Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rwandan Genocide Priest: Terrorism is an Equal-Opportunity Destroyer

A reminder that terrorists, and terrorism, isn't limited to men who order women to shake it (October 21, 2009) and destroy unbelievers - along with the occasional mosque.
"Clergyman linked to Rwandan genocide seized in Italy"
CNN (October 22, 2009)

"A Rwandan accused of 'complicity' in the massacre of students at the college he headed during the country's genocide 15 years ago has been arrested in Italy, where he served as a clergyman, an international police agency said.

"Officers from the Italian Carabinieri and Interpol's National Central Bureau in Rome, Italy, arrested Emmanuel Uwayezu -- who had been wanted in Rwanda, the international police organization Interpol said Wednesday in a news release.

"Uwayezu, 47, is accused of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. He is in Italian custody and is awaiting extradition to Rwanda.

"According to Interpol's statement, the Rwandan arrest warrant says Uwayezu was alleged 'to have acted individually and as part of a conspiracy to plan and commit genocide by instigating Hutus to kill Tutsis in the area of Gikongoro, as director of the Groupe Scolaire Marie Merci college in Kibeho.'..."
Granted, "genocide" isn't exactly "terrorism."

"Terrorism," as generally used these days, means "the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear". (Princeton's WordNet)

"Genocide" is the "systematic killing of a racial or cultural group". (Princeton's WordNet) Not quite the same thing.

Still, accounts by people who escaped the national socialist's purging of non-Aryans - and one who didn't (see The Diary of Anne Frank) suggest that having your friends, family - and yourself - hunted down is a 'terrifying' experience. In some respects, at any rate. So I don't think that post involving one of the African genocides is all that much off-topic in this blog.

'Hutus? Tutsis? Never Heard of Them'

Not all that many people - outside central Africa - probably have.

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Hutus were living in the lands between Lake Kivu and Lake Ihema about 500 years ago, when Tutsis moved in. European oppressors weren't involved.1 People around the world seem quite capable of getting into trouble with each other, with no outside help.

The Tutsis were controlling the area - and the Hutus - when Europeans arrived.

By the way, I'm sort of ignoring the Twa - who at this point number about 1% of the Rwandan population. The Twa are pygmies, and well under the radar as far as the Hutu-Tutsi conflict are concerned.

The area occupied by Hutu and their Tutsi rulers was so far inland that Europeans didn't get there until the 19th century. After a bit of wrangling, Germany got control of the place in 1885. Belgians and British wanted the place too, or at least pieces of it.

Then, after the end of The War to End All Wars, the (victorious) leaders of Europe, and American President Wilson, drew up the Treaty of Versailles: establishing national boundaries with the sort of heady self-confidence that seems to have been in vogue at the time.

World War II and a century of smaller conflicts might suggest that Versailles wasn't such a good idea, after all.

The treaty, I mean. The Palace, grounds, and town are a magnificent example of 16th- and 17th century city planning and architecture.

Back to Hutus and Tutsis

I suppose that, since the Tutsis were ruling the Hutus at the time, it's understandable that the Europeans regarded them as superior to the Hutus - and ran the area under that assumption.

The Hutus, apparently, didn't like the situation. It's possible to see the Rwandan genocide(s) as a sort of payback. Which isn't to say that I approve. At all.

Resources in the "Background" links, below, give a little more detail about what happened in that part of Africa, and the people who live there.

"The" Rwandan genocide happened in 1994, when about 800,000 people were killed in about 100 days. They weren't all Tutsis: some moderate Hutu were deemed unfit to live, too. Around 2,000,000 surviving Hutus fled to Zaire - which now goes by the name "Democratic Republic of the Congo."

You can't have that many people moving around, without causing a bit of animosity. "Ethnic strife and civil war" led to Zaire's Colonel Joseph Mobutu defeat. He'd run the country since 1965, re-naming it Zaire. Laurent Kabila was the next ruler. He re-named the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Other warriors challenged him in 1998. Kabila was assassinated in 2001, with his son succeeding him as ruler. (CIA)

I gather that the Congo Free State Belgian Congo Republic of the Congo Zaire Democratic Republic of the Congo's head of state is called a president. That's a pretty common title these days - but the methods used to determine leadership remind me of the 'good old days,' when my forebears discussed issues of succession with swords and axes, often as not.

Back in Rwanda, the disagreements between Hutus and Tutsis - and other matters - are, in my opinion, far from settled. (BBC) On the other hand, it looks like Rwanda's people are working their way from settling their differences by fighting, to the somewhat less messy methods many countries use today. They'll probably be successful, sooner or later, in getting up to speed with places like Scotland, Norway, and Germany.

Sooner, if they don't get more 'help' like the Versailles Treaty, in my opinion.

My Outlook for Africa - Short Term and Not-So-Short Term

I've speculated that one reason Europe did as well as it did is that there weren't any major powers 'helping' and 'guiding' the Campbells and the MacDonalds, the Vikings and the Gaels, a thousand years ago.

The odds are very good that I had kinfolk on both sides of the wall at Lindisfarne, and I've got a more personal stake in the thaneship of Cawdor than many.2

But somehow mainland Europe got over the Viking raids. Norway is part of the European Economic Area and the European Free Trade Association, although it's not part of the European Union. And quite a few Irishmen are Vikings - or descended from the northmen. But that's another story.

Africa has produced relatively stable kingdoms and empires before, like Kush, Nubia, Songhay, Mali and Ashanti: and, arguably, ancient Egypt. Hollywood notwithstanding, quite a few of the Pharaohs were as obviously African as I'm obviously European. (ethnically - I was born in North Dakota) Sure, they didn't follow the Geneva Conventions, and didn't have bicameral legislatures. Nobody did, before the 18th and 19th centuries.

With the track record they have, I see no reason why people living in Africa can't cobble together functional national or regional governments that are more-or-less in compliance with international law.

If the Vikings, the Irish, the French and the Germans can manage it, I'd say anybody can.

Emmanuel Uwayezu is One of Those People

There's every indication that Emmanuel Uwayezu is a Catholic priest.

For some, that'll be proof that 'those Catholics' are nasty people who commit genocide. Or, that Emmanuel Uwayezu can't be guilty, because he's a priest.

I'm a Catholic, so I'm a bit biased here. If Emmanuel Uwayezu is guilty of the crimes he's accused of, I hope that he's tried, found guilty, and sanctioned appropriately. Genocide isn't just against international law: it's forbidden by the Church (March 8, 2009, A Catholic Citizen in America)

I don't think Emmanuel Uwayezu's (alleged) involvement in a genocide is connected to his being a Catholic priest, any more than I assume that he arranged for the deaths of enemies of his tribe because he's black. I give people credit for having free will: the capacity to choose whether they will do good or evil.

But, like I said, I'm biased.

Related posts: In the news: Background:
1 Around that time, some Europeans were thrashing out who would control Cawdor Castle.

Although I enjoy the play by that Englishman, Shakespeare, the fact is that Macbeth won the castle fairly, by might of arms. I have a passing interest in the thaneship of Cawdor myself, as the clan Campbell held Cawdor when life got a bit more settled in the region - and hold it, I'm told, to this day.

2 I'd be Thane of Cawdor myself, being descended from the clan Cambell, though not bearing the name: if a sizable fraction of a million people were to drop dead. Not that I'd want the title, not at that price.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.