About me.

Andrew M. Mwenda is the founding Managing Editor of The Independent, Uganda’s premier current affairs newsmagazine. One of Foreign Policy magazine 's top 100 Global Thinkers, TED Speaker and Foreign aid Critic

Friday, July 3, 2015

Thinking others behave like you

How the arrest of Rwanda’s chief of intelligence in London shows the British government projecting its behavior on RPF

Let us imagine a situation where a Spanish judge indicts 40 top Israel generals. The judge alleges that in 1933, Jews formed a terrorist organisation in neighboring Poland aimed at exterminating the German people. He further alleges that in 1939, Jews exploited circumstances of World War 11 to execute genocide against Germans. If there were any killings of Jews by any Germans, the judge alleges, it was spontaneous self-defense.

The Spanish government issues arrest warrants. It has an extradition agreement with the British government. Let us also imagine Jews liberated Germany from the iron grip of the Nazis. The Germans now live comfortably with Jews. Finally let us imagine that the head of the Israel intelligence was passing through London. Would the British government arrest him on such an indictment?

Yet this is exactly what happened in London on June 20 to the head of Rwandan intelligence, Gen. Karenzi Karake. Karake is one of the generals who liberated Rwanda from the grip of Hutu genocidal extremists in 1994. Yet according to the indictment, it is the Tutsi-led RPF that committed genocide against Hutus. This is in circumstances where the Hutu extremists made every effort to broadcast and publicise their plans on their radio Des Mille Collins and in their newspaper, Kangura.

There is not a whit of ambiguity about the intentions and actions of the Hutu extremists. Meanwhile, after their defeat, the same Hutu extremists, using their friends and allies in France (which was an accomplice to the genocide) and other parts of Europe have tried to create a narrative that their genocidal killings were a self-defense effort against plans by the RPF to exterminate them. They have never adduced any evidence to prove this. However, their documents can be found online and show that this Spanish Judge merely Xeroxed from them.

I have used the example of the Jewish holocaust not only to demonstrate the hypocrisy or double standards of the British government but mainly to underline the racist contempt European governments and their offshoots in North America, Australia and New Zeeland have for Africans. It was therefore even more painful when the British government issued a statement pledging to remain a “strong” and “long term ally” of “the people and government of Rwanda” in spite of arresting the head of that nation’s intelligence service on charges of genocide, terrorism and crimes against humanity. Inadvertently the British are also telling the world that they are allies to, and are financing a government of genocidaires and terrorists.

There are many propaganda documents by Nazis claiming that, “the German people” were in “a life and death struggle against international Jewry”. It is intriguing how those who commit genocide argue that they were defending themselves against a helpless minority they sought to exterminate.  One needs to have monumental denseness to accept the claim that the RPF ever tried to commit genocide against Hutus in Rwanda in 1994. The miracle of Rwanda was that there was no counter genocide. It is a miracle without precedent in human history.

Imagine that in 1945, the Generals and soldiers under their command who liberated Germany were Jews. Imagine these Jewish armies marching through villages of Germany and opening up Nazi concentration camps and finding their kith and kin slaughtered. What would have happened to the German civilians in neighboring villages? We can get a glimpse of what the British did to German civilians during World War 11.

According to the American World War 11 Museum in New Orleans, six million German civilians were killed as a result of deliberate allied (British and American) bombing of German villages. The British and Americans deliberately targeted German civilians to avenge the Nazi bombardment of England in the early years of the war and to also destroy German fighting morale. This is not to mention other genocides the British government conducted against the Boers in South Africa, the Ndebele and Shona in modern day Zimbabwe, the Banyoro in Uganda, the Kikuyu in Kenya etc. But it is wrong for the UK government to think RPF is like them.

In Rwanda, the Tutsi victors exhibited an unusual degree of restraint that is difficult to fathom given the natural tendency of human beings to seek revenge. Remember the Nazi genocide against Jews was executed by highly specialised SS units in concentration camps away from the eyes of ordinary Germans. The armies that liberated Germany and opened up concentration camps were Russian, British and American, not Jewish. In Rwanda, although the Tutsi genocide was organized by the state, it was executed by millions of ordinary Hutu civilians using machetes. This made almost every Hutu civilian a genocidaire.

Secondly, Tutsi soldiers were capturing territory and finding their families slaughtered in thousands. And around the villages were many Hutu civilians who had been conducting these massacres. Did some Tutsi soldiers revenge? You bet they did. But the RPF severely punished many, some by firing squad in front of their colleagues. Did some who killed avoid punishment? I am sure many did. Whatever the details, even an idiot would agree that RPF exhibited a degree of restraint that defies all imagination. The normal expectation would have been counter genocide on a massive scale. How Paul Kagame and his commanders pulled this off is a feat that deserves a Nobel Peace Prize – if the prize was something genuine.

If there was any lingering doubt about RPF’s intentions, here is the evidence. Today, Rwanda has the best healthcare system in this region, 90% of its citizens are medically insured in this very poor country. Consequently, the life expectancy of Rwandans, the vast majority of whom are Hutus, has increased from 28 years to 64; and their infant, child and maternal mortality have enjoyed the fastest decline in the whole world. These efforts by the RPF government leave no doubt whatsoever about its intentions.

To therefore arrest and detain Gen. Karake on a charge of genocide is not just an insult to the people of Rwanda but to all Africans and the entire humanity – if the UK government acknowledges the existence of such a concept. Some people argued that this may be a way the British are signaling to Rwanda their apprehension about the current efforts to amend the constitution to remove term limits on the presidency. If the British government felt a neo-colonial responsibility to care more about the future of Rwanda than Rwandans themselves, why use such an insensitive signal?


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