Thursday, February 2, 2012

Paul Kagame and Tony Blair

It might be that Paul Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front was not after all responsible for shooting down the plane carrying of the then President of the country, Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira, the Hutu president of Burundi, on 6 April 1994. Therefore, we still don't know who perpetrated the act that effectively triggered off the mass murder not only of the Tutsi population, but also of any Hutus who refused to participate in the slaughter.

Be that as it may, there is still reason to doubt the Rwandan government's interpretation of the report as ending "..... 17 years of manipulation, distortion of the truth and of a campaign against the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) that aimed to deny the genocide."  All the more so since Jacques Kabal, the Rwandan ambassador to France, follows on this statement by emphasizing that the report will help foster better relations between Paris and Kigali. Might the report not indicate that Sarkozy's government has decided that it is time once again to get a piece of the Rwandan pie? Moreover, even if the shooting down of Habyarimana's plane cannot be linked to the RPF, Mr Kagame and his henchmen can hardly be exonarated of their very own war crimes in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Occupying the moral high ground following the genocide the RPF, in alliance with Museveni's Uganda, attacked the Hutu refugees in the eastern part of what is now the DRC. Furthermore, we might even accept that, with the Hutu "Interahamwe" regrouping and attacking elements of the Tutsi population in the Kivu province prior to the intervention of the RPF and Uganda, these attacks were to some extent pre-emptive. Nevertheless, what followed was neither self defence, nor a police action and Hutu men, women and children were systematically rounded up and slaughtered (Feinstein: 445, 446). Indeed, the extent of the crimes have some calling it a second genocide (ibid). Moreover, as one blogger points out, the RPF had already revealed its criminal nature as early as January 1991 when they killed some 500 civilians in Ruhengeri in Northern Rwanda.

It is that last fact that makes Paul Kagame's friend, Tony Blair, seem all the more pathetic when he said at the end of December 2010, in answering criticisms of the undemocratic nature of the Kigali regime, that: "allowances have to be made for the consequences of the 1994 genocide of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and suggested that Kagame's economic record outweighed other concerns." The "economic record" according to Blair is more important than the publication of a UN report from two months earlier which accused Rwanda of war crimes in eastern Congo, including the wholesale massacres of Hutu civilians and the plunder of minerals and more important than an election where Paul Kagame gets re-elected, after a "rigged"vote with his main rivals were either in jail or prohibited from running from office.

His judgement, "rightly or wrongly"? Well, we had a taste of Mr Blair's judgement "rightly or wrongly" when he took his own country into an illegal war.  Doesn't he understand that where breaking the law is concerned we are not looking for his judgements or opinions. Perhaps, if he did, he would realise that both he and his friend belong in front of the ICC in the Hague, that his and his friend's opinions don't particularly matter and that rigging elections, persecuting opposition and slaughtering civilians are not misdeamenors that we can commit to profit from. 

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