The Associated Press has just reported that a key organizer of the 1994 Rwandan massacres has been convicted of “genocide and crimes against humanity”. The Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda sentenced the former director of Rwanda’s Ministry of Defence, Theoneste Bagosora to life imprisonment for his role in the atrocities which claimed more than half a million lives. It has been a long time in coming but at least a form of justice has been seen to be done. I am reminded of the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who said
“…the community has the right of defense and of self-protection; moreover, the community has no hatred nor animosity for the murderer: it imprisons or punishes him merely for the protection and security of others. It is not for the purpose of taking vengeance upon the murderer, but for the purpose of inflicting a punishment by which the community will be protected. If the community and the inheritors of the murdered one were to forgive and return good for evil, the cruel would be continually ill-treating others, and assassinations would continually occur. Vicious people, like wolves, would destroy the sheep of God. The community has no ill-will and rancor in the infliction of punishment, and it does not desire to appease the anger of the heart; its purpose is by punishment to protect others so that no atrocious actions may be committed”.