Saturday, June 25, 2011

Minister for "Woman's Empowerment" sentenced for Rwanda Genocide

The Rwanda Genocide was closely followed at the time by CBC due to the close connection Canada seemed to have with this former French colony.  It also gained momentum as a Canadian - Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire - was placed in charge of a UN Peacekeeping force dispatched to that country. I think this tragedy only truly gained worldwide popular attention when the popular film Hotel Rwanda was released in 2004.
Rwanda's former minister for family and women's affairs became the first woman to be found guilty of genocide in a verdict pronounced by UN judges Friday.
Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, 65, was also found guilty of inciting rape by the UNbacked International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which is prosecuting those accused of orchestrating the killings of more than 800,000 people in 1994.
Her acendance to power was due to her close friendship with Agathe Kanziga, the future wife of the Hutu president Juvénal Habyarimana, whose assassination on April 6, 1994, triggered the genocide that left about 800,000 people dead over 100 days, most of them minority Tutsis.
Habyarimana built his regime on from a collection of leftists and social democrat's.  Habyarimana death   remains a mystery (his small jet crashed on approach to Kigali Airport with a number of close advisers - it was strongly rumoured to have been shot-down by a SAM) but the French maintained his political rival Paul Kagame the likely antogonist - and he indeed stifled any serious attempt for an investigation afterwards.  (For me, this was always and eerie echo of Sept 1961, when United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld's died under strangely similar circumstances when his aircraft crashed in Zambia under mysterious circumstances during UN cease-fire negotiations in that country's Independence conflict.)  Soon after Habyarimana's death the UN was sent in to keep the peace and  Kagame began his stealthy efforts at taking power and in the end he was the instigator of the Tutsi genocide.

In the end, Pauline betrayed Habyarimana ideals to tribal bloodshed.  So much for liberalism.

[I highly recommend these books - "Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda" by General Roméo Dallaire and "The Lion, The Fox and The Eagle: A Story of Generals and Justice in Rwanda and Yugoslavia" by Carol Off (a CBC reporter at the time) that provide contrasting viewpoints of this and other 1990's era UN Peacekeeping incidents where Canada had a major role.]

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