By Dr. Jean Damascène BIZIMANA
Executive Secretary of CNLG
71ST COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON PREVENTION AND PUNISHMENT OF THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE
During the Second World War, which lasted from 1939 to 1945, more than six million (6,000,000) Jews were killed by a faction of Nazis led by Adolf Hitler on grounds because they were born Jews.
In 1944, American lawyer Raphael LEMKIN, observed these massacres and consequently coined the word “genocide”, building it from a Greek word genos which means race and the Latin word caedere which means to kill.
His intention was to explain that the crime of massacre committed against the Jews is different from other crimes against humanity based on the aim of these massacres being the extermination of all Jews.
On 21st December 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted that “genocide” is an international crime that should be prosecuted at both national and international levels, albeit typically being carried out by individuals or States.
The General Assembly also adopted the International Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in its Resolution 260 A (III) of 9th December 1948, which came into effect from 12th January 1951.
Rwanda ratified the International Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide on 16th April 1975 within its second republic, but then later refused to ratify article 9 of this Convention.
This article stated that a country may be sued by the International court of the United Nations in the case that it is found not abiding to the provisions of this Convention or if genocide and related crimes are observed within this country.
This refusal of article 9 indicates that the former leaders of Rwanda were aware that they could be held accountable for crimes committed against the Tutsi beginning in 1959, which could be considered as genocide.
Additionally, it verifies that Rwanda did not want to shun its policies of discrimination and segregation. These incendiary policies are what culminated into the 1994 Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi, which claimed more than one million lives.
The Genocide against the Tutsi is an international crime recognized by the United Nations, which led to the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that closed on 31st December 2015 after trying 75 genocide fugitives who had sought refuge abroad.
On 16th June 2006, ICTR resolved that the Genocide against the Tutsi is a fact of public notoriety which is not to be subjected to any sort of denial. On 28th June 2011, ICTR took the first decision to transfer to Rwanda Pastor Jean Uwinkindi to be tried by the Rwandan courts.
This was succeeded by the transferal of other genocide suspect cases to Rwanda, including Bernard Munyagishari and Ladislas Ntaganzwa whose cases are currently underway in the Rwandan courts. Eight (8) other fugitives, including Kabuga Félicien, Mpiranya Protais, Bizimana Augustin, Kayishema Fulgence, Munyarugarama Phéneas, Ndimbati Aloys, Sikubwabo Charles and Ryandikayo Charles, are still at large.
On 16th April 2014, The UN Security Council adopted the Resolution N0 2150 (2014) which implores all countries to set measures to prosecute and punish perpetrators of the genocide in Rwanda who are situated abroad.
These laws criminalizing denial and minimization of the Genocide against the Tutsi were established to fight FDLR and other militias founded on genocide ideology.
On 28th January 2018, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution to correct the appellation of the massacres committed in Rwanda and called them “the Genocide against the Tutsi” and dedicated the 7th of April as the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda.
Since the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, much has been done to overcome the many deplorable consequences it left behind, starting from trying and punishing those who committed the crimes of genocide in order to eradicate impunity.
The justice sector that had been destroyed was rebuilt through training of judges and the enforcement of different laws to improve the structure and functionality of the judicial system.
This took place particularly through the activities of Gacaca Courts that tried almost two million cases between 2002 and 2012. Furthermore, in 2008, Rwanda ratified the article of the above-mentioned convention to which authorities of the former regimes had put a refusal.
Following the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, detrimental activities ensued by individuals who attempt to deny and minimize it, both in Rwanda and abroad.
One of the arguments of deniers is to say that it had not been planned, that there were ethnic conflicts in Rwanda that did not constitute genocide and even that there were two genocides (one against the Tutsi in Rwanda and the other against Hutu in DRC).
Deniers of the Genocide against the Tutsi always denigrate the number of victims, valorize the genocide or minimize it, conceal or destroy evidence and commit acts of violence against genocide survivors.
There are also politicians who use the genocide for their own agenda, and disfigure the progress that has been achieved.
In Rwanda, such activities see an increment during the commemoration period (For instance in 2019, 227 cases of genocide denial and genocide ideology were reported), while in foreign countries it manifests among Rwandans who fled, most of whom took part in the genocide and now collaborate with foreigners, mostly politicians, journalists, authors, university professors and researchers to contribute to genocide denial.
Even though Rwanda has done much through the implementation of the International Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, especially criminalization of the crime of genocide ideology and related crimes as provided for by the Law Nº 59/2018 of 22nd August 2018, there are still serious challenges due to the way those who spread genocide denial in foreign countries operate, which is evolving and using updated technologies.
These days, there are individuals and terrorist groups that called themselves P5 which bring together factions in opposition to the Government of Rwanda, some of whom are accused of having had a role in the Genocide against the Tutsi (FDLR/RUD-Urunana). There are also groups in Europe working towards the recognition of the genocide against Hutu.
Rwanda will continue to back activities and measures aimed to fight genocide and its ideology anywhere in the world. Rwanda has demonstrated its commitment to promote humanitarian values that consider people first by currently receiving refugees from Libya.
As the world is commemorating the 71st Anniversary of the International Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, CNLG calls upon all Rwandans, especially the youth, to play active role in the fight against genocide ideology and related crimes.
Citizens can do this by participating in activities to commemorate the genocide against the Tutsi, by denouncing those who would deny or minimize the genocide, and by recording and preserving the history of the Genocide against the Tutsi in their studies and research.
The National Commission for the Fight against Genocide reminds countries that host criminals who participated in the Genocide against the Tutsi to abide by international laws and prosecute or extradite them accordingly. Up to date, Rwanda has sent 1,144 arrest warrants against suspected genocide perpetrators around the world. CNLG also reminds all countries that give space to genocide deniers, that they must respect the UN Resolution N°2150 and punish those individuals accordingly.
CNLG takes this opportunity to inform the general public that public lectures will be delivered in all Higher Learning Institutions in Rwanda in December 2019, and hereby urges journalists to cover and report on this activity. Attached, you will find the locations and times of the lectures being given at the different Higher Learning Institutions.
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