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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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.

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.

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.

The Darfur the West Isn’t Recognizing as It Moralizes About the Region

For many who survey an African landscape strewn with political wreckage, nowadays merely to raise the subject of European colonialism, which formally ended across most of the continent five decades ago, is to ring alarm bells of excuse making.

Clearly, the African disaster most in view today is Sudan, or more specifically the dirty war that has raged since 2003 in that country’s western region, Darfur.

Rare among African conflicts, it exerts a strong claim on our conscience. By instructive contrast, more than five million people have died as a result of war in Congo since 1998, the rough equivalent at its height of a 2004 Asian tsunami striking every six months, without stirring our diplomats to urgency or generating much civic response.

Mahmood Mamdani, a Ugandan-born scholar at Columbia University and the author of “When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and Genocide in Rwanda,” is one of the most penetrating analysts of African affairs. In “Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror,” he has written a learned book that reintroduces history into the discussion of the Darfur crisis and questions the logic and even the good faith of those who seek to place it at the pinnacle of Africa’s recent troubles. It is a brief, he writes, “against those who substitute moral certainty for knowledge, and who feel virtuous even when acting on the basis of total ignorance.”

Mr. Mamdani does not dismiss a record of atrocities in Darfur, where 300,000 have been killed and 2.5 million been made refugees, yet he opposes the label of genocide as a subjective judgment wielded for political reasons against a Sudanese government that is out of favor because of its history of Islamism and its suspected involvement in terror.

At his most provocative Mr. Mamdani questions the distinction between what is often labeled counterinsurgency and genocide, saying the former, even when it kills more people, is deemed “normal violence” while the latter is considered “amoral, evil,” and typically it is the West that does the labeling.

Although he uses the United States war in Iraq as an example, with the International Criminal Court recently issuing an arrest warrant for Sudan’s leader, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Mr. Mamdani’s most compelling example is the treatment of a crisis in neighboring Uganda.

In Uganda, long one of Washington’s closest African friends, Mr. Mamdani traces the history of ethnically targeted “civilian massacres and other atrocities” against the brutal insurgency known as the Lord’s Resistance Army. In 1996, under President Yoweri Museveni, a second phase of that war began “with a new policy designed to intern practically the entire rural population of the three Acholi districts in northern Uganda,” Mr. Mamdani writes. “It took a government-directed campaign of murder, intimidation, bombing and burning of whole villages to drive the rural population into I.D.P. (internally displaced persons) camps.”

In 2005 Olara Otunnu, a former Ugandan ambassador to the United Nations, denounced the government’s tactics, saying, “An entire society is being systematically destroyed — physically, culturally, socially and economically — in full view of the international community.”

But as elsewhere in Africa, Mr. Mamdani says, the International Criminal Court has brought a case against only the enemy of Washington’s friend, the Lord’s Resistance Army, remaining mute about large-scale atrocities that may have been committed by the Ugandan government. In this pattern the author sees the hand of politics more than any real attachment to justice.

Many argue that what makes Darfur different from other African crises is race, with the conflict there pitting Arabs against people often called “black Africans,” but here again Mr. Mamdani takes on conventional wisdom. “At no point,” he states flatly, “has this been a war between ‘Africans’ and ‘Arabs.’ ”

Much foreign commentary about Sudan speaks of its Arabs as settlers, with the inference that they are somehow less African than people assumed to be of pure black stock. If whites in Kenya and Zimbabwe, not to mention South Africa, vociferously maintain their African-ness, what then to make of the Arab presence in Sudan, whose slow penetration and widespread intermarriage, Mr. Mamdani writes, “commenced in the early decades of Islam” and “reached a climax” from the 8th to the 15th century, “when the Arab tribes overran much of the country”?

More interestingly, the author maintains that much of what we see today as a racial divide in Sudan has its roots in colonial history, when Britain “broke up native society into different ethnicities, and ‘tribalized’ each ethnicity by bringing it under the absolute authority of one or more British-sanctioned ‘native authorities,’ ” balancing “the whole by playing one off against the others.”

Mr. Mamdani calls this British tactic of administratively reinforcing distinctions among colonial subjects “re-identify and rule” and says that it was copied by European powers across the continent, with deadly consequences — as in Rwanda, where Belgium’s intervention hardened distinctions between Hutu and Tutsi.

In Sudan the result was to create a durable sense of land rights rooted in tribal identity that favored the sedentary at the expense of the nomad, or, in the crude shorthand of today, African and Arab.

Other roots of the Darfur crisis lie in catastrophic desertification in the Sahel region, where the cold war left the area awash in cheap weapons at the very moment that pastoralists could no longer survive in their traditional homelands, obliging many to push southward into areas controlled by sedentary farmers.

He also blames regional strife, the violent legacy of proxy warfare by France, Libya and the United States and, most recently, the global extension of the war on terror.

This important book reveals much on all of these themes, yet still may be judged by some as not saying enough about recent violence in Darfur.

Mr. Mamdani’s constant refrain is that the virtuous indignation he thinks he detects in those who shout loudest about Darfur is no substitute for greater understanding, without which outsiders have little hope of achieving real good in Africa’s shattered lands.

Via UgandaGenocide.info

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!