Recently, I wrote a lengthy post on the repressive legacy of the post-genocide government of Rwanda. The New York Times has continued their investigation (which prompted my original post), and there’s a new article today: “For Rwandan Students, Ethnic Tensions Lurk.” Much of my earlier post discussed how the Rwandan Patriotic Front (the Tutsi rebels who replaced the radical Hutu government) has been shielded from many criticisms of their actions during, preceding, and following the genocide by the simple fact that they were the only armed force in the world that acted to stop the genocide. Victors write the history, and liberators get even better treatment because of their heroic actions. But the RPF-led government of Rwanda continues to use that as an excuse to cover up their own abuses, as the article explains:
According to the law, once a student is convicted of genocide ideology, the student can face jail time and will not be readmitted to school, a policy that has students keeping their opinions to themselves.
The ban on genocide ideology also encompasses accusations that the Tutsi rebels killed civilians in 1994, despite the finding by a United Nations research team that the rebels killed up to 45,000 people. A mention of those killings can land a jail term. The genocide, the law says, was committed only against the Tutsis.
The official narrative, students say, amounts to a kind of denial of history. Or as Denise Kajeniri, a 21-year-old Tutsi economics student, describes it, “pretend and move on.”
I raise this not to minimize the horrors committed by their Hutu genocidaire opponents (see my other post for more on that), but because it is important that we confront all the facts — not just those that make one side play the pure villains and the other side the untainted heroes. The world does not divide evenly like that. Just as the United States has been slow to confront the abuses and crimes it committed during the liberation of Europe and the Pacific in World War II, this process will take time in Rwanda. But it is a necessary step if they are to have real reconciliation and healing.
This article originally appeared on Starboard Broadside.