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First Rwandan President Mbonyumutwa “Must Be Exhumed”

Kigali: A row is brewing in Southern Rwanda after local officials ordered the family of Rwanda’s first President, Dominique Mbonyumutwa, to exhume his remains, reports suggest.

Parmehutu hierarchy (L-R): M.V. Kayuku, Gregoire Kayibanda, Dominique Mbonyumutwa, B. Bicamumpaka. This was during the proclamation of the republic on January 28, 1961. The spot in the photo is the exact place where Mbonyumutwa was buried. (Photo: http://www.opjdr.org/photo_gallery.htm)

Outspoken lady mayor of Muhanga district Ms. Yvonne Mutakwasuku has reportedly given the family a period of 60 days to decide where they want him re-buried.

Mr. Mbonyumutwa died in 1986, and was buried in a small stadium dubbed the ‘referendum stadium’ just next to the former provincial headquarters – which is now the mayoral office.

It is in the same place that the monarch was abolished and replaced by the republic.

Rumours of the plan to exhume the remains of Mr. Mbonyumutwa surfaced have been doing the rounds for sometime, but eventually appeared in the local press recently.

According to Muganga district mayor, the area in which the tomb is located is needed for “redevelopment”.

Mr. Mbonyumutwa served as the first provisional President of Rwanda, from January 28 to October 26 in 1961, immediately following the abolition of the monarchy by the Belgian colonial administration. At the time, exiled King Kigeri V was visiting other nations while conducting international relations.

Mr. Mbonyumutwa’s family told the BBC that the government order contravened an earlier court ruling, which instructed the government to take care of the tomb.

The issue of the late president was history up until this January when vocal opposition politician Ms. Victoire Ingabire visited the tomb from her exile. The ex-president was among the leaders of the extremist Parmehutu party accused to have executed the mass slaughter and expulsion of Tutsis in the 1950 and 60.

Mr. Mbonyumutwa was succeeded as president by another deceased Grégoire Kayibanda. He was allegedly starved to death by Juvenal Habyarimana, who deposed him in a coup of 1973

ARI-RNA  –  rnanews.com.

March 9, 2010   No Comments

Rwandan Ex-Minister and Ex-Ambassador Flees To Burundi

Al Hajj Andre Habib Bumaya

Al Hajj Andre Habib Bumaya

Kigali – Following years of speculation after he lost his job, ex-Foreign Affairs Minister Al Hajj Andre Habib Bumaya may have finally left the country, and the party leader and colleagues in the Ideal Democratic Party (PDI) say it is his right to leave.

Considered the star entrant in President Paul Kagame’s first government 10 years ago, Mr. Bumaya was just a government employ before the Genocide. The latter government posted him to Libya as ambassador and later held to two cabinet positions – only to be kicked out and followed with brutal criticism from the President.

The ex-diplomat’s political time-table in the country seems to have come to an end in February.

Mr. Bumaya supposedly left the country on Feb. 22 headed for Burundi. A week later on Feb 27, the politician who rode to fame on the Muslim ticket, emailed PDI boss and current Internal Security Minister Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana.

The announcement

The news about Mr. Bumaya’s exile was communicated behind closed-doors by Sheikh Harelimana to party members from across the country at a party conference on Saturday. As the cameras and microphones were on, Mr. Harelimana reaffirmed the party’s support for President Kagame’s candidacy in the August poll.

Mr. Harelimana said he is barely even a-tenth of the person of President Kagame. After the ceremonial speeches and the journalists were not in the room, Mr. Harelimana broke the news nobody was expecting.

André Bumaya is no longer a member of PDI, revealed Mr. Harelimana, according to different delegates who attended the conference. Bumaya wrote to him an email saying he had to leave the country for “personal reasons” and that he will communicate his political stand in the coming days.

For that matter, Mr. Harelimana continued, we shall consider him not a member.

Mr. Bumaya was among the 20 ministers in President Kagame’s first cabinet in 2000 when he replaced ex-leader Pasteur Bizimungu. Mr. Bumaya was named Foreign Affairs Minister, a post he lost two years later to Dr. Charles Murigande.

The soft-spoken, but arrogant Mr. Bumaya, who often rode to the top on the fact that he was head of the PDI party – considered to be for Muslims, was moved to the Ministry of Public Service. Prior to the 2003 Constitution which outlawed religious links for parties, the “I” was “Islamic”, but was changed to “Ideal”.

President Kagame again sacked Mr. Bumaya from cabinet in March 2006 amid continued criticism from Parliament, media and trade unions blaming him for the woos that had grappled the Ministry of Labour and Public Service.

In the same period up until recently, government came under immense pressure from donors to reform the public service. Thousands of government employees lost their jobs. Bitter complaints however emerged from CESTRAR – the national trade union umbrella about the way the retrenchment program had been handled.

In 2005, a Parliamentary probe was instituted to look into the complaints. A damning report accused Mr. Bumaya of implementing the massive retrenchment prior to the creation of the Constitutional Public Service Commission; failing to create a national labour policy; and malpractices in the hiring and firing processes.

As indication that he had clearly fallen out of favour with the appointing authority, Mr. Bumaya was finally thrown out of government in March 2006, but not without fierce criticism from the President.

President Kagame had openly attacked Mr. Bumaya in a closed-door government retreat a month earlier. In a clear reference to Mr. Bumaya, President Kagame gave him as an example of Cabinet ministers, who he said go around complaining that they don’t posses recruitment powers. The President castigated such ill-complaints saying they were only bent on taking the country back to the old corrupt regimes.

Enters Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana

PDI insiders who have watched the political drama unfold in the small party which has risen to glory on the strength of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) say the career of Mr. Bumaya started to get in trouble following the 2003 presidential poll.

Mr. Kagame was overwhelmingly elected with Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana serving as the vice president of the electoral commission. Mr. Harelimana was eventually appointed Governor of the trouble-ridden Western Province.

In the March 2006 cabinet changes, Mr. Harelimana was brought into government as Internal Security Minister – coincidentally as party rival Mr. Bumaya was thrown out.

The humiliation seemed to have been overwhelming that Mr. Bumaya moved out of the country – prompting the rumour-mill to take its toll that he had fled. It later emerged that he was in the United States doing a masters in international relations.

Mr. Harelimana’s rise up the party ladder was not about to stop. In 2007, he was elected to lead the small party, on the strong backing of the head of the Islamic faith in the country Sheikh Habimana Swaleh. This seems to have sealed the political relevance of Mr. Bumaya.

Though Mr. Bumaya became the spokesman of PDI, observers believed he was no longer politically relevant anymore. His appearance at the high-table was no more, as the profile of the Internal Security Minister got more entrenched.

Party “owner”?

The fall from grace for Mr. Bumaya was clearly over, for a man who appeared from the blue to be named ambassador to Libya by the post Genocide government.

Established in 1991 as the Islamic Democratic Party (Parti démocratique islamique), it came up at the time ex-president Habyarimana Juvenal was opening up political space to multiparty politics.

PDI joined forces with the RPF in the 2003 legislative election and won two seats in the Chamber of Deputes. Its leader was Mr. Bumaya.

In the current Lower Chamber, there are two Deputes representing PDI.

ARI-RNA rnanews.com

March 9, 2010   2 Comments

ORINFOR To Change Name To Rwanda Broadcasting Network

Kigali: The acting Director General, Mr. Willy Rukundo, has said today on Radio Rwanda that the Government broadcaster ORINFOR might be called “Rwanda Broadcasting Network”.

March 9, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda: Rwanda Government Broadcaster ORINFOR To Change Name

Kigali: Government broadcaster ORINFOR will change the name and reform operations within two years – after President Kagame furiously lashed out at the large company – even demanding an apology from its former boss.

Comprising Radio Rwanda, TV Rwanda and two newspapers, the broadcaster will within the same period reform its operations to be more responsive to the needs the taxpayers, according to its acting Director General, Mr. Willy Rukundo.

He said Tuesday that the changes will come with a new name.
[New name disclosed as “Rwanda Broadcasting Network“]

President Paul Kagame has repeatedly complained publicly about the performance of the broadcaster – at some point saying it is either marred in with “incompetence or ineffectiveness …or both”, and demanded an apology from its former Managing Director Mr. Bideri Joseph.

“I can smell something wrong but can’t name it”, Mr. Kagame told journalists last year. “ORINFOR had always had something smelling in it but all have failed to clean it up.”

The company has also been heavily criticized by Parliament which says people in far-rural areas do not understand any government programs because they can only access foreign media. Lawmakers also say the situation has compounded the increasing levels of Genocide revisionism in these areas as communities remained neglected.

ORINFOR is also under fire from the Auditor General of State Finances over its books of accounts. In the latest report for 2008 released last month, the Government Auditor described its finances as “scandalous”.

Despite having a printery, its French and Kinyarwanda newspapers barely get to the streets. Plans to make the Kinyarwanda IMVAHO NSHYA daily seem to have stalled.

TV Rwanda struggles to stay on air with dwindling audiences as more shift to watching satellite TV.

With a $13million government injection, the company is now working on an expansion program. President Kagame suggested that its troubles could be related to the name, demanding that it be renamed.

ORINFOR was established about five decades ago as an agency for government announcements – but has largely remained with the same legacy.

Its former boss Mr. Oscar Kimanuka is battling a corruption and embezzlement sentence.

Announcing changes which have already taken effect, current chief, Mr. Rukundo said Wednesday that a website (http://www.orinfor.gov.rw) is up and running with live radio streaming and TV broadcasts.

ARI-RNA – rnanews.com

March 9, 2010   3 Comments

President Kagame Dismisses Commonwealth Critics

London: President Paul Kagame on Monday dismissed criticism that Rwanda does not meet Commonwealth standards on human rights and media freedoms – saying there is “a lot” Rwanda can contribute to the block, RNA reports.
“I think the Commonwealth is a family where there are many failings, and failings don’t come from only one part of that family,” he told a press conference at the Commonwealth Secretariat next to Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma and Trinidad and Tobago PM Patrick Manning.

“Each family has its own failings, but when they come together, then they share good practices to overcome those failings, and that is why Rwanda sees it as very important to be part of the Commonwealth,” said Kagame.

Rwanda’s flag raised at the Commonwealth

Rwanda’s flag raised at the Commonwealth

The President is in London where he oversaw the rising of Rwanda’s flag at the Secretariat – becoming the 54th. The membership, however, has not come smoothly. The campaign group Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) fiercely opposed Rwanda’s entry arguing that the country needed to clean its house before. The group said the country’s rights record was lacking.

In a statement ahead of the visit, it urged the Commonwealth SG to insist that Kigali “makes every effort to create genuine democratic political atmosphere in the country prior August 2010 elections”.

We call upon the Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma, in his meetings this week with President Kagame, to urge him to ensure that in these first Rwanda elections as a Commonwealth member, the standards are patently free and fair and in compliance with Commonwealth values,” said Mr. Maja Daruwala, the CHRI director.

For President Kagame, though, there is “a lot we are going to gain from” the British block: “There is also a lot we are going to contribute to the wellbeing of the members of the Commonwealth”.

Mr. Kagame also dismissed claims that media freedoms in Rwanda are lacking – with journalists fleeing the country to neighbouring countries. He said the judicial system handles journalists like other citizens.

“We have had journalists in Rwanda who have killed people in the genocide. It has not spared them that crime because they are journalists, so when they do that they are brought to justice like any other human beings or citizens to be held accountable. We have had journalists who have been involved in other crimes,” he argued.

He rejected the categorization that the media rights situation was worse in Rwanda compared to its neighbours, saying it was a “general problem”.

However, freedom of expression through the media, the press and so forth is something that goes on, that grows from one situation and develops for the better in the whole region as is the case with Rwanda,” he said.

Indicative of the interest with which Rwanda’s presence at the Commonwealth rises, most of the questions at the press conference were directed at President Kagame.

On embattled Congolese General Laurent Nkunda, in detention here since January last year, President Kagame said Kigali and Kinshasa are making “very good progress.”

The General is trying to challenge his detention in the Supreme Court but even his Canadian lawyer and family are coming to terms with the possibility that the issue can only be dealt with at a political level.

The President said joining the block is an “important milestone in Rwanda’s transformational journey, along which we have already enjoyed the support of many Commonwealth countries”.

Trinidad and Tobago PM, Mr. Manning – also the current chair of the Commonwealth, welcomed President Kagame into the block, describing him as “the newly minted President of Rwanda – newly minted in the context of membership of the Commonwealth – President Kagame.”

Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that from the hard work of the Secretariat, “results were there for everyone to see, particularly the first visit of Honourable President Kagame here”.

In the opening statement, President Kagame set out the plan for Rwanda’s engagement.

“Firstly, the future of all nations depends on their youth, and so I hope that Rwanda can capitalise on the wide range of education and training programmes that the Commonwealth provides.

“Secondly, we hope to tap into the trade and investment opportunities that the Commonwealth offers so that Rwanda can expand its economy and effectively participate in the global marketplace.

“At the same time we believe in mutual learning and Rwanda wishes to play its role in exchanging lessons both from our recent past but also from our traditions and culture.

“Rwanda is committed to the values of the Commonwealth and will contribute to strengthening the organisation, furthering our mutual development agendas and working in close partnership with other members to promote prosperity, freedom and rights for all.”

ARI-RNA – rnanews.com

March 9, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda Formally Welcomed Into Commonwealth

Rwandan dance troupe celebrates in London

Rwandan dance troupe celebrates in London

Rwandan President Paul Kagame joined celebrations in England as Rwanda was formally welcomed into the Commonwealth Club of Nations.

Rwandan performers opened the Commonwealth Day ceremony with a traditional dance and Rwandan President Paul Kagame addressed the media. “I am pleased to be here on this special [day] as my country, Rwanda, is formerly welcomed into the Commonwealth,” he said.

Rwanda was admitted to the Commonwealth in November 2009, during the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago.

Mr. Kagame says he wants Rwanda’s youth to benefit from Commonwealth educational and training programs, and hopes his country will gain financially by being a member. “We hope to tap into the trade and investment opportunities that the Commonwealth offers, so that Rwanda can expand its economy and effectively participate in the global marketplace,” he said.

The Commonwealth of Nations is an intergovernmental organization of 54 independent member states. All but two, Mozambique and Rwanda, had a British colonial past or constitutional link to Britain.

Rwanda’s bid to join the Commonwealth began in 2003.

In March the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative voiced concern over human rights and freedom of expression in Rwanda and said it was deeply concerned at the level of threats to opposition parties before presidential elections set to take place in August. But Rwandan officials said at the time the allegations were without basis.

Mr. Kagame said Rwandan rights will gain from being part of the international organization. “I think the Commonwealth is a family where there are many failings, and failings do not come from only one part of that family. Each family has its own failings, but when they come together then they share good practices to overcome those failings and that is why Rwanda sees it as very important to be part of the Commonwealth. There is a lot we are going to gain from it, there is also a lot we are going to contribute to the well being of the Commonwealth,” he said.

After speaking with reporters, Mr. Kagame witnessed the hoisting ceremony of the Rwandan flag.

Rwandans sang on the grassy lawn of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London as the flag was raised.

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who is Commonwealth chairman, and Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma also witnessed the ceremony.

Outside the ceremony, Britain-based Rwandans gathered to mark the occasion.

Many were singing in celebration. Claude Rutsinzi said he thought Mr. Kagame had done much to improve human rights in his country. “I do not accept at this stage really that the human-rights situation in Rwanda is bad, compared even to many many other countries in the Commonwealth,” he said.

But others, like Ambrose Nzeyimana, said they did not think Rwanda should be eligible yet to join the Commonwealth.
We are not against Rwanda being part of the Commonwealth, but we are afraid that the regime of Paul Kagame cannot stand the democracy that the Commonwealth is expecting from its members,” Nzeyimana said.

Mr. Kagame was also to join Queen Elizabeth for a multi-faith Observance in London.

Voice of America – voanews.com.

March 9, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda: Ammunition Discovered In Kayibanda’s House

Update March 10,2010:: the story as reported earlier (see further below) by rwandan media is not true, say police.

Kigali: Police on Wednesday refuted as “not true” the reports indicating that ammunition had been discovered in a house belonging to ex-president Gregoire Kayibanda in Southern Rwanda.

Quoting the Police, the BBC Kinyarwanda service reported Tuesday evening that about 140 pistol bullets were found in deceased Kayibanda’s house in Nyamabuye sector of Muhanga district.

The local daily New Times also carried the same reports Tuesday but this time quoting Muhanga District Police Commander Supt. Desire Tuyizere. State radio also picked up the same reports.

However, on Wednesday, Police Spokesman Kayiranga dismissed the versions reported on Tuesday saying the 138 pistol bullets were found in a house of a man in the same area, but which is not the ex-president’s house.

End Update.

MUHANGA – Four people have been arrested in Nyamabuye sector, Muhanga district in connection with over 146 rounds of ammunition found at the residence of former Rwandan Head of State, Gregoire Kayibanda.

The suspects were arrested over the weekend during an operation mounted by local leaders and security officials at Kayibanda’s residence located in Kavumu village, near Rugeramigozi swamps.

The District Police Commander Supt. Desire Tuyizere confirmed the arrests and said investigations are still ongoing. ‘Four people were arrested, and a magazine was recovered during the operation,’ he said.

The suspects were named as Valens Semana, a demobilised soldier, Bernard Mpayimana, Josue Hategikimana, and Eric Uwayezu, a student. Another suspect only identified as Ramazan of Ruhango was said to be still at large.

The New Times – newtimes.co.rw

March 9, 2010   No Comments

Numbers of Tutsi and Hutu Victims of Rwandan War

In his article “How free is free” published on his blog, Christopher Vourlias presents the article of Geoffrey York: Rwanda’s blood-soaked history becomes a tool for repression as an “otherwise excellent piece”, but goes on to criticise the author in these terms:

How can you breezily write a sentence like this – “Ms. Ingabire says she doesn’t know how many Tutsis died in 1994, how many Hutus died, or even whether the number of Tutsi victims was larger than the number of Hutu victims.” – without mentioning that such a revisionist opinion contradicts a very large body of genocide scholarship? Should a journalist accept a statement like that at face value?

If knowing the number of victims on both sides is so important, it would be wise to consult those researchers who have already raised the question and who provided enough elements showing that Ingabire is right to say that she doesn’t know…
In fact, the answer to this question raised by Mr Vourlias is given by one commentator on Mr York’s article, who writes:

Mr. York’s article is headed in the right direction based on his limited research on the matter. I highly recommend that he reads a key scientific study by Professor Christian Davenport and Allan C. Stam. It would also be instructive for my York to watch this lecture by Professor Davenport at the University of Michigan.

In minute 31 of the video professor Stam demonstrates how the number of people killed in the Rwandan genocide were made up by Professor Seltzer of Fordham University. Professor Seltzer said he arrived at his figures (which are universally used and quoted)on the notion that an estimate of about or that at least 6 million died in the Holocaust was sufficient for the nuremberg prosecution. He goes on to say that he can no longer recall why he settled on his numbers.

In fact, as written on the fordschool.umich.edu website,

Allan Stam, Professor of Political Science and Faculty Associate at the Center for Political Studies and his colleagues drew from a number of data sources, and their conclusions call into question much of the conventional wisdom about the the violence.

They find that there were several forms of political violence being enacted at once (genocide, politicide, civil war, random violence and vendetta killings), that the extremist Hutu government as well as the Rwandan Patriotic Front engaged in violent activity against Rwandan citizens, and that the majority of victims were likely Hutu and not Tutsi.
These findings have implications for public policy, advocacy, humanitarian intervention as well as post-conflict reconstruction
.
Coming to a New Understanding of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide

March 9, 2010   5 Comments

Rwanda’s blood-soaked history becomes a tool for repression

by Geoffrey York – Globe and Mail (theglobeandmail.com)

Victoire Ingabire dared to speak of Hutus victims of genocide

Victoire Ingabire dared to speak of Hutus victims of genocide

Kigali — The symbolism was incendiary. In front of the mass graves where 250,000 genocide victims are buried, a Rwandan politician dared to speak of the Hutus who were killed in those same terrible months in 1994.

Perhaps more astonishingly, Victoire Ingabire was not imprisoned for her taboo comments – not so far, at least, although the police have interrogated her three times and accused her of the crime of spreading “divisionism.”

Her challenge is posing an uncomfortable dilemma for the minority Tutsi-led government that dominates Rwanda. Sixteen years after the genocide of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis by Hutu extremists, can the authorities tolerate a political candidate who appeals openly to the Hutus who still comprise 85 per cent of Rwanda’s population?

How long can the government use the genocide as a justification for strict controls on the political system? And who decides the official history of the genocide?

The woman at the centre of the storm is an unlikely politician: a cheerful 41-year-old emigrant who has worked as an accountant at a U.S. company in the Netherlands for the past decade.

She wears a frilly-strapped dress and giggles merrily when she is asked about the barrage of wild attacks on her in Rwanda’s state-controlled media.

But she is backed by many of the Hutus who fled to Europe and North America during the Rwandan wars of the 1990s. She clearly has money and resources. She rents a large house in one of Kigali’s most exclusive neighbourhoods, where she has a Land Cruiser parked in the driveway.

Ms. Ingabire’s decision to return to Kigali this year has sent shock waves through Rwandan politics. In a country where ethnic divisions are officially never discussed, she has dared to raise Hutu grievances – especially the killing of thousands of Hutus in 1994 and 1995, which she describes as a “crime against humanity.”

It’s a potent appeal. Many Hutus feel excluded from power, excluded from the best jobs and schools, and afraid to speak out. It was to them that Ms. Ingabire was deliberately appealing when she returned to Rwanda in January – after 16 years in exile – and made her controversial comments at the genocide memorial.

Ms. Ingabire has carefully couched her appeal in diplomatic language. She condemns the genocide, calling for reconciliation and dialogue. She denounces “extremists” on all sides. She urges the authorities to bring all criminals to justice, regardless of ethnicity. She pledges to work for a peaceful country, united in mutual respect.

Yet merely by talking of Hutu victims, she has triggered a firestorm of reaction. She and her assistant were assaulted by a gang of young men in a government office. Her assistant, who was badly beaten, has been jailed for “genocide” crimes. She is facing a police investigation for her alleged “genocide ideology.” And even the country’s powerful President, Paul Kagame, has warned that “the law will catch up with her” – a clear threat that she will be arrested.

At the heart of the battle between Ms. Ingabire and Mr. Kagame is a stark disagreement about Rwanda’s identity. The President argues that any talk of ethnicity must be suppressed because Rwanda is still in a fragile post-genocide period, where hatred and violence could rise again. His opponent sees this as an excuse for repression, leading only to resentment and bitterness among those who cannot speak out.

It is unclear whether the government will permit Ms. Ingabire to challenge Mr. Kagame in the presidential election in August. The President won the last election with an official margin of 95 per cent, and he has brooked no real opposition since 1994, when he led the Tutsi rebels who defeated the genocidal Hutu regime.

So far, Ms. Ingabire has been denied permission to gather the 200 signatures that she needs to register her political party. She is routinely subjected to fierce attacks in the pages of Rwanda’s only daily newspaper, the state-connected New Times, which refuses to publish her responses to the attacks.

“I don’t know why the government is so afraid of me,” she says. “They watch me and follow me all the time. I know anything can happen to me – they can arrest me, they can kill me.”

The managing director of the New Times, Joseph Bideri, confirmed that the newspaper refuses to give any “space” to Ms. Ingabire’s responses. He wrote a personal letter to her on Jan. 22, vowing she would never get a “platform” in the newspaper because she is a “genocide denier.”

In an interview, however, Mr. Bideri was unable to provide any evidence that Ms. Ingabire denies the genocide. In fact, in her public speeches and in a lengthy interview with The Globe and Mail, she repeatedly acknowledged and condemned the 1994 genocide. She draws a distinction between the slaughter of the Tutsis – which she calls a genocide – and the killings of many Hutus, which she describes as a “crime against humanity.”

Although she emigrated to the Netherlands shortly before the genocide began, Ms. Ingabire’s own family suffered in the genocide. Her brother was killed in 1994 because he was mistaken for a Tutsi.

“When people talk about the pain they feel, they need to understand that everybody feels pain,” she says. “We have to understand the pain of others. When I condemn the genocide, I’m also thinking of my brother. Not all Hutus are killers, and not all Tutsis are victims.”

International human-rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have criticized the Rwandan government for attacking and harassing opposition leaders such as Ms. Ingabire. Amnesty says the Rwandan law on “genocide ideology” is so vague and ambiguous that the authorities can use it to suppress dissent.

There is strong evidence to support Ms. Ingabire’s allegations of war crimes against Hutus. For example, a United Nations investigator in 1994 estimated that 25,000 to 45,000 civilians, primarily Hutus, were killed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front – the army of Mr. Kagame, now the governing party. Many other civilians, including thousands of Hutu refugees, were killed in further attacks in later years. Only a small handful of RPF members have been prosecuted for the Hutu deaths, which remain a taboo subject in Rwanda.

Ms. Ingabire says she doesn’t know how many Tutsis died in 1994, how many Hutus died, or even whether the number of Tutsi victims was larger than the number of Hutu victims. Some observers say she is leaving the impression of an equivalency between the two sides, despite historical evidence that the Tutsi victims were far more numerous and were the only ones subjected to a deliberate campaign of attempted extermination.

But even the Rwandan government has struggled with how to write the history of the genocide. At the memorial where 250,000 victims are buried, a guide says it commemorates only the Tutsi victims of the genocide. Yet he distributes an audio guide that calls it a memorial to the “Tutsi and moderate Hutu peoples” who were killed.

Didas Gasana, editor of a weekly newspaper whose staff is often harassed and threatened by the authorities for its independent views, says the government needs to provide justice and truth to the Hutu victims. “There needs to be debate and justice and openness,” he says. “It’s a part of history that can’t be denied.”

Mr. Gasana is himself a Tutsi. And despite the official view that ethnicity has disappeared, he says he is often told privately by government officials that he should not write such critical articles – because he is a Tutsi.

Geoffrey York – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/rwandas-blood-soaked-history-becomes-a-tool-for-repression/article1487568/.

March 9, 2010   1 Comment