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Football United: Barcelona President Joan Laporta Visits Rwandan Refugee Camp

Joan Laporta

Joan Laporta, President of FC Barcelona

On March 4, Barcelona president Joan Laporta led a club delegation to visit the Kiziba Refugee camp in western Rwanda [near the town of Kibuye]. The trip was part of a collaboration project between the club and the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR. Barca has given over $100,000, part of which was spent on building a multi functional sports centre. Laporta was there to cut the ribbon and officially open the centre.

As you come down the hill into Kiziba you can see the camp site from a distance. It looks beautiful. Nestling between several hills in what is a lush and green Rwandan countryside, you can see hundreds upon hundreds of tiny houses with white roofs. As the cavalcade of UNHCR 4×4’s which carry the Barcelona delegation winds down to the camp, local villagers stop working. Most simply stare but some young children run by waving energetically and laughing enthusiastically.

The Kiziba camp was built in 1996 and houses close onto 19,000 refugees. Most of them are from neighbouring DR Congo which has been racked with years of internal fighting. As Laporta’s entourage enters the camp hundreds of refugees have been waiting patiently to greet him. A large Barcelona FC badge is held aloft and a long line of line of people unveil a huge Catalan flag. Singers, dancers and a welcoming committee are eager to greet the president of officially the best club side in world football.

After a welcoming ceremony inside the newly built sports centre in which a karate team, dancers and football players provide the entertainment Laporta is shown around the camp. Overall it’s pretty grim viewing. The tiny mud built huts are dark and cramped. The school lacks space and has very few facilities to offer the children. The market is empty, and overcrowding is an obvious problem. It’s almost surreal to see Laporta in this environment. The last time we spoke was when Johan Cruyff was named as coach of Catalunya and Laporta was present at his official unveiling. Television cameras, photographers, men in suits, Barcelona’s high society mingling around the hors d’ouevres and canapes, were the order of that day.

Yet here we were chatting outside of a grim looking classroom. In the background a dirt track ran away from us with a ditch on either side. It’s the rainy season still in Rwanda, and the track has turned into a dark, angry looking orange pregnant with rain and with puddles sitting everywhere. Hundreds of children in their blue uniforms hum around us, smiling, eager and full of excitement. So my first question to Laporta is obvious.

“What are we doing here?” He echoes me. “ We are showing our soul to the less fortunate, because Barcelona is more than a club. When we say this, it’s not a slogan it’s a declaration of principles. The best way to show this is to give back to society a part of what society has given to us. Thanks to the people we have this chance to show our solidarity. Here in Kiziba we are involved with UNHCR, in order to develop programmes which are based around education, nutrition and of course sport.”

UNHCR says that this year alone the club’s funding has been over $100,000. It may not seem like a huge deal but the figures are impressive when you add them all up. Since 2006, the Blaugrana has been donating 0.7% of its annual budget to the Barcelona Foundation, which oversees all of the charitable work the club carries out. The club donates just over $2 million dollars annually to UNICEF to wear their logo on their shirts. It’s a deal which will last for five years and end in 2011. And of course its estimated that the club has lost over $100 million dollars in revenues from not having a private shirt sponsor.

“You know I tell the refugees that they are stronger than my players. I believe in this. I say that to encourage them, so they can improve and face up to their difficulties,” Laporta continues. “And my players are very proud that their club is involved in work like this. We have the logo of UNICEF on our shirts, but that’s not enough. We have to promote these programmes and we have to find ways to resource them. The people here are living in very bad conditions and we have to help them. My players are very proud of the refugees and we are playing for them too.”

It all sounds very nice and sugary. It’s almost a Hollywood ending. The world’s top club not only plays champagne football but also helps the needy worldwide. It almost feels like Barcelona are the good guys of football. Everyone’s favourite heroes. It’s a great publicity stint isn’t it? After all Laporta sweeping into a camp, shaking a few hands and handing over some money for programmes and projects looks pretty impressive in front of cameras and microphones. At the end of the day Barcelona is about football and in today’s world football is also about business. Clubs are not charities. Fans want to see trophies in the cabinet and the best stars wearing their shirt. That is what matters.

“I think we have to have a wider view of the world than that,” Laporta asserts himself. “Yes we are a football club and football is the most popular sport in the world. We have the honour of belonging to a small group of clubs who are among the elite in this sport and I think we have to give something more and not just football. We have to give something to people especially to the most vulnerable and especially to boys and girls. I think we have this responsibility and we have this obligation. And my answer to the critics is that I respect their point of view but you know this is my way to understand the presidency and this is my way to understand my club.”

The problem Barcelona’s critics face is that the club can back up its actions with its programmes. Aside from sponsoring UNICEF and working with UNHCR, Barcelona’s Foundation has set up twelve centres worldwide including countries such as Malawi, Burkina Faso, Brazil and even in Catalunya. These social integration centres are aimed at providing vulnerable children with extra school activities, which include nutrition, regular health checks and education. This is unlike many clubs, who have football schools which are no more than marketing ventures. These are located in strategic places such as the USA, Middle East and the Far East. Nor are these social centres academies to siphon off local talent. The only genuine football academy that Barcelona runs is located in Argentina.

Whether it’s all about generating good publicity or for a genuine desire to make a difference one thing is sure, Laporta finding time to come out to Rwanda and spend a day in a refugee camp has made a huge impact on the everyday refugees who live there. I speak to some of them and one in particular. Arseno is only 17-years-old. He has lived in Kiziba for 14 years. Both his parents died in fighting in DR Congo and his only remaining family is his uncle and a younger brother. He catches my eye because he is covered in head to foot in Barcelona colours with several scarves wrapped around him.

“I am a real fan of Barcelona and I am very happy that the president is here today, Arseno said. “I really like soccer and I would love to be a player. But I have no chance of being one because as a refugee I have no citizenship. It means I have no opportunity to go outside of this camp. No chance of a team ever taking me I can only play here in this camp.”

Another refugee called Johnny is 22-years-old and loves to play basketball which he says is very popular in the camp.

“I was very excited when I heard the news from the BBC and from Radio Rwanda that he [Laporta] was coming here to our camp. It means a lot. We face a lot of problems here, mainly from hunger and from having little means by which to do anything. Maybe he can make things better for us with his visit.”

UNHCR feels its collaboration with Barcelona is beneficial. Aside from the funding and the building of the multi functional sports centre inside Kiziba, the mere presence of Laporta has made a difference even if it is just for a day. The Rwandan government has also encouraged Barcelona’s work. The government has turned to sport as one of its main ways of reconciliation after the genocide of 1996. Around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred in a matter of a few months as ethnic tensions between Hutus and Tutsis flared up. Since then sport has played a part in rebuilding communities, and any sporting help provides something for the refugees.

It may not be ideal because there are no guarantees that it can be sustained. For example all this work done by Barcelona could end as soon as a new president is voted into power in June when Laporta steps down. There may well be an element of playing to the crowd as the club can only gain positive publicity from being associated with charitable causes. It may seem too noble to be true in the avaricious world of football, where making money is the main ambition. The sport’s public image is not the best. In football it seems everyone just wants. The fans want success and the best players, the best players want the best contracts, and owners want maximum profits.

For every Barcelona there is a Real Madrid which today under Florentino Perez is as much an economic venture as it is a football adventure. For every Real Madrid there is a Portsmouth or a Chester City, one gone into administration, the other into extinction. But whatever the team, and whatever the reason, be it reducing ticket prices for kids, players going on visits to hospitals or club presidents travelling to Rwanda, if in the end it makes a difference, then football should remember it still has something worth shouting about.

Ashish Sharma –

March 18, 2010   No Comments

Victoire Ingabire: Positive Change or Political Upheaval for Rwanda?

John Bavoso wrote an interesting article in the The Diplomatic Courier about the recent political situation in Rwanda.

As if the upcoming elections in Rwanda weren’t already fraught with the kind of worries that all too often accompany elections in sub-Saharan Africa, Paul Kagame, the country’s president since 2000, now faces a political challenger—one that may shake up the country’s political landscape forever.

Victoire Ingabire

Victoire Ingabire

Her name is Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and she is the Chairperson of the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF), a body comprised of several different Rwandan opposition political parties. The party has many supporters within Rwanda in addition to expatriates living in Europe, the United States, and Canada.

There are a few factors that make Ms. Ingabire’s candidacy controversial. First is her prolonged absence from the very country she’s now looking to run. Ingabire left Rwanda in the early 1990s to pursue her education in the Netherlands and, after joining an international accounting firm, stayed there until very recently, when she made arrangements to return and begin her campaign. She’s been active in the Dutch branch of the Republican Rally for Democracy in Rwanda since 1997, but many contend that she lacks the on-the-ground experience needed to be Rwanda’s next President.

Secondly, there is the issue of her gender. While more than 50 percent of Rwanda’s parliamentarians are female, none of these women have yet risen to the rank of Head of State. In a recent interview, Ingabire brought her gender to the forefront of her campaign, saying, “Because women abhor violence, I will ensure that there are more women in power… I will set up special programmes for women and promote development projects that will help them gain financial independence.”

While any student of feminist theory knows the dubiousness of claims of the inherently pacific nature of women, the women of Rwanda have played a vital role in the country’s economic and political recovery and it would be interesting to see how the government would change under female leadership.

By far the most controversial aspect of Ms. Ingabire’s campaign, however, is her take on the Rwandan Genocide. President Kagame’s strategy for rebuilding Rwanda and forging a united national identity has been to suppress and downplay ethnic divisions within society. Ingabire, in contrast, famously espouses the opinion that the events of 1994 represented not just genocide against Tutsis, but a double genocide that also targeted Hutus.

Kagame’s administration has chosen to focus on this position, with Prime Minister Bernard Makuza saying of her tactics, “Rwandans have long since done away with such fear and they cannot allow anyone to lead them into the politics of anarchy that takes them back while destroying what they have built.” Ingabire’s supporters have countered that Kagame’s emphasis on her alleged ethnic divisiveness is an attempt to avoid competition and thwart the democratic process.

It will be a long road to Rwanda’s elections in August, but the international community should pay close attention, as what happens in the next eight months may be even more telling of the state the country’s political system than the election results themselves.

John Bavoso – Contributor – The Diplomatic Courier

March 18, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda and Canadian Firm Vangold To Sign Definitive Deal On Lake Kivu Oil

Kigali: The Canadian firm exploring for oil in Lake Kivu has agreed with Government to work on a final deal which will stipulate how the two sides will share the oil find – a move experts say could mean the prospects of finding oil seem positive.

Indicative of growing prospects of making an oil find in Lake Kivu (western Rwanda), Vangold Resources Ltd. separated in mid February its mining operations from its oil interests – transferring all of the oil and gas assets to a new company called Vanoil Energy.

The new firm announced Tuesday in British Colombia (Canada) that it has come to an understanding with the Rwanda Ministry of Infrastructure to enter into a “definitive production sharing contract within six months”.

The latest understanding dictates that Vanoil continues with the ongoing exploration program, according Mr. Dal Brynelsen, President and CEO, in a statement.

Vangold initially said in 2008 that a preliminary search showed there were “traces” of oil in Lake Kivu – shared within the same valley that stretches along Uganda’s western border.

Uganda is already on the stage of pumping crude oil from its wells in the South West – and plans are under way to install a refinery in the area. But the discovery is not without controversy, as Ugandan lawmakers and campaigners accuse government of signing agreements with Heritage Oil and Tullow Oil behind closed-doors and not allowing external overview.

Vanoil said an Environmental Impact Assessment of the oil exploration project is due by the end of the year. It also said the Assessment will have four components – including testing for levels of the methane gas in the lake, which several firms are working on to produce electricity.

The firm will do Carbon isotopic tests to determine the source of the huge 55 km3 methane in Lake Kivu at the UK-based GHgeochem Laboratory. Experts say the methane continues to increase at a rate of 15% in thirty years.

Mr. Brynelsen said these tests will determine whether the gas could be from leaking hydrocarbons traps in the sedimentary basin within Lake Kivu.

The second assessment will be the laboratory excitation of Lake Kivu waters by sonic waves to form bubbles to establish suitable safe seismic sources for the marine survey at Allied Geophysical Labs. This will be done in Houston (USA).

There will also be an analysis of Lake Kivu waters for dissolved hydrocarbons and mineral salts at the Petroleum and Geochem lab in Houston.

The fourth component of the environmental assessment will entail a high resolution low impact 300 km seismic and magnetic survey to evaluate geo hazards in the lake with University of Syracuse.


March 18, 2010   4 Comments

Amnesty International: Urgent action for Rwandan opposition leader Mushayidi

Document – Rwanda: Politician arrested, risks ill-treatment: Deogratias Mushayidi

UA: 56/10 Index: AFR 47/001/2010 Rwanda Date: 10 March 2010



Rwandan politician Deogratias Mushayidi has been detained since 5 March. He has been allowed no contact with his lawyer, and he is at risk of ill-treatment.

Deo Mushayidi

Deo Mushayidi

Deogratias (usually known as Deo) Mushayidi is the Chairman of a political party, the Pact for People’s Defence (PDP). It was founded in Belgium, and is active with Rwandans living abroad, but not registered in Rwanda. He was head of the Rwandan Journalists’ Association from 1996 to 2000. He is an outspoken critic of the Rwandan government.

He was detained in Burundi on 3 March by the Burundian security forces, who handed him over to Rwanda two days later. It is not clear whether he was formally extradited.

The Rwandan authorities have told national broadcaster Radio Rwanda that Deogratias Mushayidi is wanted in connection with recent grenade attacks in Kigali. He is accused of a number of serious offences, including terrorism, but it is not clear whether he has actually been charged. He has not yet been brought before a court.

The Rwandan Police confirmed to Amnesty International on 9 March that Deogratias Mushayidi is detained at Kicukiro Police Station. They said that his right to access a lawyer and other visitors would be respected. However, his lawyer has so far been refused access to him. An international human rights group and some of his friends did not receive authorization either to visit him.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English, French or your own language:

urging the authorities to release Deogratias Mushayidi, or else charge him with a recognizably criminal offence;
urging them to ensure that any legal action takes place promptly and in accordance with international fair trial standards;
urging them to ensure he has access to a lawyer of his choosing, and regular family visits;
urging them to ensure that he is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.


Paul Kagame
Office of the President
BP 15
Urugwiro Village

Fax: +250 572431

Salutation: Dear President Kagame

Police commissioner
Emmanuel Gasana
Commissioner General
Rwandan National Police

Fax: +250 58 66 02

Salutation: Dear Commissioner General

Prosecutor General
Martin Ngoga
National Public Prosecution Autnority
BP 1328

Fax: +250 589 501

Salutation: Dear Prosecutor General

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.


ADditional Information

Deogratias Mushayidi fled Rwanda in 2000 and sought asylum in Belgium. From exile, he has been an outspoken critic of the Rwandan government. He formed the Pact for Peoples Defence in November 2008. In recent months, he is known to have travelled to Tanzania.

On 19 February, there were three simultaneous grenade attacks in Kigali. Less than two weeks later, on 4 March, there were two further near-simultaneous grenade attacks in Kigali. Rwandan police investigations into the attacks are underway, and it is in connection with these attacks that Deogratias Mushayidi has been arrested.

The attacks came amid rising tension as Rwanda prepares for presidential elections due to take place in August. Amnesty International has condemned recent intimidation of opposition groups and urged the authorities to respect the right of opposition parties to freedom of expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly.

UA: 56/10 Index: AFR 47/001/2010 Issue Date: 10 March 2010

March 18, 2010   No Comments

US Military students in Kigali to learn from Rwanda experience

KIGALI – A fifteen- member delegation of military officers from the US Air Force arrived in the country yesterday on a mission aimed at learning from Rwanda’s institutional development.

The delegation includes twelve students from the Navy, Marine and Air force segments who will be in the country on a four-day visit to add to the knowledge they acquired while in their country.

The Commander of US Air Force College, Major General Robert Kane, told The New Times yesterday, that the students would get first-hand information on the many success stories they have heard about Rwanda.

“We have heard so many positive things about Rwanda’s development, very positive things in governance, rule of law and the professionalization of the army. These students will see that first-hand here,” he said shortly after their arrival at Kigali International Airport.

The students, Kane added, would particularly look at aspects they studied like; diplomacy, politics, economics and culture.

“They will learn how all those things relate in this part of the world. They will meet with government officials, visit economic and cultural places to learn more,” he said.

The students’ leader, Lt Colonel Preston Jonas, said, “We have had a wonderful moment to read about Rwanda – this is an opportunity for us to see first-hand these things.

Shortly after their arrival, the delegation proceeded to the Kigali Memorial Site where Major General Kane laid a wreath on the mass graves of victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

They are scheduled to meet the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) Chief of General Staff, Gen James Kabarebe, today at the Ministry of Defence headquarters.

New Times

March 18, 2010   2 Comments

Bernard Ntaganda ousted in PS-Imberakuri

KIGALI – The embattled president of PS-Imberakuri, Bernard Ntaganda, has been removed the helm of the party for allegedly promoting divisionism and associating with terrorists.

Ntaganda’s elimination was announced yesterday by the party’s vice president, Christine Mukabunane, at a gathering that attracted around 300 members from all over the country, who make up the party’s National Congress.

Mme Christine Mukabonane, la nouvelle présidente du PS-ImberakuriMme Christine Mukabunane, new chair of PS-Imberakuri

“We publicly declare that Bernard Ntaganda is no longer PS Imberakuri’s president from today,” Mukabunane said, drawing a round of applause from the members.

Mukabunane added that according to the party’s statute, a committee of three people will lead the party for 60 days, when they will gather again to elect another president.

The committee comprises Christine Mukabunane (vice president), Noel Hakizimfura (the former general secretary of the party) and Augustin Niyitegeka, the party’s representative in Kigali city.

PS Imberakuri suffered leadership wrangles shortly after it registered in July last year and broke up into two rival factions.

Bernard NtagandaMe Bernard Ntaganda, ousted

According to Hakizimfura, Ntaganda had already drifted from the party’s core mission and allied with people who have been causing insecurity in the country.

“It came to our attention that Ntaganda had signed an agreement with Deo Mushayidi who is being accused of causing insecurity in the country. That is not what the party sent him to do,” Hakizimfura said.

“Ntaganda harbours divisionism ideology which aims at taking the country back to where it was in the past,” he said.

He quoted Ntaganda as saying in a recent meeting that they are in a revolution like that one of 1959.
People who participated in the 1959 revolution looked like you and they were fearless just like you’, Hakizimfura quoted Ntaganda as saying.

New Times

March 18, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda: Why hold elections, after all?

by Ambrose Nzeyimana.

Politics are the only playing field where when the rules are not fair, and everybody is convinced and confirmed in that fact, the match is played anyway.

Why on earth people having elections when the players don’t agree on the rules? Of course there are opportunists who are not inetersted in the rules of the game but only the personal gains they will get by participating.

Is it possible to call off the Rwandan presidential elections until the rules become fairer for every interested party? Rwandan partners have a big role to play in putting pressure on Kagame to change his current position.

Ambrose Nzeyimana, comment on blog.

March 18, 2010   1 Comment

Rwanda says genocide fugitive Kabuga “not in Kenya”

Genocide fugitive Felicien Kabuga is unlikely to be hiding in Kenya, Rwanda’s Foreign minister has said.

Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo

Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo

Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said on Wednesday her country believed Kenya’s word that Kabuga, Africa’s most wanted fugitive, was not in the country.

“Felicien Kabuga is the man who financed the genocide. We have no idea where he is. It has been said he has been living in Kenya but the administration has assured he is not around,” Foreign Affairs Ms Mushikiwabo said.

In an interview with the Nation ahead of Thursday’s Pan African Media Conference, the minister said there was no reason why Kenya, as Rwanda’s neighbour “could harbour such a person.”

Bounty on his head

The US and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda have maintained that the Kenyan Government is harbouring Kabuga.

Last month, US ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Stephen Rapp said Kabuga was in Kenya despite the government’s declarations to the contrary.

Kabuga: the most wanted man in Africa

Kabuga: the most wanted man in Africa

The fugitive is at the top of a list of 11 genocide suspects sought by the ICTR, with a $5 million (Sh390 million) bounty on his head.

He has been on the run since his indictment for his role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide that claimed over 800,000 lives. The Kenyan Government has repeatedly denied claims that Kabuga, whose bank accounts have been frozen, is in the country.

In 1998, an ICTR team raided a Nairobi house and allegedly found a note indicating that the fugitive, who escaped arrest, had been tipped off by police.

On Wednesday, Ms Mushikiwabo said the ICTR could be using claims that Mr Kabuga was in Kenya so that it can continue operating. “If he is here, where is he?” she asked.

Fielding questions from reporters, the minister said any country hosting Kabuga should collaborate in handing him over and expressed hope he “will show up somewhere one of these days and face trial”.

Rwanda and Kenya recently signed an extradition treaty – prompting speculation it was targeting Mr. Kabuga.


March 18, 2010   1 Comment

Rwanda: Getting Hard To Believe in Kagame’s PR Genius

It’s getting hard for me to believe in Kagame’s PR genius, given his worse than flimsy excuses for denying the poitical rights of the opposition, his allegations that journalists were responsible for the bombings, and, now, his goverment’s charge that Paul Rusesabagina is a “revisionist” and “Double Genocide Theorist,”

Ann Garrison –

March 18, 2010   4 Comments

Rwanda Accuses Hotel Rwanda Hero of ‘Double Genocide Theory’

by Ann Garrison –
Paul Rusesabagina, President Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (HRRF).

Paul Rusesabagina, President Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (HRRF).

Rwanda’s government has accused Paul Rusesabagina, the Rwandan exile played by actor Don Cheadle in the movie Hotel Rwanda, of being a “revisionist” who “harbors the Double Genocide Theory.”

A “revisionist,” in Rwanda, is someone who dares to challenge the received history of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.
The “Double Genocide Theory” is the belief that Hutus, as well as Tutsis, were victims of genocidal violence in 1994.
The Rwanda New Times reported, on March 12th, that the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda had ruled that Paul Rusesabagina’s testimony was “not an absolute necessity” at the trial of former ruling party official Joseph Nzirorera.
The New Times also reported that: Deogene Bideri,a senior official at the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), equated Rusesabagina’s actions to those of the accused. “Rusesabagina’s actions have made it clear that he is a revisionist and he harbors the Double Genocide Ideology.
Theodore Simburudari, the president of Ibuka, an umbrella organization of Genocide survivors’ associations, said that for Nzirorera to ask Rusesabagina to be his witness, is evidence in itself that both men have in their agenda, spreading the Double Genocide Ideology.
Much of the world’s emotional response to the 1994 Rwanda Genocide has been shaped by the Hollywood movie Hotel Rwanda.
At its end, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) Army, led by General Paul Kagame appear as heroes to end the bloodshed, as the movie’s hero, Paul Rusesabagina, departs from a Rwandan refugee camp with his family.
The movie makes no mention of the many political and legal scholars, journalists, and human rights investigators contesting the received history of the genocide, including University of Notre Dame Professor Christian Davenport and University of Michigan Professor Alan Stam, who, after many years of study, interviews with survivors, and statistical analysis, concluded that :
– a million people died, -the vast majority of those who died were not Tutsi, but Hutu,
– American, French and Belgian leaders, including Bill Clinton and the CIA, knew what was happening every day as the massacres continued and
– current Rwandan President Paul Kagame, a U.S. ally trained at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, is guilty of war crimes of an extraordinary scale. (Professors Stam and Davenport’s Rwandan visas have been revoked.)
Nor does the movie mention Kagame’s training at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the Pentagon arming his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) army, or, the victory of the U.S., UK, and Anglophone interests, over those of France, won by the RPF, as described by Professor Michel Chussodovsky, in his Global Research report “Rwanda: Installing a U.S. Protectorate in Central Africa.”
Indeed, the movie ends with this message: The genocide ended in July 1994., when the Tutsi rebels [Kagame’s RPF militia] drove the Hutu army and the interahamwe militia across the border into the Congo. They left behind almost a million corpses.
It might therefore seem like good public relations for Kagame and his ruling RPF Party to remain on good terms, at least publicly, with Paul Rusesabagina, the real life hero of Hotel Rwanda, which is based on his autobiography, An Ordinary Man.
Instead, they have accused him of “revisionism” and “harboring the Double Genocide Theory.”
Kagame and the RPF are coming under more and more international pressure to hold a real presidential election this year, as reported by the London Independent on March 15th, in Rwanda’s Democratic Credentials Under Fire. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Campaign to Protect Journalists, the Global Greens, the European Green Free Alliance, the African Faith and Social Justice Network, and U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, D-WI, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Africa, have all called for civil and political rights and a free and fair election, but authorities continue to deny two of the three major opposition parties permits to convene, register, or field candidates.
On March 12, the Hotel Rwanda/Rusesabagina Foundation joined the list, issuing a press release that “condemns election related violence in Rwanda, and calls for real democratic activity to be allowed.”
Authorities nevertheless continue to threaten the FDU-Inkingi Party’s candidate, Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza, and the Parti Social-Imberakuri’s candidate, Bernard Ntaganda, with incarceration for the same offenses that Kagame’s government accuses Paul Rusesabagina of—-“revisionism” and the “Double Genocide Theory.”
Both are speech crimes under the Rwandan Constitution ratified in 2003 and Rwanda’s “genocide ideology” statutes passed in 2008.
by Ann Garrison –

March 18, 2010   No Comments