Rwanda Information Portal

USA on the 16th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide

On behalf of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, and the American people, I would like to convey our deepest sympathies to all Rwandans who lost loved ones, friends, neighbors, and colleagues in the genocide. We join you today to pay respects to the victims – more than eight hundred thousand Rwandans – who lost their lives during the 100 brutal days of 1994. Rwanda bears the grave burden of this tragedy, but the international community has not forgotten and we will never forget. We live with the knowledge that we could have done more than we did. But, like you, we know that we must apply lessons learned from the past while looking to the future.

As we commemorate the genocide in solidarity and sympathy with the survivors, we look to Rwanda’s vision of its future. It is one enlightened by all Rwandans who live together in respect, commitment to reconciliation, and determination to make the lives of their children and grandchildren better in every respect than what they have known. Rwandans are a people of remarkable determination and fortitude. It is heroic work to rebuild lives.

Survivors have pushed on creating a new Rwanda, while living with mental and physical scars. Many refugees and former combatants have returned home and are living and working together throughout the country. Rwanda’s economy is growing steadily, attracting new investment and tourism. And to strengthen regional peace and security, we note that the Government of Rwanda has taken steps to rebuild its relationships with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other states of the Great Lakes region. The United States will remain a committed partner in Rwanda’s efforts to improve the well-being of its citizens and promote peace and stability in the region.

Today, as we remember the victims of the genocide, we must also remind ourselves that such atrocities committed anywhere violate our collective humanity and dignity. Rwanda’s contribution to the peacekeeping efforts in Darfur are a powerful testament to a commitment to ensure that others will not be left to experience the pain and devastation that wreaked havoc upon Rwanda’s people sixteen years ago.

On this somber occasion, the United States applauds Rwanda’s progress and wishes its people continued success in their efforts in securing a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future.

[US Department of State – www.state.gov]

April 7, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda: Gacaca courts closure delayed again

Kigali: The gacaca grass-roots courts that have judged more than one million people suspected of taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide will close later than announced, the Gacaca Secretariat announced, as the country starts a seven-day national mourning period.

“We expected the cases we were hearing would have been finished in March, but it was not so,” Denis Bikesha, an official at Rwanda’s gacaca department is reported to have said.

As of March 15, the gacaca courts, based on the age-old concept of a village council, still had some 560 cases outstanding, he said.

Earlier this year Bikesha had said he expected the whole process to be completed by the end of March.

This is the third delay as officials scramble for what to do with cases that continue to arise.

April 7, 2010   No Comments

UN Chief honors Rwanda victims with strong message

Preventing future atrocities best way to honour Rwandan genocide victims – Ban

In Remembrance.

7 April 2010 – Securing justice for the victims of genocide and preventing future atrocities are the best ways to honour the hundreds of thousands of people slaughtered in Rwanda 16 years ago, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today as the United Nations observes a global day of remembrance for the tragedy.More than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutus were murdered in the tiny African nation, mostly by machete, during a period of less than 100 days beginning in April 1994.

In a message to commemorate the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, observed annually on 7 April, Mr. Ban said the UN is fully committed to securing justice and to preventing future atrocities.

Together, let us pledge our determination to prevent genocide as the best way to remember those who lost their lives so tragically in Rwanda

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), he noted, delivered the first-ever verdicts in relation to genocide by an international court. “These and similar actions from the halls of justice have sent a clear message to the genocidaires and would-be genocidaires. Simply put, their heinous crimes will not go unpunished.”

The Secretary-General urged Member States to cooperate with the tribunal, which is based in the Tanzanian city of Arusha, to arrest and hand over the remaining 11 fugitives as the court continues to deliver justice and ensure accountability.

Together, let us pledge our determination to prevent genocide as the best way to remember those who lost their lives so tragically in Rwanda,” said Mr. Ban.

This year’s commemoration features a candle-lighting ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York with music performed by young Rwandan and international musicians.

The film As We Forgive, a documentary about the power and pain of reconciliation in Rwanda, will also be screened.

The UN Office in Geneva is marking the Day with a ceremony featuring statements by, among others, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. Ceremonies, film screenings and panel discussions are also taking place around the world, from Accra and Antananarivo to Bogotá and Brazzaville.

Also in connection with this year’s commemoration, a student videoconference entitled Rebuilding After Genocide: Justice, Reconciliation and Reintegration will be held tomorrow. It will connect students in New York, Illinois and Mexico City with representatives from the ICTR, the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission and the National Service of Gacaca Courts in Rwanda and a Rwandan genocide survivor.

[UN News Centre – www.un.org/]

April 7, 2010   No Comments

Catholic Church in Minnesota remembers Virgin Mary prediction of Rwanda Genocide

Kigali: The Catholic Diocese in the U.S state of Minnesota is preparing a function to commemorate the appearance of the Virgin Mary to seven children in Kibeho (Western Rwanda) which supposedly gave them visions of the future Tutsi Genocide, RNA reports.

To mark this appearance, a prayer retreat is being organized on April 24 at St. Timothy in Minneapolis. Organisers say through this event, it is hoped people will feel closer to their Catholic family around the world.

The retreat will include music, confession, Mass and adoration. Retreatants will also eat a unique Rwandan meal, hear Rwandan music and learn about the apparition of Our Lady of Kibeho, according to The Catholic Spirit, a newsletter of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minnesota.

Kibeho was part of former Gikongoro prefecture where on November 28, 1981, the Virgin Mary reportedly surfaced. Available information suggests that the government at the time used the appearances for political reasons.

In the years that followed, government-leaning media especially Radio Rwanda reported that the Virgin Mary had approved the killing of Tutsis and that President Juvenal Habyarimana was with her in Heaven.

At the retreat in Minnesota, those in attendance will will watch “Hold on to Hope,” a DVD presentation of the life of Immaculée Ilibagiza, who survived the Tutsi Genocide. Ms. Ilibagiza will also lead them in meditation via DVD.

[ARI-RNA]

April 7, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda moves on – but scars from Genocide remain

Kigali : As Rwanda begins a week of official commemorations of the 1994 genocide today the last village courts set up to try those who took part in the killing of 800,000 Tutsis are preparing to shut down, closing a chapter in the long process of healing.

For the past five years thousands of Hutus have been brought face to face with survivors and their families in traditional tribunals. These have sentenced many of the killers to long terms in jail while promoting reconciliation among those who still live alongside their victims’ families.

The gacaca courts have dealt with almost 1.5 million cases and most of the backlog of those accused of taking part in the genocide has been cleared. There are fears, however, that some villagers are using this unique system of justice to settle scores with neighbours, and the Government wants any remaining cases to be tried in regular courts.

Rwanda has promised to preserve the evidence that has emerged from these informal tribunals as part of the effort to ensure that racist ideology and the genocidal mania it spawned is never again allowed free rein.

Documents and archives will be added to the main genocide memorial centre in Kigali and to those set up across the country on sites where men, women and children were maimed, tortured, raped, bludgeoned and hacked to death in a frenzy of killing that lasted 100 days.

Every year Rwanda commemorates the start of the genocide on April 7, the date when the pre-arranged plan to exterminate the Tutsi minority was triggered by the shooting down of the aircraft that was carrying President Habyarimana.

Young people will march today to the main national stadium on a “walk to remember”. The event has been organised by Peace and Love Proclaimers , a local youth organisation linked to the Aegis Trust, a British-based organisation that helped to set up the Genocide Centre in Kigali, where 250,000 victims are buried. The genocide will also be remembered at a service in Southwark Cathedral.

Despite progress in reconciliation the trauma still hangs over Rwanda. It is already distorting the presidential election in August, making it a sensitive and dangerous time.

President Kagame, leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front — which swept in from exile in Uganda in 1994 to drive out the genocidaires — has laid down tough penalties for anyone attempting to exploit lingering suspicion between Hutu and Tutsi. Genocide deniers and apologists face criminal charges. Rwandans admit that this is a curb on free speech but point to the laws in Germany that make Holocaust denial an offence.

Human rights organisations accuse the Government of using the genocide as a pretext to bar those considering standing against Mr Kagame. Two weeks ago Victoire Ingabire, a Hutu exile who returned recently from the Netherlands, was detained at the airport when she attempted to leave. She has caused uproar by speaking of a double genocide and claiming that many Hutus were killed by returning Tutsi exiles in 1994. She claims that she is being silenced because of her opposition to the President.

Few doubt that Mr Kagame will be re-elected — the country has a healthy growth rate of 5 per cent and he has made progress in reconstruction, education and fighting corruption. However, he has been criticised for his secretive style of government and it is feared that any poll may be tarnished by the lack of any credible opposition.

The most sensitive issue is the legacy of the genocide. Most of the Government is drawn from Tutsi exiles who returned in 1994, and they are resented by many as a clique.

Mr Kagame has banned any official distinction between Tutsis and Hutus and insists that Rwandans must work together — but there is an ever-present fear that the animosities could be rekindled. Rwanda is small and crowded, vulnerable to tensions if land or the economy is squeezed.

And across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo still lurk the former interahamwe killers, a reminder of the tribalism and extremism that wreaked mayhem 16 years ago.

[ARI-RNA]

April 7, 2010   No Comments

“Foreigners imposing ‘hooligans’ like Ingabire on Rwanda”

Paul Kagame

In a 45-minute tirade, President Kagame fired at Ingabire, the west and the Generals. "They call me Hitler... but I'm not bothered"

Kigali – President Paul Kagame on Wednesday accused foreign critics of trying to impose values on Rwanda as well as preferring ‘hooligans’ to govern the country – categorically singling-out opposition politician Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, RNA reports.

In a firry 45-minute address to mark the 16th anniversary of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide, Mr. Kagame accused the opposition – specifically naming Ms. Ingabire in person, of “political hooliganism”. The President also accused the critics of “abusing me” in the name of freedom of expression, but said he is “not bothered at all”.

Some people here want to encouraging political hooliganism,” he said in English, before going into a tirade of attacks on Ingabire, as the crowd behind him was in constant applause.

Some people just come from nowhere…useless people…I see every time in pictures some lady who had her deputy – a Genocide criminal, talking about ‘there is Genocide but there is another’…that is politics…and the world is also saying ‘the opposition leader’…

The President was referring to Mr. Joseph Ntawangundi, the aide to Ms. Ingabire who was recently sentenced to 17 years for Genocide.

“They call me Hitler”

In a culmination with loud applause and clapping from the audience, President added: “To that we say a big no. And if anybody wants a fight, then we will give them a fight”.

The President dismissed the notion of free expression as promoted by his foreign critics such as campaign groups, saying Rwandans know what freedom means more than anybody else can teach them. He also attacked those he described as “constantly meddling in our politics” by propagating and making up “lies” about his government.

The President warned his critics of hiding behind freedom of express to “abuse me” but also added that he does not “give a damn”.

They break tool, they call me Hitler…am not bothered at all…I just hold them in contempt,” he said amid more applause. He wondered how his critics attack him and “at the same time complain about press freedom?”

You are even free to abuse people, you have no respect for anything…and you turn around to complain that you have no freedom to express yourself? …What more do you want to express about yourself or about others?

Ni watu gani awo?”

Mr. Kagame said “bad national politics converged with bad international politics” to cause what was being commemorated at today April 07 for the next three months.

Who are these giving anyone here lessons honestly? …Ni watu gani awo? …who are these? …are these Rwandans complaining? …or have they sent you to complain on their behalf? …” he wondered in a mixture of English, Kinyarwanda and Swahili, amid applause.

He added: “These Rwandans you see here and elsewhere are as free, as happy [and] as proud of themselves, like they have never been in their lives.

The President accused the west of preferring to criticize his government but do not want to be held responsible for their role in the Genocide. He also said the west was undermining “our dignity”, “our values” and “our pride”, arguing that democracy took time to get to the current level in their countries.

They wake up in the morning, distort [the] situation, tell lies about everything…plus they are responsible for many of the things that put here today to commemorate this Genocide…,” he said.

…yet when they talk about freedom of expression, they don’t want you to express yourself about their responsibility in this Genocide…What freedoms are you teaching me if you cant take responsibility for the politics that killed one million people in Rwanda.

The Generals

He added: “I know those who say it and support that, know it is wrong. But [it] is an expression of contempt these people have for Rwandans and for Africans…that they think Africans deserve to be led by these hooligans.

Turning his guns on the government officials who are fleeing the country apparently complaining about “no political space”, the President accused them of “running away from accountability”.

These Generals fleeing the country should not be taken seriously,” he said, in apparent reference to ex-army chief Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, who has political asylum in South Africa.

Earlier, Sports and Culture Minister Joseph Habineza also attacked the man behind the Hollywood movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’. Mr. Habineza did not name Mr. Paul Rusesabagina but was clearly referring to him.

Using poetic speech, the Minister also fired at the vocal opposition causing laughter in the otherwise somber occasion, saying they are blocking the reconciliation among Rwandans.

Paul Kagame lights the flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center

Paul Kagame lights the flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center

Earlier, in the same stadium amid silence as thousands waited for the arrival of the President, loud cries could be heard from difference sections as survivors erupted in emotional bursts. They continued all through the hours-long function – indicative of survivors remembering their traumatic experiences.

At exactly 12:00, a minute silence was observed in the stadium, as with other areas where commemoration activities were ongoing.

A women survivor narrated how she has rebuilt her life very successfully over the last sixteen years. Her ordeal started on April 07 in Kigali, that by April 12, she could barely move herself as she had been machetted on several parts of her body. The advancing RPF rebels saved her and others on this date – providing all sorts of aid.

As part of the national vigil, local musicians including those from within and outside of Rwanda sung emotional songs composed for the commemoration. White was the top colour they were dressed in – with some combinations of black trousers.

A group of about 200 children – wearing white dresses and purple coverings on their heads delivered a moving presentation in a mixture of English and Kinyarwanda. All through the act coupled with singing, poems and messages of hope for the survivors, traumatic outbursts could be heard as people were driven up by emotion.

Earlier, President Kagame led a brief vigil at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center where some 250,000 victims are laid to rest. In the courtyard of the Centre, the President lit a flame, which will burn for 100 days in symbolic recognition of the 100 days of the Tutsi slaughter.

Commemorative activities were taking place at village level across the country. In Kigali, city authorities organised a procession from Kacyiru to the national stadium in the afternoon.

April 7, 2010   10 Comments

Break the Silence Campaign on the death of millions in the Great Lakes region of Africa

Break The Silence Campaign on the death of millions in the Great Lakes region of Africa – PRESS RELEASE – London, 07/04/10

There was a time in Africa’s history when the continent was characterized by corruption, dictatorships and coup d’état. This was particularly the case during the first quarter of century after the independence period in the1960s. The tally of deaths caused by liberation wars or famines was rarely above the millions. Since the mid-80s up until today the Great Lakes region of Africa has on its own, an estimated count of direct and indirect death of 8 millions as a result of wars. The cycle of violence is continuing.

Root causes of ongoing tragedy are rarely talked about by mainstream media. Leaders of rebel movements (Yoweri Museveni, Paul Kagame and Joseph Kabila) have turned into presidents of sovereign countries (Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo), thanks to USA and UK backing. These “leaders” are using the same inhuman methods from their time in guerrilla warfare to rule over their citizens.

They are not allowing real and effective democracy in their national political space. They are harassing and imprisoning political opponents who try to emerge and address issues faced by their fellow citizens: imposed wars, human rights, famine, epidemic rape of thousands of women, lack of health systems, education infrastructures, and others.

The objective of the demonstration is to bring back to the attention of the international community the plight of millions of Africans in DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda, whose suffering seems to see no end.

The most industrialized countries and their multinationals have a resource-based interest in the region; however, due to the lack of threat the region presents to these nation states, media coverage on the events in the GLR is minimal. As a consequence of the combined apathy and greed of these industrialized nations, millions of people are dying and being oppressed by the local regimes acting as proxies.

As Professor Peter Erlinder puts it, ‘the real reason for the ongoing wars in the Congo are described in great detail in several United Security Council Experts Reports, which make clear that war and massive civilian deaths in Eastern Congo since 1996 have little, if anything to do with tribalism, ethnicity or even the Rwanda genocide. But rather have everything to do with the rape of the Congo’s resources.

We demand that the BBC World Service and other global media point to the real culprits of the tragedy of the Great Lakes region and refuse to continue to be puppets to the rhythm of corrupt dictators and their sponsors as they serve interests of the West at the expense of millions of African lives.

We want global media to highlight to the attention of governments, the UN and the general public the relationship between
• allocating large amounts of money to Rwandan and Ugandan dictatorships through bilateral and multilateral channels such as the World Bank and the European Union and the suffering of millions of citizens in the Great Lakes region

• arming and supporting militarily these regimes and the lack of political space for democracy, particularly during electoral years when populations are expected to freely express who they want to lead them

• plundering DRC mineral resources through embezzled structures with bases in Rwanda, Uganda and connections with companies in UK, Germany, Belgium, US, Canada, China, and the ongoing tragedy of rape, torture, imprisonment, displacement of populations

We insist that global media begin to objectively inform decision makers in influential nations and international institutions such as UN, Security Council, EU, and particularly US and UK governments, because of their unconditional support to the dictators of the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

We request from mainstream media such as BBC World Service to highlight the plight of millions of Rwandans and Ugandans who are suffering at the hands of their dictators, and put pressure on their sponsors, among other objectives,
• to end in Rwanda an apartheid like system camouflaged under a wall of laws and daily practices which only fool foreigners but not Rwandans, and which oppress the majority of populations

• to suspend temporarily bilateral and multilateral aid and put a military embargo to Rwanda and Uganda until they stop opposing fully inclusive inter-citizens dialogue involving political and social entities pro and against their respective regimes and open up their political space for democracy and change; inter-citizens dialogues have been conducted in South Africa, Burundi, Northern Ireland and Democratic Republic of Congo successively; there is no reason they shouldn’t apply in Rwanda and Uganda.

• to channel part of the billions being currently wasted on MONUC into funding inter-citizens dialogues particularly in Rwanda and Uganda, and effective democratic changes in these two countries, as they are the root causes of the region’s misery

Ambrose Nzeyimana
Co-ordinator
Organising for Africa (OfA)
Mobile: 07982114446
Telephone: 02072440689
Email:organizingforafrica@gmail.com

See more about Organising for Africa and Break The Silence Campaign.

April 7, 2010   1 Comment

Organising for Africa and Break The Silence Campaign

Organising for Africa (OfA)

MISSION

Organising for Africa’s mission is to influence the world events of the 21st century and beyond, by transforming the continent.

OBJECTIVES

• Creating necessary capabilities for a transformative change
• Operating change from a grass root level


Break The Silence Campaign (BTSC).

This campaign was initiated after considering the ongoing suffering African people, starting from those living in the Great Lakes region (namely Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda) continue to experience in their daily lives because of their leaders.

There is substantial evidence which shows that the suffering of people in Africa has been misused and misrepresented by international aid agencies, external stakeholders, for their own interests and to cover up the real culprits.

BTSC calls on every African and friends of Africa who agree that the issues which concern Africans are not brought to the attention of the international public frequently enough or even at all.

Organising for Africa (OfA) will be holding public events, particularly at mainstream media headquarters in developed countries.
It appears that the international media is responsible for creating a negative impression of Africa as a continent and perpetuating the view that the opinions of Africans are subordinate to those of individuals in the developing world who profit from their misery.

Contacts

Ambrose Nzeyimana
Co-ordinator
Organising for Africa (OfA)
Mobile: 07982114446
Telephone: 02072440689
Email:organizingforafrica@gmail.com

April 7, 2010   No Comments