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Please help raise awareness about elections violence in Rwanda

by Susan Thomson.

Please help raise awareness about elections violence in Rwanda

As many of you likely already know, Rwanda is having Presidential elections this August. In the run up to the elections, the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front, has done everything in its power to suppress the opposition. The situation is very tense. And is growing more tense by the day as dissent within the military increases, and the government opts for assassination as a viable option to control its opposition and critics. Of course, as the Swahili proverb goes, “When the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers…”, meaning of course the ordinary people are caught in the crossfire.

There are some very easy and powerful things you can do to raise awareness about the likelihood of elections-related violence in Rwanda.

1. Call your Member of Parliament (Canada) or your Senator (America) to tell them you are concerned about reports of violent repression in Rwanda.

Simply google your “Member of Parliament” and your city of residence in Canada and just the name of your state in the US. You’ll get direct numbers and email address there.

In Canada:
– call Paul Dewer’s office, as he is the head of the All-Parliamentary Committee on the Prevention of Genocide (613-946-8682 or dewarp@parl.gc.ca);
– call the office of Senator Dallaire (613-995-4191 or 1-800-267-7362 or dallar@sen.parl.gc.ca).

In the US, contact the office of Senator Russ Feingold, chairman of the Subcommittee on African Affairs (http://feingold.senate.gov/contact_opinion.html).

2. Worried that you don’t know enough about the political situation in Rwanda to call?
If so, call anyway and ask your representative what the policy of her/her office on Rwandans upcoming elections.
If you think a simple phone call is not effect, public policy scholars have found in Canada that politicians equate 1 phone call from a concerned citizen with the opinions of at least 250 constituents. So you phone call could indeed make a difference!

3. Get talking about politics in Rwanda. You can easily educate yourself with online resources like the Rwanda page on the BBC Africa homepage.
Write letters to the editor, blog, repost this message on your facebook page.
Watch Hotel Rwanda with your friends.
Do something!

4. Share the idea of raising awareness with your networks and with journalists. We all know people who care about social justice issues both at home and abroad. Stand up and let folks in your network know that this is a pressing issue.

5. Still have questions?
Get in touch with researchers like me (susanm.thomson@gmail.com; 413.835.0156).
I will share all my knowledge with you, and can put you in touch with other academics, human rights advocates, and other like-minded individuals who can share their thoughts and opinions on the current situation.

Please consider acting on this important issue. Studies have shown that one of the main reasons that the international community did not intervene early enough to stop the Rwandan genocide of 1994 was the lack of alarm. The issues simply did not matter to enough Westerners for their governments to act….

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June 28, 2010   1 Comment

Deployment of Rwanda troops on border scares Ugandans

Kigali – Communities along the Ugandan side of the border are reportedly in panic as they continue to see a daily build up of Rwandan troops to patrol in areas of their country’s side.

“Hundreds of Rwandan soldiers are seen patrolling along the border in the areas adjacent to my sub-county,” said a Ugandan official in Kabale district.

“I was told that in the past they used to carry out their night patrols at 8pm but now they are doing it at 6pm. The people here are worried,” the official told Ugandan media.

Both Ugandan and Rwandan military officials said the border is safe.

“The UPDF is not bothered by the deployments and the movements of the Rwanda army because we don’t control them. Ours is to guarantee the security of our people by ensuring that our border is safe. There is no need for any worry or panic,” said a Ugandan military spokesman.

Ugandan officials said deployment of Rwandan troops on the border is the right of the Rwandan government that should not scare the Ugandans.

“Don’t be scared of the Rwandan deployment because they are doing it on their land,’’ the Kabale district commissioner reportedly said.

[ARI-RNA]

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June 28, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda: Journalist murder suspects arrested – Security minister

Kigali – Security agencies have arrested a suspect in the murder of journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage who has also confessed to the case, the Internal Security Minister informed President Kagame on Monday.

Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana revealed in the Presidential press conference that from information acquired from the suspect, the facts point to a revenge killing. The Police said Monday morning that two people had been arrested in connection with the killing.

One of the suspect was revenging for the death of a family member allegedly killed by Rugambage during the Genocide, said Minister Harelimana. The brother of the suspect worked with Bank Populaire in Kamonyi (Southern Rwanda), according to the Minister.

He said the suspect even revealed to the security agencies where he had buried the gun he used for the murder.

Rugambage, supposed editor of suspended UMUVUGIZI was gunned down on Thursday at 10pm outside his house in his car. The exiled publisher of the paper Jean Bosco Gasasira said government assassins had been responsible – accusing the President directly.

Responding to the Minister’s update on the situation, President Kagame expressed satisfaction that there were some arrests. “You were going to have trouble with me,” said Kagame.

Earlier, the President called the murder “unacceptable”, promising that the government will go to the “bottom of it”.

“We will not rest until we get to the bottom of this,” said the President.

He also suggested it could be criminals who are taking advantage of the current political situation to undermine the stability of the country.

Mr Rugambage, who is survived by his wife and a child, was acquitted of genocide crimes by a local “Gacaca” court in 2006. The Police also said Monday that one of the suspects is related to someone allegedly killed by Mr Rugambage during the 1994 genocide.

The President also accused Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and international media of using “false basis” to shape the destiny of Rwanda. Branding them as “few adventurers,” the President said Rwanda’s existence is not owed to anybody or institution.

[ARI-RNA]

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June 28, 2010   2 Comments