I usually gauge a New Year by this measurement: by how interesting the first week is. And looking into my crystal ball, this year promises to be a very interesting one. I awoke on the first day of the year to the sight of my neighbor’s gate totally obliterated by an obviously tipsy driver, who had rammed his car into it. The sight of the bemused residents, driver and traffic police put a huge smile on my face. And then the two Manchester football teams lost to ‘small’ teams, it was a real comedy of errors. And the best part of the week was learning that the Canadian government was going to deport Leon Mugesera on the 12th of this month. If you don’t know him, let me quote him. “Finish the cockroaches and send them back to Abyssinia where they came from”. And addressing militia, he said “if you don’t cut off their necks, they will cut yours”.
He was an interesting fellow this ‘Mugesera’ guy, he did his best to stir up the masses to commit genocide but didn’t have the stomach to follow his nefarious plan to its bitter end although radio stations rebroadcast his ‘sermons’ at the height of the 1994 carnage. He skipped out of the country in 1992 and settled in Quebec, and became a permanent Canadian resident the next year. He barely had time to enjoy the trappings of a North American before he found himself in hot legal water; two tapes of the incendiary speeches surfaced and the Government of Rwanda issued a warrant for his arrest.
The fellow has tried everything, from claiming that the warrants were simply issues because he was a sworn enemy of the Rwandan government (which I guess would be the truth; this government doesn’t like genocidaires) to then pleading with the Canadian government to try him instead of sending him to face justice in Kigali. I have a few issues with the Canadian government; from their stance on the Kyoto Protocol on climate change to their political class’s issues with my country. But I’m pleased that Ottawa has finally grown some cojones. I actually expected that the Mugesera issue would get bogged down in the Canadian legal system and then disappear without a trace. So I’m surprised.
However, I’m still disappointed that he’s been deported and not extradited. The Canadians aren’t saying that Mugesera is a genocidal criminal but rather that he lied on his immigration papers. They are equating him to someone else who lied about their legal history (whether they’ve ever been imprisoned before or not, for example). And that is truly unfortunate and rather cowardly as well.
Ottawa should have stuck its neck out and extradited him to Rwanda instead of merely deporting him. That way, it would have sent a signal to the entire world that it won’t give war criminals and genocidaires asylum. Deporting him merely simply says that he’s a liar. Simple as that.
On another topic, I’m also extremely pleased that the automobile garages that soiled the waters of the Nyabarongo wetland are being moved from Gatsata. Honestly, I can’t figure out why it took so long to get that done; I can only imagine all the environmental damage that the oil, battery acid and lubricants have caused. Sadly, there are way too many garages and heavy industry in this wetland and Kigali City Council (KCC) isnt moving them out fast enough. I know noise pollution is a ‘big’ issue in KCC, they almost caused a demonstration when they decreed that there would be no partying after midnight on New Year’s Eve (they hastily changed their minds). But I think that the damage to the Nyabarongo wetland is a bigger issue. It’s unfortunate that they haven’t tackled it with as much zeal as they’ve mustered while closing down night spots.