John Lennon begins his seasonal hit Happy Christmas (War is Over) with the words: “So this is Christmas and what have you done?” Hopefully that’s not just me, or even all of us at Amnesty International, but the world.
I’d feel better if I could share the responsibility.
It’s my last day in the office and my last posting of 2008 (okay, I know, I haven’t written nearly as many as my esteemed colleagues) so it’s certainly tempting to get all reflective and start looking back on the year and what we have and haven’t achieved but I don’t think I’m going to get through that before Pizza Express beckons.
Anyway, back to Lennon’s question and here’s one thing the world has achieved just as we ready ourselves, leap second and all, to bid farewell 2008.
The conviction of former Rwandan senior defence official Theoneste Bagosora for instigating Rwanda's 1994 genocide, in which 800,000 people were killed, has been widely reported. He was sentenced to life in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda along with former military commanders Anatole Nsegiyumva and Alloys Ntabakuze for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The conviction of Bagosora is welcome news to the survivors of the Rwandan genocide, though many others who took part in the Rwandan genocide are still at liberty, many of them living in exile. Some of those involved in the Rwandan genocide are now involved in the conflict in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
The title of Lennon’s song may be aspirational but we take a step closer to its realisation whenever the world demonstrates that there can be no escape from justice for those who perpetrate its worst crimes.
Time for pizza now and an opportunity to recall another Christmas song, Good King Wenceslas, which I seem to remember includes reference to things deep and crisp and even.
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