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Letter: Slur on the innocent in Rwanda

Sir: Your leading article 'Rwanda: what fear and lies can do' (12 August) delivers a blend of accurate, if mostly well-established, historical and contemporary analysis, a superficial misrepresentation of the character of Rwandese people and unsubstantiated critical speculation about the consequences of the Rwandese Patriotic Front victory.

You insinuate that because the national language, Kinyarwanda, has no (direct) equivalent to the words 'good' and 'evil', ergo, the people who speak it cannot distinguish between right and wrong. This is both anthropologically unsound and in practice incorrect. It represents a dreadful slur on those who took no part in the slaughter.

The suggestion that the RPF, widely recognised as an army of liberation, should prematurely conclude a successful campaign against a government corrupt enough to orchestrate, and still be practising, genocide is unreasonable, bordering on irrational. Furthermore, the notion that it was the RPF advance that encouraged the former government to continue to pursue genocide flies in the face of received wisdom that the policy had been long planned. In fact, many surviving injured civilian victims we interviewed in Rwanda in July testified that they were saved by the RPF.

Finally, in your retrospective litany of those responsible for allowing the tragedy to unfold unchecked, there is no mention of a media that consistently failed to report and analyse the genocide as it was happening with sufficient accuracy, depth and passion. There can be no neutrals when it comes to genocide.

Yours sincerely,


Physicians for Human

Rights (UK)

London, NW3