There were two genocides in Rwanda. But Jack Straw only wants one of them to be tried in this country, where, and by or against whose (then) citizens, neither of them occurred.
“Genocide” is a slipperier concept than you might think. In 1993, the former Bolivian President, García Meza Tejada, was convicted of “genocide” for the deaths of fully eight people. Those may or may not have been the only people whom he killed. But they were the only victims of his “genocide”.
And so to Rwanda.
Or, rather, to what is to be our model in these matters, a kangaroo court in Tanzania, set up by a UN Security Council resolution with no authority to do so, and specifically empowered (again, on no proper authority whatever) to try only members of the former (devoutly Catholic) regime, and not of that which overthrew it, namely a direct extension, by means of a Ugandan invasion of Rwanda in 1990, of the only-too-successful Maoist insurrection in Uganda. Thank God that no one is now to be sent from this country, historic refuge of the oppressed, to appear before that kangaroo court.
Théoneste Bagosora was finally convicted (well, of course he was – this sort of thing never, ever acquits anyone) eighteen months after the prosecution’s final submission, and fully twelve years after his arrest, even though his trial had started almost immediately. That was entirely typical, as is the use of European and American activists as “expert witnesses” even though they witnessed absolutely nothing and were in fact thousands of miles away at the time alleged. As is the heavy reliance on anonymous prosecution witnesses (even though it is in fact six defence witnesses before this “Tribunal” who have been murdered soon after giving evidence), universally known to be paid liars.
As is the routine holding of session in camera. As is the admission of hearsay evidence. As are the rulings that no corroboration is necessary to convict a man of rape even he has pleaded not guilty, and that it matters not one jot if a prosecution witness’s written statement differs markedly from his testimony in court. As is the astonishing principle that a prosecution witness’s inconstancies are proof of trauma, and therefore of the guilt of the accused. And as are the farcical translation problems.
The remit of this “Tribunal” is frankly racist, providing only for the trial of Hutus (the overwhelmingly predominant ethnic group) for crimes against Tutsis (the historically royal and aristocratic minority). Crimes by Hutus against Tutsis undoubtedly happened. But so did crimes by Tutsis against Hutus. Neither Maoist guerrillas nor embittered, dispossessed aristocrats are characteristically restrained in these matters.
No one knows how many people were killed, often with machetes. The usual figure cited is eight hundred thousand. Perhaps that is correct, perhaps it is not. But what is undoubtedly the case is that not all the perpetrators were Hutus (although many were), and that not all the victims were Tutsis (although many were). What is undoubtedly the case is that no Tutsi has ever been tried, because none can be: that whole people has been declared innocent in advance, and another whole people declared guilty in advance.
What is undoubtedly the case is that an invasion of a sovereign state by a larger neighbour at exactly the same time as the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait has been backed up to the hilt by the West in general and the United States, so that the Americans are now where first the Germans and then the Belgians once were: running Rwanda through a tiny clique drawn exclusively from the Tutsi minority.
And what is undoubtedly the case is that that clique is Maoist, whereas the majority-derived government that it overthrew was headed by a daily communicant (Jean Kambanda) whom it subsequently tortured into confession while illegally detaining him, and whom it denied the lawyer of his choice.
The world is finally begininng to wake up to what really happened in Rwanda. Not a moment too soon. But when will Britain?