[Debate] George Monbiot – See No Evil
critical.montages at gmail.com
Wed May 23 14:52:23 BST 2012
"Democratic deficiencies" would be a great understatement if used to
characterize the government of Rwanda. In the last presidential
"election," Paul Kagame got re-elected with 93.08%. What kind of
election was it? See, e.g., a BBC article about it below.*
That's the way Paul Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front has been running
Rwanda since its military victory. His de facto one-party
dictatorship has been legitimated by denying the fact of the Rwandan
civil war -- i.e. two opposed belligerent parties, one of which is the
RPF, both committing war crimes -- that the RPF won and by portraying
the defeated party -- and eventually all other critics of the RPF --
as all "genocidaires" that the RPF is justified in detaining and
prosecuting without due process:
"Human Rights Watch found a wide range of fair trial violations. These
included restrictions on the accused's ability to mount an effective
defense; possible miscarriages of justice due to using largely
untrained judges; trumped-up charges, some based on the Rwandan
government's wish to silence critics; misuse of gacaca to settle
personal scores; judges' or officials' intimidation of defense
witnesses; and corruption by judges and parties to cases" (
"By 2000, approximately 120,000 alleged genocidaires were crammed into
Rwanda's prisons and communal jails (Reyntjens & Vandeginste 2005,
110). From December 1996 to December 2006, the courts managed to try
about 10,000 suspects (Human Rights Watch 2004, 18): at that rate it
would take another 110 years to prosecute all the prisoners" (at
The RPF has meanwhile excluded any examination of war crimes committed
by its own soldiers from post-war "justice."
The RPF's victor's justice, and the de facto one-party dictatorship
that it has made possible, has been generally accepted by MSM, human
rights NGOs, and so on, even when some of them criticize some aspects
of it. The "genocide" frame, as opposed to a "civil war" frame, is
used to rationalize the RPF's ensuring of its own immunity to moral,
legal, and political challenges.
20 July 2010 Last updated at 11:57 ET
Paul Kagame: Rwandans 'free to decide' at election
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has promised that next month's
elections will be free, following recent criticism from human rights
"Rwandan voters have the freedom to decide," he said as he launched
his campaign for the 9 August poll.
Several opposition critics have been killed or attacked recently - one
senior official was buried as Mr Kagame was speaking.
The government has denied involvement in the killing.
The BBC's Geoffrey Mutagoma in Kigali says thousands of Mr Kagame's
supporters - many in his party colours of red, white and blue - filled
up the Amahoro National Stadium for his rally, and more were unable to
Three other parties have launched their campaign but they are all seen
as close to the president - two have been in government since 1994.
Several other political parties have been blocked from taking part in
Speaking to journalists before the rally, Mr Kagame said he thought
his party would retain power: "I'm very confident that Rwandans will
choose to work with RPF but I don't take anything for granted."
But BBC East Africa correspondent Will Ross says the election campaign
could hardly be getting off to a more inauspicious start.
Just hours before the first campaign rally got under way, Democratic
Green Party Vice-President Andre Kagwa Rwisereka was buried.
His almost decapitated body was found in Butare in the south of Rwanda
last week after he was reported missing.
His party cannot compete in the elections, and it claims that the
government has blocked its registration.
There have been other worrying events in recent months, including the
murder of a prominent journalist, the attempted assassination of a
former army general, and numerous arrests amid reports of splits
within the Rwandan military, our correspondent says.
The government denies it has moved to crush the opposition and points
to a smear campaign.
"We certainly might not be a model government for a lot of people, but
we're not a stupid government, and we will not try to kill three
people in a row right before election - an election in which we
believe strongly that President Paul Kagame would win," Foreign
Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told the AP news agency.
But our correspondent says not everyone is convinced.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for a full
investigation into what human rights groups say are politically
"In my view these are not elections," former speaker of the Rwandan
parliament and government critic Joseph Sebarenzi told the BBC.
"Elections suppose competition and in Rwanda today you don't have that
competition because the leaders of political parties have been put in
prison, other political parties were prevented from presenting their
candidate because they were not registered. Those who are running are
friends of Kagame," he said.
But this was strongly denied by Rwanda's High Commissioner to London
Ernest Rwamucyo, who said that the rules to register for elections
were clearly set out.
"All those who fulfilled the requirements have been registered and are
standing for election... They will be free and fair," he told the BBC.
He also denied that the other candidates were government stooges.
In the first election since the 1994 genocide, seven years ago, Mr
Kagame won more than 90% of the votes.
He is also expected to win easily this time, for what is due to be a
final seven-year term in office.
Mr Kagame has many admirers in the international community who praise
him for rebuilding Rwanda following the 1994 genocide.
Some of his supporters say he is just the no-nonsense military
strongman the country needs, given that Rwanda lies in such a troubled
But our correspondent says allegations of oppression are not going
away, and some analysts worry just how sustainable the status quo is.
On Wed, May 23, 2012 at 8:20 AM, Ran Greenstein <rangreen at sn.apc.org> wrote:
> What is the relationship between the Rwanda government's democratic
> deficiencies, and the factual nature of the 1994 genocide? Holocaust
> denial is also a crime in some countries, but in what way does it
> serve to diminish the factual nature of the holocaust itself?
> On Wed, May 23, 2012 at 2:02 PM, Yoshie Furuhashi
> <critical.montages at gmail.com> wrote:
>> In the dictatorship running Rwanda, "genocide denial" is a crime and
>> accusations of "genocide denial" are used to criminalize journalists,
>> opposition politicians, and even lawyers who defend them.** Should we
>> not be troubled by such a law? Shouldn't George Monbiot?
> Ran Greenstein
> Johannesburg, South Africa
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