Nov 26, 2020 in History

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The acts of genocide were repeatedly committed in human history. From ancient times, the wars of annihilation, devastating invasions, campaigns of conquest divided the world; this led to two world wars. Since that time, the UN member states agreed on a number of international treaties, aimed at preventing genocide. In particular, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide for 1948 (known as the "Genocide Convention"), which imposes on all States to take action, prevent and punish acts of genocide, regardless of whether committed in time of peace or in time of war. Four treaties adopted in 1949, known as the "Geneva Convention"; and two of the Protocol, which is defined by a list of further actions which are ineligible in accordance with international law. The four Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols of 1977 are designed to protect people who are not taking part in hostilities (civilians, medical personnel, etc.), as well as those individuals who are no longer able to fight, for example, wounded and prisoners of war. Each of the four Geneva Conventions is binding on the contracting parties to prevent or punish the actions defined as "grave breaches" of these conventions. 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:

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  • Killing members of the group;
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its total or partial physical destruction;
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
  • The following acts shall be punishable:
  • Genocide;
  • Conspiracy to commit genocide;
  • Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
  • Attempt to commit genocide;
  • Complicity in genocide.

April 6, 1994, after the deaths of the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi in a plane crash, which was as a result of rocket fire, a large-scale and systematic mass murder began. The killings, which claimed the lives of nearly one million people, shocked the international community. The tragedy demonstrates an obvious act of genocide. In addition, it is estimated that between 150 and 250 thousand women were raped. The presidential guard began killing Tutsi civilians at the airport in Kigali. Less than in half an hour after the crash, the checkpoints have been organized on the roads, in which Hutu militias, often with the help of the gendarmerie (paramilitary police) or the military, revealed the Tutsis.

On April, 7, radio and television station Libres Des Mille Collines (RTLM) aired a program in which the responsibility for the plane crash was assigned to the RPF and the military contingent of the UN, and also contained incitement to destroy the "Tutsi cockroaches". On the same day, Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana was brutally murdered along with ten Belgian peacekeepers, who were assigned to protect her during the attack of government soldiers at her home. Other leaders, as well as moderate Hutus, were also killed. After the deaths of the soldiers, Belgium withdrew all its troops.

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April 21, after other countries have asked for the withdrawal of their troops, the strength of UNAMIR was reduced from 2,165 to 270 soldiers.

Lack of commitment to a policy of national reconciliation on the part of some Rwandan political parties has been one of the causes of the tragedy, but the indecisiveness of the international community has led to an escalation of the situation. Ability of the United Nations to alleviate the suffering have been seriously limited by the reluctance of Member States to respond to the situation in Rwanda by strengthening the mandate of UNAMIR and the provision of additional troops.

June 22, 1994, the Security Council authorized the deployment of forces for the humanitarian mission under the command of French. The mission, dubbed "Operation Turquoise", helped to save the lives of hundreds of civilians in the south-west of Rwanda. However, its actions have allowed the soldiers, officials and militia members who participated in the genocide to escape through the territory that was under their control. In other areas, the killing continued until July 4, 1994, before the establishment of the RPF military control over the entire territory of Rwanda.

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At the international level, on November,8 1994, the Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which is currently in Arusha, Tanzania. Investigations were initiated in May 1995. The first suspects were brought to trial in May 1996, and the hearing of the first case started in January 1997. The jurisdiction of the UN Tribunal shall extend to all kinds of violations of internationally recognized human rights, which were committed in Rwanda between January and December 1994. The Tribunal has the power to prosecute senior members of the government and the military, many of whom fled the country and thus escaped punishment. The Tribunal sentenced Jean Kambanda, the Prime Minister, to life imprisonment. This Tribunal is the first one to suspect the accused of raping, crime against humanity and the crime of genocide. The Tribunal also considered the case of the three owners of the media, accused of using the media to incite hatred, based on ethnic hatred and genocide. By April 2007, the Tribunal issued twenty seven decisions, relating to the thirty-three defendants.

One of the key figures was the singer Simon Bikindi, who was convinced to fifteen years of imprisonment for incitement to commit genocide. The prosecution was sure that Simon was singing his patriotic songs to make people rebel and begin to kill all the Tutsi. The point is that his songs were not rebelling, they were patriotic and about the historical background of his country. The case of Bikindi seems to be now more complex and confusing than in the beginning. In fact, he sang quite a few political songs. His forte was the traditional wedding songs, in arrangements which he combined folk music traditions with hip-hop. As for the political songs, they are also unique. There are no direct calls for violence against anybody. One of such songs are here for an example:

  • I hate these Hutus, These big-bellied Hutus,
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  • Those who merely fill their bellies,
  • Who like to court And only live for patronage, dear comrades!
  • Can we really want to worry?
  • If I hate them, so much the better!
  • Our only a bit of luck Is that they are few among us, dear friends!
  • They are few people who have gone astray!
  • Our only opportunity Is that they are few among us, dear friends!.

According to this verse it is difficult to say whether the author wants to rebel against all the Hutu, or states about the past and the conflicts that were between the Hutu and the Tutsi. The point is that one may see in the Bikindis verses both incitement to kill Tutsi and rebel against monarchy. The singer is not to blame to sing patriotic songs and asking the Hutu to unite, to become one nation again.

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