Thursday, June 18, 2009

15 Years On, the ‘Rwandan Genocide’ Continues to Kill

Western Imperialism’s Genocidal Wars in the Great Lakes Region of Africa

By Steve da Silva - BASICS #14 (June / July 2009)

In recent years, it has become fashionable for the ruling-classes of the West, and their servants in politics and academia, to distort the story of the conflict in Rwanda in such a way as to build support for the neocolonial ideology that the West has the moral authority to invade any place on the globe, at any time, in order to save Third World peoples from themselves, what they have officially labeled the “Responsibility to Protect”. One of the greatest champions of this doctrine in its early years was none other than Liberal party leader Michael Ignatieff himself.

By presenting the Rwandan genocide as a tragedy that could have been prevented by Western intervention, not only have imperialist states built up a humanitarian cover for future acts of foreign aggression – such as in Somalia and Sudan – but in the case of Rwanda they have also rewritten the history of their role in catalyzing the Rwandan civil war and the genocidal onslaught that ensued in the Great Lakes Region of Africa after 1994.

Let’s revisit some of the basic facts of this history to illustrate just how instrumental Western imperialism has been in these conflicts.

In 1986, the U.S.-backed National Resistance Army in Uganda, under the leadership of Yoweri Museveni, succeeded in establishing a dictatorship. Under this regime, Uganda would go on to become the World Bank and IMF’s model African state for its rigorous implementation of the impoverishing and socially-destructive Structural Adjustment Policies. Next, in September 1990, Uganda was used as a staging ground for the invasion of Rwanda, which at the time was a country firmly in the sphere of French imperialism. Within two and a half years of the invasion of Rwanda by part of the Ugandan army – by then calling itself the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led by CIA-trained Paul Kagame – almost a million ethnic Hutu Rwandans were displaced by the RPF in northern Rwanda and tens of thousands had been killed (a part of the “Rwandan genocide” narrative never told to Western audiences).

When the Rwandan government attempted to repel the invasion and arrest collaborators with the occupation it was denounced by the “international community” for human rights abuses. With diplomatic pressure building up from the non-French Western imperialists, the Rwandan government under the Presidency of Habyarimana buckled under international pressure and signed the Arusha Accords of July 1992 – a peace agreement that would legitimize and entrench the brutal occupation of Kagame’s RPF.

Year by year leading up to 1994, the brutal and unpopular RPF, backed by its friends in Washington and Ottawa, was consolidating its power in Rwanda. Then came the fateful day on April 6, 1994, when President Habyarimana’s plane was shot down by the RPF, igniting what we have come to know as the “Rwandan genocide”.

What the Western media has depicted to us about the three months that followed April 6 is a period of genocidal reprisal led by machete-wielding ethnic-Hutu “genocidaires” against the poor and defenseless Tutsi ethnic group. Show trials around the world have been established to exclusively try “Hutu extremists” for their role in this 100-day period, including right here in Canada with the recent trial and conviction of Desiré Munyaneza in Montréal. However, that Kagame’s RPF was responsible for a great share of the deaths during this period, if not the majority and mostly Hutu, is an inconvenient truth for those forces interested in maintaining a certain slant on the “Rwandan genocide” narrative. And that Paul Kagame, along with Uganda’s President Yoweri Musaveni, proceeded to establish their occupation of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and to kill millions upon millions more is also conveniently papered over in imperialism’s narratives about Rwanda.

When the Tutsi-dominated RPF prevailed in the Rwandan civil war in July 1994 and brought the “Rwandan genocide” to an end, the stage was only just being set for the real genocide. With Western imperialism now firmly in control of its two client states in Rwanda and Uganda, these two client states made their move into one of the most resource-rich regions on the planet: the eastern region of the DRC.

The Ugandan and Rwandan invasions of the eastern region of the DRC in 1996 and 1998, along with their constant interference in the region ever since, have triggered the deaths of some 6,000,000 Congolese. And when they weren’t directly occupying and ravaging the region, Uganda and Rwanda were supporting their proxy forces to do it for them, such as the National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP, formerly led by Gen. Laurent Nkunda.

There is no doubt that the long-term project of Western imperialism in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, via its Rwandan and Ugandan client states, has been and will continue to be the plunder of the DRC’s precious and highly strategic natural resources. That millions of lives have been taken means little to the imperialists who profit magnificently from the plunder, and should clearly demonstrate to regular people that Western governments not only do not care about humanitarian disasters - in fact, they are the cause of them!

We must expose the “Responsibility to Protect” arguments for what they really are – neocolonialist trash – and demand an end to the plunder of the DRC, the repatriation of Africa’s stolen wealth, and justice for the remaining victims of Western imperialist genocide.

No to neocolonialism and imperialism!
Reject the ‘Responsibility to Protect’!
Africa for Africans Now!

For a more detailed history of the conflicts above, see my 2007 article on
"Revisiting the 'Rwandan Genocide'".