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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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.

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.

Kagame’s Hidden War in the Congo

This is actually a great book review by Howard French, which raises important but often dismissed and overlooked information regarding the Rwandan Genocide and the subsequent wars waged by Kagame in the Congo. Extremely important, this article is one major step forward. A lot of information in there. Read it!!

Kagame’s Hidden War in the Congo

By Howard W. French

Africa’s World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastropheby Gérard PrunierOxford University Press, 529 pp., $27.95

The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africaby René LemarchandUniversity of Pennsylvania Press, 327 pp., $59.95

The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth and Realityby Thomas TurnerZed Books, 243 pp., $32.95 (paper)

Although it has been strangely ignored in the Western press, one of the most destructive wars in modern history has been going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s third-largest country. During the past eleven years millions of people have died, while armies from as many as nine different African countries fought with Congolese government forces and various rebel groups for control of land and natural resources. Much of the fighting has taken place in regions of northeastern and eastern Congo that are rich in minerals such as gold, diamonds, tin, and coltan, which is used in manufacturing electronics. 

Few realize that a main force driving this conflict has been the largely Tutsi army of neighboring Rwanda, along with several Congolese groups supported by Rwanda. The reason for this involvement, according to Rwandan president Paul Kagame, is the continued threat to Rwanda posed by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu militia that includes remnants of the army that carried out the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Until now, the US and other Western powers have generally supported Kagame diplomatically. And in January, Congo president Joseph Kabila, whose weak government has long had limited influence in the eastern part of the country, entered a surprise agreement with Kagame to allow Rwandan forces back into eastern Congo to fight the FDLR. But the extent of the Hutu threat to Rwanda is much debated, and observers note that Rwandan-backed forces have themselves been responsible for much of the violence in eastern Congo over the years. 

Rwanda’s intervention in Congo began in 1996. Two years earlier, Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) had invaded Rwanda from neighboring Uganda, defeating the government in Kigali and ending the genocide of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. As Kagame installed a minority Tutsi regime in Rwanda, some two million Hutu refugees fled to UN-run camps, mostly in Congo’s North and South Kivu provinces. These provinces, which occupy an area of about 48,000 square miles—slightly larger than the state of Pennsylvania—are situated along Congo’s eastern border with Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi and together have a population of more than five million people. In addition to containing rich deposits of minerals, North and South Kivu have, since the precolonial era, been subject to large waves of migration by people from Rwanda, including both Hutus and Tutsis. In recent decades these Rwandans have competed with more established residents for control of land. 

Following Kagame’s consolidation of power in Rwanda, a large invasion force of Rwandan Tutsis arrived in North and South Kivu to pursue Hutu militants and to launch a war against the three-decade-long dictatorship of Congo (then known as Zaire) by Mobutu Sese Seko, whom they claimed was giving refuge to the leaders of the genocide. With Rwandan and Ugandan support, a new regime led by Laurent Kabila was installed in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital. But after Kabila ordered the Rwandan troops to leave in 1998, Kagame responded with a new and even larger invasion of the country. 

Kabila’s hold on power was saved at this point by Angola and Zimbabwe, which rushed troops into Congo to repel the Rwandan invaders. Angola was motivated by fears that Congolese territory would be used as a rear base by the longtime Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, following the renewed outbreak of that country’s civil war. Zimbabwe appears to have been drawn by promises of access to Congolese minerals. The protracted and inconclusive conflict that followed has become what Gérard Prunier, in the title of his sprawling book, calls “Africa’s World War,” a catastrophic decade of violence that has led to a staggering 5.4 million deaths, far more than any war anywhere since World War II.[1] It also has resulted in one of the largest—and least followed—UN interventions in the world, involving nearly 20,000 UN soldiers from over forty countries. 

Throughout this conflict, Rwanda—a small, densely populated country with few natural resources of its own—has pursued Congo’s enormous mineral wealth. Initially, the Rwandan Patriotic Front was directly operating mining businesses in Congo, according to UN investigators; more recently, Rwanda has attempted to maintain control of regions of eastern Congo through various proxy armies. Among these, none has been more lethal than the militia led by Laurent Nkunda, Congo’s most notorious warlord, whose record of violence in eastern Congo includes destroying entire villages, committing mass rapes, and causing hundreds of thousands of Congolese to flee their homes. 

Nkunda is a Congolese Tutsi who is believed to have fought in both the Rwandan civil war and the subsequent war against Mobutu. In 2002, he was dispatched by the Rwandan government to Kisangani—an inland city in eastern Congo whose nearby gold mines have been fought over by Ugandan and Rwandan-backed forces. Nkunda committed numerous atrocities there, including the massacre of some 160 people, according to Human Rights Watch. In 2004, Nkunda declined a military appointment by Congo’s transitional government, choosing instead to back a Tutsi insurgency in North Kivu near the Rwandan border. He claimed that his actions were aimed at preventing an impending genocide of Tutsis in Congo. Most observers say that these claims were groundless. 

Nkunda’s insurgency was put down, but clashes between his rebels, government forces, and other groups continued to foster ethnic tensions in eastern Congo, including widespread sexual violence against women; in 2005, the UN estimated that some 45,000 women were raped in South Kivu alone.[2] And in the fall of 2008, Nkunda—apparently with Kagame’s encouragement—led a new offensive of Tutsi rebels in North Kivu that uprooted about 200,000 civilians and threatened to capture the city of Goma, near the Rwandan border. 

In January 2009, however, the Rwandan government made a surprise decision to arrest Nkunda. Kagame’s willingness to move against Nkunda appears to stem, in part, from increasing international scrutiny of Rwanda’s meddling in eastern Congo. The arrest took place just after the release of a UN report documenting Rwanda’s close ties to the warlord, and concluding that he was being used to advance Rwanda’s economic interests in Congo’s eastern hinterlands. The report stated that Rwandan authorities had “been complicit in the recruitment of soldiers, including children, have facilitated the supply of military equipment, and have sent officers and units from the Rwandan Defense Forces,” while giving Nkunda access to Rwandan bank accounts and allowing him to launch attacks on the Congolese army from Rwandan soil. 

Following Nkunda’s arrest, Congo president Joseph Kabila agreed to allow Rwandan forces to conduct a five-week joint military operation in eastern Congo against Hutu rebels.[3] But attacks against civilians have increased precipitously since the joint operation, and with Hutu and Tutsi militias still active it remains unclear whether there will be a lasting peace between Rwanda and Congo. 

Africa’s World War is the most ambitious of several remarkable new books that reexamine the extraordinary tragedy of Congo and Central Africa since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Along with René Lemarchand’s The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa and Thomas Turner’s The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth and Reality, Prunier’s Africa’s World War explores arguments that have circulated among scholars of sub-Saharan Africa for years. Prunier himself, who is an East Africa specialist at the University of Paris, has previously written a highly regarded account of the genocide. But these books will surprise many whose knowledge of the region is based on popular accounts of the genocide and its aftermath. In all three, the Kagame regime, and its allies in Central Africa, are portrayed not as heroes but rather as opportunists who use moral arguments to advance economic interests. And their supporters in the United States and Western Europe emerge as alternately complicit, gullible, or simply confused. For their part in bringing intractable conflict to a region that had known very little armed violence for nearly thirty years, all the parties—so these books argue—deserve blame, including the United States. 

The concentrated evil of the methodical Hutu slaughter of Tutsis in 1994 is widely known. For many it has long been understood as a grim, if fairly simple, morality play: the Hutus were extremist killers, while the Tutsis of the RPF are portrayed as avenging angels, who swooped in from their bases in Uganda to stop the genocide. But Lemarchand and Prunier show that the story was far more complicated. They both depict the forces of Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front as steely, power-driven killers themselves. 

“When the genocide did start, saving Tutsi civilians was not a priority,” Prunier writes. “Worse, one of the most questionable of the RPF ideologues coolly declared in September 1994 that the ‘interior’ Tutsi”—those who had remained in Rwanda and not gone into exile in Uganda years earlier—”deserved what happened to them ‘because they did not want to flee as they were getting rich doing business'” with the former Hutu regime. He also notes that the RPF “unambiguously opposed” all talk of a foreign intervention, however unlikely, to stop the genocide, apparently because such intervention could have prevented Kagame from taking full power. 

Moreover, slaughter during the one hundred days of genocide was not the monopoly of the Hutus, as is widely believed. Both Lemarchand and Prunier recount the work of RPF teams that roamed the countryside methodically exterminating ordinary, unarmed Hutu villagers.[4] This sort of killing, rarely mentioned in press accounts of the genocide, continued well after the war was over. For example, on April 22, 1995, units of the new national army surrounded the Kibeho refugee camp in south Rwanda, where about 150,000 Hutu refugees stood huddled shoulder to shoulder, and opened fire on the crowd with rifles and with 60mm mortars.[5] According to Prunier, a thirty- two-member team of the Australian Medical Corps had counted 4,200 corpses at the camp before being stopped by the Rwandan army. Prunier calls the Kagame regime’s use of violence in that period “something that resembles neither the genocide nor uncontrolled revenge killings, but rather a policy of political control through terror.” 

Some commentators in the United States have viewed Kagame as a sort of African Konrad Adenauer, crediting him with bringing stability and rapid economic growth to war-torn Rwanda, while running an administration considered to be one of the more efficient in Africa. In the nine years he has led the country (after serving as interim president, he won an election to a seven-year term in 2003), he has also gotten attention for the reconciliation process he has imposed on villages throughout Rwanda. 

Firmly opposed to such views, the three authors reviewed here characterize Kagame’s regime as more closely resembling a minority ethnic autocracy. In a recent interview, Prunier dismissed the recently much-touted reconciliation efforts, calling post-genocide Rwanda “a very well-managed ethnic, social, and economic dictatorship.” True reconciliation, he said, “hinges on cash, social benefits, jobs, property rights, equality in front of the courts, and educational opportunities,” all of which are heavily stacked against the roughly 85 percent of the population that is Hutu, a problem that in Prunier’s view presages more conflict in the future. In his book, Lemarchand, an emeritus professor at the University of Florida who has done decades of fieldwork in the region, observes that Hutus have been largely excluded from important positions of power in Kagame’s Rwanda, and that the state’s military and security forces are pervasive. “The political decisions with the gravest consequences for the nation…are undertaken by the RPF’s Tutsi leadership, not by the political establishment,” he writes. 

Those concerns are shared by human rights groups, which have documented the suppression of dissent in Rwanda.Freedom House ranked Rwanda 183 out of 195 countries in press freedom in 2008, while Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also described the Rwandan government as imposing harsh and arbitrary justice—including long-term incarceration without trial and life sentences in solitary confinement. Other Western observers and human rights activists have noted that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has never properly investigated atrocities committed by Tutsis. In June, more than seventy scholars from North American and European universities wrote an open letter to the UN secretary-general, President Barack Obama, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressing “grave concern at the ongoing failure” of the tribunal to bring “indictments against those soldiers of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) who committed crimes against humanity and war crimes in Rwanda in 1994,” and warning that this omission may cause the tribunal “to be dismissed as ‘victor’s justice.'” 

On the question of Rwanda’s principal motive for seeking to control or destabilize eastern Congo, the books broadly agree: Kagame and his government want, as Lemarchand writes, “continued access to the Congo’s economic wealth.” Lemarchand says that within Congo itself the FDLR poses a “clear and present danger to Tutsi and other communities.” Like Prunier, though, he concludes that the threat the Hutu group poses to Rwanda’s own security is “vastly exaggerated,” noting that its fighters “are no match” for Rwandan and Rwanda-backed forces amounting to “70,000 men under arms and a sophisticated military arsenal, consisting of armored personnel carriers (APCs), tanks, and helicopters.” 

Thomas Turner draws parallels between the exploitation of Congo by Rwanda and Uganda and the brutal late-nineteenth-century regime of King Leopold of Belgium, whose thirst for empire drove his acquisition of what became known as the Congo Free State. Citing a 2001 United Nations investigation of the conflict, Turner concludes: 

Resource extraction from eastern Congo, occupied by Uganda and Rwanda until recently, would seem to constitute “pure” pillage…. Much as in Free State days, the Congo was financing the occupation of a portion of its own territory. Unlike Free State days, none of the proceeds of this pillage were being reinvested.

According to a 2005 report on the Rwandan economy by the South African Institute for Security Studies, Rwanda’s officially recorded coltan production soared nearly tenfold between 1999 and 2001, from 147 tons to 1,300 tons, surpassing revenues from the country’s main traditional exports, tea and coffee, for the first time. “Part of the increase in production is due to the opening of new mines in Rwanda,” the report said. “However, the increase is primarily due to the fraudulent re-export of coltan of Congolese origin.” 

When Rwanda moved to invade Mobutu’s Zaire in 1996, Prunier says, the country’s administration “was so rotten that the brush of a hand could cause it to collapse.” Since the 1960s, Congo had remained relatively stable by virtue of a confluence of circumstances, which suddenly no longer held. After backing the wrong side during the Rwandan genocide, France had lost its will or interest in playing its longtime part as regional patron to several client regimes. Following the removal of Mobutu, who often did the bidding of Western powers, there was no longer any clear regional strongman to mediate disputes. The allegiance of African states to the idea of permanently fixed borders, which had held firm since independence, was being challenged. And finally, the vacuum created by Mobutu’s overthrow unleashed fierce competition for Congolese coltan and other resources and led to what Turner calls the “militarization of commerce” by both foreign governments and rebel groups. 

In allowing the Rwandan invasion of Zaire, the United States had two very different goals. The most immediate was the clearing of over one million Hutu refugees from UN camps near the Rwandan border, which had become bases for vengeful elements of the defeated Hutu army and Interahamwe militia, the agents of the Rwandan genocide. In Prunier’s telling: 

When Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Rice came back from her first trip to the Great Lakes region [of East Africa], a member of her staff said, “Museveni [of Uganda] and Kagame agree that the basic problem in the Great Lakes is the danger of a resurgence of genocide and they know how to deal with that. The only thing we [i.e., the US] have to do is look the other way.”

The gist of Prunier’s anecdote is correct, except that participants have confirmed to me that it was Rice herself who spoke these words. 

In fact, getting the Hutu militia out of the UN camps was rapidly achieved in November 1996 by shelling them from Rwandan territory. Thereafter, the war against Mobutu dominated international headlines, overshadowing a secret Rwanda campaign that targeted for slaughter the Hutu populations that had fled into Congo. Here again, Washington provided vital cover. 

At the time, the American ambassador to Congo, Daniel Howard Simpson, told me flatly that the fleeing Hutus were “the bad guys.”[6] One of the worst massacres by Kagame’s Tutsi forces took place at the Tingi-Tingi refugee camp in northeastern Congo, which by 1997 contained over 100,000 Hutu refugees. But on January 21, 1997, Robert E. Gribbin, Simpson’s counterpart in Rwanda, cabled Washington with the following advice: 

We should pull out of Tingi-Tingi and stop feeding the killers who will run away to look for other sustenance, leaving their hostages behind…. If we do not we will be trading the children in Tingi-Tingi for the children who will be killed and orphaned in Rwanda.

There was a grim half-truth to Gribbin’s assessment. The Hutu fighters traveling amid the refugees were often able to avoid engagement with their Tutsi pursuers by fleeing westward into the Congolese rain forest. The genuine refugees, who by UNHCR’s estimate accounted for 93 percent of the Hutus in flight, could not. The best evidence suggests that they died by the scores of thousands in their flight across Congo, in what Lemarchand calls “a genocide of attrition.” Prunier estimates the number killed in this manner at 300,000.[7] 

In August 1997, the UN began to investigate Tutsi killings of Hutu civilians and, as Turner recounts, “a preliminary report identified forty massacre sites.” But the investigators were stonewalled by Kabila’s Congo government—then still backed by Rwanda—and received little support from Washington. Roberto Garreton, a Chilean human rights lawyer who headed the UN investigation, was barred from the Rwandan capital of Kigali and his team was largely kept from the field in Congo. Garreton later wrote: 

One cannot of course ignore the presence of persons guilty of genocide, soldiers and militia members, among the refugees…. It is nevertheless unacceptable to claim that more than one million people, including large numbers of children, should be collectively designated as persons guilty of genocide and liable to execution without trial.

Rwanda’s designs on eastern Congo were further helped by the Clinton administration’s interest in promoting a group of men it called the New African Leaders, including the heads of state of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, and Rwanda. As Clinton officials saw it, these New Leaders were sympathetic and businesslike, drawn together by such desirable goals as overthrowing Mobutu, by antagonism toward the Islamist government of Sudan, which shares a border with northeast Congo, and by talk of rethinking Africa’s hitherto sacrosanct borders, as a means of creating more viable states. 

Then Assistant Secretary of State Rice touted the New Leaders as pursuing “African solutions to African problems.” In 1999, Marina Ottaway, the influential Africa expert of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the Senate Subcommittee on Africa: 

Many of the states that emerged from the colonial period have ceased to exist in practice…. The problem is to create functioning states, either by re-dividing territory or by creating new institutional arrangements such as decentralized federations or even confederations.

In fact, the favored group of African leaders were also authoritarian figures with military backgrounds, all of whom had scorned democratic elections. According to Turner, support for the New Leaders “apparently meant that the USA and Britain should continue to aid Rwanda and Uganda as they ‘found solutions’ by carving up Congo.” 

As in the case of the Rwandan genocide, Lemarchand suggests, the policies of the United States and other Western powers toward the conflict in Congo have been misguided in part out of ignorance of Central Africa’s complicated twentieth-century history. Episodes of appalling violence in this region have occurred periodically at least since 1959, and cannot be remedied without first understanding their deeper causes. As Lemarchand writes: 

From the days of the Hutu revolution in Rwanda [in 1959–1962] to the invasion of the “refugee warriors” from Uganda [under Kagame’s leadership] in 1994, from the huge exodus of Hutu from Burundi in 1972 to the “cleansing” of Hutu refugee camps in 1996–97, the pattern that emerges again and again is one in which refugee populations serve as the vehicles through which ethnic identities are mobilized and manipulated, host communities preyed upon, and external resources extracted.

Some will always quibble with where to begin this story, whether with colonial favoritism for the Tutsis by Belgium in the first half of the twentieth century, or with Brussels’s flip-flop in 1959 in favor of the Hutus on the eve of Rwandan independence, which led to the anti-Tutsi pogroms that sent Kagame’s family and those of so many others of his RPF comrades into exile in Uganda. These events in turn had far-reaching effects on Rwanda’s small neighbor Burundi, a German and later Belgian colony that gained independence in 1962 and, like Rwanda, has a large Hutu majority and Tutsi minority. In 1972, an extremist Tutsi regime there, driven by a fear of being overthrown, carried out the first genocide since the Holocaust, killing 300,000 Hutus. 

In the West, the Burundi genocide is scarcely remembered, but its consequences live on in the region. Terrorized Hutus streamed out of Burundi into Rwanda, helping to set Rwanda onto a path of Hutu extremism, and priming it for its own genocide two decades later. The final instigator of the Rwandan tragedy was the mysterious shooting down of a presidential plane on April 6, 1994, which killed presidents Juvénal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Cyprien Ntaramyira of Burundi, who were both Hutu. This precipitated the horrific massacre of Rwandan Tutsis, but also a broader Hutu–Tutsi conflict, which by 1996 had begun to tear apart large swaths of eastern Congo. 

The events that have followed Rwanda’s arrest of the warlord Nkunda in January of this year suggest that Congo and Rwanda have finally found reasons to sue for peace. Congo’s weak government and corrupt army are powerless to fight Rwanda or its proxies, and there is desperate need to rebuild the state from scratch. Rwanda, meanwhile, is seeking to placate important European aid donors, who account for as much as half of Rwanda’s annual budget and who, for the first time since its initial invasion of Congo in 1996, are asking difficult questions about its behavior there. 

As part of the deal that gave Rwandan forces another chance to fight Hutu militias in eastern Congo last spring, Kagame agreed to withdraw Rwanda’s support for the Tutsi insurgency in eastern Congo while at the same time pressing Congolese Tutsis to integrate into Congo’s national army. Kagame hopes now to find a legal means to sustain Rwanda’s economic hold on eastern Congo, for example by promoting civilian business interests in the area. These are often run by ex-military officers or people with close ties to the Rwandan armed forces. In interviews, both Prunier and Lemarchand say that the direct plunder of resources by the Rwandan military has ceased, but that a large “subterranean” trade in minerals has continued through corrupt Congolese politicians and local militias. 

For its part, the United States has begun to acknowledge the scale of the problem in eastern Congo. In August, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a two-day visit to the country, during which she described the conflict as driven by “exploitation of natural resources” and announced a $17 million program to help women who have been raped in the fighting. 

Notwithstanding these developments, the conflict in the east has been surging again, as the UN-backed Congolese army pursues a new campaign against Hutu rebels.[8] It is hard to dispute Lemarchand’s logic. Without addressing the problems of exclusion and participation, whether in a Rwanda ruled by a small Tutsi minority or in heavily armed eastern Congo, where contending ethnic groups want to get hold of the region’s spoils, it will be impossible to end this catastrophe.

Message to Kagame: Stop Dancing Puppet, We Can See Through Your Smoke and Mirrors

gravatarIn December 2008, a very special occurrence happened that led Kagame into scrambling to do major damage control, distract the world at large from the occurrence, while simultaneously salvaging his progressively deteriorating reputation in “the international community.”

What occurrence is that you might ask? It’s none other than the conviction of the top three major suspects in the Rwandan Genocide. You know, the masterminds of the genocide that Kagame supposedly saved everyone from. You know, this:

The three other defendants were convicted of responsibility for particular acts that the Chambers found were committed by members of the Rwandan military.  Col. Theoneste Bagsosora and Col. Anatole Nsengiumva were found guilty of war crimes, acts of genocide and crimes against humanity committed by Rwandan troops under their command. Major Aloys Ntabakuze, whose command was limited to the Para-Commando Battalion was held responsible for three incidents out of more than 40 that the Chamber found were not proved. Many of the crimes of which all three were convicted do not appear in the indictments under which they were prosecuted.  All three were sentenced to life in prison and have announced plans to appeal.

Yet here is Kagame today desperately scrambling to do major damage control to salvage his growing reputation in the Congo by making shady deals with his former foe, Kabila instead of simply celebrating. Why would the arrest of the three genocide planners and perpetrators cause Kagame to behave in such a manner?And what exactly did he do in the Congo that reeks of desperation and reputation recovery?

It’s not so much that the three were convicted, but what they were not charged with. It turns out that,

judgments in the Military-I trial completely rejected the Prosecution theory of long-term planning and conspiracy to commit genocide by members of the former Rwandan military leadership. All four defendants were found “not guilty” of all counts charging conspiracy to commit genocide, based on the Chambers ruling that their actions prior to April 6, 1994  were based on war-time conditions, not planning to kill civilians or to carry out a genocide against Tutsi Rwandans.

I have bolded, italicized, and underlined that which was found, and which has ripped Kagame from his comfy dictatorial throne in Rwanda and thrown him into the war torn Congo scrambling, where he is desperately trying to influence some positive coverage on his behalf as the cushy world he built around himself with pervasive propaganda slowly but progressively falls to dust and pieces on the ground.

Because if no one planned the genocide, or the people originally believed to have planned the genocide are found innocent of such a plan, then where does that leave Kagame? It leaves him in a pickle I would say,

This raises the more profound question: if there was no conspiracy and no planning to kill ethnic civilians, can the tragedy that engulfed Rwanda properly be called “a genocide” at all? Or, was it closer to a case of civilians being caught up in war-time violence, like the Eastern Front in WWII, rather than the planned behind-the-lines killings in Nazi death camps? The ICTR judgment found the former.

The Court specifically found that the actions of Rwandan military leaders, both before any after the April 6, 1994 assassination of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarima, were consistent with war-time conditions and the massive chaos brought about by the four-year war of invasion from Uganda by Gen. Paul Kagame’s RPF army, which seized power in July 1994.

Although the Chamber did not specifically mention more recent events, it is worth noting that this is the same government that was named in a UN Security Council commissioned report on December 12, 2008 as having invaded the eastern Congo (with Uganda) in 1996 and again in 1998 and have occupied an area 15-times the size of Rwanda since that time. Similar UN Security Council reports in 2001, 2002 and 2003, make clear that Rwanda and Uganda’s economic rape of the eastern Congo, and the resulting 6 million-plus civilian deaths, have long been an “open secret.”

It’s no secret that in recent times Kagame was having trouble with some of his former supporters, such as Human Rights Watch’s Alison Des Forge, as she sought to hold him accountable for the atrocities he was committing in the Congo. Instead of just.stopping., Kagame BANNED Alison Des Forge from Rwanda. Yeah…he did. Not just for crimes in the Congo, but Human Rights Watch was also demanding that the ICTR start prosecuting the RPF and their involvement in the Rwandan Genocide; an act so radical it took 14 years to accomplish.

So what would happen if the ICTR investigated the RPF and prosecuted them for their involvement in the Genocide? What would the world learn from this? If they saved everyone from Genocide, wouldn’t that mean that they would get minimal prosecution for the supposed “reprisal killings” they carried out? Or is there something more awaiting them?

Well simply put, if Kagame were to be investigated, indicted, and prosecuted, the world would learn that he initiated a major war crime and crime against humanity towards Rwanda; attacking a peaceful country and throwing it into a war. It would also be discovered that during that whole period, Kagame and the RPF committed massacre after massacre, and multiple crimes against humanity. The RPF shot down Rwanda’s former president Habyarimana’s plane, an act believed to have sparked the carnage that occurred in 1994.  And remember this carnage was not planned since many were responding to war time conditions and defenses as was found by the ICTR. It would be discovered that Kagame and the RPF chased Rwandan citizens from their country and into the Congo. Kagame and the RPF continued their aggression thereby committing another crime against humanity by attacking the Congo, another peaceful country. It would be discovered that in the RPF’s  attempts to exterminate the Refugees, about six million Congolese citizens were caught in the crossfire. (And this list is hardly exhaustive!)

Because it was found that genocide was not planned from inside Rwanda itself, Kagame and the RPF’s insistence that they are after “planners” of the Rwandan genocide by going into the Congo is problematic. In fact it allows Kagame and the RPF to continue committing massacres and killing millions of people with impunity. IF these people did not plan a genocide, and the ICTR prosecutions say they did not, and there was a war initiated and carried out by the RPF against them going on, then what grounds does Kagame have to go after them? Either by removing them or by exterminating them?

True, RPF propaganda is pervasive, and major western media outlets support this propaganda. Which is why many people believe that the FDLR is composed of savage killers who terrorize Congolese citizens. But now, the world must question why these people who fled from a war they were defending themselves against, are now believed to be random and senseless killers for no reason. It does not match. What would lead them to commit massacres against the Congolese people, if they were fleeing from an enemy that ousted them from their homes? They wouldn’t, unless they were blood thirsty murderers who commit murder just to see blood shed. And while Kagame and the RPF would like to you to believe that, it is not completely true.

Kagame can no longer comfortably hold his immunity. Nor can the RPF. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the RPF is responsible for the murders in the Congo, even with the help of western media that insists Kagame is a hero. People still know and see through the painted veils through which he is presented. Kagame’s major lackey, Laurent Nkunda started receiving unprecedented negative media attention, and compounded with everything else that was happening, he needed to be beheaded, figuratively speaking. So, he was arrested. Try as they might, Kagame will have a very difficult time distancing himself from Nkunda.

As his world crumbles, and as the world learns, and increasingly pressure involved parties to hold Kagame and the RPF accountable for their crimes in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Kagame strikes a very shady deal with Kabila, to once again, oust the FDLR.  These are people who are part of the same refugees that Kagame ousted when he invaded Rwanda and killed its president. They desire nothing more than to go back to their own formerly peaceful country.

Does it strike anyone in “the international community” as odd that Kagame and the RPF, indicted by two countries, France and Spain, whose top aid was arrest per the said arrest warrants in Germany, is the peace keeping force in the Congo? How does, Rwanda’s 10+,- years occupation in the Congo resulting in 6 million deaths, conveniently blamed on the FDLR who are part of refugees from Rwanda, qualify Rwanda to REMOVE that which they have not managed in 10 years? Does it make sense?

Put all the pieces together and you will see, that Kagame and the RPF, war criminals, genocide perpetrators are attempting to distract the world away from their bloodshed, while simultaneously continuing the same dirty, and criminal bloodshed.

This has got to stop!

Young Hutus are massively joining FDLR to escape “oppression” from Kigali

A recent article from Belgian International Radio Television channel (RTBF) has reported that young Rwandan men are massively fleeing Rwanda to join the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR)in eastern DRC. Unfortunately, only the French version of the article is available online and can be found here (http://www.rtbf.be/info/monde/de-jeunes-hutu-joignent-les-fdlr-pour-fuir-loppression-de-kigali-60789 ). However, I have also provided the English version below. 

Paul Kagame, the current Rwandan president, claims that Rwandans must view themselves only as Rwandans and stop using the words “Hutu” and “Tutsi”.
This view is mostly meant to convince western sponsors that RPF is doing a great job at bringing about unity and reconciliation in Rwanda.

On the ground, the untold truth is that this view is mainly meant to cover up not only the RPF’s fear about facing democratic elections in Rwanda but also the RPF ‘s inability to handle the actual state of Hutu-Tutsi problems in Rwanda. 

Since coming to power in 1994, the RPF regime has been desperately trying to underestimate and ignore the existence of such Hutu-Tutsi problems in Rwanda. Several testimonies from the FDLR new recruits attest that the citizens in Rwanda (majority who happen to be Hutu farmers) are exploited under a highly sophisticated economic system to the full benefits of the RPF and other ruling elites.

In order to set up a joint operational plan to uproot the FDLR in eastern DRC, several high-level meetings between Rwandan and DRC officials have been taking place for years but all of them failed to come up with any realistic solution to this crisis (http://www.newtimes.co.rw/index.php?issue=13735&article=11441).

It is important to recall that one should not ignore that the origin of the current DRC crisis is in Kigali not in the eastern DRC. The presence of the FDLR combatants in DRC is a direct consequence of the RPF sinister plan in the DRC. 

Indeed, in the aftermaths of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Rwanda has invaded the DRC twice, in order to track down the ex-Rwandan Army Forces (FAR) inside the DRC, exterminate them, and install its allies in Kinshasa.

To achieve this goal, the RPF massacred at least 200,000 Rwandan refugees inside the DRC. It even tried hard to conceal evidence for these mass killings by burning victim corpses and scattering the ashes away in the forest and/ or in the river.

These proxy wars inside the DRC forced some survivors of the massacres of the Rwandan refugee of 1996 and 1997 by the RPF soldiers to stand up and defend themselves against these strenuous enemies.

The birth of the FDLR in DRC was a direct consequence of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and the RPF sinister plan in the DRC.
Therefore, attempting to solve the current DRC crisis without addressing its root causes that are in Rwanda, is nothing else than pulling the wool over the public opinion’s eyes.

Despite the fact that up to date, Rwanda continues to stir deadly brew of troubles in Congo (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/04/world/africa/04congo.html), there are still reasons to believe that the Obama administration might not follow the same failed US foreign policies of the past in Africa.

A realistic approach to the current DRC crisis should include tackling the current political deadlock in Kigali. In other words, a democratically elected government is urgently needed in Kigali.

Such a democratically elected government in Kigali would not need to sponsor any armed groups in eastern DRC. In addition, a democratically elected government in Kigali would refuse to offer back-up bases to any Congolese armed groups whose rebellions would therefore die off shortly.

Concerning the FDLR combatants, a democratically elected government in Kigali would not be afraid to directly discuss with them. Direct talks between these combatants and the democratically elected government in Kigali would set up new relationships under which the armed struggle would become meaningless.

The FDLR combatants would therefore not have any reason to refuse to face justice in Rwanda, should some of them have to respond for their acts, just as any other Rwandan in similar situation would have to, especially the RPF members who are internationally accused of several crimes, including crimes against humanity.

Finally, a democratically elected government in Kigali would provide impartial justice for all Rwandans without any discrimination. There will be no need to send the FDLR combatants elsewhere. Their home is in Rwanda not any where else.

According to Professor Peter Erlinder, the decision to end the current DRC crisis should come from the US and the UK, the only countries that have the power to not only remove any support for the military and economic crimes of their allies in the region but also to cut off any private capitals that continue to fuel Africa’s wars (http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/11/18-2).

Young Hutus are massively joining FDLR to escape “oppression” from Kigali

“Manhandled are the Hutus in Rwanda”, said a new recruit of the Rwandan Hutu rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Oppressed and no decent future in Kigali, young Hutus are massively fleeing Rwanda to plunge into radical ideology and conflict in eastern DRC.

At Lushebere in eastern DRC, these young recruits of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) patrol around a rebellion resort.

The FDLR combatants, some of which have participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which, according to the UN, claimed about 800,000 deaths mainly among the minority Tutsi, operate in eastern DRC.

They are currently fighting alongside the Congolese army against the rebels of the former Congolese Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda.

With a green beret and a rasta necklace, Claude, who appeared younger than 22 years old, fixes his interlocutor with a disturbing regard while explaining his escape from the RPF massacre in Rwanda.

“My father was accused of being a genocidaire and has been imprisoned unjustly. I have been chased away,” he said to AFP, maintaining his AK-47 rifle between his boots.

“In late 2005, the RPF government led by Paul Kagame tried to force me to enter the military services to fight the FDLR. I preferred to flee for my safety,” he continues.

The current Rwandan President Kagame led the RPF, former Tutsi rebellion, which ended the genocide by taking power in Kigali in July 1994.

After passing through Burundi, Claude arrived in the Congolese province of South Kivu where he joined the FDLR.

“The Hutus in Rwanda are harassed by the Tutsi (…). They are speachless and have difficulty finding any job,” he protests.

According to the spokesman of FDLR, Lieutenant-Colonel Edmond Ngarambe, the movement has “received an influx of youth” since 2006, because of the ongoing trials organized by the “gacaca” courts Rwandan people responsible for trying alleged perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

“Every day, people are fleeing oppression in Rwanda”, he said, denying that the FDLR may practice forced recruitment. He criticizes “a spirit of domination in the current Tutsi regime” in Kigali, “which does not evolve.”

Emmanuel, 22 years old, had first fled Rwanda in 1994 – before returning back home shortly after – then a second takeover in 2007.

According to his testimony, after being injustly ousted during a competitive examination for admission in college and replaced by a Tutsi student, he decided to join his compatriots in eastern Congo.”

“Life is not harder (in the rebellion); that is  what pushed me to flee,” says Emmanuel, even though he was apparently aflicted by a malaria crisis.

“I look forward -as anyone here- to returning to Rwanda and regain my human rights one day”, he says hardening his face.

Many young Hutus who fled Rwanda after the Rwandan genocide, grew up in eastern DRC and freely decided to join the FDLR.

In a Torn uniform, his cap lying on the barrel of his gun, Simeon, 20, talks about “the extermination of his entire family” during an RPF attack in his village in 1994 and his escape to the DRC. He also talks about ” a warm welcome” he received within the FDLR family, which he joined 4 years ago.

In his 25 years, another youth who wished to remain anonymous claims to have already spent ten years in the rebellion.

“During the Rwandan genocide of 1994, when my parents were killed by the RPF, I fled to the DRC. The RPF continued to track us throught DRC even inside Congo Brazzaville. The FDLR organization is the only parents I now have, he says.

“My goal is to return to Rwanda one day and not  to permanently stay here. In the meantime, preserving my life is my priorities, he says.

Sign the Petition for Justice In Rwanda and Great Lakes Region!

I’ve just been forwarded information regarding an online petition that’s asking for justice in Rwanda, the Congo and the Great Lakes Region. I think anyone who cares about global justice and human rights should sign this petition. It’s asking for a few simple things:

  1. Investigation into the “Rwandan Genocide’s” catylist – assassination of two presidents
  2. An end to the culture of impunity in the Great Lakes – culprits should be brought to justice
  3. Stop the war in the Congo – culprits should be brought to justice
  4. An end to unjust organizations and “judicial” systems of terror – ICTR and Gacaca in Rwanda who try and prosecute innocent people.

Anyone with the time should read it, and even if you don’t have the time, but you support global justice and peace, you should just sign it. You can contact the petition creator at rwandapetitons at gmail.com

Below is the full text from the letter which is titled, Plea for Justice, Fairness and an End to the Culture of Impunity.

October 25, 2008

Dear Senator Obama,

As the Democratic presidential nominee, we are excited to have you as a representative. We have heard your message of hope and change, and we believe that it is time in our American History, as well as world history for real change. We look forward to change with meaning and purpose. Hope that will fulfill its promises, and bring the world much closer to justice and peace. We look forward to casting our votes for you this November to show our support and belief in your message.

We are also united in asking, and urging that as senator, and president you will help alleviate the politically inflicted suffering of the people of Rwanda by urgently and aggressively demanding investigation into the catalyst for the Rwandan genocide in 1994. It is widely believed that such carnage was sparked by the assassination of the former Rwandan President, Juvenal Habyarimana, along with Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira. While many crimes from the genocide have been investigated, convicted, and prosecuted, the culprits of this major crime continue to live among the world’s population with impunity.

We hope and urge that you will be committed to ending the culture of impunity for all of those who committed genocide and massacres in Rwanda and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These genocide and war crimes started with the invasion of Rwanda, a sovereign nation, in 1990 and culminated in the explosion of violence and massacres in 1994. In addition, this conflict resulted in the spread of violence from Rwanda which spilled into the Congo. It is estimated today that between four and five million Congolese lives have been lost. As of today, no successful investigation has been conducted to establish and bring to justice those who committed these war crimes and crimes against humanity. We hope that all culprits will be brought to justice, without exception, including those who may currently be in hiding or may hold government positions.

We hope and urge that through your commitment to searching for truth, the Rwandan and Congolese Communities will recover hope and reassurance of justice. Once this is achieved, these countries can serve as models for what is possible when fear and hopelessness are replaced by hope. Through this process, peace resulting from fairness can be attained. Therefore, we ask that you will put pressure on any institutions that deny those accused their rights to challenge allegations levied against them. Such disregard for individuals’ rights has in many cases resulted in the detention, imprisonment, and execution of innocent people. We hope that you will encourage the adoption of a system that allows both prosecution and defense to look into all circumstances surrounding these war crimes and crimes against humanity.

We hope that by holding the judicial systems involved to higher standards, they will be forced to create balance and reduce the disparities among the one sided nature of those prosecuted for culpability. We believe that accountability will further challenge the culture of impunity that exists while simultaneously absolving innocent people who may be caught in the judicial bureaucracy. We hope and urge that you will demand from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Tanzania, the Rwandan judiciary institutions including the Gacaca trial system to implement a free, fair and balanced justice system.

There are thousands of people who have been imprisoned for over a decade in Rwanda and outside of Rwanda, under the accusation and prosecution of having committed genocide crimes. However, 14 years later, no efforts have been made to establish facts and hold accountable those who triggered the genocide by assassinating the two African Heads of State. We hope that you will commit to investing your time in a successful, unbiased, transparent, truthful, and comprehensive investigation.

Below are the names of people who support these efforts, and who hope that you will do all you can, to show the world real truth, and justice, through Rwanda and Congo as a models.

Thank You.

United Citizens for Peace and Justice