Rwandan refugees in Zambia have continued living in fear of being betrayed and sent back to Rwanda where they will face imprisonment or death.
The fear by the refugees some of them who came into Zambia in 1994 has been heightened by the so called ‘cessation clause’ that the Zambian government is following.
The cessation clause in effect means that after a given deadline, all Rwandan refugees in Zambia will lose their refugee status and those who will be found in Zambia will be treated as illegal immigrants and subjected to arrests and deportations.
The cessation clause to which has the blessing of United Nations High Commission (UNHCR) is based on information that circumstances in the country of origin, Rwanda have changed and that it is now safe for refugees to return.
But Rwanda refugees in Zambia do not think so.. The refuges feel that Rwanda is still unsafe and
that those who have stayed in Zambia for a long time should be given the opportunity to decide to be integrated into the local community, – or to look for another country that is willing to settle them.
To demonstrate their fear and unwillingness to be sent back to Rwanda, the refugees held a protest march on January 13.
One of the refugees explained to the Watchdog that the Zambia Government acted in bad faith by signing the tripartite agreement with Rwanda counterpart and UNHCR.
The refugees explained that the Rwanda government coerced Zambia to sign the agreement. They further said that the Zambian immigration has now started harassing them.
The refugees vividly remember what the Zambian authorities did to one refugee Agness Ntamabyario a former Minister of Justice in Rwanda who was granted a refugee status in Zambia sometimes 1995. ,
Ntamabyario was abducted by “unknown people” on 27th May 1997 and she is currently in a Rwandan jail.
Said one refugee: ‘the Zambia Government is aware about that and it has failed to react, this is the same government that is “parroting” the Kigali regime. Among countries that are hosting refugees it is only Zambia that is in a hurry to implement the “cessation clause” despite the resistance of the refugees.’
BACKGROUND AS PUBLSHED (Ichengero Edition of September 1999)
STAINS OF INNOCENT BLOOD ON OUR SIGNATURE
Do we hear them when they cry? (Zambia Post Newspaper of 12 October 2007)
STAINS OF INNOCENT BLOOD ON OUR SIGNATURE (Ichengero Edition of September 199)
Africa has great difficulties in solving multiple problems that are self-inflicted or are being imposed on her by external circumstances.
During the past two decades, there was laid on her shoulders another problem of unmeasurable proportion: refugees. Military coups and other internal or external armed conflicts as well as corrupt, power hungry leaders forced millions of people to leave their homes and search for a safer future.
During the days of the Rwandan catastrophe, the mass media was full of horrifying stories. Zambia’s hospitality became known among the refugees. However, as time went on, hospitality of all neighbours – even Zambia -became thinner and more meager by the day. Tanzania pushed them back to the border; Mr. Kabila was finishing them with his machetes; Zambia signed an Extradition Treaty – a disgrace for justice. The treaty basically says: we don’t want you, get out.
The policy of all military governments is to smash those who disagree with their rule. The present Rwandan military government is not an exception. Their agents for “justice” are busy making thousands of Rwandans disappear not only in Rwanda but throughout Africa.
Who is guilty for 1994 genocide?
The fiftyniners, as the minority Tutzi government was called, could not forget their loss of power in 1959, which was given to them by their colonial masters. Mr. Museveni’s coming into power in Uganda was a crucial turning point also for Rwanda. Of the same tribe as fiftyniners, he masterminded and fully supported military incursions into Rwanda in order to overthrow the government and bring back into power, his own ethnic group. This brought back old memories of the suffering of the majority population under minority rule, destabilized the economy and initiated hatred. The culmination of the problem came in the massacre of 1994 when the sentiments were so high, that the situation was out of control. No one could stop it!
Only when love will embrace hatred and vengence, then there will be true peace in
Why a signature?
It is very unfortunate that Zambia had to trample on justice. This is a betrayal of those who run to her for protection. Rushing to sign an Extradition Treaty with Rwandan Government is even more unfortunate. Adding to that unfortunate behaviour, Zambia started to lock up and extradite some individuals before the signing of the Treaty of Extradition. Moreover this Treaty bypasses the International Tribunal for Rwanda.
The disappearance in Mufulira of the former minister Agnes Ntamabyaliro Rutagwera, who had sought refuge in Zambia since 1995 has caused anxiety among refugees and all justice loving people. It puts in question integrity of the Zambian government’s will for justice and true peace in Rwanda. Was Agnes wanted by the “International Tribunal? If not, why was she then abducted by the Zambian Immigration Officers on 27th May 1997 around 09.30 hrs and sent back to Rwanda?
Hundreds of refugees are on the run again. To where? God alone knows. They can no longer trust anyone. Once again they have been betrayed. Students can hardly study, some of them have disappeared, while others are shivering for fear in their homes, waiting for a fatal knock on the door by Immigration or Rwandan agents for “justice”.
An ancient Greek saying goes that: violence gives birth to fresh violence (bia bian tictey). The present government of Rwanda by “slaughtering over 3000 innocent people during the past few months” (ZNBC Main News 15th August, 1997) and by “torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” (Amnesty International) wants to get rid of all those who oppose their military rule. Most probably hard headed, despotic rulers of Africa can learn nothing from Mr. Mandela in the new South Africa who started to govern that country on the basis of reconciliation rather than vengeance and witch hunting.
Every truth loving person can understand that war is a special situation where hatred is the rule of the day. In South Africa even the most guilty ones are now able to go home on their own to face justice through love and forgiveness before the Truth Commission. Can the same be said for Rwanda where the minority Tutzi military government seeks “vengeance through execution and torture” (Amnesty International). Can Zambia have a clear conscience in sending people back to such a situation just because she gets emotional at a particular time or is in need of a couple of dollars more for her cement and other exports?
Pilate also washed his hands, while the “guilty - Innocent One” had to die on the cross. Every honest, peace loving person must know that there should be no extradition of any kind with any government which is in a war situation. Our good will could have been shown by cooperating with the International Tribunal. But events are pointing in the opposite direction. Is this a case that the birds of the same feather flock together?
We sincerely hope that there will be no more secret or public extradition to any country – especially not to the Great Lake Region except through the International Tribunal. In this way we may show to God and to the world that we are not for so called “peace” through vengeance but rather for peace and justice through love and reconciliation. Extradition of any person to Rwanda – bypassing the International Tribunal – is a gross violation of basic human rights as well as a crime against justice. We champions of Christianity in a Christian country could and should remember that.