Rwandan Leader Made to Pay for War Crimes
Most women would just at the chance to be the first to do something simply to spur on the argument for women’s rights and equality. Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, however, is finding out that not all “firsts” are the kind you want to be remembered for.
News broke today that the former Rwandan minister is to be made to pay for the war crimes that she ordered, including the ritualistic murder of hundreds of rival tribesman. In doing so, she has become the first woman ever convicted of war crimes and, even more specifically, the first to ever be convicted of genocide as well (though others have been charged before). Saddled now with the burden of committing “crimes against humanity,” Nyiramasuhuko proved a bit lucky, though, when it was revealed that she and her son would keep their lives, spending the remainder of their time in prison.
So while this may not be a proud “first” for women today, there should be some celebrating here as the charges date back to the earliest of Rwandan genocides in 1994, which means that almost twenty years after the fact the families will be getting some closure. And those who escaped with their lives revealed at trial that Nyiramasuhuko and her son, a government militia leader himself, also ordered the systematic raping of women all across the country in an effort to leave them alive, but demoralize them completely. This type of heinousness is perhaps seen too much in the world today, but after 180 witnesses, and a 700 day long final court trial, it’s comforting to know that the five people most responsible for the ritualistic killing of over 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus are now being made to atone for what they have done.
Here’s to hoping that they don’t get to live out their sentence in any sort of lavishness, but are made to endure a taste of the fear and hardships that they brought on their very own people.