In 1994, Beatrice Munyenyezi helped organize the rape and killing of ethnic Tutsis at a roadblock outside her family’s hotel in her native Rwanda. Munyenyezi was a leader in an extremist youth militia that took part in the Rwandan genocide, which killed 800,000 Tutsis over three months.
That, at least, was the version of events that convinced a court in New Hampshire to revoke the citizenship of Munyenyezi, who came to New York in 1998 as a refugee, according to The New Hampshire Union Leader. She was arrested in 2010.
“Munyenyezi will be held accountable for disguising her role as a participant in the Rwandan genocide,” said Bruce M. Foucart, a special agent for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Munyenyezi faces ten years in prison and the possibility of deportation. Her lawyer, David W. Ruoff, says his client plans to appeal the verdict, fearing for her life if expelled to her homeland.
“She is going to be sent back to Rwanda now and then she will be killed,” Ruoff tells the Union Leader.
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, a body appointed by the United Nations, found Munyenyezi’s husband and mother guilty of genocide in 2011 and sentenced them to life in prison, a verdict they are appealing. Last May a federal court in Boston found her sister guilty of lying about her role in the genocide, the same charge for which Munyenyezi was convicted. She is also appealing.
Munyenyezi has three daughters living in the U.S. with her. One of them, Saro, 18, wept as the verdict was delivered before running out of the courtroom.
German parents seek asylum for home-schooling
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike fled Germany in 2008, claiming that the German government was persecuting them for home-schooling three of their children instead of sending them to a state-run school, as required by law. They moved to Morristown, Tennessee and applied for asylum, which a court granted in 2010, claiming that German schools were anti-Christian.
But now, according to an article in The Tennessean, the U.S. government is arguing that the Romeikes are not entitled to asylum because they do not belong to a specific Christian denomination and their claims of persecution are too “vague.” The judge who initially granted the family asylum concluded that “the (German) government is attempting to enforce this Nazi-era law against people that it purely seems to detest because of their desire to keep their children out of school.”
But the law actually has nothing to do with the Nazis, according to the government’s case. Meanwhile, the Home School Legal Defense Association, which is representing the Romeikes, says the family has every legal right to choose how to educate their children, just like parents in the U.S. The Tennessean reports that the organization hopes to “use the case to pressure Germany to change the way it treats home-school families.”
“[Germany] is a democracy. They respect human rights,” Michael Donnelly, the association’s director of international relations, explains. “But in this area it’s frightening how they treat people who want to do something very simple.”
Jazz brings the world closer
There was a time, writes Clayton Hardiman, a columnist for The Muskegon Chronicle, when he would routinely drive six hundred miles across the Midwest for a jazz concert. The music of McCoy Tyner or Herbie Hancock or whatever musical legend was playing always made the long hours worth it. But not even Hardiman thinks he’s up for the trip to Istanbul, Turkey, where the UN’s second annual International Jazz Day will take place at the end of April.
Jazz in Turkey? Hardiman explains the country’s fascination with this uniquely American art-form goes back to the 1930s and 40s, when the two sons of Turkish Ambassador Mehmet Munir Ertegun turned Washington DC upside down in their quest for the hottest jazz records. The boys would also invite jazz stars to the ambassador’s residence, prompting shock from racist Southern senators who saw “persons of color” entering the house through the front door.
“In my home,” the ambassador reportedly replied “friends enter by the front door . . . however, we can arrange for you to enter from the back.”
Even when black musicians were being shunned in the U.S., their music found a grateful audience in countries around the world. Hardiman argues that music has had the power to unite human beings since at least the Biblical Psalms, and says it’s still doing exactly that:
Hip hop movements have exploded in what to many of us are some of the most remote and distant places on the planet. They have surfaced among the Maori tribes of New Zealand. They have thrived among aborigines in Australia. They have come to life among Pacific Islanders in Melanesia and Polynesia. They have been adopted and nurtured among Nubians in Egypt and Sudan.
All of these movements have a few things in common. They have afforded people the chance to define and redefine themselves and to find new ways of making themselves heard. And they let them examine the culture of a distant people and find an image of their own experience there.
See you in Istanbul, Clayton.