- Rebuttal to:"NGO Justice: African Rights as Pseudo-Prosecutor of the Rwandan Genocide," by Luc Reydams
We, the above scholars, journalists, and human rights practitioners, are writing to complain in the strongest terms about the publication of "NGO Justice: African Rights as Pseudo-Prosecutor of the Rwandan Genocide,"1 and to express our concern at its unreasonable, ill-founded, and intemperate attack on the work of a small NGO in London, African Rights. The article's author, Luc Reydams, in calling into question the credibility of African Rights' ground-breaking work into the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi, seeks to destroy the world-wide reputation of African Rights' richly-sourced book, Rwanda: Death, Despair and Defiance.2
Death, Despair and Defiance contains a comprehensive account of the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi and was published at the end of September [End Page 447] 1994. It gave a voice to hundreds of survivors through detailed, graphic, and upsetting interviews. Its unbearable witness testimony on page after page reveals systematic slaughter and sadistic brutality. There is more in this book; for those trying to make sense of what occurred, it provides an invaluable account of the preparations and it names the principal killers. It also outlines strategies used by extremists to ensure mass participation in the slaughter. In the years after its publication the information the book contained was substantiated by others—time and again. Today the information in Death, Despair and Defiance is confirmed in reports and by commissions, in enquiries and newspaper reporting. It is confirmed in interviews with UN peacekeepers and the staff of international aid agencies, including direct eye-witnesses from the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNICEF, and the Commission on Human Rights. The information in the book is confirmed in reports from Human Rights Watch (HRW), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), diplomats, and journalists.
In his article, "NGO Justice," Reydams casts serious doubt on the veracity of Death, Despair and Defiance and smears its authors. We consider such an approach to be unworthy of publication.
1 Luc Reydams alleges that African Rights (AR) helped to create a myth which he describes as the "genocide-as-conspiracy" narrative. In casting doubt on whether or not the genocide was planned, the author seems to think the killing was somehow spontaneous. He seems unaware of how the crime of genocide requires careful planning and worse, he fails to mention that there are numerous sources of indisputable accuracy which all agree substantial planning to eliminate the Tutsi minority took place. The idea that the planning of the genocide is a "myth" is familiar to us as it is an idea used by the perpetrators to deny their guilt. They argued in their trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that the huge civilian death toll was the fault of "the people of Rwanda"3 who rose up spontaneously to kill their neighbors. The idea that planning is a myth was a foundation stone of the defense case in the trials at the tribunal.
2 In attempting to belittle the work of AR and destroy the reputation of the two authors, Reydams seeks to prove they are biased. He alleges the authors somehow benefitted from "support" from the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and its military leader, the current Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Reydams claims the authors could only gather so much material because of unprecedented and exceptional access to the zones controlled by the RPF during the genocide.
3 Reydams accuses the authors of presenting their information in a manner that served to bolster the RPF; he sowsdoubts about the truthfulness of the account of the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi provided by African Rights. [End Page 448]
4 Reydams takes African Rights to task for poor administration, although he insinuates it received a lot of money from donors. He questions the status of African Rights as an international NGO. He calls their neutrality into question. He accuses the authors of distorting facts.
Here below we present details of our concerns. Our concerns are...