MH17’s 298 victims: more important than Habyarimana and Ntaryamira!

Cyprien Ntaryamira - Former Burundian president

Cyprian Ntaryamira – Former Burundian president

If you have been watching or reading the news these last days, you know for sure what MH17 is. It is the codename of the Malaysian aeroplane which was recently shot down by suspected pro-Russian rebels fighting against the Ukrainian government. I won’t have written this note if I hadn’t observed how quick the UN Security Council was in requesting a “full, thorough independent international investigation.”

I had as well noticed the immense compassion shown by Western media towards the victims. Among these it is reported to have been aboard the plane a strong delegation (around 100 people) of health experts who were attending an international conference in Australia. In their majority, they are whites from European and North American countries.

One of these health experts and victims of the catastrophe is Dr Lange. The Guardian writes about him that he is, “a Dutchman, who … was a former president of the International Aids Society and has been researching HIV for 30 years. He has authored more than 350 papers and helped lead the fight for the availability of affordable treatments across Asia and Africa.”

Almost twenty years ago, exactly on April 6th 1994, two sitting African presidents, namely Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Cyprian Ntaryamira of Burundi, fell victims of a terrorist attack in the sky of Kigali. The plane which was carrying them and their delegations plus a French crew was shot down by the men of Paul Kagame, the current Rwandan president.

Since Kagame was on a US and UK mission in the region, – two of the countries that decide or decide not to decide at the United Security Council, he did not have to have worries. And as proof of his comfortability, despite numerous and strong evidence of his crime and even many others committed in different places during the last twenty years, no court has called, judged and made him accountable.

Juvenal Habyarimana - Former Rwandan president

Juvenal Habyarimana – Former Rwandan president

Back to MH17. The plane is shot down. UNSC does not hesitate a moment to decide that the incident is a terrorist act that demands an international investigation. On April 6th 1994, Habyarimana’s plane is destroyed in the air by a missile sol-air and all the passengers killed, but even twenty years later, an international investigation seems to become more and more remote.

Two elements appear to explain the dismissal of a full and thorough international investigation in the case of the assassination of the two African presidents. Firstly, there is the support that Kagame received from countries that continue protecting him and which are members of the UNSC. Secondly, victims of his terrorist attack on Habyarimana’s plane were all black, except the members of the French crew.

With some hindsight, the view that the cover up of the assassination of Habyarimana falls under the characteristics of a certain Western racism towards black people keeps a steady ground. In addition, national and strategic interests of US and UK in the Great lakes region have their significant importance in avoiding to face the facts or evidence.

Despite everything else, for example the ongoing antagonism between Russia and Europe and US because of the Ukrainian crisis, would it be wrong to assume that MH17’s victims are more important than the lives of Habyarimana and Ntaryamira? If you disagree, it would be interesting to hear your views. Understandably, the UNSC decision to request or not a thorough international investigation in cases of terrorist attacks, is always political.

There has always been this question in my mind about the assassination of the two presidents. Accepting that the UNSC could not initiate an international full investigation for political reasons or else, particularly the level of involvement of some of the members of the Council in the crime, was there anything stopping for instance the African Union from undertaking its own investigation and bringing the perpetrators in front of  a court?

Could the usual irresponsibility or corruption of African leaders be here seriously taken as excuses? Have your say.


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