Imagine that twenty years on from the military coup in Argentina a new Pope, a simple man, close to his people, a Jesuit in whom millions of Christians had deposited their hope, had solemnly received with the full honours commanded by a head of state and with a firm handshake and an historic smile, the putschist General Rafael Videla, still in power more than two decades on from that coup. Now imagine that, having never once received the victims of the repression caused by the ensuing dictatorship, this Pope were on that same day to implore God’s forgiveness for the crimes of the Montoneros and all the other guerrilla organizations of that era. Then imagine that he went on to beg that same forgiveness specifically for the sins of the church and its members (thus referring to the role played in the whole affair by the so-called “Third-World Priests”. In actual fact, the founders of Montoneros were militant members of Catholic Action Argentina and were related to the Third World Priests movement).
Imagine further that the same Pope had not uttered a single word about the incomparably more numerous crimes of the dictatorship; neither had he made the slightest reference to the bishops and other ecclesiastics who were complicit in committing them, nor the prisoners of conscience who –in this fictitious tale– still languished in Argentine jails at the time of his meeting with the General. Imagine no mention was made of the two bishops and almost twenty priests assassinated by the organisers of the coup; that is to say, not a word spoken about members of his own church who were innocent and mere victims. These were conspicuous by their absence from the conversation between the Pope and General where he laid the blame for the events at the feet of the Church. Also notable by his absence from the speech was Father Carlos Mugica, murdered by the head of the “triple A”, who was a member of the Third-World Priests Movement and taught theology at Salvador University, when the future Pope was head of the Jesuits in Argentina. As Mario Eduardo Firmenich, one of the founders of Montoneros, remembered years later in the magazine El Peronista, Father Mujica taught that Christianity was impossible without love for the poor and the persecuted along with the fight against injustice. Whilst he himself was prepared to be killed, he would not, however, contemplate killing others.
Everything you have just been asked to imagine is precisely what took place during the recent meeting between Pope Francis and Paul Kagame in the Vatican. If there are important differences that deserve to be considered between this imaginary yet surprisingly similar account and that of the actual meeting, then those differences do not refer to the essential facts of those accounts. The differences, in fact, would be the following: the magnitude of the numbers (30,000 missing people, victims of the coup in Argentina, escalating rapidly in the tragedy unleashed in October 1990 by Uganda and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), led by the iron fist of Paul Kagame, to the terrifying figure of ten million); the gravity of the crimes committed (the events which took place in Burundi, Rwanda and the Congo constitute, owing to their ethnic component, a massive genocide); or the international indifference (the world is scarcely aware of the immensity of the pillaging of the Congo, nor of the spread of rape there, nor that it is still going on at this moment, more than twenty years after the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, which is thought of as the only major event to have taken place in the region for decades). Perhaps now, after what you have just read, you may be able to understand something of this terrible African tragedy (although systematic distortion of the facts and shameless propaganda have made it almost impossible to do so), along with the depth of the wound that the recent meeting in the Vatican and the accompanying declarations have inflicted on so many Rwandans.
Based on the version that the RPF and the powerful western media has managed to sell as the truth about Rwanda, there will be more than one person who finds the comparison which I have just made offensive. There may be people outraged by the comparison of the thirty thousand Argentines who disappeared (a figure which has been questioned many times by those who consider it excessive) with the million Tutsi victims of the genocide. But firstly, this inflated figure of one million fatalities is one of the great lies of the official version. And in second place, although it may be true that the number of Tutsis slaughtered in the genocide must certainly have been ten times more than the victims in Argentina, why is the genocide of the Hutus ignored, indeed almost invisible, in a wealth of propaganda despite (as I will later show) the number of victims being ten times more than that of the Tutsis? And certainly there may be some who will be outraged that I dare to compare a genocide with crimes which cannot legally be considered to be of equal gravity But later in this document I will demonstrate that by using these same judicial categories there is an attempt to play down the suffering and fatalities of the millions of Hutus and Congolese, thought of as lesser beings by an arrogant Tutsi elite .
How then is it possible that Pope Francis, who is, I am convinced, a man of God, committed such a terrible mistake? How could he tumble headlong into the trap of the official version of one, and only one, genocide – that of the Tutsis? How was it that there was no reference to the millions of Hutu and Congolese victims of Paul Kagame’s RPF? Nor the slightest mention of the political prisoners such as Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and Déogratias Mushayidi, who have already served six years in Rwandan prisons? Nor even a word of the hundreds of priests, believers and Catechists murdered by the RPF. How may one begin to make sense of the murder of those clerics by Kagame’s mobs, in the light of the acceptance of blame inherent in Pope Francis’ speech given before the meeting with that cynical criminal? How could he have made no reference to the three Hutu bishops or the foreign missionaries assassinated on the express orders of Paul Kagame? Nor even to his fellow parishioner, the Jesuit Archbishop of Bukavu Christophe Munzihirwa, murdered by RPF troops on the 29th of October 1996, at the very beginning of the invasion of the Congo.
There was nothing chance about that murder, nor that of Father Mujica. “We ask the international lobbies of the Tutsis governing Rwanda and Burundi to refrain from organising misinformation on an international scale in order to pervert public opinion”. When, two decades later, I reread the prophetic words which cost the Jesuit Archbishop of Bukavu, Bishop Romero of Africa, his life; reread them in the context of the terrible manipulation of facts which has misled even Pope Francis, with whom he shared a congregation, I cannot repress a shudder. Something of this is explained in my book “The Desecration of Mother Africa”:
“Some months before his assassination, Bishop Christopher Munzihirwa , like Bishop Oscar Romero and the Jesuits murdered in El Salvador before him, rubbed his finger in the wound: namely important American interests. His protests, in 1996, to Jimmy Carter, ex-US President, to the American ambassador and to the Secretary General of the UN clearly and unequivocally demonstrated the real causes of this tragedy:
‘We ask that the international lobbies of the Tutsis governing Rwanda and Burundi refrain from organising misinformation on an international scale in order to pervert public opinion. We ask the UN Security Council to revise its decision to lift the arms embargo against Rwanda. […] Is the intention to eradicate a part of the Hutu group, and all intellectuals, not clear enough? This is what happened in Burundi in 1972, and what is happening again today.”
After expressing his surprise that the United States government was assisting the government of Kigali and that 50 North American military instructors were training Rwandan soldiers who had assassinated so many Hutu farmers, Christophe Munzihirwa asked himself: What should I make of the help of the United States in the light of the murder of innocent civilians? Even before this, on the 15th May 1995, in a letter to the Secretary General of the UN, Boutros Boutros Ghali, the Archbishop expressed his fears, which later proved to be well-founded:
”The extremists of the Kigali regime have a policy of depopulation. Untold victims of arbitrary arrest and vengeance pile up in prisons and detention centres. They perish there or disappear during the night and, in this way, make space for the 1500-2000 new prisoners arrested each month. The acts of genocide perpetrated in Rwanda by the extremists in power, in particular the Kibeho massacre, have shown the true face of the Kigali regime: the desire to eradicate the greater part of the Hutu population as the date of the election draws nearer. What is more, it is feared that this can only worsen.”
Confronted with such an awkward witness, the new centurions of the new empire, now Africans, acted just as the Latin Americans did; they mercilessly murdered the messenger. And yet again the world turned its back.’
If we wish to look more deeply into how such a painful meeting could have taken place, and how it was possible to make such biased and distressing statements, we will inevitably need to examine at length the causes which, from my point of view, could have led to such an historic mistake.
In the first place there is the enormous power of the falsehood of “one” genocide , that of the Tutsis, which has become a universal truth, a version which the Vatican has been incapable of seeing through. I am referring to the considerable impact which the massacre of the Tutsis –televised and publicized as it was, in direct contrast to the systematic massacre of the Hutus, with a greater number of victims– had on the world in general. Above all, the huge exaggeration of numbers together with the blatant twisting of the general context, thanks to sweeping propaganda, was extraordinarily successful. The investigative journalist Charles Onana qualified the official doctrine as “a master stroke of misinformation, perfect poisoning of the facts”. It refers to a propaganda whose intensity is absolutely related and in direct proportion to the magnitude of interests at stake in Central Africa and especially in the Congo. It should not be forgotten that this tragedy took place two decades after the events in Argentina. And as such, given that history is written by the victors, we must wait until Paul Kagame and his military-political system fall to bring to light the almost unbelievable, multitudinal, covert manipulation of the truth which some amongst us are already aware of.
Secondly, it would seem that Pope Francis has only listened to and considered one part of Rwandan society’s account of the conflict, just as he only seems to have listened to one sector of the church and of the Company of Jesus in the region. Both of these sectors have suffered deep and lasting traumas like the massacre in the Remera Christus Center, during which three Jesuits, eight lay consecrated from Vita et Pax Institute and another eight people perished; or the massacre in Gakurazo, in which the Archbishop of Kigali, two bishops, nine priests, one monk, a young man and a seven-year-old child died. And when I speak of “the other side” I am not only referring to the Hutu majority but also to the growing number of Tutsis, amongst whom may be found many noteworthy people, who have said “Enough!” in the face of the crushing oppression of Paul Kagame’s regime.