Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch

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Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

On The Legacy of Numerous Genocide Memorials in Rwanda

By Mamadou Kouyat

Upon touring Rwanda, the following question might surely pup up in one’s mind: why are there so many genocide memorials scattered throughout Rwanda? Without any doubt, most people might proudly respond: for remembrance.

In reality, don’t they constitute a powerful weapon for domestic and foreign policies for Kagame and his authoritarian regime? Don’t they also constitute permanent sanctuaries that continue to fuel ethnic hatred between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda?

Rwanda is the only country where there are more memorials in the world, in numbers and per head of population per square kilometer. Indeed, in each village, each city, apparently for the so called “do not forget” slogan, there is a genocide memorial in memory of Tutsi victims of the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

For instance, the Gisozi genocide memorial in Kigali City, which comprises more than 250,000 of body remains, is the most visited, and of course, the most expensive one. Unfortunately, it is true that the establishment of the exact identity of each victim would not be an easy task. Such an operation would rather be so costly and difficult given the circumstances in which various massacres occurred. During the one hundred days of the Rwandan genocide, the unspeakable animosity of some people against others made it possible for Interahamwe militia and RPF soldiers, to behave as a butcher at work in his butchery. Unspeakable abomination but true!

Beyond the sensitivity of this issue and the duties of remembrance that are of course important without any doubt, wouldn’t be appropriate for all Rwandan citizens and all friends of Rwanda to ask themselves the following question: are these numerous genocide memorials whose maintenance costs millions Rwandan francs -funds that could be spent on many development projects crucially needed– really fostering reconciliation in Rwanda? Isn’t it true that these memorials have really become sanctuaries of ethnic hatred and antagonism between Hutus and Tutsis rather than an instrument of national unity?

Upon coming to power in 1994, the RPF regime claimed that the genocide against the Tutsis and moderate Hutus took place in Rwanda from April to July 1994. This genocide was stopped when RPF soldiers captured Kigali City on July 4, 1994.

In 2003 a new Rwandan constitution has been adopted. In its article 14 it is written that “The State shall, within the limits of its capacity, take special measures for the welfare of the survivors of genocide who were rendered destitute by the genocide committed in Rwanda from October 1st, 1990 to December 31st, 1994, the disabled, the indigent and the elderly as well as other vulnerable groups.

In 2008, the above article has been amended to include a statement that from now on the constitution will refer to the 1994 genocide as a “genocide committed on Tutsis” not “against Tutsis and moderate Hutus” as previously stated.

Such manipulations of the Rwandan constitution may at least in part explain why human rights advocates reject Kagame's view that Rwandans must view themselves only as Rwandans and stop using the words "Hutu" and "Tutsi." This may also explain why many Rwandans albeit in Rwanda or scattered worldwide do not necessarily recognize themselves in annual ceremonies organized by the RPF regime for the commemoration of the Rwandan genocide.

Upon visiting one of these genocide memorials, how does a Rwandan feel about his or her fellow Rwandan citizens from a different ethnic background?

In case of a Tutsi, a Tutsi who survived the genocide, he or she might be attempted to blame all Hutus, who could therefore all be readily seen as reckless murderers, or simply an incarnation of evil.

In case of a Hutu, a Hutu who knows the truth about what really happened before, during, and after those one hundred days of genocide, he or she will feel afflicted by such an unprecedented history of injustice.

Make no mistakes. African fellows recognize each other in their way of thinking. There is no doubt that only an African can thoroughly understand the reasoning of another African mostly owing to the fact that the cartesianism theory is still to a very large extent limited to Westerners.

What about a foreign visitor, knowing that it is only on Hutus - following numerous lie propagandas perpetrated by Kagame and his acolytes – that the international community in its little impartiality if any, has chosen to put the collective responsibility for this tragedy in Rwanda?

Any world citizen with good will should have the courage to admit and say loud and crystal clear, that Rwanda’s genocide memorials, which look more likely as fortress of the inter-ethnic hatred, are not conducive to the indulgence, forgiving while remembering, reconciliation and sincere and harmonious coexistence between Rwandans of all ethnic backgrounds, aimed at promoting the emergence of a genuine republican and democratic society, free of all the demons of hatred and inter-ethnic civil wars.

It is therefore wise to recognize that there is a real risk for both Rwandans and foreigners, that some people will eventually get persuaded by numerous RPF lie propagandas about the root cause of the Rwandan tragedy, that all Hutus- who are wrongly labeled as the only bad guys, hence guilty- should be tracked down or be locked up, in a sense of global and permanent conviction, and that it is a right thing to strike them indefinitely for their heinous crimes.

For these past 15 years, such an attitude gave Kagame the green light to monopolize all powers to the expenses of the Rwandan people except for a few families close to Kagame, under the umbrella of countering attempts to exterminate part of the Rwandan population by extremists Hutus, although all Rwandans know that Kagame was the mastermind of the Rwandan genocide and one of the key players in the massacres of innocent civilians that ravaged Rwanda and are still going on in DRC.

As a result, such a scenario has led to the current political deadlock in Rwanda which could be tackled by good political initiatives or attempts to hold a genuine political dialogue highly inclusive of all Rwandans. Such an inter-Rwandan dialogue should aim at bringing about true national reconciliation, real security, development and lasting peace, which are of vital interest, for Rwanda, DRC, and the African Great Lakes region as a whole.
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