Thursday, January 22, 2004

As mentioned in the previous entry, retired Gen. Roméo Dallaire is testifying before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. And Dallaire's new book, Shake Hands With the Devil, was recently published. The book details his dealings with the Hutu extremists who wanted to undermine the peace process that begin in 1993 and ultimately planned the genocide that occured the following year.

A guy named Robin Philpot savagely attacked the book in the Montreal paper Le Devoir (if you know French, it's here. Philpot is the author of Ca ne s'est passé comme ça à Kigali, which translates to "It didn't happen like that in Kigali" (the Rwandan capital). That book purports to give a different view of the widely held account of how the genocide happened.

The attack on the book provoked a strong reaction (see here and here). The backlash was all the more because Dallaire is widely considered a tragic hero in his native Canada, as well as by anyone familiar with the genocide. The latter of the above pieces accused Philpot of the "negation of a genocide." A reply by Philpot angrily denied this. The nonsense contained in this reply urged me to write a letter myself to the paper.

Below is a translatation of the letter I wrote. I included slight additions in [] to make things more clear since I won't dignify Philpot's crap with a translation.

Robin Philpot says he never "denied that there were massive killings, sometimes even of an ethnic character" in Rwanda, while at the same time "rejecting categorically the abusive use of the term genocide." These writings, as well as his inflammatory critique of Gen. Romeo Dallaire's book, demonstrate his ignorance of international law.

The Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide could not be more clear. According to this document:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group

During the massacres, Radio Mille Collines, nicknamed Hate Radio, read the names of Tutsis to be killed by the masses. Two heads of the Hate Radio were recently condemned to life in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda [ICTR]. The tragedy was planned, not according to the "instant historians" [who Philpot derided], but according to international justice.

[Philpot suggests] The use of the word genocide during a conflict somehow renders innocent the other warring party? How exactly?! The Allies surely committed certain war crimes during the Second World War. Does this prevent us from talking of a genocide against the Jews?

The 'revelation' of the political aspirations of the Rwandan Patriotic Front is presented as some how disproving the fact of genocide. [The RPF was the rebel group fighting the army of the genocidal regime. The RPF is now in power]

Yet, no genocide in history has taken place without any political aspect. Genocide is very much a political act. Inventing a scapegoat serves to distract people who live in misery. Hate is sometimes good politics. In Rwanda, in the Balkans, in the 3rd Reich, the list is not short.

Philpot would like us to believe that the majority of Rwandans were seized by a spontaneous madness, an angry that appeared out of nowhere. That hatred between neighbors and friends is the natural state of things... at least over there, where the savages live.
In fact, the extremist Hutu leaders of the ex-regime were ferociously opposed to power sharing with the Tutsis, even if the majority of Hutus wanted peace and tranquility.

This genocide, like all others in history, was not born in a vacuum. It was provoked by a small clan of people who cared about nothing other than protecting their own privileged position, which was under threat by the winds of change.

Mr. Philpot, it's this malicious mafia that we are demonizing, not the majority [he tried to create the contemptable strawman diversion that the world was blaming the Hutus as a whole people]. Contrary to the genociders, the international community doesn't preach a policy of collective guilt. This is why the ICTR is going after the architects who planned the genocide.

Philpot accuses members of the former rebellion of having committed crimes against humanity [as though this cancels out the genocide]. If so, then drag them before the ICTR too. Justice demands it.

Regardless of what the FPR did, a genocide against the Tutsis, in the PRECISE usage of the term, did take place.


[Incidentally, Philpot also approvingly quoted former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, without mentioning that he's defending a man accused before the ICTR.]


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