Friday, July 10, 2015


In a Month time, all Banyamulenge communities around the world will be remembering the victims of genocide against Banyamulenge committed in Burundi on 14 August 2004, in a refugee camp of Gatumba in Burundi ordered by Agatho Rwasa.
Rwasa is the current president of FNL, and a presidential candidate in burundi.
The question is how will the Banyamulenge community living in Burundi commemorate this sad event in a country where one of the presidential candidates is accused of committing the genocide against them? This is an interesting moment for Burundian politics when a war criminal wanted for genocide is one of the favorite candidates in a country where its current regime is being accused of killing its own people. For most Burundian, Agatho is not the villain, Pierre Nkurunziza, the current president is. In fact, there are those who think that Agatho Rwasa might be an alternative choice, more favored than president Pierre Nkurunziza, who is vehemently being fought and opposed by the general population.

Although many Burundians are attempted to chose a war genocidaire Agatho Rwasa, responsible for ordering mass killings of innocent Banyamulenge refugies who had fled their country and sought exile in Burundi in 2004, this choice will be deemed as a sign of indifference against Tutsis Congolese at a time when solidarity is crucially needed among the entire great lake region.

Ever since, many groups, including human right organizations, students associations such as INKINGI plateform, ISOKO, and many more, have been lobbying for the prosecution of some Burundian officials including Agathon Rwasa for their crime against humanity. Unfortunately, justice not likely to be politically effective, due to the fact that some of the Burundian civil society organizations are supporting Agatho Rwasa, while fighting Pierre Nkurunziza who has also been committing crimes against his own people as well. It is essentially the line that Burundian civil society is taking, instead of requesting that Rwasa be brought to justice despite the fact that he is opposing Pierre Nkurunziza whom they are actually fighting against. In other words, their political logics is simply:           the  < enemy of my enemy is my friend>.  But how justified is this stance? And what does it mean for the great lake region communities?  

Initially, many Banyamulenge and Tutsis of the region are outraged at Rwasa's presidential candidacy, as are a lot of human right activists. Sometimes one wonders whether the supporters of Rwasa (apart from the partisans of FNL parties) were really thoughtful, and simply indifferent to the Banyamulenge cause, or do not realize how insulting their support is to the rest of the great lake communities who actually support their cause against Nkurunziza. 

Apparently, information received by Journal Minembwe suggests some Banyamulenge youth in Burundi who belong to activists students associations such as Inkingi, Isoko have publicly voiced their concerns and consequently received threatening messages from FNLists, and even been attacked by unknown individuals for trying to speak out against Rwasa. In fact, one young munyamulenge man called Musore Kadomo was found died in Bujumbura yesterday. This Musore was a currency exchanger not a political activist. It is not yet known whether his death is actually related to the issue raised by anti-Rwasa campaigners.
Nonetherless, we urge the Burundi civil society organizations, and peace activists as well as other international human right organizations to really bring back the issue of Agatho Rwasa to the table and discuss the importance of the "rule of law." In fact, Rwasa’s candidacy should and must be very unpopular among Burundians that he should initially withdraw.The prevailing point of view being that his case must be at least debated. Otherwise, opposing candidate on the ground of illegality, while at the same token supporting a notorious killer is simply unaccepted and morally wrong. Rwasa is not better than Pierre Nkurunziza at all. Having claimed the responsibility for mass killing of innocent children, women and elderly refugees makes him a notorious criminal against humanity.

Those of us suggesting prosecution for Rwasa, realize that it is a plausible political plan for Burundian opposition to carry it forward. Instead of complaining about the impossibility of his prosecution, at least in the near term, they should ask themselves, what does the political impossibility of prosecuting Agatho Rwasa for war crimes say about the future of Burundi government should Rwasa win the election? (although very unlikely anyway) And what are we going to do about it? That is the real question. If Pierre Nkurunziza who was apparently claimed to be a ''christian'' has gone as far as victimizing the whole nation for hunger for power, what will a self claimed criminal do to the Burundian people and to the region once on throne! God forbid!
 So while I agree with the legitimacy of fighting Pierre Nkurunziza's third term election, I side with millions who believe that the Burundian civil society should handle the issue of war criminals in Burundian politics much more justly, wisely and compassionately; I draw very different conclusions about what we should do as human right advocates at such a time as this, in this very matter. All criminals must be treated the same.

Let us honor the lives of hundreds innocents victims of Rwasa haineous acts of genocide against Banyamulenge on Burundi soil by bringing Agatho Rwasa to justice as well.


No comments: