The Rwandan People Have Spoken

In April 1994, the international community stood passively by while up to a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slain with bloody machetes wielded by their neighbors. It was genocide—planned and carried out by a government bent on annihilating the Tutsi people and those Hutu who disagreed with the annihilation.

The United Nations secured 800 blue helmeted peacekeepers with a mandate to sit and watch as people were slaughtered in front of their eyes. The Government of Rwanda sat on the UN Security Council. The United States Department of State and the Administration furiously debated how to avoid using the word “genocide” to deliberately avoid international obligations to intervene. The Government of France set up the “Zone Turquoise” inside Rwanda to harbor the genocidaires from the advancing Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) army led by now President Paul Kagame. It was madness.

And the madness continues. President Paul Kagame stopped the killing while the world sat on the sidelines of a moral imperative. Paul Kagame replaced “Tutsi” and “Hutu” with “Rwandan” to create a new lexicon of co-existence in an ethnically divided society. Paul Kagame brought economic development to a country ravaged by civil war, poverty and a long history of political dysfunction. Paul Kagame brought dignity to a people denied of this basic human right.

The Rwandan constitution limited the president to two terms but parliament recently voted to amend the constitution, allowing for a third presidential term. Ironically, the international community has now found its voice to loudly protest President Kagame serving a third term. Where was this voice when up to a million people were being hacked to death? Where was this voice when the international community was giving aid to the two million Rwandans who crossed the borders following the genocide while the survivors starved inside Rwanda?

Paul Kagame led the people of Rwanda out of their collective nightmare to a place of hope. There are schools, health facilities, jobs and, most of all, peace. And while no one can really expect a perfect storm of reconciliation between the survivors and the perpetrators, Rwanda’s children are growing up neither Hutu nor Tutsi. They are Rwandans.

Paul Kagame does not need the approval of the West to run for a third presidential term. The Rwandan people have spoken. Their voice is the only voice that matters.

The Strathink Team

 

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