Incentivising war crimes in Burundi:
Agnes Van Ardenne, Holland's
"legendary" historical negationist.
Dutch Minister for Development Co-operation, the "legendary" Agnes van Ardenne
"What they did now is totally different from all the attacks in the past. In Gatumba women, children, babies were murdered in a most cruel way, with machetes, guns, and some were burnt alive. They didn't do that before. They attacked the Burundian armed forces until now, and are still doing, but they don't attack vulnerable people - women, children etc., so it's totally new." - Agnes can Ardenne, August 2004, representing the European Union.
Click here to listen to Agnes van Ardenne denying that the FNL ever killed civilians before August 2004
Click here for a long list of FNL attacks against vulnerable people -"women, children etc." during 2000, 2001 and 2002
Gatumba was the end-result of the international community's failed policy towards the FNL. In January 2004, Agnes van Ardenne welcomed Agathon Rwasa to the Netherlands for high-profile "talks" with the Burundian government. The talks came to nothing, just as all others had. Rwasa had flown halfway across the world to tell Burundi's President Ndayizeye that he wouldn't negotiate with him because Nzayizeye was from the wrong ethnic group. But by getting the international community to treat him as a serious player, Rwasa was enhancing his credibility at home, and his hold over his own forces. This was a significant "win" for him, even though he never had any intention of actually negotiating. And he knew that he was being taken seriously only because of his ability to disrupt peace in Burundi - eg. to kill civilians.
Throughout 2004, the UN repeatedly set deadlines for the FNL to begin negotiations, threatening sanctions that were then never applied, and turning a blind eye to the FNL killings that were ongoing. The Dutch government was one of the cheerleaders for this policy. The FNL was led to believe that they had nothing to lose by killing civilians, and inasmuch as their credibility was based on their capacity to disrupt the peace, everything to gain. The more they killed, the more concessions they would be offered.
The massive attack at Gatumba was the FNL's attempt to "maximise rewards". After Gatumba, the FNL bragged that they had no fear of being held to account because they had become "untouchable". Agnes Van Ardenne was one of the people who had helped to make the FNL "untouchable" in 2004. Perhaps the knowledge of this fact, and the implications it had for her own position, played a role in her decision to pretend that until August 2004 she did not know how vicious and murderous the FNL really were. Sadly, Agnes van Ardenne still does not seem to have learned her lesson.
There's a word for people who try to erase the truth about war crimes and crimes against humanity, whether they do it to cover their own backs or to protect the perpetrators. Such people are not fit to represent the European Union.
Agnes van Ardenne, who describes the FNL leader as "the legendary Agathon Rwasa", has never retracted her August 2004 comments, or explained them. She continues to lobby the Burundian government to offer yet more concessions to Agathon Rwasa's FNL. She's out of her depth, she's incompetent, and it's time for her to stop.
Why Agathon Rwasa?
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Burundi, human rights, Current Affairs, Politics, Africa