A New Zealand lawmaker Golriz Ghahraman who worked on the defence team of notorious Genocide convicts has been invited to visit Rwanda for a “constructive dialogue”.
In November last year, it emerged that Ghahraman who had recently joined parliament had not indicated clearly in her public records that she worked with the defence at the now closed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
The court, based in Tanzania, tried the planners and lead executioners of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.
A previously unseen photo surfaced in which Ghahraman smiles alongside Simon Bikindi, who was convicted by ICTR. As a singer, his music mobilised the Genocide militia to hunt Tutsis across Rwanda’s hills.
There was a shock in New Zealand, and Rwanda alike when the latest details emerged. She was accused of falsely painting herself as an “angel” when she had actually been “defending evil”.
Now, GAERG – an organization founded by former student Genocide survivors has sent a letter inviting her to Rwanda. The group says it will be an opportunity for her to visit the numerous memorial sites where hundreds of thousands of victims are laid to rest.
“We do not intend to engage in political tit-for-tat, but because our organisation is sincere in our desire to help inform and educate world leaders such as yourself about the reality of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, as well as vital post-conflict efforts at reconciliation and rebuilding,” reads in part the letter sent January 1.
The letter also invites the Greens lawmaker for the 24th commemoration of the Genocide in April. It says Bikindi couldn’t have been a person she associated herself with.
The singer “deeply invested his talent to propagate the hatred” that left nearly an entire people decimated, and a country destroyed, says GAERG.
Despite the scandal, Ghahraman has not come out to make a clear statement about her past and its relationship to her today. Instead, she has left it to her supporters to speak for her.
“Survivors…are troubled that you have failed to adequately clarify your position on the events of 1994,” says GAERG.
“As a current and future leader of New Zealand, we are eager that you gain first-hand understanding of the Genocide, and the role of survivors in rebuilding our nation in its aftermath.”
New Zealand was on the UN Security Council during the genocide, and it’s diplomat stood out as one of few determine voices that spoke out against the inaction to stop the massacres. Ambassador Colin Keating has also been awarded in Rwanda for his efforts.