Padraig Colman

Rambling ruminations of an Irishman in Sri Lanka

Tag: Paul Kagame

The Blair Years Part Seven

This article appeared in Ceylon Today on Thursday December 1 2016

Colman's Column3

Blair’s Later Career

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Tony Blair has hinted that he may return to active politics. He said he was “trying to create the space for a political debate about where modern Western democracies go and where the progressive forces particularly find their place”. He announced that he will launch a new organisation in the new year to look at the global forces that have led to Brexit and Trump: “The political centre has lost its power to persuade and its essential means of connection to the people it seeks to represent. Instead, we are seeing a convergence of the far left and far right.” Blair plans a consolidation of the various groups and foundations he currently runs. He has already said he is closing his for-profit businesses, which have attracted criticism.

It is rather depressing to read the opening pages of Tom Bower’s book Broken Vows – Tony Blair and the Tragedy of Power – and to think back to the optimism one felt in May 1997. It has to be said that Bowers’s book has not received unstinting praise. Nevertheless, Bower gives a good picture of Blair’s life after he left government. Blair has earned tens of millions through a combination of consultancies, public speaking and facilitating corporate deals.

Delivery Man

Blair’s main pitch was that he succeeded in government because of his ability to “deliver” and that he could pass the secret of this on to others in government through “delivery unit solution packages”. David Runciman reviewing Broken Vows in the London Review of Books noted: “Deliverology is itself a false prospectus. It relies on the assumption that Blair gradually mastered these skills on the job and that he was forced out just when he had got on top of the government machine.”

In order to write this series, I have done a lot of reading, including the following very useful books, whose authors interviewed a great number of civil servants and politicians who had observed Blair at close quarters. I would recommend these books. There were three books by Anthony Seldon – Blair (2004), Blair Unbound (2008) and Brown at 10 (2010). There were two by Andrew Rawnsley – Servants of the People (2000) and The End of the Party (2010). No-one seems to disagree with Bowers’s verdict that Blair could be unfocused, lacking in knowledge and poor at management. None of these writers seems overly impressed with Michael Barber’s Delivery Unit.

Globetrotter

Bower describes how in the last months of his premiership Blair preferred travelling the globe to paying attention to domestic politics. “Some of those journeys were influenced by his ambitions for a career after Downing Street”. Bowers puts some of the blame on Cherie: “He had constantly urged his wife to refrain from her embarrassing financial forays, promising her serious wealth once they left Downing Street. He assumed that a new world of fees and commissions would answer Cherie’s familiar plea of ‘Why can’t we go by private jet?’”

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 10: Tony Blair and Cherie Blair seen arriving hand in hand at chiltern firehouse restaurant and memebers club for dinner on May 10, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Davies/GC Images)

 

 

 

Helping Gaddafi

 

Blair resigned as Prime Minister on 27 June 2007, but immediately before leaving office he embarked on a global tour which included a meeting with Colonel Gaddafi in Libya. On 27 April, he had thanked Gaddafi for the “excellent cooperation” between their intelligence services. What this in reality meant was that Blair was helping Gaddafi torture and kill his opponents. MI5 officers, in cooperation with Libyan intelligence agents, had been targeting Libyans living in London who were opposed to Colonel Gaddafi’s regime. When Blair thanked Gaddafi for “assistance” he was probably referring to information extracted by torture in Libya.

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Human Rights Stuff

For a man who based his “ethical” foreign policy on unseating tyrants, Blair’s relations with dictators have been puzzling. It is difficult to square this with his professed Christian morality. In 2011, he accepted a lucrative offer from the Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev.

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Leaked e-mails revealed in 2016 that Blair had charged Nazarbayev £5 million a year for his services. Kazakh security forces shot dead fourteen unarmed protesters and wounded over sixty others in Zhanaozen in 2011. There were also reports of opponents being tortured. “I don’t dismiss the human rights stuff,” Blair said. “These are points we make”. Blair personally wrote large sections of a speech that Nazarbayev made at Cambridge University. The line Blair advised him to take was “I understand and hear what our critics say. However, I would simply say this to them: by all means make your points and I assure you we’re listening. But give us credit for the huge change of a positive nature we have brought about in our country over these past 20 years… We are going to have to go step by step.” Since Blair began his work with Kazakhstan, the country has fallen eight places in the  Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, to 160 out of 180, and fell in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, to 123 out of 167.

 

The UK government refused to release information about Blair’s involvement with Rwanda through his Africa Governance Initiative charity. Amnesty International has accused Rwandan president Paul Kagame of human rights abuses, including unlawful detentions, restricting freedom of expression and jailing opposition politicians and journalists. A UN report accused his forces of war crimes, including possible genocide, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Bad Faith

Blair even accepted donations to his Faith Foundation of $500,000 from Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian oligarch, and $1 million from Michael Milken (the model for Hollywood’s Gordon “greed is good” Gekko) who was convicted in 1990 for fraud. Faith Foundation staff attended a conference in Vienna funded by Saudi Arabia.

 

His work towards peace in the Middle East for the Quartet (for which the UK government contributed £400,000 of taxpayers’ money every year) proved ineffectual because of the taint of his closeness with GW Bush. One observer said that he watched Blair’s authority ‘swiftly drip away’, and he was excluded from discussions.

 

This image of a former prime minister touting himself about may be distasteful but Blair is not the first world leader to disappoint and cash in afterwards. It seems a bit pathetic that Blair should use his status to try to sell the Nigerians Israeli drones and other military equipment for use in their fight against Islamic rebels. However, is it so bad to try and make a buck for Tony Blair Associates? This is more serious than just hucksterism and greed. David Runciman was writing before Trump’s election but he presciently wrote in March 2016: “The way Tony Blair and Bill Clinton have conducted themselves since leaving office is a hostage to the fortunes not just of their personal reputations but of the political causes they still represent … If the scandal of deliverology contributes to the election of President Trump, that would be another thing entirely.”

Conclusion

The three most important public servants in Blair’s administration – Robin Butler, Richard Wilson and Andrew Turnbull – concluded that, as prime minister, Blair had not been a fit guardian of the public’s trust. Richard Wilson said: “There are events during my period as Cabinet secretary that make me shudder at what I remember because we had high hopes and we were so disappointed. He promised so much, but in the end, so little was achieved.”

Historian Ian Kershaw wrote in 2007 when Blair left office: “Labour now seems to stand for little more than the claim that it can manage the problems of British society a bit better, and a bit more humanely, than can the Conservatives. And even that claim is open to question…However Blair’s domestic achievements are judged, his place in history will be primarily shaped by the Iraq war. Iraq will forever stand out in bold red in the debit column of his time in office. It was an avoidable disaster. And it was a disaster bearing Blair’s personal hallmark.”

 

Hate Speech and Free Speech

This article appeared on page 7 of Ceylon Today on Tuesday April 28 2015.

 Colman's Column3

I’m of the opinion that we fought too hard for freedom of speech to have a wrong ‘un like this define the terms of it – one day you’re censoring people who offend you, the next you are being censored by people you offend – it’s a slippery slope. Julie Burchill on calls to ‘silence’ Katie Hopkins.

 

Hate Speech Law for Sri Lanka

Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne announced that the government plans to revise the Penal Code to make hate speech a crime a crime punishable by a two -year prison term. The LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) had asserted that hate speech had exacerbated ethnic and religious tensions in Sri Lanka.

Rwanda Example

Kigali, capital of Rwanda is the safest city in Africa today. Twenty years after the genocide in which 800,000 people were slaughtered, Rwanda has transformed into a peaceful and prosperous nation.

In Rwanda in June 1983, a new radio station called RTLMC (Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines) began broadcasting. Drunken presenters found a large receptive audience of resentful thugs. David Yanagizawa-Drott, a Harvard political scientist, estimates that nine percent of the deaths in the genocide, forty-five thousand Tutsis, can be attributed to incitement by Radio RTLM.

Today, journalists criticising the Rwanda government can be prosecuted for defamation. The law prohibits political parties from appealing to group identity, and public statements promoting “divisionism” are forbidden. President Kagame argued that some Westerners define “human rights” too narrowly, defending rights of personal expression while underestimating the importance of stability.

Sri Lankans Hating on Facebook

According to a report by the CPA (Centre for Policy Alternatives), hate speech is a particular problem on the internet and a particular problem in Sri Lanka. The CPA report says that out of a population of 21 million, there are more than 2.3 million users of social media, the majority of them male. Social media provide ”low risk, low cost and high impact online spaces to spread hate, harm and hurt against specific communities, individuals or ideas”.

In Plato’s Republic, there is the tale of a shepherd named Gyges who finds a ring that makes him invisible. He has sex with a queen, kills her king, and takes his throne. The impunity of invisibility is corrupting. Physical invisibility only occurs in fiction but the internet has granted us the license of anonymity and trolls operate under a cloak of invisibility to behave in a way they would not contemplate if they were visible in the real world. They are unaccountable- as Kathryn Schultz puts it:  “like gods and despots, beyond the reach of custom, obligation, and law.”

The CPA report only studies Facebook. One could argue that the CPA’s own website, Groundviews, and its rival Colombo Telegraph, also provide space “to spread hate, harm and hurt against specific communities, individuals or ideas”.

The Offensive Katie Hopkins

Most Sri Lankans will be fortunate in that they have never heard of, or, even luckier, never heard, Katie Hopkins. Masochists among you might wish to look at YouTube to get a flavour. Hopkins first appeared on UK television as a contestant on the reality television programme The Apprentice in 2007. She now writes a column for British “newspaper” the Sun.  She describes herself as a “conduit for truth”. Critics accuse her of expressing controversial opinions to make money.

On 17 April 2015, Hopkins wrote that migrants were “cockroaches”. This appeared in the same week that 400 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean and more than 10,000 were rescued.

An online petition to ban Hopkins from television accumulated over 75,000 signatures. By 21 April, a petition calling on the Sun to sack Hopkins attracted 250,000 signatures.

I note that the CPA report was based solely on research done into Facebook. There has been a lot of noise on Facebook about Hopkins. Julie Burchill is a celebrated polemicist and quite practised at giving offence (and taking it without flinching). Burchill detests Hopkins, her views and unprofessional mode of expressing them. However, she would not want Hopkins to be silenced. “I’m of the opinion that we fought too hard for freedom of speech to have a wrong ‘un like this define the terms of it – one day you’re censoring people who offend you, the next you are being censored by people you offend – it’s a slippery slope”.

No Right not to Be Offended

 

Josie Appleton, a free-speech campaigner, argues that: “Hate speech regulation curtails the moment of ideological conflict, when no crime has been committed. In this, the state appears to be defending the victim. But it is actually defending itself, as the mediator and moderator of public debate, and the judge of what is and is not acceptable.” She describes many frivolous and harmful prosecutions in the UK. We must have the right to offend. No one has the right to be protected from being offended.

 

I am offended when Colombo Telegraph allows someone to call me “a paedophile tourist“.  However, I am inclined to think that the person saying that is just an inadequate boy who feels tough like Gyges hiding behind a pseudonym. I wonder if he would say that to my face. My shoulders are broad and I would not like Uvindu Kurukulusuriya to go to jail for that kind of infantile nonsense.

 

Who Decides?

British journalist Paul Harris offended Anton Balasingham and was punished by being deported from Sri Lanka. Harris gives his own account in his book Delightfully Imperfect published by Vijitha Yapa. Harris wrote in the London Daily Telegraph about flaws in the peace process and called Karuna a “bad egg” and Thamil Chelvan a “rotter”. He called Prabhakaran “Chief Genial Fatty”. It was this irreverent stuff as much as accounts of child conscription and fascist rallies that angered the LTTE. Harris recalls meeting the current prime minister at a Galidari function when Ranil pointedly refused to shake his hand.  The newspaper Nawa Pereliya said that “international arms dealers” were paying Harris’s accommodation bills. That same Rajitha Senaratne who announced the new hate speech law owned Nawa Pereliya. Can we trust people like this to be the mediators and moderators of public debate?

For and Against

 

In his 2007 book, Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: a Biography of the First Amendment, Antony Lewis warns the reader against the potential for governments to suppress freedom of speech in times of fear. Jeremy Waldron, professor of social and political theory at Oxford University, was critical of Lewis’s stance on hate speech. Waldron argues the need for a public climate of mutual respect and tolerance. Waldron believes that it is sometimes necessary to use the law to curtail freedom of speech if speech infringes on the freedom of another.

 

What to Do?

 

Sanjana Hattotuwa writes: “Civility, tolerance and respect for diversity are as hard to find online as they are in Sri Lanka’s mainstream party political framework even post-war.” Incivility, intolerance and venomous hatred are easy to find on Groundviews and Colombo Telegraph.  The comment threads are choked with pseudonymous hate-mongers.  Hattotuwa writes: “It would be a tragedy if the country’s only remaining spaces to ideate, critical (sic) reflect and robustly debate – which are online – are taken over by hate-mongers, to the extent they are allowed to do so in the real world”.

 

Do Groundviews and Colombo Telegraph create the “climate of mutual respect and tolerance” that Waldron desires? Rather than hypocritically neglecting to put its own house in order, CPA could avoid incitement to racial hatred. I recall that, on July 19 2013, during the halal controversy, Groundviews (in an article by no named author)  tried to make something out of a non-issue relating to the brand name on a packet of dates. This could have exacerbated  tensions.

 

Without resorting to law, most publications and websites can use their editorial powers to reduce hatred.  Groundviews tells potential contributors: “Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved. Comments that seek to inflame tensions on the ground, or are of a defamatory nature, will not be approved, or will be taken off the website as soon as possible.” It is not self-censorship to enforce your own sensible rules.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reconciliation in Congo Part 4

This article appeared in The Nation on Sunday February 17 2013

 

In April 2012, up to 700 ethnic Tutsi soldiers mutinied against the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) government. The government was supported by MONUSCO, the peacekeeping contingent of the UN Stabilisation Mission in DRC. Mutineers formed a rebel group called M23 (March 23 movement) also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army.

UN reports allege that rebels receive support from key US allies in the region, and Washington’s role in the conflict has become difficult to ignore. The governments of the US, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands have publicly suspended military aid and developmental assistance to Rwanda. The governments of both Rwanda and Uganda, led by President Paul Kagame and President Yoweri Museveni respectively, have long been staunch American allies and the recipients of millions in military aid.

 
The M23 rebellion is a continuation of fighting that has gone on in North Kivu Province since the formal end of the Second Congo War in 2002–2003. In late November 2012, M23 forces invaded and took control of Goma, the strategic capital of North Kivu a city with a population of 1 million people, many of them refugees. M23’s declared purpose was to marching to the nation’s capital, Kinshasa, to depose the DRC government.

 

UN failings

MONUSCO has been severely criticised for allowing M23 to take Goma without firing a single shot, despite the presence of 19,000 UN troops in the country. The UN’s Congo mission is its largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation, costing over US$1 billion a year. UN forces recently announced they would introduce drones over the DRC, in addition to imposing a travel ban and asset freeze on M23 leader Jean-Marie Runiga and Lt. Col. Eric Badege.

DRC has the world’s second-lowest GDP per capita, despite $24 trillion in untapped raw minerals deposits. Raw materials fuel the conflict and corrupt every party including the peacemakers. MONUSCO has faced frequent allegations of corruption. UN peacekeeping troops have frequently been caught smuggling minerals such as cassiterite and dealing weapons to militia groups. UN soldiers from the Pakistani army traded weapons for gold and one Pakistani officer used UN aircraft to transport local mineral traders. Indian soldiers traded gold and drugs using UN helicopters to fly ammunition into Virunga national park in exchange for ivory.

In Uvira, Russian pilots of the UN fleet have become notorious for their exploitation of women of all ages at a hotel in the town – one young woman is employed as a cleaner in the office of a high profile NGO during the day but, is paid starvation wages and must sell herself.

President Kabila is seen by many to be self-serving in his weak oversight of the central government in Kinshasa and the legitimacy of his leadership is questioned. The international community and the UN ignored serious election fraud. Opposition leader Étienne Tshisikedi is in jail and has called for “less corrupt and more credible” personnel to head UN operations. M23 rebels have demanded the liberation of all political prisoners, including Tshisikedi.

 

What hope of reconciliation?

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in December 2002 created the framework for a commission tasked with establishing the truth among conflicting versions of history and to promoting peace, reparation, and reconciliation. The specificities of the truth commission were to be determined by statute. Until more than a year after the establishment of the commission, it was operating without such a law. On July 30, 2004, the mandate was enacted by President Kabila.
The commission had twenty-one members, including representatives of each of the parties of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue and religious leaders, representatives of scientific associations, women’s organizations and other civil society groups. The membership was criticized because some of the commissioners had informal ties with those who were implicated in the crimes. International observers called for a follow-up truth-seeking mechanism because of the lack of political will and resources for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

At the time of writing, African leaders are meeting to chart the continent’s development agenda as it enters its 50th year of regional cooperation. The 20th Ordinary Assembly of African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government set for January 27-28 takes place at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the theme “Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.” The political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Madagascar, Mali and the Central African Republic will also be on the agenda.
There is not even a slim hope that the AU will bring light to this Heart of Darkness. Fifteen hundred bandits have resisted a standing army backed up by a 19,000 UN soldiers drawn from all over the world, a budget of $1.5 billion every year, helicopter gunships, armoured personnel carriers, jeeps, tanks and aircraft.

As Gavin Jackson of University of London put it: “What is left unspoken in the peace deal is the precise division of the spoils of the region. The bourgeois everywhere – whether of the refined type in London, Berlin and New York or of the Khartoum, Kampala or Aleppo type – have decided this on the basis of relative strength. When this relative strength shifts, a new balance of force which contradicts the previous agreement comes into play, then fighting begins again for a re-division of the loot.”

– See more at: http://www.nation.lk/edition/news-features/item/15868-reconciliation-in-congo-part-4.html#sthash.2E4eKzBA.dpuf

 

Rwanda- Twenty Years after Genocide

This article was published in Ceylon Today on April 16 2016

Colman's Column3

Twenty years have passed since the genocide in Rwanda. The true numbers of dead will never be known – some estimates go as high as five million but the figure generally used is 800,000. In 1994, during 100 days, vast numbers of Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu were killed in well-planned attacks ordered by the interim government that took power when President Habyarimana was assassinated on 6 April.

 
Divide and Rule
One cannot help but note that in the colonial project it was not uncommon for the imperial power to take advantage of, or even create, ethnic conflicts in pursuit of a divide and rule strategy. Britain did this with Jews and Arabs in Iraq, Tamils and Sinhalese in Ceylon, and in Kenya, Kikuyu and Luo.

 
Both the Germans and the Belgians promoted Tutsi supremacy in Rwanda, considering the Hutu and Tutsi different races. In 1933, the Belgians made the fateful decision to issue identity cards classifying every Rwandan as Tutsi or Hutu. In 1994, these cards helped Hutu to identify hundreds of thousands of Tutsi and kill them.

 
One can view the subsequent ethnic cleansing and genocide as horrendous extensions of the trend that began in the 1950s. As the decolonization of Africa was approaching, the Belgians changed their Rwanda policy. They had favoured the Tutsi but they reversed themselves and made the Hutu masters of Rwanda just before granting the country independence in 1962. Hutu activists began killing Tutsi, forcing more than 100,000 to seek refuge in neighbouring countries, including Uganda. In 1962, the now pro-Hutu Belgians held a referendum and elections in which the country voted to abolish the monarchy. Cycles of violence followed, with exiled Tutsi attacking from neighbouring countries and the Hutu retaliating with large-scale slaughter and repression of the Tutsi.

 
After independence, government-sponsored Hutu gangs carried out periodic massacres of Tutsi. Many Tutsi fled the country. Those who remained became second-class citizens and were denied full rights to education, employment, and travel. Whenever extremist or corrupt Hutu politicians needed a scapegoat, or wished to divert attention away from their own misdeeds, they attacked the Tutsi minority.
In 1973, Juvénal Habyarimana seized power in a military coup. Pro-Hutu discrimination continued, but there was greater economic prosperity and violence against Tutsi diminished.

 
Aftermath of Genocide
When Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front took over the country, the new government had the daunting logistical problem of dealing with the vast number of people accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The government carried out more than a hundred and twenty-five thousand arrests by 1997. By 2001, Rwanda’s prisons and communal jails were bursting at the seams with 120,000 alleged genocidaires. Rwanda’s courts were shut down for more than two years after the genocide. Amnesty International estimated that after the genocide there were only ten lawyers left in the country. The government calculated that it would take another 110 years to prosecute all the prisoners.

 

Philip Gourevitch wrote: “Nobody ever talked seriously about conducting tens of thousands of murder trials in Rwanda. Western legal experts liked to say that even the lawyer-crowded United States could not have handled Rwanda’s caseload fairly and expeditiously”.

 

Gacaca court system
To speed things up, Rwanda implemented the Gacaca court system, often translated as “justice on the grass”. This is a method of transitional justice designed to promote healing and a new start, with justice to some extent being placed in the hands of the victims.

 
International justice
Gacaca was Rwanda’s own approach to the aftermath of genocide. There was also international intervention. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was set up in November 1994 by the UN Security Council in order to judge people responsible for the genocide and other serious violations of international law in Rwanda or by Rwandan citizens in nearby states, between 1 January and 31 December 1994. The new Rwandan government came to view the tribunal as an assault on both its legitimacy and sovereignty.

 
There has been much animosity within Rwanda against the ICTR for its slowness, incompetence and alleged rampant corruption. The UN has a bad name in Rwanda because of its failure to intervene during the genocide.

 
What is Rwanda Like Today?
Rwanda is a small country with 8.8 million people packed into a land area about the size of Maryland. The population is young and predominantly rural, with a density among the highest in Africa. The climate is moderate, there are few jungles, and slave traders never penetrated into Rwandan territory. Rwanda is landlocked, and for much of its history it was isolated from the world; the first European did not arrive until 1892. It has neither great mineral wealth nor space for large-scale agriculture.

 
Many observers consider the capital of Rwanda, Kigali, to be the safest city in Africa today, and Rwanda one of the safest countries in the world. An international school opened for the children of foreign investors and entrepreneurs flocking to the country. Rwanda has low corruption compared with neighbouring countries. Many outsiders believe that no other poor country is embarked on such a promising campaign to improve itself, and are thrilled with what President Kagame is doing.

 
During the 2000s,  Rwanda’s economy, tourist numbers and Human Development Index improved rapidly. Between 2006 and 2011, the poverty rate reduced from 57% to 45%, and child mortality rates dropped from 180 per 1000 live births in 2000 to 111 per 1000 in 2009.

 
Human Rights
Not everyone sees Paul Kagame as a knight in shining armour. Not everyone buys the story of genocide. Barrie Collins, author of Obedience in Rwanda: A Critical Question, argues that Kagame rose to power because NGOs and the UN convinced the world that what was, in reality, a brutal civil conflict in the early 1990s, was a genocidal act on the part of the Rwandan Hutus, led by then president Juvénal Habyarimana, against Rwandan Tutsis. US Ambassador at Large for War Crime Issues, Stephen Rapp, declared that Rwanda’s leaders could be tried by the International Criminal Court for aiding and abetting war crimes in neighbouring countries such as , the Congo and Central African Republic. Journalists criticising the government can be prosecuted for defamation. Political parties are prohibited from appealing to group identity, and public statements promoting “divisionism” are forbidden. The authorities have used these limitations to imprison critics.

 
Kagame argued that some Westerners define “human rights” too narrowly, defending rights of personal expression but underestimating the importance of stability and economic progress. Kagame’s defenders argue that too much democracy too soon will split Rwanda apart again. Texan agronomist Tim Schilling said: “It’s necessary to have a little repression here to keep the lid on” while Kagame’s economic development programme takes hold. Many have argued that poverty fed the violence. Kagame is addressing the problem of poverty.

 
Reconciliation
Whatever the concerns about human rights, there is no denying that Rwanda has transformed from a country devastated by genocide, to a peaceful nation striving for peace and prosperity. An important part of Rwanda’s ongoing recovery process has been the promotion of cultural industries that have clear social benefits. Rwanda’s government worked closely with international partners to establish a platform for promoting the creative industries. Rwanda is focusing on restoring relationships between people through mandatory community service, called umuganda, which means, “coming together in common purpose”. Umuganda contributes greatly to the process of developing a conciliatory accommodation between former antagonists. NAR (Never Again Rwanda) focuses on the role of young people in learning and reflecting on the genocide.

 
Kubwimana Venuste, Secretary General of the International Foundation for Transformation, wrote, “One needs to remember that there is something in the past to be forgiven. It is probably not possible to attain complete justice or reconciliation, but Rwandans created conditions that favour accountability so that they could move from reconciliation to conciliation.

 

Instead of moving back to a previous relationship, we built on the possibilities and forged new bonds. Each one of us, Hutu and Tutsi, has the moral duty and responsibility to ensure that never again shall there be the senseless shedding of blood in our country. Remembering can also act as deterrence.”

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