the presidential elections held on 27 December 2007, targeted ethnic violence was again directed mainly against the Kikuyu people living in Rift Valley province.

Over one million people were killed in the 1994 genocide

The Kikuyu retaliated against mainly Luos and Kalenjin living in the areas surrounding Nakuru and Naivasaha. The violence also spread to Nairobi’s slum areas. At the end of it all over 1000 people had been killed and an estimated 350,000 displaced.

In Dafur, Western Sudan, militias known as Janjaweed have killed an estimated 400,000 people and displaced over 2.5 million. The conflict started in 2003 when two Dafuri rebel movements, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) took up arms against the Sudanese government which they accused of marginalizing the non- Arab population.

The recent rounding up and expulsion of Banyarwanda from Tanzania, especially the manner in which the expulsion was carried out where people were forcefully driven across the border without their belongings, may encourage future targeting of ethnic minorities in the region.

THE OVERLOOKED TWENTIETH CENTUARY GENOCIDE

When scholars make reference to twentieth century genocides there is a genocide that is conspicuously left out. The Belgians’ atrocities committed in the Congo from 1885 to 1908 and the subsequent death of 10 million Congolese has been conveniently left out of common literature.

There is no point in discussing the failed state that is the Democratic Republic of Congo without examining how it got there.

Between 1885 and 1908 King Leopold II of Belgium turned Congo into his private colony and was responsible for one of the most brutal forced labour systems ever known. King Leopold posed as a protector of Africans from Arab slave traders but in reality curved out an empire based on terror to harvest rubber.

Local chiefs were required to supply men to collect rubber and other resources like ivory and the Congolese were obliged to supply these products without payment. Families were held hostage and starved to death if men failed to produce enough rubber, villages were burnt down and children’s hands and feet were chopped off as punishment for late deliveries or refusal to deliver.

The atrocities committed by the Belgians were some of the vilest in human history. As a result ten million Congolese died through murder, starvation, flogging, mutilation and exhaustion and between 2 and 5 million were permanently mutilated.


Local chiefs organized resistance which was brutally crashed. Soldiers were sent out to kill the rebels and ordered to cut off and bring back the dead victims’ right hands. Those who shot and missed their targets cut off the hands of the living to meet their quotas.

In the words of Forbath a Danish missionary; ‘’The baskets of severed hands set down at the feet of the European post commanders, became the symbol of the Congo Free State….The collection of hands became an end in itself.

Force Publique soldiers brought them to the stations in place of rubber, they even went out to harvest them instead of rubber….They became a sort of currency. They came to be used to make up for shortfalls in rubber quotas, to replace…the people who were demanded for the forced labour gangs, and the Force Publique soldiers were paid their bonuses on the basis of how many hands they collected.’’

One of the genocide victims

With the wealth extracted from Congo, Leopold constructed grand palaces and monuments including the Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren. Through Leopold’s actions Belgium’s revenue increased and the country made great architectural advances. The colonization of Congo gave Belgium enormous profits and prominence in a very competitive Europe.

As a result of the exposure of the conditions in the Congo Free State to the public by reformers, in 1908 public pressure led to the end of Leopold’s rule and to the annexation of the Congo as a colony of Belgium. The Congo Free State became the Belgian Congo in 1908 but the practices established there continued until independence in 1960.


In his Independence day speech on 30 June 1960, Congo’s first Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba shocked the Belgian delegation by bluntly decrying the brutality and humiliation suffered by the Congolese at the hands of the Belgians and extolled the independence struggle of ‘’tears, fire and blood’’. He was executed by a Belgian led firing squad on 17 January 1961, seven months after Congo attained independence.

The DRC has never recovered from the horrors unleashed by Belgium.

By Diana Katabarwa

dkatabarwa@gmail.com

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