"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

5.18.2010

a losing strategy

So much for academic freedom in Rwanda:
Students say the universities are crawling with spies. In the last year, at least 10 students have been arrested for a wide range of verbal slurs and provocative writing. Six students were arrested last May for damaging a genocide survivor’s clothes. A professor at a college in the east was sentenced to five years in prison last month after one of his students alerted the police that he had insulted Mr. Kagame during class.

...According to the law, once a student is convicted of genocide ideology, the student can face jail time and will not be readmitted to school, a policy that has students keeping their opinions to themselves.

The ban on genocide ideology also encompasses accusations that the Tutsi rebels killed civilians in 1994, despite the finding by a United Nations research team that the rebels killed up to 45,000 people. A mention of those killings can land a jail term. The genocide, the law says, was committed only against the Tutsis.

The official narrative, students say, amounts to a kind of denial of history. Or as ...a 21-year-old Tutsi economics student describes it, “pretend and move on.”
Meanwhile, something is still very much amiss in Kigali:
Two grenade blasts in Rwanda's capital Kigali have killed one person and wounded at least 28 people, the latest of a series of attacks, police and medics said on Sunday.

The explosions happened within an hour of each other on Saturday evening. Witnesses said men in civilian clothes threw the first grenade from a moving car at a busy market area at around 7 p.m. The second grenade was thrown at a bus park in Kigali's Nyabugogo district.
Who's responsible for the increasingly brazen grenade attacks? Only the guilty know. Given Rwanda's lack of open political space, there's no question that tensions will only get higher as the elections approach. By forcing Rwandans to pretend that ethnicity doesn't matter to them, not allowing free and honest discussion about crimes committed in every direction during and after the genocide, and prohibiting free speech about current political issues, Kagame is playing with fire.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"... despite the finding by a United Nations research team that the rebels killed up to 45,000 people." To be fair, this report was never published, but what was leaked claimed that between 25,000 and 45,000 were killed, which contradicts most (all?) other reports of the numbers killed by the RPA/RPF. Gerard Prunier, and others, convincingly argue that anything close to this number is unreasonable and 5,000 or less is more likely. Obviously, this is still a terrible loss of life, but the point gets weakened if the most extreme estimate taken from an unpublished, uncorroborated and widely refuted report must be used.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 12:52:00 PM

 
Blogger Nkunda said...

Anon...I doubt playing the game of numbers will really help. Otherwise, others can argue "convincingly" that there is no known scientific study on the numbers of people killed during the genocide. In addition, it is in the interest of the RPF to minimize the numbers of those they killed. The same can be said of the ex-FAR and Interahamwe.

For instance, you can see how the numbers of those dead at Kibeho (1995) are manipulated. The RPF claims only 300, while the peacekeeping Australian force claims over 4,000.

But, simply mentioning Kibeho in Rwanda today could land you a few decades in jail over charges of revisionism. This is what needs to change.

Otherwise, with this draconian laws, how can we even question what the RPF did (and continues to do)in the Congo?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 3:17:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Anon, it's hard to argue that the UN report was completely uncorroborated or refuted by anyone other than the RPF. I do think the 45,000 number is far higher than what actually happened, but there are solidly documented instances of mass killings by the RPF, including, most notoriously, at Kibeho. The RPF can pretend it didn't happen all they want, but the presence of Zambian and Australian peacekeepers during the massacre - the latter of whom have absolutely no stake in Rwanda's domestic politics - and the fact that they counted bodies after it happened is solid enough evidence for most reasonable observers.

There's also the question of what happened to several thousand Rwandan Hutus who "disappeared" in eastern Zaire/Congo when the fighting moved there and the camps were attacked.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: there are no good guys in this. There's guilt in every direction, innocent people of both ethnicities have been slaughtered, and it's very likely to happen again if Kagame doesn't give the Hutus freedom of political expression.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 10:24:00 PM

 

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