“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite…” Nelson Mandela.
The first time I learned about Claude Gatebuke it was about 12 years ago when we were on a same conference call discussing what we needed to do to raise awareness about injustice and human rights abuses in Rwanda. Gatebuke was the youngest on the group of activists, but his passion for defending human rights was obvious. Gatebuke used his testimony as a therapeutic ways to unite Rwandans from all works of life. In addition, Gatebuke and other young activists have been mobilizing the young generation that is free from hate and division along ethnicity that is taught by the Rwandan regime! Why is Gatebuke and other young Rwandan activists are a threat to the Rwanda’s authoritarian regime? I am going to answer this question in two points.
First, Gatebuke and other activists are using peaceful weapons called truth, fearless, and resilience! The Rwanda’s regime finds itself not being able to match these weapons. Since October 1, 1990 when the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and its military wing the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) invaded Rwanda, they used lies, terror, making regular citizens disappear and assassination as their major weapons! Now the regime that has been in power for twenty six years finds itself not being able to change their methods of operation! The regime uses fear and terror to control the population! On the other hand, young activists are calling Rwandans to overcome fear and be authors for their own stories. The regime has written a script on how Rwandans should tell their stories! Anyone who gets off the regime’s script meets a fate like what Kizito Mihigo the gospel singer met on February 17, 2020.
Second, Gatebuke and young activists are part of the majority of population of Rwanda today. For the last 26 years, hardcore regime’s extremist propagandists like Gen. James Kabarebe, Tom Ndahiro and others have been teaching hate to young generation. Contrary, Gatebuke has been promoting love, tolerance and human rights to Rwandan and people of the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Gatebuke’s passion for human rights is boundless! Extremists from the regime have been calling him, “A fake genocide survivor, a genocide denial and other names!” Names calling and character assassination does not slow down Gatebuke, but his cause gained momentum! On Saturday, April 25, we hosted a commemoration for lives that were lost during the civil war and Genocide from October 1, 1990 through the end of 2000! This commemoration did not sit well with the regime in Kigali that discriminates in remembrance. This commemoration brought together Rwandans who were mostly children or youth in 1994. We shared our stories, we cried and comforted each other. There was no discrimination in commemoration as the regime in Kigali has been practicing for the last 26 years. Extremists from Kigali have many reasons to detest what we are doing but we shall never give up nor slow down.
Dr. Innocent N Justice