Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Burundi Genocide Denial By Willy Nzisabira

Willy Nzisabira wrote an article on the political history of Burundi in which one sentence caught my eye:
"the 1972 massacres of Hutus, the 1988 massacres of Tutsis, the 1993 genocide and the death of so many innocent Hutus and Tutsis since 1993 up to today, mainly for political reasons."
Let me first remind my readers that both the massacres of 150.000 to 300.000 (80.000-210.000)  hutu's in 1972 and the massacre of 25.000 tutsi' in 1993 are described as genocide in the final report of the International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi presented to the United Nations Security Council in 2002.

Secondly the massacre in 1988 was a massacre not against Tutsi's as Willy Nzisabira wants us to believe, but a massacre by the army against hutu's (at least 20.000 people died). 

Thirdly, the massive campaign of ethnic cleansing since 1993 in Bwiza and Buyenzi, Kamenge against hutu's in 1995 by the tutsi army, as witnessed by Robert Krueger, considered genocide by President Ntibantunganya (real power was in the hands of Pierre Buyoya's tutsi army), is not mentioned either.

When we read about think tanks in the great lakes region, we off course think of the pro-Kagame Dominic Johnson and the pole institute in Goma. Apparently there is now also a think thank called Catalyst focusing on Burundi. Willy Nzisabira is heading this think thank. In the introduction to his article on the website of the Royal Africa Society he states:

"over 4 years at senior executive management level in financial institutions in conflict and post conflict areas"

Willy Nzisabira, himself a tutsi, was in fact the managing director of Urwego in Rwanda  , it should have been mentioned clearly in the introduction to his article.

Willy Nzisabira mentions the rule of Michel Micombero who assumed power november 28 1966, but Robert Krueger's book "From bloodshed to hope" gives us a much better picture of his rule:
(From it's independence in 1961 the Burundian army was dominated by tutsi's. Several presidents were assassinated in the first years of it's independence. In 1965 hundreds of hutu leaders were assassinated by the tutsi' army.)
"he set the pattern for his successors in three respect: he was an officer whose  despotic, militaristic rule was supported  by the army forces; He came from the Hima subgroup of Tutsi's, who lived in the southern Bururi region of Burundi; and he ruled by terror. Within a few years Micombero instituted a genocide of monumental proportions, notable not only for its scale and effectiveness, but also for the silence and indifference displayed by the world. In 1972, Micombero deliberately set out to eliminiate all educated Hutus above the age of fifteen so that, as he explained to one Wetern reporter at the time,
Tutsi rule would be safe for at least the next generation.
"A western missionary who had served in Burundi during that period later described to me how army trucks and buses arrived at boarding schools to take away all Hutu schoolchildren, who were delivered to firing squads or buried alive in mass graves. Estimates go as high as 300.0000; at least 150.000 Hutus were certainly slaughtered, rougly 10-15 percent of the total male Hutu population a that time and probably 75 percent of Burundi's educated Hutus. During that genocide, any Hutu walking down the street with a pencil in his shirt pocket might be snatched by the military and summarily killed, since it indicated that he knew how to read and write."

It's in that context of his own genocide denial that we should read Willy Nzisabira finger pointing at hutu's:
“The rule of the majority”, understood by the average Burundian as the wish of the majority to be the absolute law of the land, is easily perceived in the minds of the people in ethnic terms – thus widening the gap between the interests of the Hutus emphasizing rights and seeking for more control of the nation’s life, and the interests of Tutsis emphasizing competence and seeking for more security for their lives. In people’s minds, political agenda, vision and sound judgement have no determining value in politics; being a Hutu with populist opinions makes a big difference during elections. Advantaged by their numeric dominance, Hutus see themselves as the only rightful leaders and guardians of national sovereignty, irrespective of their political performances and abuses".
Listen to Ambassador Robert Krueger on the events of 1995 that he personally witnessed in Burundi as US ambassador.

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