Stephen Kinzer to Kagame: Reconciliation, Confuses Human Rights Watchers

I can’t say that my little old blog had anything to do with it, but color me surprised! Stephen Kinzer is backtracking from his recent nonesensical tirade where he castigated human rights defenders and in particular Human Rights Watch for, wait for it….watching human rights in Rwanda!  Stephen Kinzer did not “lose the faith” because they were simply watching human rights and observing from a distance (perhaps with a nod of approval to top the watching?), but because they were watching, and documenting, and publicizing human rights violations committed by the Rwandan government against its people, and its neighbors.

A friend of the Rwandan leader, it makes sense that Stephen Kinzer would turn a blind eye to such massive crime as serious as crimes against humanity. How else would he maintain a good relationship standing with Kagame, and the continued sale of his book, A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It? But I did not expect him to stoop so low as to imply that colonialism, dictatorship, lack of democracy, state controlled media/journalism, repression, politically motivated incarceration and detention of critics, exiling of opponents, and other such privileges are not only good for Rwandans, but that they are a right which Human Rights Watch seems to be interfering with. With human rights champions like these…no wonder six million people are dead in the Congo, while writers sell books glorifying genocidaires and covering up for their crimes.

In a disingenuous attempt to deflect from his support of a genocidal regime, Stephen Kinzer backtracks on some of his statements, in a calculated and destructive way. Kinzer writes another article, claiming now, that the Rwandan leader is “authoritarian” because he refuses to listen to his former partners in crime (no pun intended) and fellow war criminals. Before this surprising piece of writing, Kinzer had claimed that “authoritarianism” is what Rwandans needed and in fact embraced it. But now, Kinzer claims Kagame should listen to these war criminals (at least certainly Kayumba Nyamwasa), because, wait for it….they used to work together and Kagame used to trust them. And because not listening to them, Kagame creates more enemies who are openly critical.

Did Kinzer seriously miss the part where Kagame waged a war on two three (we remember you too Uganda) different countries multiple times and committed possible genocide in one of the countries and arguably both? How enough is that to create enemies? It’s more important that Kagame listen to prominent opponents who used to work with him than the millions of voiceless victims and witness of Kagame’s brutality or other human rights defenders according to Kinzer. And it makes sense. Kagame’s fellow war criminals do carry his secrets after all, which they might spill, thereby exposing both Kagame for the crimes he committed, and Kinzer for his cover up.  It’s also the reason that rather than advocate for the release of  jailed “alleged” collaborators with terrorist groups like Victoire Ingabire, and genocide survivor and dissident Deo Mushayidi, Kinzer advises Kagame to rely on proven and indicted war criminals instead.

Does Kinzer truly have Rwandans in his mind and heart? Or is he mostly interested in the continued success of genocidaire Kagame, and the continued uninterrupted sales of his book? Kinzer makes no mention of Victoire Umuhoza or other political prisoners, makes no mention of murdered opposition candidate and independent journalists, makes no mention of the possible genocide in the Congo, but instead advises Kagame to reconcile with his fellow war criminals, because they are prominent, and he used to trust them.

Dear Stephen Kinzer, are you serious? You would trust Kayumba Nyamwasa, indicted by two different independent judicial systems for war crimes and crimes against humanity, to provide insight into democracy and recovery from war and genocide? You would trust Karegeya on matters of free states before trusting unfairly jailed Bernard Ntaganda, or Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, a mother and peaceful resistant, and someone who has never committed crimes against humanity against anyone? You would advise Kagame to reconcile with other war criminals, at least cut their sentences short (by your implication that the sentences are “severe”) before reconciling with Deo Mushayidi who lost all his family members in the genocide? You would recommend Kagame take advice from top prosecutor, responsible for countless infractions in Rwanda, Gerald Gahima to be trusted with matters of reconciliation and democracy before Deo Mushayidi?


Are you serious?

Are you trying to help the people of Rwanda or did I miss something? You do realize that when some of these people worked with Kagame they were killing people right?

8 Responses

  1. You are really analytical beyond words. I’ll be honest to say, that I didn’t stretch my brain that far when writing my own analysis.

    I merely thought of Kinzer as another anti-Hutu mercenary, who much like Simon Mann is finally seeing the light.

    Your post reminds me of my own myopia, the very reason why we have to promote multiple views.

    Given that Kinzer considers the dictatorship to be the best thing that happened to Rwanda, isn’t given that he would try to strengthen it? Perhaps, that is why he is struggling to get the other comrades in crime in. Then, Rwanda, can be a true mafia state–one that (as Kinzer believes) Rwandans like.

    This has got to be my favorite blog on Rwanda!

  2. Stephen Kinzer claims that the regime in Kigali is making an “authoritarian turn” while in reality Kagame is being consistent. The tragedy is that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

  3. Nkunda Rwanda, wow, that is quite a compliment coming from another Rwanda blogger. Thank you for reading and responding.

    I too thought that Kinzer was making a turn at first, when he called the regime “authoritarian” and that there was something wrong with that. If you recall, he called the regime “authoritarian” in his previous article, but said that Rwandan people embraced this kind of repression. The sudden change was welcomed, but suspicious.

    He only goes as far as saying that it’s only bad because Kagame is making enemies from his former friends. He does not mention his previous article, nor does he mention much of anything Rwanda gets criticized for.

    It’s a very clever means of disarming critics, while still maintaining his original premise and advocating for it to remain intact. It seems that he is very convinced that the only legitimate criticism against the regime, are people in it now, or people who used to be part of it. I can’t distinguish between whether it’s simply a paternalistic view of people of Rwanda or just blind allegiance to Kagame.

  4. Colored Opinions – Kinzer’s duplicity is pretty obvious to me, but he does a great job of hiding it. He is not against authoritarianism for Rwanda because it’s embraced by people of Rwanda. Instead, it’s tarnishing Kagame’s international reputation, which Stephen Kinzer helped to construct. He is doing damage control for Kagame.

  5. Quite cynical and so you think Kinzer is being consistent as well?

  6. It’s possible he may be “changing his mind about Kagame” as everyone seems to think. I don’t see it. I see him doing what he has always done. What he has written in the past few days has brought a lot of attention to his writing, so people are watching.

  7. Stephen Kinzers’ defence for my country Rwanda and my president whom other countries’ presidents refer to him as “Strong man”. Stephen Kinzer is justified and me as a Rwandan I give him points 100% because I recognize what is being done in my country Rwanda is wonderful towards my country’s economic development.

  8. Dear Annoncy,

    I am sorry to have to tell you that you are one of the current Rwanda regime activists. I am a Rwandan too, but I am sure you must be blind or more confusing.
    Do you know the rate of unemployment in Rwanda? Have you seen people sleeping under shameless shelters? Have you seen extreme covered persecution ? I am not as blind as you are, Mr. or Ms… The whole truth will be exposed once!

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