The Belgian Federal Parliament is to invite a group of neo-Nazis to hear their representations, ahead of a parliamentary debate on a bill to make genocide denial a criminal offence. Of course, no such invitation has been issued by the Belgian Parliament, but seen with a Rwandan context, what the parliament is actually doing, is little short of that.
On 29th September 2017, a group calling itself Jambo ASBL, a non-profit organisation based in Brussels, sent a letter with a dossier to the Belgian Federal Parliament.
The dossier entitled, “Observations on the proposed law against the denial, minimisation, justification, or approval of the genocide committed in Rwanda in 1994” expressed the group’s concerns about the proposed bill, and asked for their concerns to be heard. The Parliament duly obliged, and the date is set for 1st March 2018.
As proposed by Gilles Foret, the bill is to “repress the denial, minimisation, justification, or approval of the genocide committed against the Tutsi in 1994”. One of the group’s objections is that criminalising genocide denial deprives the accused a line of defence.
It’s a startling, audaciously insidious line of attack, that the denial of genocide should not be criminalised, because, as they see it, it’s a valid line of defence for those accused of the crime.
A closer look at the individuals behind Jambo ASBL, and it is clear why for them outlawing genocide denial would be as big a blow, as allowing the continuation of the status quo would be to genocide survivors, and anyone for whom “Never Again” has to be more than mere words.
This is an organisation that was founded and run by the offspring of the planners and perpetrators of the genocide against Tutsi. And it is a realisation of a plan conceived in the jungles of what was then Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by the fleeing genocidal establishment.
As early as 1994 with their arrival in DRC, they were already planning how to convince the world that the genocide they painstakingly planned, and executed was a spontaneous conflict between two opposing groups.
A military commission to learn “the causes of our defeat” was set by former Rwandan army chief, Major General Augustin Bizimungu, now in prison for crimes of genocide, after his conviction by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). One of the commission’s recommendations was the setting up of a new group, the Rally for the Return of Refugees, and Democracy (RDR).
Its membership was made up of the most extremist elements from the former governing party, the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), and another extremist group, The Coalition for the Defence of the Republic, (CDR).
The new group would consist of the true believers in the politics of the so called Hutu-Power Politics, and would be home to every Hutu-Power faction.
As well as military organisation, the commission identified winning of the propaganda war, especially winning the support of the International Community, as an essential element in their fight back.
To win this support, a strategy that continues to this day was devised: keep known figures from the genocidal establishment in the background, and promote supporters and sympathisers who were not directly implicated in the genocide, especially the young.
Those who lived, or were abroad at the time of the genocide were to be especially prized. It would the RDR which would spearhead these efforts. The RDR was quick to identify Victoire Ingabire, as one of its greatest assets. Committed to the cause, and resident in the Netherlands throughout the mid-90s, she could distance herself from direct involvement of crimes committed in Rwanda.
Now leader of FDU-Inkingi party, Victoire Ingabire was appointed one of the first leaders of RDR. She is now serving fifteen years in prison in Rwanda, for crimes which include conspiring with proscribed groups to overthrow the Rwandan state.
Another of the commission’s recommendations was to encourage sympathetic journalists to gain access to influential media houses, then keep in touch with them, and through them pump out messages to the world.
It is in this context that Jambo ASBL can be understood. The person trusted with the creation, and leadership of the RDR, following the submission of Bizimungu’s commission, was Juvenal Bahufite. Bahufite had been a Lieutenant-Colonel in the defeated Rwandan army.
He was highly regarded, and trusted. As a sector commander in Gisenyi, he was for instance particularly influential, in the training of Interahamwe militia. On arrival in the DRC, he was appointed head of military intelligence for the genocidal forces.
His daughter, Lilian Bahufite is one of the leaders of Jambo ASBL. She is not the only one who is promoting her father’s cause. The entire staff of the organisation reads like a who’s who of the sons and daughters of the Rwanda genocidal establishment. The current Chairperson, Natacha Abingeneye, is the daughter of Juvenal Uwiringiyimana.
A cabinet minister in Habyarimana’s government, Uwiringiyimana was one of the creators of the Interahamwe militia. He was murdered in Brussels, it is believed by his former colleagues, because he was about to enter into a plea bargain with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
The former chairman of the organisation, Placide Kayumba is the son of Dominique Ntawukuriryayo. He was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison by the ICTR. As sous-prefet of Gisagara in what was then Butare prefecture, he was directly responsible for the murder of thirty thousand men, women and children.
Robert Mugabowindekwe is the son of Ephrem Rwabarinda, a Colonel in Habyarimana’s army. Mugabowindekwe’s wife Kami Runyinya is the daughter of Professor Runyinya Barabwiriza, who was a special adviser to Habyarimana. He was also the President of MNRD in Butare prefecture. Among his responsibilities was to oversee the training of the Interahamwe Militia in that prefecture.
One of the founder members of Jambo ASBL is Ruhumuza Mbonyumutwa. His grandfather Dominique Mbonyumutwa was appointed by the Belgian colonialists as interim president of Rwanda for ten months from 1961.
In that short period of time, he would distinguish himself by planning and instigating the first massacres of Tutsi in 1959-60. His son, Ruhumuza’s father, Shingiro Mbonyumutwa, was Director of Cabinet to Jean Kambanda, the Prime minister in the government the genocidal government. Jean Kambanda was convicted by the ICTR to life imprisonment.
The group maintains close links with others of similar mind. Ruhumuza’s brother, Patrice is vice chairman of the Belgian branch of Victoire Ingabire’s FDU-Inkingi. Jambo Asbl styles itself as a “human rights association”, whose objectives includes to “carry out projects” aimed at peace, dialogue and justice”.
In reality it is a Trojan horse for the objectives of the RDR. Jambo Asbl’s activities include a YouTube Channel, Jambonews, all of which are revisionist platforms for their forebears, who were part of the genocidal machine, which at latest count claimed 1,074,017 Tutsi lives.
These activities are shrewdly, if transparently camouflaged as “a human rights association”. In their letter to Parliament, they included on their list of speakers Rwanda’s Foreign Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, knowing full well that she would always give them the widest berth possible. Her inclusion was a ruse to fool Parliamentarians that JamboAsbl was inclusive of all Rwandan opinion.
The almost tragic irony of Jambo Asbl is that while in Rwanda, the government has assiduously worked to protect children of genocide perpetrators from the feelings and stigma of inherited guilt, it is the parents, guilty of the gravest crimes of genocide, who now work as tirelessly to inculcate their own children into the gravest crimes, committed before most of these had barely entered their formative years.
Belgium was the first country to unequivocally seek forgiveness from the people of Rwanda for their then government’s part in the genocide against Tutsi. In his speech on his visit to Rwanda in September 2000, then Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt would say, “In the name of my country, I bow to the victims of the genocide. In the name of my country, on behalf of my people, I request forgiveness”.
How ironic that it is Rwandans, albeit naturalised Belgians, who would seek to contradict these moving words, in their opposition to the law against genocide denial.