Last week I promised to never react to any external report because, in my opinion, they were simply distractions. But this week’s Human Rights Watch report about M23’s human rights record (and Rwanda’s ‘hand’ in M23) is really pushing my buttons. It is full of mysterious witnesses, defectors, inaccurate and downright lies. I’m itching to tear the report apart paragraph by paragraph. However, why waste a whole blog ranting about people who don’t really matter?
Especially when I can be talking about a young activist whose idea has light a fire under many people’s bottoms?
Meet poet, activist and parliamentary candidate Edouard Bamporiki.
I find it rather interesting that the literal translation of his last name ‘Bamporiki’ is “what is their issue with me? But more about that later. The 30-year old law student is currently in the news because he not only personally apologized for his family’s actions during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi (he was nine years old during the Genocide), but also encouraged other Rwandans, who felt the kind of shame he did, to do the same. According to him, he’d been spreading that ‘ask for forgiveness’ gospel for ages. But only when the President agreed with his sentiments, during last month’s inaugural YouthConnekt Dialogue, did he get into ‘trouble’. “I have lately been receiving calls, people are saying all sorts of things on radios”, he told The New Times during an interview he had with a reporter. “I don’t have any fear whatsoever, as long as no one is going to assault me physically”.
I find the furor that his, and the President’s, opinions unleashed quite surprising.
Suddenly, forgotten politicians like former foreign minister Anastase Gasana (does anyone know that name of the party that he heads? If you can without the help of Google I tip my hat off to you) took to the airwaves to shrilly condemn the very idea of someone apologizing for a crime that they didn’t personally commit. Mister Rukokoma himself, Faustin Twagiramungu, took to YouTube to condemn the very idea as abhorrent.
They made it seem that Edouard and the President shouldn’t have voiced their opinion. Instead of appreciating that two men were, rightly or wrongly, trying to find ways to strengthen our nation, the old school politicians tried to twist their words to score cheap political points. Sadly, none of them gave solutions to any of the problems that we face where reconciliation is concerned.
This is my humble opinion on the matter. While my legal training will not allow me to be comfortable with the idea of someone taking responsibility for the crimes of another, if an innocent party feels that apologizing for a family member’s crime will help them heal and move forward, who am I to say that they can’t? And if they don’t want to, no one can force them to. Honestly, ANY idea that helps us heal is a good one. Even if it heals a single person’s shattered heart, I’m all for it.
Last week, I was accused by a reader in The New Times from Nyarugenge of not taking sides in the DRC imbroglio. A mysterious individual only known as ‘ERK’ challenged me. “Why do
fear to take sides? Are you scared of what others will think of you? I thought you encouraged us not to be affected by those who laud or demean us. Start now by taking sides”.
I’m sorry ERK; I simply cannot sides in this scrap. I take the side of justice, fairness and good sense. While the FARDC is involved in human rights abuses, the M23 rebels are no angels themselves. In my opinion, both sides are fighting for selfish reason. None of them can honestly say that they are fighting for reasons that are unselfish. And that is the issue. Until BOTH sides start caring about more than themselves and their small constituencies, they are both villains in my book