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contribution 27 - NSANZUWERA François-Xavier

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Historical legacy - Reconciliation

François-Xavier NSANZUWERA

transtlated version

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wanted briefly to react to the issue that was raised by Prosecutor Muna this afternoon and also to what Thierry said a while ago on the history of the genocide.

Mr. Muna’s question this afternoon as to whether the Tribunal has attained the objective of reconciliation in Rwanda I felt challenged as a Rwandan and especially someone who experienced the genocide from inside. Contrary to other participants, I felt a cloak of pessimism. I may feel that I am the most pessimistic person in this hall because I feel that the worst is behind me, so I’m really I’m quite optimistic among you. I think the worst is behind me.

I also wanted to draw your attention to the fact that the concept of reconciliation, the word sounds good in French or English. Even in my mother tongue, Kinyarwanda, it raises questions and even controversy within the Rwandan community and above all within intellectual circles and the political elite. Some persons may think, especially victims and there are those who talk of peaceful co existence. I don’t want to get into that issue of semantics, but I would like to use a word that I borrowed from the book of this afternoon’s chairperson. In his book I found the word "promise".

Personally, I feel that the judgements delivered by the Tribunal, regardless of the number, I believe that those judgements to the young Rwandan and to the young Rwandan generation, it carries a promise, a promise that their future will not be the same as the violent past of their parents. I find that important for survivors. I find it important for young Rwandans who are growing up today. The issue is not one of assessment. It’s not the number of persons convicted. It is not the matter of a scale of sentencing. I believe that the fact that the genocide was acknowledged and admitted is important for the young generation of Rwandans. I am not going to cite all the negationists by the bibliography because they said it was another ethic or tribal struggle, but I believe that admission of the genocide and that the Appeals Chamber stated that it was a matter of public knowledge or matter of judicial notice, I think it is important, and I find it as a consolation to the victims and a promise for the future of upcoming generations.

I also want to underscore one fact. This morning it was pointed out that several parties had no place in the procedure. Granted, but I believe that many of the witnesses come from Rwanda, and amongst them there are survivors, there are others, convicts, the entire civil society of Rwanda as represented in the witnesses who come to testify. And that leads me to Judge Arrey’s anecdote when she said the story of the witness who tells the lawyer "were you there?"

Maybe that question should be interpreted. The witness who appears before the Judges has that unique opportunity to tell his story, to tell the story of his neighbours, to tell the story of the genocide. And from a moral standpoint, it is important to the witness who comes to testify before the Judges. When he’s testifying before the Judges, he has the opportunity to give his own version of the genocide story, what he personally went through and what his neighbours went through.

To me, that witness, when he goes back to his hill, he feels calmed and reassured, and that also helps. It contributes to calming down the society that was rocked by the genocide.

Honourable Judges, you would have noticed that when these witnesses are telling their story, they don’t want to be interrupted, because it is an opportunity for many survivors of the genocide to tell their story, and that is part of the national reconciliation we are talking about.

Now, I want to say something about historical writings. Politicians write history, and other persons. I don’t have any skills in that area, but I believe that the real history of the genocide will be written by the witnesses who have appeared before the Tribunal, both Prosecution and Defence witnesses. All those witnesses that were considered credible by the Judges, to my mind they are the real historians, those who write the history of the genocide. Therefore, historians will have the mission of writing the true history of the genocide, those the history that was provided by the witnesses that were considered credible by the Judges. I believe that contributes to reconciliation.

Of course, I’m not an empty optimist. It is not granted. These things are not easy in a country that has faced a major genocide like Rwanda, but it is a step forward. The rest is up to politicians, academics, civil society to continue to build on those blocks that will lead by the system of justice.


Thank you, Francois Xavier, for your contribution, which actually takes us to the future, the far future of our children and of history that remains to be written, given that what history has also taught us over the past 50 years is that history is a continuum. It is a continuous writing process that is never finished.

Mohamed Othman has the floor now.