16 March, 2006

Arusha Story of Kigali

Here in Australia we have the misfortune of hosting Condoleezza Rice for talks with the Howard government. This unwanted proximity to a war criminal reminds me of the close encounter I had with Rwandan genocidist Lt Colonel Theoneste Bagosora in Arusha, Tanzania in 2002.

It is noteworthy that the USA and its close allies, The Marshall Islands, Palau and that other insignificant Pacific failed state, Israel voted against the UN General Assembly resolution to set up the Human Rights Council. Well done all those Guantanamo Bay torturers. Well done all those brave Caterpillar bulldozer drivers in the Palestinian Territories.

Arusha Story of Kigali

Less than one metre
The suits the handcuffs
The heavy expressions
Four men accused
Orders of genocide
Met in the corridor

Behind bullet proof glass
The theatre
Of meticulous dissection
Lit for the cameras
Extreme adversarial
With objections
Admissible evidence
A protected witness
Who was dead
Providing a lighter moment

Six years of waiting
Names of places and events
Mukarange Rukara Kiziguro
Documents dates signatures
Minibus transports logistics
Training sessions indoctrinations
Issues of weapons invoices
Quantities locations questions
Refreshments food alcohol drugs

Lists of traitors
For elimination
Muskettes in French
Are not mosquito nets in English
A cordalette is a rope tipped with metal
Only some need R4s or KVs*
If spears bows and machetes#
Can kill the defenceless
Just as swiftly

And on a Bisesaro hilltop
Retisage meant cleanup
Of Tutsi civilians
Half starved ragged
Who dared to resist
The repeated attacks

Whilst transfixed
My head is in flight
Nuremberg Tokyo
Milosovic Pinochet
Kissinger Bush
Saddam Hussein
East Timor West Papua
Tibet Palestine
And Pol Pot
Who died of natural causes
Without conviction

Willy Bach © 2002

*R4s were semi automatic assault rifles from South Africa, KVs are AK47 Kalashnikovs.
#Armes blanches were weapons of local origin other than firearms.

Written 17-19 September 2002 in Arusha, Tanzania, at hearings of the Military Trial. Defendant Lt Colonel Theoneste Bagosora allegedly led the Army coup in April 1994, having spent the previous several years planning and preparing the genocide of Tutsis and organising the Interahamwe militia on the pretext that this force was a civil defence measure.

The defendants had spent five years of waiting for the trial. We attended several days of testimony by expert witness Dr Alison Des Forges of Yale University, author of Leave None to Tell the Story. It would then be the turn of the defence team to attempt to show that this evidence did not have the veracity the prosecutor claimed that it had.

The process appeared to be culturally alien for Africans but has world importance. Interestingly, two of the most effective members of the defence team were Caucasian Americans of Jewish ethnicity.


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