By Timothy B Reid
It’s time for a reckoning for Kagame and his Western cheerleaders. In 1997-1998, several years after the Rwandan genocide is supposed to have ended, I worked as a United Nations human rights investigator in Rwanda for the prefectures of Gisenyi and Ruhengeri. At the time, around 2 000 people were being killed every month in massacres orchestrated by both the Tutsi-led Rwandan government and its enemy, armed Hutu insurgents based in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (then called Zaire).
On the ground, the reality of the Rwandan genocide was very different from that which is often portrayed in Western media. The ‘Hollywood version’ of good Tutsis massacred by evil Hutus is a grossly distorted one, which ignores comprehensive and credible reports of massacres conducted by Tutsi forces against Hutu civilians.
The story of the Rwandan genocide cannot be reduced to one of ‘good versus evil’.
It is far more complicated, and more nuanced, than that. However, Western politicians such as Tony Blair, Bill and Hillary Clinton and former British development secretary Claire Short have consistently glossed over these ‘complications’ to portray a one-sided and largely inaccurate picture of what happened in Rwanda.
One of the worst offenders in this regard is Louise Arbour, currently the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for International Migration. She has previously served as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the president of the International Crisis Group and the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Instead of using these high-profile positions to highlight the full extent of the violence, Arbour has consistently downplayed the role of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his allies.
The shooting down of the plane containing (Hutu) President Juvenal Habyarimana, his army boss Déogratias Nsabiamana and (Hutu) Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira is generally deemed to be the “spark” or the “signal” that started the genocide. It also incited further civil war and hundreds of thousands of deaths in Burundi and destabilisation, invasion, occupation, pillaging and massacre in the DRC. Propaganda spread by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which is now Rwanda’s ruling party, and swallowed wholesale by a gullible — or complicit — international community, claimed that this was orchestrated by Hutu hardliners in the previous government as part of a pre-planned conspiracy to commit genocide. FULL STORY