The Belmarsh high security prison in South East London has recently entertained a new resident for a few days before he appeared in front of Westminster Magistrates’ Court for an extradition court hearing last month.
This VIP was a Rwandan Army General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake, number three on the list of the 40 Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) presumed to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by a Spanish judge.
Prison cells or house arrest are not General Karake’s unfamiliar places as he was previously arrested and imprisoned in Rwanda.
His arrest in London should have enthused and excited him and Rwandan government supporters because, for the first time General Karake will get an opportunity of a fair trial and a legal process through which he will be able to challenge allegations of crimes against him and his colleagues which he and his government have always labelled ‘’unfounded’’ and political motivated.
Observing the recent history of Rwanda with an ordinary eye, it is apparent that Rwandan government officials fear the justice and that could be a reason why they failed to build a genuine justice system in Rwanda for Rwandans. Their precarious reactions demonstrate how they have forgotten that unlike their country other many countries including UK and Spain have independent and fair justice system.
Each time a Rwandan government official is suspected to have committed crimes against humanity or war crimes, or each time they had to appear in a court of law in a foreign country, Rwandan population were forced to go on streets of Kigali to protest against those accusations. These protests objectives are unfortunately not designed to legally challenge those accusations but to bully and intimidate those who are making those accusations in order to silence them, pressure them change their mind (including begging for forgiveness) or destroy their reputations.
We can easily recall the scenery of streets in Rwanda after the arrest of Colonel Rose Kabuye in Germany in 2008, when the UN published its DRC UN Mapping Report and the aftermath of the airing of the BBC documentary ‘’Rwanda Untold Story ‘’ which challenged the current Rwandan government narrative of what happened during 1994 Genocide including witnesses that accused the current president Paul Kagame to have ordered the assassination of the former president Juvenal Habyalimana.
If the current Rwandan government really aspire for end of impunity, truth and justice in Rwanda, they should seek to join forces with Spanish prosecutors, collaborate with them in order to shed light on what really happened to all those who were killed that are part of the Spanish indictment.
The best way to challenge accusations against them should be through courts not through calling Spanish judges FDLR collaborators or through forcing populations to go on streets obstructing their everyday activities that bring livelihoods to them.
Dignity, Agaciro, Ishema, and other slogans mostly used by RPF officials are pure parody, they never match their actions.
Considering past experiences, it was easy to predict types of Rwandan government reactions following the General Karake arrest. These predictions include mass protests and attack on the West accusing them to have looked away when a genocide was happening, etc,..
But no one could have predicted this new tactic of playing the race card, portraying the arrest of General Karake as an action ‘’to demean Africans’’. President Kagame went far to say that ‘’ Karake might have been mistaken as an illegal immigrant ”and that ”Africans and black people have become targets for shooting practices”. This spin aims to portray the west a bunch of racists that have no respect of African people and that the action of arresting General Karake has been driven by those racism views. By going this Kagame hope to unite Africans behind his campaign to get General Karake released.
I wonder how many Africans have been arrested in UK or in Europe in the last 100 years accused of similar crimes.
On contrary the current Rwandan government has a documented track record of ‘’ demeaning Africans’’ by committing mass massacres of populations in DRC and massacres of Rwandan refugees in DRC as a UN investigation team reported as partof DRC mapping report published in October 2010 and other reports of various human rights organisations.
General Karake is in good hands of United Kingdom Justice system. He will be eventually handed to Spanish judges if Westminster magistrate court found that all required conditions are met.
Rwandans, Congolese and Spanish who were previously hopeless and desperate to get justice one day of their loved ones, should express gratitude to the Spanish judge and to United Kingdom police for respectively issuing an arrest warrant and arresting General Karake.
These actions gave them hope, that one day their loves ones who were massacred will get justice as well as hope that one day they will see the end of enduring impunity; which is the only ”African demeaning” action in this situation.
René Claudel Mugenzi