Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rwanda: You cannot deny what you cannot talk about

By Susan Thomson
Democracy Watch-Rwanda
January 5, 2011

Last month, I moderated a panel at Brown University on the topic of whether genocide could ever happen again. The details of the event can be found here:

Panelists include the Rwandan Ambassador to the US, James Kimonyo, as well as two prominent Rwanda human rights activists, Aloys Habimana and Noel Twagiramungu.

The Ambassador spoke aggressively, and did not leave much space for either Aloys or Noel to speak, probably because he knew that he would not agree with what they would have to say. Instead, I had to bring Kimonyo to heel twice as he spoke beyond his allotted time, accusing some of us on the panel of denying the 1994 genocide within his barrage that Rwanda will have another genocide if we (meaning foreigners, I think) continue to deny the genocide. For my part, because Kimonyo mentioned what he sees as my views to the audience, I spoke briefly to say that my position is, has been and always will be a desire to stop the killing by all sides, and to bring justice to the Great Lakes Region. Having similarly denounced Aloys and Noel as individuals whose work also tries to deny the genocide, one of them made the best comment of the panel, asking if the government of Rwanda itself was not denying genocide (by its own definition) in denouncing the UN Mapping Report of 1 October 2010.

Most interesting was the Ambassador's lack of knowledge about the opinions of his fellow panelists. He accused me and Aloys of being genocide deniers (his understanding of my views is from my blog, not my opinion pieces or academic writing; I am not sure where he gets his information on Aloys' ideas). His failure of logic is that you cannot deny what you cannot talk about. No thinking person denies that there was genocide in Rwanda in 1994 - what some of us argue is that the genocide occurred in a broader context of civil war in which Rwandans of all ethnicities were caught up in the violence. It is a shame that the current government of Rwanda cannot understand that. It is the lack of understanding, combined with intra-RPF conflict that will push Rwanda to another round of violence....

Related Materials:
DRC: Mapping human rights violations 1993-2003

Rwanda Briefing by Nyamwasa & Co.

Proclamation Establishing the Rwanda National Congress

Rwanda: Pathway to Peaceful Change- Rwanda National Congress Interim Policy

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