Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch



Welcome to
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:http://www.rwandadocumentsproject.net/gsdl/cgi-bin/library


Thursday, June 2, 2011

RWANDAN GACACA COURT SUCCESS AND FAILURE

Refugee camp for Rwandans located in what is n...The author lived in this refugee camp of Eastern DRC in Kivu region/Photo:UNHCR 1995
I am a student in political science at Harvard University and a genocide survivor of the Rwandan Genocide which happened when I was 11, and now is I am 28. It has been 17 since the Rwandan genocide. I am from the Rwandan people called "Hutsi" tribe. This is a new brand of Rwandan tribe which is a mixture of a Hutu and a Tutsi. In a patriarchal society as Rwanda my mother was a Tutsi and my father a Hutu. in 1990s my father was jailed by the then Habyarimana's government being accused of supporting Tutsi since my mother is a Tutsi and most of her brothers fled Rwanda and joined the Tutsi led Rwanda Patriotic Front which was fighting in Northwestern Rwanda from Uganda. This reason put our family in more problems until 1994 when the horrible massacre took place and around 300,000 Tutsis and Hutus killed according to the research done by professors Christian Davenport from Notre Dame University and Allan Stam of Michigan University. My uncles from my mother's side were killed by Interahamwe in 1994. In 1995 4 of my father's brothers and my grandpa were massacred by RPF in KIBEHO refugee camp where around 10,000 Hutu refugees were brutally killed by RPF under the watch of UN Peacekeeping. My family and I fled to Bukavu in DRC where we spent 2 years in a refugee camps. We had nothing to live on at all and in October 1996 the soldiers of RPF of Kagame, Burundian soldiers and Ugandan together with Laurent Kabila's rebels attacked our refugee camps in NYANGEZI where thousands of Hutu refugees again were massacred still under the watch of the international community. My father, my mom, and my 2 siblings were forcibly repatriated to Rwanda and my buddies together with other refugees from the same neighborhood took it into the forest of Shabunda in Bukavu. That was the last time I got to see my family.
Some children from the refugee camps in Bukavu and I took into the dense forest of Viyega forest where we marched for seven good months with non-stop until we reached in Mbandaka. Briefly we left Bukavu went to Shabunda then Banyanga, then Walikale where we joined Hutu refugees who were fleeing the RPF and Ugandan army together with Kabila’s rebels who were supported by both USA and UK army to establish an Anglophone empire in central Africa. I was 13 years old when all that happened to us. RPF attacked our Walikale refugee camp and we started fleeing to the West then we went from Amisi-Tingitingi where RPF came killed hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees majority of them were children like me and those younger than me who were so exhausted from the three months non-stop journey, then I continued to Lubutu where human stampede crashed the old bridge until refugees bodies made a new bridge which I used to cross over to Lubutu town then continued to Kisangani-Ubundu- Opala to Ikela-Bokungu-Boende in Equateur Province. From here I continued with few refugees who had managed to survive the RPF rampant killing then we continued from Ingende to Irebu-Bikoro-Mbandaka then crossed over to Lukolela in the Republic of Congo Brazaville.
When my family arrived back in Rwanda, they found our house in Nyamirambo already occupied by a Tutsi military officer who started accusing my father of genocide saying that my father did not protect my mother's brothers from Interahamwe as if he had that ability. However that was not an issue, the main issue was the house the military officer occupied. He wanted to own it. The only possible way was to wrongfully accuse my father of the wrong doings he never did. My mom intervened on several occasion saying that my father did not get involved in killing, in fact he was jailed twice by the Habyarimana's government on the allegations of treason because his in-laws were RPF members. The man occupying my family's house did not want to hear this.
GACACA COURT
When the Gacaca court started that was a good opportunity to mobilize people called false witnesses who were threatened or promised to be released from the jail where they are held since 1994 to come and testify against my father that they saw him participating in the genocide. Despite the fact that my father married to a Tutsi for the last 30 years, he has been in jail for 7 years without any public hearing or any accusations brought against him. My mother was thrown out since.
GACACA was established to intimidate the Hutu intellectuals who had been brought back to Rwanda during the Congolese invasion especially those who were intellectuals, business people, and home owners which had been occupied by the RPF soldiers who did not want to lose their buildings and wanted to implicate innocent Hutus in genocide charges in order to get rid of them. That is how the RPF GACACA succeeded by putting all innocent lives behind bars for life without any legal charges leveled against them or those who appeared in Gacaca courts had both economic and political interests for the ruling party RPF and the Kagame government had organized machinery to make sure that those unwanted people from Hutu communities are gotten rid of. It happened as planned, all factories owned by Hutus were taken over by RPF, Hutu intellectuals were falsely accused of genocide and taken behind bars forever, and those who wanted to challenge the KAGAME government were intimidated by GACACA court such as BIZIMUNGU Pasteri and were put in jail and later released by USA involvement since it is the main source of all problems Rwandans are having now right from the beginning. On this side of Gacaca courts I can confidently say that the GACACA of Kagame succeeded to isolate Hutus from the mainstream of public life and liberty. However, GACACA failed traditionally.
GACACA TRADITIONAL FAILURE
In Rwanda like in most of East and Central African countries, GACACA COURTS are like BARAZA MEETING. It is what in Western academic in mediation and justice they call "RESTORATIVE JUSTICE or REPARATIVE JUSTIVE." In our TRADITIONAL GACACA COURT as the word GACACA implies, it is an approach to justice where both the victim and the victim's side and the offender and the offender's side come together sit down in a "courtyard" (for the word gacaca) and focus on the needs of victims and offenders, instead of satisfying abstract legal principles or punishing the offender in terms of money or heads of cows and other domestic animals, the victims are encouraged to take an active role in the process narrating what happened when the wrong took place and how she/he would like to see justice done. The offenders are also encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, "to repair the harm they've done—by apologizing, and take responsibility of the damage caused by his/her wrong doings. This process is based on a theory of justice and AFRICAN CONCEPT OF "UBUNTU" (I am what I am because of who we all are)that consider crime and wrongdoing to be an offense against an individual within a community rather than an individual within the state. This gives a wide range of opportunity to involve all the parties concerned in the judicial process that will bring justice to the victim and restore healthy relationship within the community and its members. The true Gacaca promotes direct dialogue between victim and offender to ensure that there is the highest level of victim satisfaction and offender accountability demonstrated by regret of his/her actions, apology and taking responsible action to remedy the past mistake. This is what the RPF GACACA COURT SYSTEM has failed to achieve in the past 10 years. However, it has managed to widen the social dysfunctionality and hatred among Rwandans because of its one sided approach to justice which is a transplant of UN judicial system that we have been seeing around the globe from the International Court Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR), Yugoslavian Court, and International Criminal Court which are both politically and economically motivated rather than justice motivated systems.
CONCLUSION
There is still hope for Kagame and all Rwandans to build a New Rwanda through a New Judicial system derived from "TRUE RWANDAN GACACA." After 2 decades of hatred, suspicion, fear, intimidation, and division, Rwandans are yearning for genuine reconciliation whereby all Rwandans fear at home. A Rwandan that will welcome every Rwandan regardless of his/her political background, tribal affiliation, colonial language (whether you speak French or English), social status, regional and geographical origin, and religious affiliation. Rwandans still want to share the land of Rwanda as the people of the Rwanda of GIHANGA NYAMIFANA, CYILIMA RUJUGIRO, and other people who found to liberate this land. RWANDANS STILL BELIEVE THAT A GENUINE GACACA COURT IS A TRUE MEDICINE.
The Author is a Harvard University Graduate Student in Political science and he has survived all atrocities committed by both Rwandan ethnicities (Hutus and Tutsis) he wants to see an end to hatred among Rwandans.
hagandi77@gmail.com
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