Saturday, July 17, 2010

End of Impunity in Rwanda?

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Demonstrates converge in Madrid to protest against Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

In March 2000, a group of Non-violence activists calling themselves the “Veritas  Rwanda Forum”   and guided “with the strong conviction that the truth is history’s most powerful force” met in Spain to discuss the issues  facing the Great Lakes region of Africa and to “allow the transformation and resolution of the conflict[s]”.

After much discussion and reflection, they resolved to file for legal action against the government of Rwanda; convinced and concerned that the latter had participated in horrendous crimes while enjoying impunity. In addition, they felt compelled to “foster an intra-Rwandan dialogue” which would provide for the reconciliation of the Rwandan people.

Madame Ingabire Victoire, the Rwandan opposition leader was among the participants. In fact, the members of this forum were of a diverse ethnic composition and political affiliation.
However, it is the result of this forum “independent from the smallness of the messenger” that continues to haunt the RPF regime.  
During President Paul Kagame’s recent trip to Madrid, he was treated to a hostile welcome (watch this clip).  Perhaps he hadn’t expected this reaction and was scheduled to meet the Sapnish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. But, demonstrators and Spanish civil groups pressured Mr. Zapatero to snub President Kagame.  And Zapatero did exactly that!
For a reminder, Spain has a standing arrest warrant against 40 high ranking members of the former RPF rebel group which currently controls the Rwandan government. The indictments accuse the RPF for “crimes against humanity and terrorism related to events that took place between 1994 and 2000, including under Kagame's rule.” However, Kagame due to his status as a head of state is immune to prosecution.
Another reason for the indictments is the murder of Spanish nationals thought to have been committed by the RPF. Among the murdered was father Valmajo killed in Nyinawimana in 1994. He was a long serving Catholic missionary in Rwanda. Also killed, were three Spanish aid workers of the NGO “Medicos del Mundo”. The trio is said to have been assassinated by the RPF on 18 January 1997 in Ruhengeli, Northern Rwanda.
This is a crucial step in the right direction and inspires many Rwandans towards equitable justice for all the victims of the Rwandan cataclysm. The efforts towards an “Inter-Rwandan Dialogue” must be supported by the international community, in order to promote healing and reconciliation—not just in Rwanda, but throughout the Great Lakes region.

1 comment:

ColoredOpinions said...

one small step for man...