On 22 December 2011, on his way back to Sweden for holidays from his UN work, the Russia-trained civil engeneer called his wife to inform her that his luggage has been lost, while at an airport in Belgium. The engeneer, Stanislas Mbanenande, sensed something fishy and told his wife: “These must be trials and tribulations.” The wife shrugged it off. Mbanenande was to fly in few minutes to join his family in Central Sweden. The union that never was.
After boarding the plane to Stockholm, according to his wife, 10 Swedish secret police officers- all clad in civilian uniform and paid her a visit at her home. They politely and proffessionally threw the bombshell. “The meeting you are expecting isn’t happening. We are arresting your husband at the airport for allegedly participating in the Rwandan genocide.”
Indeed, Mbanenande was arrested at arrival at Arlanda International Airport few minutes later. Since then, he is in prison.
He was convicted by both Stockholm first instance court and Svea appeals court for genocide, and sentenced to life imprisonment. He has since lost his case at Swedish’s supreme Court and his application for article 6 violations at the European Court of Human Rights was declared inadmissible.
I sat with him today for three hours, in one of Sweden’s maximum security prisons at Nörrtälje (A journey i was personally afraid of, for personal reasons). We shall leave the merits of his case as of now, including the reliability of witnesses against him in the trial. I shall comment on the merits after private investigations.
What struck me is how western societies are basically un-familiar with the Rwandan socio-political and historical dispensations. What expert witness in the trial, Filip Reyntjens, aptly described as “Ubwenge”. I was struck by how vulnerable western societies are towards government manipulations.
Two people portray this. Mbanenande was recruited by former Rwandan Ambassador to Sweden, Jacqueline Mukangira, but he turned the offer down. The Ambassador singlehandedly appointed him VP of the Rwandan Diaspora in Sweden and he turned down the offer. Thereafter, A Gacaca court sitting in Rwanda sentenced him to 19 years in prison for committing genocide.
After the Gacaca court judgement of 2009, Örebro district court sentenced a Burundian Emmanuel Habiyambere to eight months in prison for spying on Rwandan regime critics in Sweden, October 23, 2013. The aggravated espionage, the court said, happened between 2010 and 2011. The court said Habiyambere passed on the information to Rwandan general Jack Nziza, who is closely affiliated with President Paul Kagame. Official documents show the two had used the word “bananas” as a code word for regime critics in telephone calls. One of the key people spied on was Mbanenande.
In other words, the Rwandan regime tried to recruit the now imprisoned Mbanenande, in vain. He was subsequently sentenced by a Gacaca court, spied on by Rwanda, indicted by Rwanda, arrested by Swedish Police and now sentenced to life imprisonment.
The other person is Pierre Celestin Rwigema. He was immediately indicted for genocide after he fled to the US; having been a minister for education and later a Prime Minister of Rwanda. We shall leave the nitty-gritty of his asylum claims to that. But, he was later succesfully recruited by the Rwandan Government, and returned to Rwanda. The last time i checked, he was Rwanda’s member of parliament in the East African Legislative Assembly.
What we get from these two cases is that whether or not the two people are guilty or innocent is not the issue. Like i said, i will comment later on the merits of Mbanenande’s case. The issue is how Rwandan dissidents relate to their government recruitment manoeuvres. Once recruitment is rejected, Tutsi dissidents are easily indicted for treasom, terrorism and what have you. Hutu dissidents are easily indicted for genocide. Consequently, justice becomes a political instrument of coercion, and so does the genocide.
VERDICT: I am not saying those who killed shouldn’t pay the price. I am not saying those who committed treason shouldn’t face the law. All i am saying is that it is the duty of any right thinking Rwandan dissident abroad to approach his or her government, MP, and explain to them what Filip Reyntjens rightly calls “Ubwenge”. They are so vulnerable to PK’s manipulations. By the time you start to care; it may have befallen you.