Philip Gourevitch, an Accessory to Mass Murder and Genocide in Central Africa?

Philip Gourevitch, award winning writer on Rwanda is on the defensive, peddling, spinning, attempting to find his way out of a web he’s woven around himself. One can’t tell right off the bat how he’s trapped himself or why he should feel the need to untangle himself.  But peddle he does, and spin he does as he defends himself against Tristan McConnell’s damning portrayal of his 15 year spin, excusing, justifying, and rationalizing crimes against humanity, oppressive dictatorship, and various other human rights violations committed by Kagame and the RPF/A.

It seems that Gourevitch found it inconvenient to acknowledge the acts of terrorism committed by Kagame and RPF/A, nor did he find it necessary to hold Kagame and the RPF/A responsible for it, as journalists so often do. And now he’s claiming, he’s not in Kagame’s pockets, peddling Kagame’s propaganda. Has he read his own work?

He did not find it convenient to inform the world, that Kagame and the RPF/A took up arms and killed and displaced Rwandan families for four years before the genocide or in what barbaric and heartless manner their deaths were carried out. Acknowledging that, and informing the world of such blasphemy would have thwarted his efforts of stigmatizing an entire group of people victimized by the same people he lauds, and would have meant that he would have had to report on the subsequent possible genocide that happened in the Congo. It was Philip Gourevitch who stigmatized aid organizations that provided aid to refugees in the Congo including food and water, after they survived Kagame’s terrorist organization’s (RPF) slaughter in Rwanda. Had Gourevitch had his way, the survivors of Kagame’s RPF’s slaughter, needed to have starved to death. How dare they retain life! And I’m not talking about the ostensible genocidaires (some of whom currently work for Kagame it turns out – Guest post coming soon!! ).

I suppose it is why Gourevitch found it satisfying that Kagame’s RPF followed them into the Congo, and slaughtered them. Why else would he have rationalized it, rather than calling international attention to it to be stopped? For Kagame to be deposed? But reporting on that, would have conflicted with the type of falsified image he was constructing, the one that elevated a terrorist organization to hero status, solidifying Kagame’s hold on the area, and on which Gourevitch has since benefited immensely both personally and professionally. And let me remind readers once again, that the slaughtered in the Congo, constituted majority women, children, and the elderly, according to the U.N.

In his response to Tristan, Gourevitch asserts that he reported on Kagame’s crimes. But rather, he defended Kagame with each key stroke, rationalized Kagame’s massive crimes against humanity, and defended Kagame’s rights to massively kill Rwandans and Congolese (reported by U.N. majority of whom were women, elderly, and childern), in the Congo. Even in his response to Tristan McConnell, Gourevitch attempts to minimize Kagame’s crimes, despite the overwhelming testimony and evidence, that Kagame has wrecked havoc in the Congo. Missing among the evidence and testimony, were Philip Gourevitch’s personal testimony of what he experienced on the ground, as he watched Kageme’s terrorist organization slaughter Rwandan refugees, and Congolese nationals while he dissuaded aid organizations from feeding them, exacerbating their demise. What he instead reported, was Kagame’s terrorist organization, exercise its justified right (according to Gourevitch and Kagame) to attack another country, and fight Kagame’s battles inside another country’s territory, and he was all too happy to report it, defend it, and inform the world about their organized and systemic killings, with a positive spin.

Can Philip Gourevitch effectively be considered an accessory to mass murder and genocide in Central Africa? How much damage has his award winning work done to the people of Central Africa? Is Philip Gourevitch truly interested in the people of Central Africa or his own prestige? If he is interested in the people, why does he continue to spin for Kagame, and to minimize Kagame’s crimes rather than facing them head on, and calling a spade a spade? Why does he resort to personal attacks of his critics, rather than their work? Why does he continue to undermine Kagame’s opposition and anyone who poses a real threat to not only Kagame’s falsified image (thanks Gourevitch!) but to Kagame’s power hold and an end to Kagame’s mass murder and impunity (thanks again Gourevitch!!)? And when will he finally, FINALLY, do the right thing, and put Kagame’s image, of which he is mostly responsible, in its proper context?

I wonder what Gourevitch was doing  between 1990 and 1994. Did he see Kagame’s RPF attack of a peaceful country as just another African tragic war that he did not need to get involved? Or did he not see a financial profitability opportunity? How would Gourevitch rationalize Kagame’s invasion of the Congo to the Congelese women and children? Would he convince them that they are genocidaires? Has Gourevitch come face to face with Kagame’s victims? Does he consider their stories to be unimportant enough to be told? Does he not wish to inform the world that their blight is important? That they matter? That Kagame should be brought to justice? What does Gourevitch say about the 6 million dead?

How much more will his upcoming book glorify Kagame at the expense of Central African people’s lives?

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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?

Really?

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?

Is Stephen Kinzer Serious? Who is the REAL Imperialist?

It’s a sad day when backed into a corner, formerly credible journalists resort to shamelessly defending issues, causes, and people known to be destructive to humanity, especially when they have helped them get there. This is Stephen Kinzer’s job today when it comes to Rwanda. He helped construct the myth of a seraphic Kagame. But with mounting evidence against Kagame’s human rights violations record, Kinzer is scrambling to maintain the fallacy by any means necessary, even by going so far as to undermine human rights organizations. Kinzer knows he is defending a criminal. And as the criminal becomes more and more exposed and ostracized, Kinzer’s credibility as well as his pocket change are likely to take a hit.  What happens when a journalist finds himself in such a difficult situation? Does he do the morally sound thing and speak in unisom with the world’s most vulnerable population? Or does he continue to defend his criminal friend despite how irrational and blatantly imperialistic his defense may be?

In a recent article, Stephen Kinzer chose the latter. He informs us that he finally broke with the human rights community once they published and publicized Kagame’s crimes. Kinzer says:

The place where I finally broke with my former human-rights comrades was Rwanda.

Kinzer says that admiration from other dictators (referred to in the article as ‘other heads of states in africa’ ) and their attendance of Kagame’s inauguration are proof that Kagame is not a brutal repressive dictator. Either Kinzer forgot that Kagame was the biggest threat to democracy in his country at the run-up of the elections, or he supports the kind of sham election that excludes all viable opposition parties, imprisons opposition leaders, and exiles and murders independent journalists. Kinzer clarifies his position by informing readers of his support for this kind of repression from an African leader. Kinzer continues,

By my standards, this authoritarian regime is the best thing that has happened to Rwanda since colonialists arrived a century ago. My own experience tells me that people in Rwanda are happy with it, thrilled at their future prospects, and not angry that there is not a wide enough range of newspapers or political parties.

With a straight face he says that. He mis-characterizes what rights Rwanda’s been violating as justified since they were demanded in the context of “ethnicity,” disregarding the fact that any time Kagame and company are faced with any threat for democracy they reduce everything down to “ethnic” divisionism and imprison those who threaten them with  democratic ideals. Kinzer is okay with that. He also believes that instead of documenting human rights violations, Human Rights Watch should instead sycophantically praise Rwanda. It would be funny, if it weren’t so serious. Just ask this guy. Kinzer doesn’t believe the guy deserves his right to life as an opposition figure to Kagame.

Kinzer continues,

Human Rights Watch wants Rwandans to be able to speak freely about their ethnic hatreds, and to allow political parties connected with the defeated genocide army to campaign freely for power. (emphasis mine)

Kinzer is afraid of democracy in Rwanda. Democracy in Rwanda is a threat to Kagame, and a threat to Kagame is not only a threat to Kinzer’s credibility and pay check. Kinzer, so shamelessly imperialistic has the gall to say that by calling out human rights violations in Rwanda, Human Rights Watch is leading Rwanda on the path to another genocide instead. He forgets that Kagame is the one continuing his genocidal plan which he started 20 years ago.

It has come to this: all that is necessary for another genocide to happen in Rwanda is for the Rwandan government to follow the path recommended by Human Rights Watch.

But where was Stephen Kinzer in 1990 when Kagame attacked a peaceful nation and started a four year war that culminated in the genocide of 1994, and out for more blood, continued and committed genocide in the Congo? Where was Stephen Kinzer when the RPF violated the Arusha peace accords which would allow them to return to Rwanda peacefully, and campaign freely within the country as another political opposition party? This is the same right Kagame and Kinzer are denying other Rwandans who are doing it peacefully and not forcing a peace agreement by the gun unlike Kagame and the RPF. Where was Kinzer when the RPF assassinated two heads of states? Where was Kinzer when the RPF refused international intervention to stop the genocide and the war violence, but instead prolonged the conflict until they had secured the whole country? Where was Kinzer when the RPF and Kagame went into the Congo and committed genocide there? Where was Kinzer in 1996? 1998? 2000? And subsequent years when Kagame’s army ravished the Congo, with only the Congolese people as the real loser of each one of their incursions? Where was Kinzer when the UN released a mapping report documenting the most serious human rights  violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1993 and 2003, where an alleged possible genocide was committed by Rwandan troops?

And most importantly, where is Kinzer today? Where is his altruistic non colonial and non imperialistic proclivities for defending human rights instead of businesses? I have not seen Kinzer speak out on behalf of Congolese. Instead he defends Kagame’s right to deny others rights, and to violate their human rights, and commit crimes against humanity against them.

Is Kinzer really interested in human rights? Or is he interested in human rights violations profit? He praises the most recent Human Rights Watch appointment because it’s “potentially” one that will remain silent on Kagame’s crimes. Kinzer is happy with Rwandans living under a dictatorship, without any ability to express their free political will, nor their right to oppose the opposition, or the right to express their thoughts and ideas on political repression. According to Kinzer and his western prescriptions, lowering their standards, demanding less from an oppressor is not only good for Rwandans, it is RIGHT.

And somehow, in this twisted world we live in, Human Rights Watch is the imperialist, according to altruistic and benevolent human rights defenders like Kinzer.

Kagame Expedites His Own Self Destruction

I’m assuming Kagame and company, along with all his other sympathizers and apologists are celebrating the arrest of American lawyer, human rights champion, husband, and father, Professor Peter Erlinder. While this may seem like a hard blow to all human rights activists out there, do not fret. Professor Erlinder sacrificed himself for his cause. He knew Rwanda was hostile towards him, but he believed so strongly and so fiercely in his work, that he undertook the defense of victimized but resilient Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, despite the potential consequences.

Peter Erlinder knows he has broken through a manufactured and impenetrable level of obstruction created to protect Kagame and his aids. Through total commitment and perseverance, Peter discovered a central and hidden key truth that exposed the gross human rights violations, and life destruction committed by Kagame in the Great Lakes Region of Africa but also exposed those who helped Kagame make it a reality. Peter, through a fierce battle, continues to commit himself and his life to what he knows is the truth, and he is being punished for it. And not punished for exposing the truth, but punished so that the real evil culprits continue to roam the world with impunity.

While they celebrate however, I hope the world takes note on what kind of person Kagame truly is, and how cruel and insidious he is. His true colors are showing, creating a perfect opportunity to open up dialogue and discuss frankly what happened in Rwanda in 1994 and for goodness sakes STOP PROTECTING AND REWARDING A CRIMINAL. The truth is, Kagame was no savior but an aggressor. He killed millions of people, and millions more died as a result of his aggression. Kagame should be charged and jailed for genocide crimes, crimes against humanity, and even genocide ideology. Holding Peter Erlinder hostage is his only way out of a conundrum he created around himself. But it’s only an illusion.

They say a thief day’s are numbered, 40 to be exact, and while the simple minded might prematurely conclude that Peter is the thief, they could not be any more wrong. Kagame has gotten away with horrific crimes for the past 20 years. But time and truth are catching up to him. Unbeknownst to him, jailing Professor Erlinder not only lent more credibility to the lawyer’s work, but exposed it to millions of people around the world who were unaware of the type of crimes Kagame has been hiding. Kagame has inadvertently placed himself in the court of public opinion as more and more discover layer by layer the information compiled by Professor Peter Erlinder. Through a tactical error, Kagame placed himself at a strict disadvantage by committing the first act of aggression. And this has always been Kagame’s way; committing the first act of aggression. He attacked a peaceful nation (twice – Rwanda and Congo), assassinated two Presidents (Rwandan and Burundian), and jailed Peter Erlinder unprovoked, as Peter was there to work on a human rights case for Victoire Umuhoza. And the publicity could not come at a worst time for Kagame.

So have your short lived “victory” enemies of peace, but it will be over in the blink of an eye. Should anything happen to Peter Erlinder under your watch, beware. The world is tuned in, watching your every move, analyzing your every word, and getting educated on the Professors work. So beware, should anything happen to the professor, you will only be immortalizing him in martyrdom, expediting your own self destruction.

It’s disappointing that the US government is not doing more to demand Peter Erlinder’s freedom. However, as difficult as it may be for all peace loving people out there to imagine, there is a silver lining in all of this.

Peter is a people’s champion. Working against an institutional oppression designed to maintain inequality and exploitation. His courage to attack such a pervasive an insidious institution, also known as Kagame, empowers other victims around the world, formerly petrified of speaking out to raise their voices in unison and defend their beloved human rights idol. People have the courage to denounce, and challenge fabricated stories that perpetuate the destruction of human life, all because Peter Erlinder stood with the vulnerable people.

So do not fret. Kagame has awakened a sleeping beast, and the movement to expose him, and to bring him to justice is only getting started. He has no idea what he has done.

We stand with you Professor. In solidarity. For peace. For Human Rights. For truth.

Rwanda’s Kagame warns critical presidential rival

This is a Reuters article that I thought was worth reprinting in whole here.  Sounds like Pres Kagame might be plotting something. We’ll see. Enjoy reading!

Rwanda’s Kagame Warns Criticacl Presidential Rival

By Hereward Holland

KIGALI (Reuters) – Rwandan President Paul Kagame said an outspoken presidential aspirant could be prosecuted for inflammatory remarks about the 1994 genocide.

Victoire Ingabire, a Hutu who was living abroad during the 100-day slaughter, returned to Rwanda last month to launch a bid in the August presidential elections, in which analysts expect Kagame to win a second 7-year term.

“I think this individual is going too far in abusing the country’s goodwill and attempting to destroy the positive steps that have been established, but eventually the law will catch up with her,” he told reporters in Kinyarwanda on Monday.

Since her return Ingabire’s public comments, saying that the memory of Hutus killed during the genocide had not been fully acknowledged, have prompted heavy criticism from Rwanda’s largely pro-government media.

They accuse Ingabire of flouting the country’s post-genocide constitution which bans sectarianism and acts that could incite conflict or disputes. Rights groups say the law is vague and ill-defined and could be used to suppress views the government deems inappropriate.

Ingabire denies accusations that she is using ethnicity to garner support for the elections and says Rwanda needs to open the political space to defuse ethnic tension through discussion.

“I do not think it is wrong to talk about what is happening in our country and how we can avoid making the same mistakes,” she told Reuters by telephone.

“I am not worried because I know that I did not do anything wrong… everybody knows that they use this law against everybody who is in opposition.”

Ingabire, who worked as an accountant for nine years in The Netherlands, heads the yet to be registered United Democratic Forces (UDF).

“She does not have political status according to the law,” Kagame said.

“This is a person who actually counted on being immediately apprehended upon arrival at the airport – this was what she hoped for, so that it would serve her interests. But there is no need to play into that situation.”

Last week a mob attacked her, stole her handbag and injured her personal assistant. Police say her aggressors accused her of ethnic divisionism.

Kagame’s government has suppressed ethnic debate in an attempt to forge a national identity and move away from tribal politics which led to the genocide of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Ingabire denies allegations made in a 2009 U.N. report linking some UDF members to Rwandan Hutu rebels in eastern Congo, some of whose leaders were responsible for the genocide.

(Editing by Tim Pearce)

Human Rights Watch Reports on Rwanda’s Internal Terror for Political Opposition Leaders

Check out Rwanda: End Attacks on Opposition Parties at Human Rights Watch or read it in full below. The whole report is too significant to simply quote things from it, so I reprinted the whole thing.  Very interesting perspective on what is going on for political opposition leaders in Rwanda.

Rwanda: End Attacks on Opposition Parties
Intimidation of Political Opponents Increases in Advance of Presidential Election

February 10, 2010

(Kigali) – Opposition party members are facing increasing threats, attacks, and harassment in advance of Rwanda’s August 2010 presidential election, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch urged the government to investigate all such incidents and to ensure that opposition activists are able to go about their legitimate activities without fear.

In the past week, members of the FDU-Inkingi and the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda – new opposition parties critical of government policies – have suffered serious incidents of intimidation by individuals and institutions close to the government and the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). One member of the FDU-Inkingi was beaten by a mob in front of a local government office. The attack appeared to have been well coordinated, suggesting it had been planned in advance.

“The Rwandan government already tightly controls political space,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “These incidents will further undermine democracy by discouraging any meaningful opposition in the elections.”

The Rwandan government and the RPF have strongly resisted any political opposition or broader challenge of their policies by civil society. On several occasions, the government has used accusations of participation in the genocide, or “genocide ideology,” as a way of targeting and discrediting its critics. The current RPF-dominated government has been in power in Rwanda since the end of the 1994 genocide.

Victoire Ingabire, president of the FDU-Inkingi, has faced an intensive campaign of public vilification since she returned from exile in the Netherlands in January 2010. She has been widely condemned in official and quasi-official media and described as a “negationist” of the genocide for stating publicly that crimes committed against Hutu citizens by the RPF and the Rwandan army should be investigated and those responsible brought to justice.

Beating of Joseph Ntawangundi
Ingabire received a phone call on February 3 from the executive secretary of Kinyinya sector, Jonas Shema, who told her that she should come with her colleagues to the local government office to collect official documents required for their identity cards. When Ingabire and Joseph Ntawangundi, a party colleague, arrived outside the local government office, they were met by a group of people. Two men jostled Ingabire, grabbed her by the arms, and stole her handbag, which contained her passport. The attackers shouted, “We don’t want génocidaires here!” and, “We don’t want people with genocide ideology!” Ingabire managed to run to her car unharmed; some of the men threw stones at the car as it drove off.

The men then turned on Ntawangundi and beat him severely. He described to Human Rights Watch being attacked for about 45 minutes by scores of young men who punched him, kicked and scratched him, threw him into the air, and ripped his clothes. They stole his watch, glasses, and shoes. The attack appeared to be designed not only to hurt Ntawangundi, but also to humiliate him. At one point, at least six people held him in the air, with his feet apart, and carried him toward a tree. They insulted him and shouted phrases such as: “We don’t want you here! You have no right to an identity card!”

The attack appears to have been well organized. On several occasions, when the beatings became particularly brutal, individuals who appeared to be leading the group ordered the others to stop – for example, when the assailants each picked up a stone from a pile on the ground and prepared to throw them at Ntawangundi.

Several witnesses told Human Rights Watch that policemen and members of the Local Defense Force were present during the attack, but did not try to stop it – nor did Shema, the executive secretary, seem to make any effort to call for assistance.

Eventually, alerted to the attack by other members of the FDU-Inkingi, police from the nearby station intervened. The mob followed Ntawangundi to the police station and stayed there for about 10 minutes. The police claim they have opened an investigation, but have declined to provide any information on whether there has been any progress or any arrests made.

When Human Rights Watch representatives met with Ntawangundi the day after the beating, he was visibly suffering from his injuries and was finding it painful to walk. Although he had been given pain medication when he went to a hospital for treatment, he said pain remained in his kidneys, back, and head.

Rwandan government and police authorities have offered a different version of events, claiming that residents of Kinyinya who had been waiting for their identity documents for a long time became angry and reacted spontaneously against Ingabire and her colleague when they allegedly jumped the line. This version was broadcast widely on Rwandan and international media.

In a telephone conversation with Human Rights Watch, police spokesperson Eric Kayiranga minimized the incident, but said that the police were investigating. Human Rights Watch tried to contact Shema several times, but he was unavailable.

Arrest of Joseph Ntawangundi
Three days later, on February 6, police arrested Ntawangundi on accusations of participation in the genocide. They told him that a gacaca court, a community-based court set up to try crimes committed during the genocide, had convicted him in absentia. He was initially detained at the police station at Remera, in Kigali, but was not told of the specific charges against him. His Rwandan lawyer was not allowed to see him on February 6, though a foreign lawyer was allowed to see him the next day. He was transferred to Kimironko prison on February 8.

The FDU-Inkingi has stated that Ntawangundi was living abroad during the genocide, and that he had never heard about the accusations against him until the day before his arrest when an article containing these allegations was published in the New Times, a Rwandan newspaper that is closely aligned with the government.

Read the rest Here.

Let’s Put Rwanda’s Latest Major Internal Terrorist Act in Perspective

Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, the first female presidential candidate in Rwanda, and front runner political opponent to current President Kagame’s recent violent attack should not be taken lightly nor should it be taken as an isolated random act of violence. In a political context, she was merely a political candidate being intimidated with the hopes that her political ambitions would be quailed. Across the globe, many political aspirants have been suppressed by various means including battery, jail time, even death. Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza is therefore joining the long tradition of political struggle especially in hostile political environments.

But more than your average political activist whose political ideals are forcefully suppressed, Madame Victoire Umuhoza is a woman attempting to break even further barriers. She seeking a spot into a political atmosphere that has often been if not hostile to women, completely exclusionary to their participation. And as she gains more momentum, she is being marginalized and the traditional tools used to oppress women is employed in her honor, namely, violence against women.

As a country touted to have made the most political, economic, and social progress of all Africa, it should come as a surprise that Rwanda would employ violence as a means to suppress the lone woman political opposition leader but it does not. Is it a sign of political progress that Rwanda does not “discriminate” when it comes to the mistreatement of opposition? Or is it a sign of cowardice that haunts the RPF in that, as soon as a woman rises to challenge the leadership, she must “be put into her place” with battery? Rwanda was once celebrated as having the most number of women participants in governmental positions. However, as evidenced by Madame Victoire’s recent attack, the glass ceiling will be enforced with an iron fist, or in her case a sharp knife which was used to attack her assistant. 

Women in the Great Lakes Region have been victimized by some of the most horrific violence that have taken place. And Madame Victoire’s potential election represents hope for all these women, and liberation from constant physical and sexual violence encountered by women not only in war time but in “peaceful” times as well. And this ideal of social and political liberation for the women of the Great Lakes Region is not only a threat to Kagame and the RPF, but to all those perpetrators of violence, and enforcers of inequality, and aggression.

So I say it again, the recent attack against her should not be taken lightly. It is not merely an attack on a political opponent, but an attack on a bigger ideal, and a bigger potential for peace, equality, and liberation, not just for women, but everyone who stands against violence and terror. It is a message sent by Kagame and the RPF to reinforce the notion that no political challenge will be tolerated, and more than that, that they have no room in their consciousness  to stop violence, but that they plan to continue to employ violence against anyone in order to maintain their political hold. And this is not news for anyone whose followed Kagame’s career since the 1980s.

How else would you explain the occurance of such an attack on the lone woman opponent? That she made remarks that “seemingly” minimized that 1994 genocide? Eric Brown at Human Rights First Puts it best when he says:

Recently, a Rwandan opposition political leader returned home after 16 years outside of the country. She is the first woman to attempt a run at the presidency of Rwanda. Upon landing at the Kigali Airport, Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza headed to the genocide memorial at Gisozi. During an interview with a member of the media, she expressed words that virtually every Rwandan living inside Rwanda is too terrified to utter. She said that the memorial shows the genocide committed against Tutsis in Rwanda but leaves out massacres committed against Hutus. In Rwanda, it is a cardinal sin to mix these two issues. The issue of genocide against Tutsi’s is well acknowledged and is a reminder of Rwanda’s dark past. What is intriguing is that it is sacrilege to acknowledge that there were crimes against humanity and massacres committed against Hutus. The major issue with these crimes against humanity is that they were committed by the RPF (Rwanda’s current ruling party) as Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations have pointed out time and time again. The big issue with Ms. Umuhoza’s speech is that she is telling an “inconvenient truth”.

As soon as Umuhoza made these comments, government newspapers such as New Times, government officials, other government sponsored media organizations, and several genocide survivor organizations went on a full blown attack against the politician and called for her prosecution on charges of divisionism and genocide denial. The question here is this: how does saying that Hutu’s were killed deny that Tutsi’s were killed? How does saying that Americans were killed in the recent earthquake in Haiti deny that Haitians were killed? This genocide denial charge and divisionism are crimes that the Rwandan government added to the tiny country’s laws in order to muzzle opposition and to silence any voices of dissent. It was predictable that Ms. Umuhoza would face such talk and it is conceivable that she may have to answer to these charges in court.  This will be Rwanda’s way of blocking her candidacy to the presidency as she poses a real threat to actually win Rwanda’s upcoming elections if they are held in a free and fair manner. (emphasis mine)

Is that justification to employ violence against her? Does anyone else not see the irony that? Although it is the weakest excused used to attempt to justify how a lone woman political opponent would be attacked and beaten by a mob under the President Kagame’s watch, I am not buying it, and I hope that from this point forward, a fair and democratic election processes will take place. Knowing President Kagame’s predilection for terror and violence however, I am not holding my breath.