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The East African : June 30th 2014
The EastAfrican OPINION JUNE 28 - JULY 4, 2014 19 Genocide: Even F≥ench activists a≥e denouncing F≥ance sented. It should have been, as preparations to send a delegation had been made. However, Paris decided at the last minute that its official representatives would not be travelling. France’s ambassador to Rwanda also stayed at home. The trigger for all this was President Paul Kagame’s reference, just before the ceremony was due to be held, to the role France had played before and during the genocide. The French political establishment reacted A with predictable indignation accompanied in some cases by dismissive sneering. It was as if to suggest that whoever thinks that France or the French could have had a hand in the genocide must be out of his or her mind. President Kagame is not the only person, let alone the first, to accuse France of wrongdoing or complicity in connection with the planning and execution of, and failure to stop, the genocide. Books, numerous newspaper articles and investigative studies have been published and many testimonies made to that effect. Where they have not been met with studied silence from Paris, they have elicited sanctimonious denials in which the accusers have sometimes been condemned for damaging France’s honour. Some in France have made attempts of their own to accuse Rwanda’s ruling party, the Rwanda Patriotic Front and its former military wing, the Rwanda Patriotic Army, of triggering the genocide by shooting down the plane in which former president, Juvenal Habyarimana, died. The accusations and counter-accusations t Kigali’s Amahoro Stadium during the official ceremony to commemorate the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in April, France was not repre- Kagame is not the only person to accuse France of wrongdoing.” F≥ede≥ick Golooba-Mutebi and France’s seeming handling of resident genocide suspects with velvet gloves, have long dogged Franco-Rwanda relations. While they have improved somewhat in recent years, large issues remain. Be that as it may, a small number of French citizens have worked hard and pressed their government to take seriously its responsibility to prosecute exiled Rwandans who are accused of participation in planning and executing the genocide. Others have pushed and continue to push for openness with regard to France’s relationship with Rwanda’s former ruling elite. Progress has been snail-slow at best, elusive at worst. And now new actors, whose members and collective efforts may not be so easy to dismiss, have joined the fight for openness and action in France. They are the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (Egam). Founded in 2010 by Frenchman Benjamin The search for truth is a requirement, lifting the veil is an imperative. We demand that those who endorsed this criminal policy come forward and answer. Abtan, Egam is an umbrella body for antiracist and human-rights organisations in over 30 European countries. Their business is to fight racism, anti-Semitism, racial discrimination and genocide denial. Last week, a 20-member delegation of their activists, led by Abtan himself and including members of youth wings of French political parties and of student unions, descended on Rwanda. They sought to link up with genocide survivors, visit genocide memorials, and generally deepen their understanding of what happened in Rwanda in 1994 and the role of the Mitterandled French government. Collaboration Before heading to Rwanda, French activists denounced their government’s longstanding silence on the issue and appealed for recognition of its responsibility. Based on information already in the public domain, they accused certain high-ranking French officials of “deep collaboration” with the Habyarimana government and its short-lived immediate successor that the RPF eventually defeated. In “Tutsi Genocide: Now is time for the truth,” an assertive statement they issued ahead of their trip, Egam repeat accusations made by other observers, emphasising how “this crime is part of our country’s history.” They then round on specific politicians: “For the past 20 years, these politicians, in an attempt to save their honour, have refused to answer for their actions and kept trying to obstruct the bursting [sic]of the truth by denying France’s involvement, which often tends to sound like denial speech. Their despicable defence aims at dragging France down with them in order How inequality ensu≥es the ≥ich get ≥iche≥, the poo≥ youth stay unemployed The world now risks creating what the International Labour Organisation has called a ‘lost generation’.” Ma≥k Esposito eral bestseller lists, income inequality – which has been on the rise since the 1970s – is once again capturing global attention. Debate surrounding the subject has covered many of the trend’s repercussions, including decreased social cohesion, growing slums, exploitation of labour, and weakened middle classes. But one effect has received relatively little attention: Youth unemployment and underemployment. Since the global economic crisis, W youth unemployment has soared worldwide. In the developed world, 18 per cent of people aged 16-24 are jobless. While the youth unemployment rate in Germany remains a relatively ith Thomas Picketty’s controversial book Capital in the Twenty-First Century topping sev- low 9 per cent, it stands at 16 per cent in the United States, 20 per cent in the United Kingdom, and above 50 per cent in Spain and Greece. The Middle East and North Africa also have very high youth-unemployment rates, estimated at 28 per cent and 24 per cent respectively. By contrast, only 10 per cent of young people in East Asia, and 9 per cent in South Asia, are unemployed. But policymakers have done rela- tively little to address the problem. The world now risks creating what the International Labour Organisation has called a “lost generation,” with global youth unemployment expected to reach 13 per cent by 2018. There is no single factor driving this trend. In China, for example, youth unemployment is rooted in the dominance of the manufacturing sector, which provides far more job opportunities for high-school graduates than university-educated workers. Youth unemployment can also stem from a market mismatch. In a recent survey of nine European Union countries, 72 per cent of the educators who responded reported that new graduates are qualified to meet prospective employers’ needs, though 43 per cent of employers reported that candidates do not possess the required skills. But, whatever the main factor underpinning high youth unemploy- ment, income inequality undoubtedly exacerbates the problem. Simply put, many jobs – particularly the most lucrative ones – are available almost exclusively to young people from wealthy backgrounds. In the UK, for example, only 7 per cent percent of children attend private schools. But roughly half of the country’s chief executives, and two-thirds of its doctors, have been privately educated. This trend is expected to persist, with the next generation of doctors likely to be born into families that rank among the wealthiest 20 per cent of the population. Networking But money is not the only require- ment. In many cases, sought-after jobs and internships – and even admission to top educational institutions – are far more accessible to those who are within the employers’ personal or professional network. When the job market rewards whom you know more than what you know, young people with well-connected parents have an obvious advantage. Moreover, while companies may, in theory, recognise the value of bringing together talent from a variety of backgrounds, they tend to recruit candidates with a familiar set of skills, experiences, and qualifications. Even if someone with a different educa- to hide their responsibility behind our country’s innocence. The search for truth is a requirement, lifting the veil is an imperative. We demand that those who endorsed this criminal policy come forward and answer with facts and precision the questions that need to be answered about Paris’s involvement. What is at stake is our relation to Africa. It is our capacity to confront history. It is our fundamental democratic values. What is at stake is the honour of our country.” This development comes shortly before Rwanda marks the 20th liberation anniversary on July 4 the day Kigali fell to the Rwanda Patriotic Front, marking the beginning of the end of the genocide. It remains to be seen whether France will be represented at the official event. But even more importantly, it remains to be seen what impact Egam will have on one very important aspect of this saga: Bringing to book French military and civilian officials, who have been named as having presided over and directed France’s highly contested role in Rwanda shortly before and during the organised campaign to eliminate an entire section of its population. Rwandan genocidaires have been prosecuted and jailed and are still being pursued across the world. Will their alleged French accomplices ever be brought to book in or outside France? F≥ede≥ick Golooba-Mutebi is a Kampala- and Kigali-based ≥esea≥che≥ and w≥ite≥ on politics and public a≠ai≥s. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org tional background or work experience manages to get face time with those responsible for hiring, they must overcome the perception that they are a riskier choice. The fact that academic results are among the top hiring criteria skews outcomes further. People who had the privilege of receiving private education are likely to have attended more reputable universities. Financial constraints prevent many capable students from attending any university at all, owing to their need to earn an income that only full-time employment can provide. As a result, their earning capacity is severely constrained, regardless of their talent or work ethic. In order to create a level playing field, employers should rethink their recruitment strategies and consider applicants based on a broader range of criteria. Businesses can only benefit from the fresh perspectives that a more diverse candidate pool offers. With financial status serving as the key determinant of opportunities, young people from poorer backgrounds are becoming increasingly discouraged – a situation that can lead to social unrest. Unless all young people have legitimate prospects of improving their social and economic status, the gap between rich and poor will continue to widen, creating a vicious cycle that will be increasingly difficult to escape. Ma≥k Esposito teaches at Ha≥va≥d Unive≥sity Extension School,Twitte≥ @Exp_Ma≥k. Copy≥ight: P≥oject Syndicate, 2014.
June 23rd 2014
July 7th 2014