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Isangano-ARRDC and UDFR-Ihamye publish an Open Letter to President Barack Obama on Rwanda and DR-Congo

March 28th, 2013

Your Excellency Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC20500

Re: Open Letter to President Barack Obama on what is going on in Rwanda and Eastern DR-Congo

Your Excellency;

With respect and humility, the Alliance of Rwandans for Revolution and Democratic Change (ISANGANO-ARRDC) and the Democratic Union for Federalism in Rwanda (UDFR-Ihamye), two political parties formed by the New Generation of politicians and activists for democracy in Rwanda, wish to take this opportunity to address you this open letter to solicit your political power intervention in the resolution of conflicts and to put an end to impunity in the Africa’s Great Lakes Region.

Mr. President,

First, we would like to congratulate your government and acknowledge with gratitude the recent gestures of the US support towards justice in the Great Lakes Region. The recent steps including the help of the US Embassy in Kigali in the extradition of Gen Bosco NTAGANDA who has requested to be transferred to the International Criminal Court in the Hague in The Netherlands, which court had issued two arrest warrants against him on 22 August 2006 and on 13 July 2012 for war crimes committed in the DRC when the accused was the leader of CNDP and M23 rebellions.

Secondly, the two organizations ISANGANO-ARRDC and UDFR-Ihamye do appreciate the US Government support to the United Nations sanctions adopted in December 2012 against the M23 movement and other rebel groups operating in the Eastern DR-Congo. We are also very thankful that, in the wake of the publication of the UN Experts report dated 26th of June 2012 highlighting Rwanda’s involvement in the chaos in the Eastern DRC by supporting the M23 rebels, your administration took the lead in cutting aid to Kigali Government as a way of urging them to withdraw any military support to the rebels in DR Congo. This gesture, also subsequently done by a number of Western governments, is indeed a major contribution to restoring peace and justice in the region, although more robust and serious steps are needed from democratic Governments such as the US in order to put an end to decade-long suffering of the populations in the region due to unjust wars.

Mr. President,

A brief recap of the history of Rwanda over the past 20 years is necessary to understand the current conflicts in the region. In October 1990, a rebellion made up of former Rwandan refugees in Uganda, under the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi) led by the current Rwandan president Paul Kagame, invaded Rwanda with the help of the Ugandan army. The war that lasted for four years brought about war crimes, crimes against humanity as well as acts of terrorism that culminated into the double assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi on 6th April 1994, the event that triggered the Rwandan genocide. Soon after the RPF took power in 1994, its conquest for power, land, and minerals was geared toward neighboring DR- Congo where, since 1996 it has incessantly sent its troops under the pretext of hunting the former Rwandan Army soldiers constituting a threat to Rwanda’s security. Ever since then, up to at least eight million people (including Rwandan and Burundian Hutu refugees as well as other Congolese communities) have been butchered in the forests of DR-Congo as estimated by many researchers and human rights activists for whom the Congo war is “the deadliest conflict in the world since the Second World War and the Holocaust”. Where were the US, the UN or the so-called ‘international communities’ while all of this was happening? Can the international community tell us whom it holds responsible for these wholesale massacres? It seems that People in Rwanda and the DR-Congo do not have the right to live in peace and freedom as inherent right according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

At present, given the situation in Rwanda and in DR-Congo from the political and military point of views, it has been very clear to the people of the Great Lakes Region that the series of crimes against humanity, genocides and endless wars that happened and are currently going on in their respective countries are probably encouraged by the Western powers in a way or another. Most Rwandans and Congolese now see a gap between words and practice with regard to U.S policy in Rwanda and DRC-Congo. It is well documented by many researchers and journalists that the real policy of the US and UK policies on Rwanda and DR-Congo is to facilitate the US and British -backed regime of Gen Kagame and his long term plan of balkanization of the Eastern DR-Congo rather than to support towards sustainable peace process and democratic change and building peace. It is clear is that the US and the UK most influential people have been supportive of Rwanda dictatorial regime and aggression against its neighbor DR-Congo. Serious questions have even been raised on the alliance US, UK and dictator Paul Kagame since Clinton administration up now. The first military intervention in DR-Congo by Rwanda and Uganda took place in 1996 and the second in 1998 both with the support of the Clinton administration. We hope that your administration has not continued the Clinton policy of facilitating Rwandan aggression against Congo.

From the justice point of view, while on one side, most of the perpetrators of the genocide against the Tutsi have been punished either by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) or by traditional Courts known as Gacaca in Rwanda, on the other side the serious crimes and genocide committed against Hutu refugees and Congolese people by the RPF soldiers, the AFDLR of Laurent Desiré Kabira, General Nkunda’s CNDP and RCD forces, the M23 of Gen Bosco Ntaganda, Gen Makenga and JMV Runiga, and more others like FDLR backed and financed by Kagame are still unpunished. It seems that the US and the international community are reluctant to take serious measures to end the cycles of violence and impunity in Rwanda and Eastern Congo or simply have turned their back to the suffering of millions of Rwandans and Congolese communities.

Mr. President,

Our two organizations, ISANGANO-ARRDC and UDFR-Ihamye support the political change in Rwanda by peaceful means and we believe that peace and security in Rwanda and in DR-Congo should be a matter of international concern. Let us remember that the only way to sustainable peace and stability in Rwanda and in the Eastern DR-Congo is a system of government with strong institutions based on plurality of political parties including all communities and which is based on democratic values in both countries Rwanda and DC-Congo. We are confident that this is the United States government approach in supporting democracy in developing countries.

Mr. President,

We humbly recommend the following measures as necessary:

Use the United Nations mechanisms to help us set up an International Criminal Tribunal for DR-Congo to hold accountable all perpetrators of mass murder, rape and genocide crimes that have been incessantly reported since 1996 (refer to UN Mapping Reports).
Urge the government of Rwanda to release and transfer Gen Laurent Nkunda and other M23 criminals hiding in Rwanda so that they can be held accountable for war crimes and other crimes against humanity they committed since 2002.
Support the enforcement of sanctions on top-level Rwandan and Ugandan officials named in the United Nations Expert and Mapping Reports
End all military and budget supports that the United States provides to Rwanda and Uganda;
Use the US military superpower to demand the immediate dissolution of M23 rebellion and cessation of all unlawful cross-border support to all armed groups operating in the Eastern DR-Congo.
Convey an unequivocal message to the Government of Rwanda that it must ensure political space for all citizens of Rwanda.
Urge President Kagame to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners;
Urge the UNHCR and the United Nations member states, to reject the refugee cessation clause to be applied in June 2013 to Rwandan Refugees of 1959-1998 since this is a hidden agenda of Rwanda’s manipulation because the reasons of fleeing Rwanda still exist.

Mr. President,

The people of both Rwanda and DR-Congo, and in particular our two organizations ISANGANO-ARRDC and UDFR-Ihamye wish to express our gratitude for your assistance in the resolution of the above-mentioned conflicts in the Region and for your role in bringing peace and democracy in Rwanda.

Jean Marie Vianney MINANI
Chairman ISANGANO-ARRDC
isangano.arrdc@gmail.com,
www.isanganoarrdc.org,
Tel: 00491746296681

Jean Damascène Ntaganzwa
Vice-Chairman UDFR-Ihamye
UDFR-Ihamye: udfrihamye@yahoo.fr ,
Tel: 0031659527844

CC:
o His Excellency François Hollande, President of France
o Her Excellency Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
o His Excellency Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands
o His Excellency Elio Di Rupo, Prime Minister of Belgium
o His Excellency David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
o Ms. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court
o Ms. Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
o Mr. Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General
o Mr. Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch Executive Director
o International and Local Press
o General Public

April 4, 2013   No Comments

Rwanda’s youth urged to participate in Genocide commemoration

A young survivor honours Genocide victims, among them, her relatives, in a past commemoration period

A young survivor honours Genocide victims, among them, her relatives, in a past commemoration period

The youth have been urged to embrace the Genocide commemoration activities that are to start on Sunday as Rwanda mourns the massacre of the more than a million people killed in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Yesterday, youth from universities and secondary schools participated in a conference in Kigali organised ahead of the 19th commemoration.

The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide, Jean de Dieu Mucyo, said the youth have not been involved enough in the commemoration activities, but said they will change their mindset as they begin to feel responsible and own the activities.

“No one should underestimate the youth, but also the youth need to show their commitment,” Mucyo, who was speaking at the conference, said.

This conference is held annually and is sponsored by Germany cooperation, GIZ.

Dr Ulrike Maenner, the country director of GIZ, commended the activities of the Rwandan youth in the fight against genocide.

“It reflects the determination of the youth to build the future. We believe the youth can achieve the best through such discussions and self-reflection,” Maenner said, adding that the Germany society’s motive to support anti-genocide activities emanates from their past in the Second World War.

A lot to learn

Eric Mahoro, the Never Again Rwanda programmes director, reiterated the message, asking his fellow youth to embrace the commemoration and pass it on to the next generation.

“We, the youth, should be first to promote the culture of commemorating the Genocide,” Mahoro said, arguing that the youth can learn a lot from the country’s history.

This year’s conference has been organised under the theme, “Sharing the past, shaping the future building on self-reliance”, which organisers said matches the national theme for the 19th commemoration period—“We Remember for Self-Reliance.”

Mucyo said the commemoration helps build peace, tolerance and peaceful co-existence.

“At the beginning, only the survivors and the leaders attended the commemoration activities, but now this has changed; everyone now feels part of commemoration,” Mucyo said, adding that the new arrangement to commemorate at village level breeds a sense of unity in communities.

Although the public will commemorate at village level, the Head of State will visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial centre in Gisozi to light the flame of hope.

The colour of commemoration has also been changed from purple to grey to match the country’s tradition of mourning.

Source: The New Times

April 4, 2013   No Comments

4Afrika launches in Rwanda

Microsoft Corporation has launched its 4Afrika Initiative in Rwanda. This multi-million dollar, cross-continental initiative set in motion by Microsoft aims to actively engages in Africa’s economic development to improve its global competitiveness.

By 2016, the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative plans to help place tens of millions of smart devices in the hands of African youth, bring 1 million African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) online, up-skill 100,000 members of Africa’s existing workforce, and help an additional 100,000 recent graduates develop skills for employability, 75 percent of which Microsoft will help place in jobs.

While officiating at the launch of Microsoft4Afrika Initiative, Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, said Microsoft is very welcome in Rwanda.  “We want to make a successful story through Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative you have all government support, private sector and the civil society support; we’re a country on the move.”

“The world has recognized the promise of Africa, and Microsoft wants to invest in that promise. We want to empower African youth, entrepreneurs, developers and business and civic leaders to turn great ideas into a reality that can help their community, their country, the Continent, and beyond,” said Fernando de Sousa, General Manager, and Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative.

“The Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative is built on the dual beliefs that technology can accelerate growth for Africa, and Africa can also accelerate technology for the world,” he added.

The goal of the 4Afrika initiative in Rwanda is to disseminate affordable smart devices built specifically ‘4Afrika’ with an AppFactory aimed at encouraging application development by Africans for Africans. The initiative will also run an education platform aimed to develop technical and entrepreneurship skills as a means to improve employability especially for youths.

The Minister said: “Tremendous opportunities abound in Rwanda’s ICT industry. Technology is now becoming a driving force behind numerous aspects of national development and we cannot afford to be left behind. I believe a lot can be achieved through collaboration, consultation and smart private public partnerships. We welcome Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative and are committed to developing innovative ways using the power of technology to help transform social and economic progress in Rwanda.”

The entry of the 4Afrika initiative in Rwanda is a significant step in the country’s vision to become a knowledge based economy as it will play a role in bridging the digital divide and developing the skills to create relevant content for the country’s growing economy. The Government of Rwanda has identified two lead programs for possible collaboration with Microsoft within the 4Afrika initiative.

“The Viziyo program is designed to increase citizen-access to smartphones and the Smart Village program built on the concept of replicating digitized model villages across the nation as a means to achieve Rwanda’s goal to become an ICT-driven economy,” explained RDB’s Head of the Department of ICT, Patrick Nyirishema.

The Government of Rwanda and Microsoft4Afrika will work hand-in-hand to provide the appropriate services needed to achieve the shared vision of increased accessibility for all.

Source: Biztech Africa

April 4, 2013   No Comments

Rwanda: Urgent appeal against torture and illegal detention of Sylvain Sibomana

By Sixbert Musangamfura, FDU-Inkingi External Relations Commissioner

Tortured: Mr. Sylvain Sibomana, FDU-Inkingi interim Secretary general

In a bad state: Mr. Sylvain Sibomana, FDU-Inkingi interim Secretary general

Mr. Sylvain Sibomana, FDU-Inkingi interim Secretary general, was arrested by the police in the premises of the Supreme Court at the opening of the appeal hearing of political prisoner Madam Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza on 25 March 2013.

He was severely beaten, and left with a broken tooth, traumatized jaw, bruised head and body and swollen members.

In reality, no known action has been taken against the officers involved in this custodial torture. Another barometer of the rule of law in the country.
On March 25th night he was admitted to the emergency ward at the Kacyiru National Police Hospital due to bleeding and shortness of  breath. He was returned to Kicukiro police station the next morning until his transfer to Kabuga police detention facility on March 28th. The custodial policemen have restricted food supply to both Sylvain Sibomana and another opposition member Dominique Shyirambere arrested in similar conditions.

On April 2nd, the Prosecutor extended his arrest warrant, awaiting for a bail hearing in the coming days on the following charges: illegal protest, illegal meetings, subversion, attempting to undermine the government, and assault on police officers.

The opposition figure was brutally beaten at the time of the arrest and later endured severe torture while he was in Kicukiro police custody on 25 March 2013. He has not been allowed to be seen by an independent doctor. He needs metal braces to reduce teeth movement and allow chewing food.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please send a letter to President Paul Kagame, to the Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama,  to the Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga and to Emmanuel Gasana, Inspector general of the Police  expressing your concern about this case and requesting an immediate investigation into the allegations of illegal arrest, illegal detention and severe torture of opposition figure Sylvain Sibomana.

Please demand the prosecution of those proven to be responsible under the Rwandan criminal law for criminal abuse of power. The officers involved must also be subjected to internal investigations for the breach of orders. Further, please also request the National public prosecution authority and the Inspectorate General of the the Police to have a special investigation into the malpractices of the police officers violating laws proscribing criminal abuse of power.

Source: FDU-Inkingi

April 4, 2013   No Comments