Launching the 28th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, President Paul Kagame reminded that no country should give Rwanda justice lessons while that country itself cannot render justice to its own people.
By Ange de la Victoire Dusabemungu
Speaking from the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre where he launched the commemoration activities, President Paul Kagame reminded that “Now we are in the 28th year remembering a moment people were speechless not lacking the freedom to speak, as some people would want to refer to Rwanda as a country that have no freedom of speech” which is rubbish as President Kagame explained.
“Just imagine the testimony we have just heard: People are being hunted down day and night for who they were, for who some of them are still today, also imagine if those of us who were carrying arms if we had allowed ourselves to pursue those who were killing our people indiscriminately and also killed them. First of all, we would be right to do so. But we didn’t. We spared them and some of them are still leaving today in their homes, their villages, others in the government doing the business, some of those who are responsible or who benefited, we didn’t do that and yet people will have rights to say what they say about us or do against us, what they still do up to now.” Said President Paul Kagame.
President Kagame is deeply disappointed to see that for the past 28 years some people have continued to undermine the justice system in Rwanda, while since the end of the Genocide against the Tutsi the country has been trying to find solutions that are rooted in the history of Rwandans.
“But let me tell you we are a small country but we are big on justice. And some of those are big and powerful countries. But they are very small on justice. They have no lessons to teach anyone. Because they are part of this history that saw over a million of our people perished. They are the cause and Rwandans just executed, killed, their fellow Rwandans. But the history of that originated where we all know,..” Paul Kagame noted.
“So the very reason is that what we suffered what we endured here originated from there is the reason they cannot give us peace, they want to cover up their responsibility, they want to cover up their silence when the millions of people here in Rwanda needed them to speak out, to speak up to come to their help.” He added
President Kagame recalled that during the Genocide against the Tutsi, foreign countries were watching and showing that Rwandans were worthless, as evidenced by their behavior.
“So, in the end, the story became that of: You know these Rwandans, these Africans are just killing each other. They’re killing themselves. So, there is no one who is right, there is no one who is wrong. We were all the same, according to them.” He said
However, President Kagame put it clear by explaining that “We were not the same. That’s why we did not kill another 1 million on top of the one we lost on the hands of these criminals. Some of whom are even protected even now by the very countries that talk about justice, that give the lessons about justice. Forget about justice, let talk about other things:”
The President of Rwanda continues saying that “They talk about democracy, they talk about all kinds of things. As far as I know: There are three systems that govern the world. One is the so-called democracy, the other is what they call autocracy and the third, in between, that is silent, that is powerful is that of hypocrisy.”
“But for us, we’ve learned our lessons. We’ll carry the names anyone is going to give us. We have no problem with that.” He said.
“But the lesson we have learned and the lesson of things we knew anyway, from the beginning, some of us, is that it doesn’t matter how far you go from here: 1000s 10s of 1000s of kilometres, you are not going to find the people that are more important or have more important lives than us, than we are. No more important people anywhere than we are. There are no such more important lives than ours.” Kagame said during an event that was attended by various people including members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of various international organizations that came to stand with Rwanda during this time the country is commemorating the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Given the heavy weight of the tragic events in Rwanda, President Kagame says that there should be no one to be called a hero because the death toll of people who died during the Genocide does not reflect the meaning of Heroism.
“Much as our lives were destroyed, were wasted; as this testimony even by the young man there tells us. I say all those things just even for the benefit of young people, those who were born at the time now 28. But growing up must have taught them the lessons of our history, the history of this land, the land in which you find the very brave men and women, the heroes if you will.
“But I have a problem with the word “hero” and its definition because there is no hero in our situation like this one and because, when you’re talking of heroes, you are talking of a situation that was so bad but it had to have heroes for doing what they did, the right things, the good things, to save themselves and save others from what was wrong that was going on. But then I asked myself: Maybe the best thing is not to have heroes. It is not to have that situation that produces heroes. Like in our situation: How does one become a hero? And you know, you’ve lost 1 million people over?.” President Kagame reflects
“More people were killed than could have been saved or that needed to be saved. So that means being a hero, I wish we could not have it. We should not have that situation that has to produce heroes. We would be better off.” Explains Paul Kagame
“Another thing I have, that is problematic with that word, is that you can also manufacture heroes, you can decide to baptise somebody hero especially when you’re powerful. You can create it and if anybody raises an argument they’re made shut down! Shut up!”
“That’s what I meant when I said the power of the powerful is big but small on justice.” He added
He went on to explain that there are still some who say that in Rwanda there is no freedom of expression, yet you find that they are the ones who prevent Rwandans from giving their opinions.
“They even talk about freedoms and yet as we know they create false stories about people, about Rwanda, about genocide and when you argue with facts and you want to present facts that actually they also know, there is that power to tell everyone not to give you space to express your opinion, to answer back, to argue and yet are the same people who will start accusing others of lack of freedom to express themselves. What I’m talking about is not an old story in terms of when the last happened. No, it happens even today.”
You will find in some newspapers, some powerful place falsifying stories about us about Rwandans, about the genocide, about history and when somebody wants to say, look, that’s not correct, this is what it is, these are facts, you know, you will find it’s like they have agreed among themselves or channels through which you could have communicated or placed a reply not to listen to you because they want to have what they are playing the only thing playing in everybody’s ears.” Explains Paul Kgame
“But make no mistake in this land, this land of ours, small as it is but has no small people.” He warns
“Like we did in the past guided by the truth, by what is right and did not use the means we had, the possibility we had to kill those who killed our people, you know, you can imagine people who even doubt our justice system! Then you have Rwanda in our constitution, in our set of laws, having abolished death sentence, death penalty. Some of these powerful countries still hang people… They do that, in fact, for us to have even thought about abolishing the death penalty at a time we had so many people to justifiably hang and these people miss that point, they miss the point that we are actually a country of justice, a country of laws.” He said
We believe in the rule of law because if we didn’t why do we do all these things? There is no amount of pressure, we did this ourselves, and it’s not because anybody influenced us or put pressure on us.
Who would put pressure on us when they are the ones doing the same thing in any case? Questions Paul Kagame
“So they were forgiven, they had been tried by the courts, found guilty, so many years in the middle of serving their sentence, we forgive them. Next, these are the people supposed to bring to Rwanda democracy. It’s a joke and you’re doing it in the wrong place, in a place that understands many things about us, our limitations, but our power to defend and protect this land and the people of this land.” Kagame said
“Those people who walk around talking nonsense every day, they should take a moment and remember the situation like this we are talking about today. That in actual fact also remember that it has produced different people in this land, our children or grandchildren, we have the duty to make sure they understand this and they are there for this land, for the people of this land.” Paul Kame said as he was approaching to conclude his remarks.634