Friday, March 2, 2012

Munyenyezi Case: To A Carpenter Everything Looks Like A Nail

The Concord Monitor Coverage of the Munyenyezi trial went into high gear february 21 with the article "complex trial set to begin". An article that mischaracterized the outcome of the Lazare Kobagaya trial which, for propaganda reasons, was dubbed "the first genocide trial in the US". A grave error which was repeated in the following article february 23 "jury chosen for genocide case"!

Contrary to claims by Lynn Tuohy, Lazare Kobagaya's trial did not end in a "hung jury" and did not "locked on whether he played a role in the genocide". (Lynn Tuohy wrote the AP press release that messed up the facts concerning the outcome of the landmark ruling in the Lazare Kobagaya trial) . Lazare Kobagaya was acquitted of having played any role in the genocide whatsoever.

Ann Garrison, journalist in San Francisco, asked Kobagaya's lawyer Kurt Kerns august 27 2011 "What do you think the international implications of this case are?", his answer was:
"Well, I think maybe before you spend a couple of million dollars trying to prosecute someone, you really need to do a factual investigation. If the allegations are coming out of a country that has so many lies being perpetrated out of it, like Rwanda, you really need to do an independent investigation to see if you're really getting a true and accurate investigation or if you're really just getting a politically motivated accusation. So often now, at least right now in Rwanda, so many of the accusations coming out of that country are sadly, politically based."
Dan Gorenstein was in court the first day of the Munyenyezi trial in Concord New Hampshire february 23 2012 and confirms that this case is "about lies, both sides are accusing the other of lying". According to Concord Monitor's staffer Maddie Hanna, Munyenyezi's attorneys stated february 23, the first day of trial:
"Munyenyezi, who is charged with lying on immigration papers about the role she played in the 1994 genocide, took no part in the violence. Witnesses who claim otherwise are lying - either for self-gain or because of pressure exerted by the Rwandan government. They come from a culture where the government . . . has used the genocide as a tool of oppression,"
Today's blogpost on the Munyenyezi trial by Sarah E. Brown, a researcher of women genocide perpetrators in Rwanda and Congo is a good illustration of the proverb:
"to a carpenter everything in the world looks like a nail"
On twitter yesterday she allready claimed the defense avoided the word "genocide" in it's opening remarks:
Shameful - defense team avoids the word . In opening remarks, used words like "situation" "war" and "RPF invasion"...
An easily verifiable falsehood. The defense used the word genocide several times in it's opening remarks, as I have demonstrated above. Her attempt to twist the facts continues today claiming:
"Munyenyezi’s wayward defense strategy mistakenly hinges on her gender and her status as a mother to prove her innocence."
This again is incorrect. The case, as Dan Gorenstein and Maddie Hanna have reported (see above), hinges on the credibility of the witnesses. In light of what we learned from the Kobagaya case extreme caution is warranted.

But I would add one other element: motive. As pointed out at the top, the Lazare Kobagaya case was used in the crucial fase of Paul Kagame's RPF PR effort the day he arrived at the Tribeca festival in New York. Paul Kagame's PR directed at a US audience was an essential element in his election campaign strategy.

Beatrice Munyenyezi was arrested june 25 2010, a week after the assassination attempt in South Africa on General Kayumba Nyamwasa's life and one day after the assassination of Rwandan journalist Jean-Léonard Rugambage in Kigali. In light of what we now know (through the Kobagaya case) the significance of the timing of Munyenyezi's arrest june 25 2010 should not be overlooked.


susan thomson said...

Thanks for this post. Brown, one of the sources you cite, clearly does not understand legal strategy!

The cost of the trial is worthy of consideration. Per Kerns' comment, how long with the US be willing to pay for these trials? What will be implications for asylum process from Central Africa b/c of presumed political motivations of RPF and American intolerance for crimes committed there?

Vincent Harris said...

I'm tempted to say that if it leads to increased knowledge of Africa's great lakes region and/or on how to deal with this type of accusations it might be worth it. Too bad individuals are often guinee pigs sacrificed in the process. This is clearly an imperfect world.