Stephen Kinzer to Kagame: Reconciliation, Confuses Human Rights Watchers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really?

Are you serious?

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

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A Look Back on 2010 – A Damning Year for Kagame

2010 was a quiet year for Back To My Roots, but a damning one for Kagame and his cronies. Time after time, and location after location criminal Kagame was challenged, discredited, and outright humiliated. 2010 was very much a damning year for Kagame, and one can only be filled with glee at the prospects of 2011. I can’t promise that blogging will be more regular, but it should be a good year to challenge the Kagame & Co narrative about what happened in Rwanda, who was responsible for what, and who is getting away with murder. The world now knows what Kagame did in Congo, and it’s only a matter of time before the establishment of Rwanda narrative, and the discovery by many, and the acknowledgment of institutions of Kagame & Co’s substantial crimes against humanity.

Earlier in the year, Kagame’s biggest thorn in his side touched down in Kigali. And since then, it’s been nothing but a downward spiral for Kagame. A self-identified Hutu, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza went to challenge Kagame and the RPF for the presidency of Rwanda. She was attacked by a mob, had her goods stolen (and returned), and her party was prevented from registering to take part in the elections. She was put on house arrest, and was subsquently placed in a maximum security prison, where she remains today. The other presidential hopeful, Bernard Ntaganda of the party PS-Imberakuri was also arrested, along with dissident Deo Mushayidi. Left and right news papers were closed down, writers, editors, and publishers exiled, and even murdered. An American law professor and ICTR lawyer was arrested in Rwanda but eventually released due to diplomatic pressures. He is now wanted back in Rwanda “Dead or Alive.’ Eventually, an “election” did take place, where Kagame of RPF ran against himself and won against himself with a 93% of the vote. In a bizarre move, a war crimes prosecutor, attended his inauguration, and not for reasons you might expect, but to attempt to gather heads of states against another African war criminal. Among his other bizarre and ironic guests were Congolese President Kabila. And that was all just inside Rwanda.

Though Rwanda, Kagame, and the RPF were being reckless (a very generous term) within the country, the story abroad was another matter. When Kagame visited a Oklahoma Christian University in the USA he was not only met with demonstrators, but was served with a lawsuit for his crimes in Rwanda and Congo.  He allegedly had to take a back door route to get into the university due to the demonstrators. When he visited Spain in the middle of the Summer, the Prime Minister of Spain Zapatero not only refused to meet with him but he was met with a crowd of protesters as well. In August, a UN Mapping Report document the most serious violations to take place in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1993 and 2003 was leaked to the press. The Report alleged that Rwandan troops may have committed “possible genocide” within DRC during that period. The same report was later released in October, alleging the same crimes. In September, a Spanish delegation arrived to protest Kagame’s Millenium Goals co-chairship with the Spanish president Zapatero. When he went to Europe for the European Development Days, Kagame was met with a fervor of protestors, passionately demonstrating against his crimes in crimes in Central Africa. Kagame was so humiliated he left without giving his planned speech. The Netherlands withheld their aid from Rwanda, driving home the point that it is not alright for criminals to be rewarded. And finally, a French judge filed charged against Kagame’s allies.

It was a quiet year for Back To My Roots, but a very big one for hits against Kagame, his army, and his party’s reputation, integrity, and credibility. The furor is abundant. And though he continues to receive support from his western “friends” their blind support only serves to reinforce their complicity in his crimes.

Here is to an even stronger year ahead for progress against Kagame’s RPF their associates. It’s a lot of work, but the momentum is building.

Related: 2008 Year in Review

Kagame Slated to Execute Election Charades Successfully for World Wide Audience

For anyone wondering, the online dictionary.com defines ‘charades’ by one such definition:

a blatant pretense or deception, esp. something so full of pretense as to be a travesty.

Can anyone truly argue that such an event is what is slated to take place in Rwanda on August 9th, 2010? Some are calling it an “election” while others are simply calling it a “sham” election to signify the false pretense under which this event is happening.

To be frank, there are no election happening in Rwanda. It’s a charades, where everyone will play their part, some voluntarily – dictator Kagame as the landslide winner (a resounding cheery yessss from the ghosts of millions perished by his gun and rule – note sarcasm) with unwavering support from involuntary “supportive” citizens, while the “opposition” take their place, and somberly accept their “loss.” Does one even need popcorn to enjoy this charades? Perhaps Kagame will throw in a few more assassinations and jailing of legitimate opponents to make it more interesting. Maybe he’ll up the ante and actually target a non Rwandan, non African, non Black person. But as it stands, worldwide audiences will watch him “win” and he’ll feign surprise that after all this time and his crimes, his citizens still love him. A humbling experience for a man like himself (who can claim more deaths on his hands in such a short period of time as himself?).

Like every good charades, the August 9th event is meant to entertain. But for Kagame, it’s also meant to re-establish him as the only candidate for Rwandans within the international community. The media will be there, ready to accept and to convince the world that the charades truly is reality. And many will buy into it, giving Kagame blind and loyal support, without an sense of the destruction he’ll cause on top of what he’s already done.

That citizens will be forced to leave their homes and cast ballots for their oppressor in record numbers is sadistic at best and torture at worst. But to allow them their dignity and human rights, at least by abstaining from casting votes “for” the murderer that destroyed their lives and killed their family members would be an inconvenience to the successful execution of the charades for the entertainment of the world wide audience.

Though I’m not tuning in for the charades (I already know what happens and how), I’ll be here the following day, playing my part, feigning surprise that Kagame won once again and that his citizens truly do love him (note sarcasm).

Kagame desperate to hold on to power, resorts to more severe domestic terrorism tactics

For anyone who has not heard, Amnesty International condemned the recent intimidation attacks hurled at presidential hopefuls in opposition to Kagame in Rwanda.  Some of the intimidating attacks include actual physical violence perpetrated by mobs against a female candidate.

When mob attacks did not work to deter the presidential hopefuls, Kagame up the ante. First, he created extremely rigid election laws, preventing anyone from properly registering and freely campaigning across the country. Specifically, candidates can only publicly proclaim their candidacy 26 days before the elections and have only 18 to campaign across the country. And that’s 26 days in total for the whole campaign process. The Chairman for the National Electoral Commission stated:

The Chairman of the National Electoral Commission, Professor Crysologue Karangwa told APA Friday that the eighteen days were enough for a serious presidential aspirant to go around the country of thirty districts campaigning.

“Eighteen days are enough for a serious presidential candidate to cover the country, we do not expect them to visit every village or district in the country by themselves, they have supporters who should help in campaigns,” Karangwa said.

Is this guy serious? He presumes to know how members of opposition parties will run their campaigns or how much support they have. Obviously he doesn’t mean what he says. I mean obviously can’t mean it.. He is only saying it because it rationalizes the absurdity of restricting political candidates to 26 days of announcing their presidential candidacy and actually campaigning around the country.  I mean it’s not sabotage for goodness sakes, it’s just the RULES! It doesn’t get any more absurd than this. Or does it?

Well it does. Not only are candidates restricted to 26 days, but any violation is punishable by law and subject to candidate disqualification for the elections. It is unclear if these laws will be backdated or not. However for specifics, if you think I’m making this stuff up, here you go:

In the remaining less than four months those wishing to stand for presidency were advised to keep it to themselves as in accordance to the law.

“Before the said dates, those planning to declare their candidature should abide by the law and wait. According to the electoral law no political activities are expected before the approval of candidates,” Karangwa said. (emphasis mine)

I’m struck by that word “approval” stuck right in there. It reads to me, like the arbitrarily enforced violation of the “genocide ideology” law. Who will be approving candidates and on what terms? How likely is it, that they will be disapproved based on speculation regarding their candidacy? That is, if the population presumes one to be running for president, even if one has not “officially” made such an announcement,  will that person be disqualified for running in the presidential election? Will the approval be based on how receptive the country is towards a certain candidate? It’s no secret that the Rwandan dictatorship is plagued with vague and arbitrarily enforced laws, and this is one of them. Some of the vague laws and language are used to intimidate and silence opposition. These in particular are supposed to create the ultimate barrier to the presidency for the opposition (at least before resorting to the use of physical violence to halt opponents) as far as the law can go without being regarded as a fascist attempt to remain in power by all means necessary. Although as far as I’m concerned, this is a fascist attempt to hold on to power by any means necessary.

And if all else fails, call upon oft reliable, never fail friend of the RPF, physical violence. Think they won’t? Well think again, because they already have.

After the bizarre announcement of the new electoral process laws, three grenades were coincidentally detonated around the capital city of Kigali. The BBC writes:

At least one person has been killed and 18 injured in three simultaneous grenade attacks in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, state media report.

A bus station, a restaurant and another building housing several businesses were targeted, state radio said.

While there is no “clear connection” between these attacks and the election, the timing is oddly suspicious and peculiarly familiar to the pre-April 1994 period. One thing many do not realize is that the RPF is notorious for terror and intimidation. From the time they attacked a sovereign nation in 1990 and creating a four year war that culminated in the genocide, to the five million deaths in the Congo, there is no terror tool beyond the RPF’s use. And remember the RPF is led by current Rwandan President Paul Kagame. If you don’t see the connection here, I can’t help you.

During the 1990-1994 period, prior to the genocide, the RPF used bombs and grenades to intimidate people and to terrorize them. It appears the RPF is back at its games. Most Rwandans and few other people around the world know the RPF instigated the conflict that began in 1990, and they know it was the RPF who committed mass terror for the longest period of time. While Kagame has brainwashed the world to believe he rose out of nowhere to halt a deadly genocide from destroying a nation, it is also true that Kagame terrorized that nation into submission although people remain largely unaware of this fact. Kagame is not, and has never been a popular figure in Rwanda, despite his resume of instigating (fact largely unknown by the world), and then subsequently halting the genocide. It is through terror that Kagame became the leader of Rwanda, and it is through terror that Kagame remains the leader of Rwanda. These grenade attacks are no coincidence, and they are no random acts of violence. They are calculated attempts to remind the populous of Kagame’s predilection for terror. It is a reminder that 1990-1994 could possibly be relived should they attempt to challenge him, even if by only support other challengers. The grenade attacks are terror tools used to intimidate and confuse the population, to conquer and divide amongst inconsequential affiliations. This is what the RPF does. It is what they have done, and what they will continue to do.

The world at large still enjoys a fairly moderate love affair with President Kagame. Many are ignorant to the RPF actions both in Rwanda and in the Congo. Because of most people’s familiarity with the 1994 genocide and the concurrent ignorance of the events before and after 1994, people easily give President Kagame a pass. They forgive him for his transgressions. Because as far as they are concerned, Kagame saved Rwanda and Rwandans in 1994 and that is good enough for them. But as far as I’m concerned, the lives saved in 1994 are not worth more than the lives that perished between 1990 and 1994, and 1996- today. Kagame does not deserve to remain on any pedestal nor should he be absolved from all the other crimes committed by himself and the RPF.

There is no reason Rwanda should spiral back into a deadly convulsion. People should become aware of Kagame’s tactics, and should call upon every capable party to demand civility from Kagame for once in his life. Opposition leaders are only that. Leaders of opposition. They have not won any significant influential power, nor are they any threat to the RPF machine. These deadly tactics by the status quo in Rwanda are uncalled for, unnecessary, and extremely reminscent of pre 1994 genocide.

If you think I’m being too harsh on the RPF in this post, think of all the lives that perished in 1990-1994. Think of the 1994 genocide (even if he prevailed against others, Kagame was an active participant in the death of human beings during the genocide). Think of 5-6 million lives lost in the Congo. All these deaths were preventable. Deaths that could potentially take place in Rwanda due to these elections are also preventable. Are those people any less deserving of life simply because Kagame hangs out with Tony Blair, Google, and Bill Gates? Seriously? I find it fascinating how when Kagame’s back is against the wall, that is when human rights groups, and Judges demand accountability from him, he uses weak claims of pan-African Unity and sovereignty, and respect to deflect from his criminal behavior. Yet he never bats an eye when it comes to employing and hobnobbing with  known British imperialist Tony Blair. The hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me.

Despite all that, Kagame’s intimidation tactics must end. Lives must be spared. And communities must be rebuilt. And not in terror. Stop Kagame’s terrorism now!

ETA: I realize that the Rwanda government is blaming the grenade attacks on “interahamwe.” But is anyone seriously surprised by that? Is that not what Kagame et al did all throughout the early 90s?  Colored Opinions writes:

The state run Rwanda News Agency published this report that Rwandan Police have arrested two men and that they have claimed, within less than 24 hours that “all the evidence” points to the guilt of the Interahamwe.

When a presidential candidate from the opposition was attacked my a mob, members of the police present did NOT even interfere with this attack. YET I’m supposed to believe they are so efficient they caught the two parties responsible, and by God, they belong to the 1994 genocide terrorist group, the “interahamwe.” I tip my hat to the Kagame propaganda machine, but pray that the world wakes up and prevents the 1994 genocide from happening all over again. This time we know. No one can claim ignorance anymore. No one. Not even you Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Especially not you.

Rwanda’s Kagame warns critical presidential rival

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

Rwanda’s Kagame Warns Criticacl Presidential Rival

By Hereward Holland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Editing by Tim Pearce)

Rwanda’s Election Opposition Leader Demands Protection After Mob attack in Rwanda

From VOA News:

Rwanda Opposition Candidate Demands Protectio Ahead of Election

The leader of Rwanda’s opposition United Democratic Forces says she will officially present a letter to President Paul Kagame Thursday to demand protection ahead of the scheduled August general election.

Peter Clottey | Washington, DC 03 February 2010

Map of RwandaRwanda’s media reports that other opposition groups have condemned the attack and accused President Kagame’s ruling Patriotic Front Party (RPF) of complicity – – a charge RPF denies.

The leader of Rwanda’s opposition United Democratic Forces says she will officially present a letter to President Paul Kagame Thursday to demand protection ahead of the scheduled August general election. Victoire Ingabire said an unidentified youth group attacked her and her aide at Kinyinya sector, a suburb of the capital, Kigali.

“Today, I received a call from the mayor of the sector where I live, Kinyinya, and he told me that I have to return my ID. And when I arrived in his office, there were younger people who began to batter us, me and one of my colleagues. And they took my bag. (Then,) I went back quickly to my car, but my colleague stayed back and they battered him. And after (that, I) took him to hospital,” she said.

Rwanda’s media reports that other opposition groups have condemned the attack and accused President Kagame’s ruling Patriotic Front Party (RPF) of complicity – – a charge RPF denies.

Rwanda.org

Victoire Ingabire leader of Rwanda’s opposition United Democratic Forces.

Ingabire said the police failed to stop the attack, but the police deny Ingabire’s account.

“When they battered us, the police were there and they didn’t do anything. They watched us (as) the young people battered us,” she contended.

Several opposition party groups have vowed to defeat the ruling party in the upcoming election after visiting Ingabire’s injured aide at the hospital.

Ingabire said the ruling party wants to undermine her campaign ahead of the vote.

“We see that the government of General Kagame does not accept all political activities in our country. You know that I have been back to the country now three weeks ago, and they are doing everything to prevent (me) from participating in the election. They know that the population needs the change and they know that the population wants (me) to participate in the election, and they want me as the leader of them. This is why they (will) do everything that people will be afraid to come to me,” Ingabire said.

Ingabire recently came under fire for reportedly making pronouncements that genocide survivor groups (members of IBUKA) considered insulting.

IBUKA then called on the government to prosecute Ingabire, saying her pronouncement belittles the 1994 genocide in which hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were killed in a 100-day massacre.

Some political analysts say the latest attack against Ingabire could have resulted from her recent controversial remarks.