Rwanda: half truth is worse than a complete lie

Since the 80s the Great Lakes region has experienced genocides, war crimes, crimes against humanity, so much so that the entire area has become like a cemetery with dead on display. There are human skeletons everywhere, some more respected than others. Picture courtesy of Keith Harmon Snow

Since the 80s the Great Lakes region has experienced genocides, war crimes, crimes against humanity, so much so that the entire area has become like a cemetery with dead on display. There are human skeletons everywhere, some more respected than others. Picture courtesy of Keith Harmon Snow

Since 1994 the Rwandan government led by Paul Kagame has initiated a way of ruling a country which when historians will objectively look into it will find it to be unique and unprecedented. Kagame’s rule has taken the art of political lies to such extremes and mastery that to find some truth in its messages one needs to work hard and most of the times decodes them to understand the meaning of what is publicly announced.

On January 31st Richard Sezibera, Rwandan Health Minister, revealed to the Senate that his department was planning to involve and or expected to see 700,000 men undergo vasectomy in a bid to curb the rapid growth of the population. The number reminds people about another one: 800,000 male Hutus that after the genocide, Tito Rutarerama, Rwandan Patriotic Front ideologist, indicated were prospectively to face justice because of their supposed involvement. According to him, for any one who officially died in 1994 – and all the victims are officially only Tutsi, there had to be at least one Hutu who had to be prosecuted.

The Gacaca controversial judiciary system happened to be an implementation of Tito Rutaremara initial argument about victims and perpetrators of the genocide. More than 1,500,000 only Hutus had by June 2010 been investigated and prosecuted at some time and extent by that instance since it started operating in 2001. The system has now enslaved more than 500,000 people who are doing unpaid Community services known as TIG’ far away from their families in most cases for years.

TIG or Travaux d‘Intérêt Général, in French, is not different from what my parents experienced during the Tutsi monarchy period when my dad, uncles and adult Hutu men of the village were forced to spend time far away from home doing unpaid work at the service of the monarch and his entourage in Nyanza – the King Palace, and other places they were sent to.

Alaa-al-Aswany, Egyptian and dentist doctor and author of the bestseller The Yacoubian Building talks of his compatriots in these terms: ‘The Egyptians are the easiest people in the world to rule. The moment you take power, they submit to you and grovel to you and you can do what you want with them.’ This could be much said about Rwandans. It took the oppressed Hutus almost 400 years to overrule their Tutsi masters. It would’ve even been quite impossible if they didn’t get some external help or if the overall contemporary period wasn’t ripe for change against all sorts of oppression across the world, from Ghana, or Indonesia to Algeria.

Certainly at the initiative of the same Tutsi extremists and Rwandan president as their leader, discriminative laws and policies geared towards excluding and eliminating Hutus have since 1994 been established. They guide today the life of everyone Rwandan and at some extent anyone external dealing with the country. Apparently these laws and policies are meant to keep relationships between Hutus and Tutsis as they were before independence for another 400 years at least. This must be what Paul Kagame referred to incidentally in 2010 when he publicly announced that anyone who opposed his will would hit a wall of laws. People need to understand that these laws are not voted by representatives of the population but his selected people that he calls MPs or Senators, and in his parliament, he dictated there should be a majority of women for political and propaganda strategy.

The emasculation policy that the Rwandan minister for health is trying to impose on poor Rwandans, who are mainly if not all Hutus, should be considered in a broader context. Tutsis have today monopolized political, military and economic powers in the country. Hutus are excluded from interesting education opportunities since they are not officially seen as survivors of the genocide. Though they are indeed, as Gersony and Garreton or UN Mapping reports can prove. Any politician who voices concerns about ongoing inequalities and Kagame’s oppressive practices is either killed, prosecuted and or imprisoned.

The new health program intended for Hutu men should be perceived as a continuation of a deliberate government policy to gradually eliminate or reduce the number of those  who could access the country’s opportunities. The policy falls in the same realm of initiatives undertaken by the Rwandan government and aimed at fooling the international communities about Tutsi extremists’ intentions towards their Hutus compatriots. Obviously such policies cannot be openly presented otherwise. But their objectives are clear for their victims.

In a country or society where leaders care enough about all their citizens, and guarantee them a standard minimum to live on in terms of health, food, education, etc, the Rwandan minister policy could find some space for consideration. Without freedom of expression in the country, or institutions which are independent from Paul Kagame, the policy is only a half truth about the real intentions of his government. And this makes it worse than a complete lie.


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