Hardly Christian.
April 17, 2001 9:20 PM   Subscribe

Hardly Christian. So many questions... were the nuns simply trying to save their own lifes? If so, does that make it any better? And does a Belgium court have the right to preside over crimes in another culture? Can anything good come of this?
posted by Neale (7 comments total)
The article states:
Sister Maria Kisito, 36, is charged with providing petrol used to set fire to a building near her convent and health centre where 500 Tutsis were hiding.

Sister Gertrude, 42, faces charges of forcing hundreds of Tutsis hiding in her convent to leave, knowing they would be massacred. About 600 were killed and on May 5, the prosecution alleges, Gertrude asked officials to remove the remaining 30 Tutsis, who were killed on May 6.

It doesn't seem like this was self-defence by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by Witold at 9:31 PM on April 17, 2001

Yes: if the trial is seen to be fair, it creates a precendent for third party countries to host further trials and offset the bureacratic wrangling in Rwanda and at the international tribunal.

And anything that reminds us of the sheer horror of Rwanda, and the mass dereliction of duty from the UN and its most powerful members, is to be darkly welcomed.
posted by holgate at 9:32 PM on April 17, 2001

While I agree whole-heartedly with Nick, I have to point out that the above quotes don't provide any context in which we can judge the action of these women. Perhaps Sister Maria was forced at gunpoint to provide petrol? Or Sister Gertrude was threatened in such a way that her only course of action was to force Tutsis to leave?

It is difficult for us to judge, as outsiders dependent upon the media for our information, what causes impelled these nuns to act as they did. And I think we should keep that in mind as we judge their actions.
posted by megnut at 10:02 PM on April 17, 2001

Wow. This is why I keep finding myself coming back to Metafilter. To see things others find of importance that I otherwise probably wouldn't have noticed on my own.

posted by ZachsMind at 10:45 PM on April 17, 2001

From the article:
Alison Des Forges, an adviser to Human Rights Watch, said it was the first time a jury of ordinary people had been asked to judge ordinary people of another country who have been accused of such crimes.

"The jurors will have to surmount the barrier of cultural differences to understand a context unlike any they have ever known," Forges said.

That would be very, very difficult for most people. I can't imagine this being a remotely fair trial. The very phrase "surrmounting cultural differences," falsely implies that what happened in Rwanda originated from some essential lacking/inferiority of Rwandan (Tutsi, Hutu) culture to begin with. Not good.

Why's this trial being held in Belguim instead of Rwanda anyway?
posted by techgnollogic at 11:03 PM on April 17, 2001

Well, it's a math thing. 100,000 suspects, and in six years they've tried "several hundred". Maybe they'll try the rest before they die.

As for it being held in Belgium ... I can't but see this as some sort of latter-day Heart of Darkness, the horrendous spoils of colonialism brought to light of day.
posted by dhartung at 5:52 AM on April 18, 2001

No better or worse than having a centralized site for war crimes trials in The Hague, or anywhere else for that matter.
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 11:05 AM on April 18, 2001

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