The man whose 1992 speech inflammed masses of Rwandans to slaughter their own neighbors and relatives has been sentenced to life in prison in Rwanda.
It is hard to argue whether this is a better sentence than putting this devilish man before a firing squad. But one can argue that he will live the rest of his life reflecting on the carnage and suffering his words inflicted on fellow Rwandans. He will never walk a free man, ever again.
I am talking about Leon Mugesera whose speech in November, 1992 was the precursor to the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
“We the people are obliged to take responsibility ourselves and wipe out this scum (the Tutsi), dump their bodies into Nyabarongo so they can return to Ethiopia where they came from quickly”, Mugesera told thousands of party faithful in his infamous speech.
Phillip Gourevich, author of “WE WISH TO INFORM YOU THAT TOMORROW WE WILL BE KILLED WITH OUR FAMILIES” claims that Mugesera’s speech gave momentum to the anti-Tutsi hysteria that led to the genocide against Tutsi.
He said “Mugesera was one of the first to go in a major public speech and say, “Look, our mistake in the past with the Tutsi minority has been allowing them to survive, has been allowing them to live. We must get rid of them.”
But Mugesera was no boogeyman. He was scum, evil incarnate whose oratorical skills were as deadly as the machetes of his audience he was speaking to on that infamous day in November, 1992.
“Do not be afraid, know that anyone whose neck you do not cut is the one who will cut your neck”, Mugesera implored his chanting audience.
That it has taken 24 years for Mugesera’s fate to be decided is a tragedy in and of itself. Millions of Rwandans perished, in part because of Mugesera’s words in concert with fellow genocidaires, and millions have watched him for 24 years play silly games with the Canadian justice system trying to avoid his day in court. Mugesera’s game plan did not work so well in Rwanda.
Mugesera was legitimately talented at delivery oration. Reading his speech at issue, one notes his clever play on words while the meaning was decisive, deadly and connected well with his audience.
Like Hitler Mugesera was mediocre at most things. But for herd mentality his words would not have been so inflammatory and a death sentence to millions of Tutsi. Such was the case in Hitler’s Germany.
Justice delayed is justice denied. But we can all sleep soundly knowing this devilish buffoon will rot in jail.