Bagosora convicted for Rwandan genocideIn the 1996 Presidential election, I voted for Robert Krueger, rather than either Bill Clinton or Bob Dole. Krueger had served Clinton as Ambassador to Burundi, then to Botswana. While primarily symbolic of the repugnance I felt for voting for either of the mainstream candidates, I picked Mr Krueger for a very important reason.
Earlier that year while serving in Burundi, a county of inconsequential strategic importance to the U.S. with the poorest and most unhappy people in the world, at significant personal risk1, Mr Krueger tried to draw attention to the horrific human rights abuses that were occurring in that country, whose ethnic make-up and conflicts mirrored those of neighboring Rwanda. A significant part of the Rwandan genocide of 1996 took place in Burundi against Burundi Hutus. Because of his commitment to human rights and against genocide, and specifically because of his commitment to the people of Burundi and his willingness to do something, Robert Krueger is one of my heroes2.
All of which is a bit of a personal lead-in to today's news that a United Nations court in Tanzania sentenced Theoneste Bagosora, the former Rwandan Minister of Defense who organized the genocide, to life in prison along with two co-defendants, for genocide and crimes against humanity. He was responsible for over 800,000 people dying in 90 days, as well as for the death of a former Rwandan prime minister and 10 Belgian peacekeepers. There are too many former (and current) leaders in the world who are guilty of such crimes and still free. Let this be an example of what can happen to those who would abuse their fellow human beings, and a beginning to doing away with such evil in the world.
1 In 1995, while in Burundi, his convoy was ambushed.
2 Mr Krueger and his wife co-wrote a book about their time in Burundi called From Bloodshed to Hope in Burundi: Our Embassy Years During Genocide.