Letter: Justice now for Rwanda

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The Independent Online
Sir: One year ago, on 6 April 1994, on one of the blacker days in human ignominy, the president of Rwanda's plane crashed, followed by what may be the largest mass-participatory human rights abuse ever to take place. In 10 weeks, as many Rwandese civilians (one-third of them children) were killed as soldiers from the whole of the British Empire during the four- year First World War - this from a Rwandese population one-sixth that of Britain's in 1916. Up to a million people, the greater proportion Tutsis, were murdered - often in terrifying circumstances. Rwanda's "final solution" was planned and carried through by those in control of the state, following a well-prepared plan.

Four weeks ago, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 978. Recalling the 1949 Genocide Convention, and Resolution 955 of November 1994, which set up the International Tribunal for Rwanda, this new resolution called on all states to arrest and detain persons suspected of genocide.

Where are the perpetrators of this designer genocide? The president, Dr Theodore Sindikubwabo, is in Zaire. Seraphin Rwabukumba, a leading member of the death squads, and Major-General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, who led the gendarmerie, are in Belgium. The former president's widow, Agatha Habyarimana, commutes between Kenya, Gabon and France. Have any of these, or other known perpetrators, been arrested? One only: Lon Mugesera, a leading ideologue of genocide, who was arrested and charged in Canada, but is now out on bail. Successfully inciting genocide is, it seems, a bailable offence.

There can never have been a more compelling case for justice, for both victim and perpetrator, than the genocide of Rwanda. Impunity, the "gangrene of Africa", must not triumph again.

Yours sincerely,


Honorary Secretary

Physicians for Human Rights




African Rights

London, NW3

4 April