Print Story The Aftermath wasn't so good, either.
By aphrael (Fri May 01, 2009 at 08:56:51 AM EST) (all tags)
From the beginning, it was obvious that the situation was going to be hard to control. Prime Minisiter Twagiramungu had created an initial stir by saying that there should be at least thirty thousand people put on trial. A few mnths later, the figure, which initially had looked enormous, sounded understated. Through the gutunga agatoki system thousands were arrested: a mixture of genuine killers, hapless hangers-on, victims of property quarrels, cuckolded husbands, and common criminals. The RPF abakada had the run of the hills and they did as they pleased. By early 1995, when the momentum kept growing, 100 to 150 people were arrested every day, and the numbers kept growing: 44,000 in June 1995, 55,000 in November, 70,000 in February 1996, 80,000 in August, without any due process and without any prospect of achieving it.

The conditions of detention became insane, with densities reaching 5.7 prisoners per square meter in the jail at Gitarama. In March 1995 twenty-two prisoners choked to death in an overcrowded room of the Muhima gendarmerie brigade, and the same number were later beaten to death by their drunken jailers in a makeshift prison near Kibuye. In Gitarama, where 6,750 prisoners crowded a jail with a capacity for 600, Medecins Sans Frontieres witnessed a thousand deaths beeween October 1994 and June 1995. It was common for prisoners to develop ulcers or even gangrene of the feet from days of not finding enough room to sit down. Of 183 places of detention listed by the Red Cross, only 16 were actual jails. The rest could be anything, including holes dug into the ground, covered with corrugated iron sheets weighted down by cement blocks.

There were only thirty-six judges left, together with fourteen prosecutors, of whom only three had any sort of legal training. In February 1995 in the central jail of Kigali, only 1,498 out of 6,795 detainees had had a chance of seeing a magistrate at any point since their arrest. Most prisoners' files were empty or nonexistent. But trying to free even innocent prisoners was a perilous activity. In October 1994, when Judge Gratien Ruhorahoza attempted to free forty people who had no files, he was kidnapped by the military and later murdered. Twenty six of the 270 magistrates left after the genocide (out of about 800) were arrested as genocidaires when they tried freeing detainees they considered innocent. The Liberation Commissionc created by the Justice Ministry reviewed about one hundred cases between its creation and April 1995, freeing only fifty-eight prisoners. In any case, former prisoners were in danger because in the popular mind arrest was often equated with guilt; several prisoners were murdered after their liberation.

[From Africa's World War, by Gerard Prunier; paragraphization added.]

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The Aftermath wasn't so good, either. | 4 comments (4 topical, 0 hidden)
It's all inconceivable. by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #1 Fri May 01, 2009 at 09:05:40 AM EST
Well, as far as my imagination goes, anyway. And I grew up knowing the stories of privations in the Soviet prison camps. Thanks for sharing. What can we do?

"What can we do" by debacle (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon May 04, 2009 at 08:09:21 PM EST
What you're really asking is "Can I pay to make this go away?"


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No. by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon May 04, 2009 at 08:16:41 PM EST
I know the limits of money.

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it's hard to say by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon May 04, 2009 at 08:52:39 PM EST
as i'm describing something which happened fifteen years ago at this point, and i don't really have a good sense for what it's like now ... and one of the problems is that well-intentioned western aid, implemented without a good understanding of the local situation, often makes things worse rather than better.
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[ Parent ]
The Aftermath wasn't so good, either. | 4 comments (4 topical, 0 hidden)