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Waging And Winning A Peaceful Revolution To Unite And Heal A Broken Rwanda

Authored by Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa

Healing A Nation, by Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa

Healing A Nation, by Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa

This is my testimony. It is the story of a Rwandan family caught up in the larger, tumultuous, and often tragic story of Rwanda. Though the history of Rwanda as a nation spans centuries, this testimony casts a glance at the two violent revolutions (1959, 1990) and their catastrophic consequences that have affected every Rwandan and Rwanda’s neighbors in the Great Lakes region of central Africa. Each revolution began with a promise, only to betray it. We repeatedly have become a nation of “losers and winners”, of “perpetrators and victims”, with individuals, families, communities and ethnic groups (Hutu and Tutsi) changing positions in a race beset with death and destruction.

Rwanda is broken and hurting. All Rwandans, eleven million of them, are dying, alienated, exiled, fearful, traumatized, urgently and desperately in need of healing. 

In this drama, now in the sixth decade of my life, I have witnessed two profound and disruptive conversions: first to Marxism, and then to Christianity. The first was about conquering enemies and capturing state power, where the ends justified the means. In the second, I have become part of a third, peaceful revolution, now in its infancy among us Rwandans, to become a nation in which we are all winners. Determined to build a free, united and prosperous Rwanda, at peace within and with her neighbors, all Rwandans need to think and act in freedom, truth, forgiveness, and justice, seeing each other through the prism of love so as to overcome their material and spiritual poverty.

About the Author

Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa is a medical doctor by profession and a former diplomat who served in senior leadership positions in Rwanda, including as Ambassador to the United States, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. Dr. Rudasingwa has also represented Rwanda at the United Nations, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the African Union. His experience spans work with governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, academia, and business. He is currently President, CEO and Founder of Haradali.org, a social enterprise whose mission is to promote the health, livelihoods, and wellness of women and children , promoting small and medium enterprises, and developing the leadership and managerial capacity in Africa. As one of the leaders of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), he is currently involved in working with all Rwandans to embrace truth telling, forgiveness and reconciliation as a pathway to healing and peaceful reforms in Rwanda. As a co-founder of the USA-based Institute for Democracy and Peace in Africa (IDPA), he promotes Africa’s peaceful and democratic development, especially in the Great Lakes region of central Africa. Dr. Rudasingwa has a medical degree from Makerere University, in Uganda, a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, in the USA, and an honorary PhD from Trinity College of Vermont, Vermont, USA

Source: The Rwandan

April 24, 2013   No Comments

Rwanda: Regional Security Ministers Discuss Small Arms

The country has been applauded for being among the first within the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and bordering states to control and prevent fire arms distribution

The country has been applauded for being among the first within the Great Lakes Region, the Horn of Africa and bordering states to control and prevent fire arms distribution

Following the Regional Center on Small Arms (RECSA)’ technical advisory committee meeting last Friday, the organization’s Council of Ministers is having a two-day meeting in Kigali to deliberate and make decisions on the policy direction to be taken in the fight against Smalls arms and illicit trafficking of light weapons.

The current chairman of the council of ministers, Internal Security Minister Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana, said that the meeting comes at a time when the organization is facing serious financial problems due to various RECS member countries failing to pay their contributions.

Harerimana told the delegates from the 12 out of 14 RECSA member states present that Rwanda is pleased to reiterate its continued support to the implementation of the Nairobi Protocol on Small Arms. “The national focal point oversees the implementation of activities in compliance with this protocol ranging from arms marking, electronic record keeping, public awareness, legal harmonization, arms destruction, etc.,” he said. “Through collaboration with RECSA and other parties, we are seeing positive results.”

From September 1994 to November 2011, Rwanda destroyed 53,357 tons of weapons and ammunition.

The meeting will include deliberations on policy and operational issues that will contribute to the smooth running and the future of the RECSA secretariat, and particularly in the implementation of the Nairobi Protocol on Small Arms in the region.

“The easy availability of illegal arms to non-state actors has both direct and indirect effects on citizens and countries as a whole,” stressed Francis K. Sang, RECSA’s executive secretary. “The RECSA region bears the brunt of uncontrolled proliferation of small arms to non-state weapons.”

Sang reiterated that the primary responsibility of addressing the problems posed by illegal weapons belongs to individual countries. “Our role is to provide support to RECSA member states to implement the Nairobi Protocol in the three key areas of stockpile management, generation and provision of information, and institutional development.”

Security Ministers gathered in Kigali vowed to coordinate through RECSA the action against proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the Great Lakes region and Horn of Africa, towards having a safe and secure sub-region in a peaceful continent free from arms proliferation.

Initially known as the Nairobi Secretariat, RECSA was set up to coordinate the implementation of the Nairobi Declaration on the problem of the proliferation illicit small arms and light weapons in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa. The Nairobi Declaration was signed on March 15, 2000 by 10 countries: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. The signatories were later joined by Somalia and Seychelles.

The Declaration mandated the Nairobi Secretariat to coordinate efforts by national focal points to prevent, combat and eradicate stockpiling and illicit trafficking.

Source: The Rwanda Focus

April 24, 2013   No Comments

Ingabire’s conviction, or national reconciliation in Kigali

By Serge Dupuis, a researcher specialized in the African Great Lakes

Victoire Ingabire

Victoire Ingabire

In October last, Victoire Ingabire, Hutu president of FDU-Inkingi (UDF = United Democratic Forces), Rwandan opposition party in exile, was sentenced to eight years in prison by the High Court in Kigali for “conspiracy against the authorities by terrorism and war “and denial of the genocide of Rwandan Tutsis spring 1994.

At the time of sentencing, Ingabire had been detained for two years in Rwandan prisons, after being arrested in October 2010 by the security services. Returned to Rwanda on January 16, after seventeen years of exile in the Netherlands, it was aimed at his back, to be a candidate against President Paul Kagame in the presidential election scheduled for the month of following August. Project that would find its way to the Rwandan regime. From that moment, everything was done not only to prevent the application but also to eliminate the candidate of Rwandan politics. Refusal to register the FDU-Inkingi for the election, with repeated police, aggressive media campaign, physical threats, beating his assistant notices, nothing was him at first spared practices under harassment and intimidation, until then incarceration. Then, in a second step, the authorities organized for him a trial that was marked by his character in politics and unfair times.

In fact, the Ingabire case is emblematic of the profound nature of the Rwandan regime. The Tutsi elite dignitaries, senior politicians and military associated with some businessmen who, revolving around President Kagame monopolize political and economic power in Rwanda, is convinced that being alone can guide the Rwandan population to a prosperous and united society but also deeply concerned to promote its own interests, in fact, based on his dictatorship several instruments. We leave aside here the party-state what the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), as well as the control of the army and security services, to interest us in the light of the exemplary case Ingabire, d On the one hand, and mainly to the mystification that represents the struggle against the “genocide ideology” and the denial and the eradication of antagonisms ‘ethnic’, secondly to the manipulation of the national judicial system for political purposes .

Regarding the first point, the Rwandan authorities, since they came to power in 1994, have continued to proclaim their commitment to work towards national reconciliation, this in order to build a unified Rwandan identity, “a Rwanda for all Rwandans. ” So that a tragedy such as the 1994 genocide can not happen again in Rwanda, they provide nothing-no writing, no talk, no action, no behavior – should not be tolerated in the national public space, which is the ideology that made it possible, denying its reality, or that arouses antagonisms, divisions within the population. With regard to this last point in particular, the idea, originally, was that culture and reflexes ‘ethnic’ – rightly designated as the preferred tool of genocide in 1994 for manipulating the masses – weighed much in Rwandan society and that it was imperative to obstruct everything that was likely to elicit their manifestation. The Rwandan government has therefore provided a legislative arsenal supposed to allow him to prevent a return to violence by putting capacity to punish incitement to discrimination and hatred ‘ethnic’, along with any attempt to deny, minimize or trivialize the genocide. Article 13 of the Constitution in June 2003 and states that “revisionism, denial and trivialisation of genocide” is punishable by law. Similarly, two laws, one for the “sectarianism”, the other the “genocide ideology”, enacted in 2002 and 2008, provide for heavy penalties for those who break them.

However, the legal definition of the “crime” is so vague, imprecise and ambiguous, it allows the Rwandan government to criminalize any abusive remarks, speech, writing or political act referring to components Hutu or Tutsi population , delivering a version of Rwandan history different from the official version, stamped RPF and, more broadly, criticizing the government and its political past or present. Using a manipulation of the genocide that the Rwandan regime is familiar, the law actually there to function both enable and legitimize the exclusive power of the latter. It is indeed a formidable tool of control and political repression, the Rwandan government uses to neutralize and silence any opposition by making accusations against his representatives whose appearance virtuous ill conceals the deeply political nature. In fact, criticism of government action falls within the scope of the anti-genocide legislation, particularly the accusation aimed at the division of the national community. This naturally ensures the closure of the Rwandan political space. Apart from the absence, Rwanda, an independent civil society and independent media, and there are no internal opposition to even fill a democratic role. With the exception of one, the government continues to try to weaken by fomenting divisions within it, the opposition parties are not allowed and prevented from participating in elections. Just like Victoire Ingabire, their managers are subject to constant harassment and imprisonment when he is the leader. In addition, under the pretext of establishing the short-term compromise between genuine democracy, which he claims that early introduction would pose a danger to a population that has recently experienced a genocide, and the imperative of national reconciliation, the RPF has developed around him a cartel of parties with which it is supposed to share power but operate in total subjection to his rule, parties planet thus supporting the regime and provide it at the time of elections, dummy candidates deemed credible exercise. A sham democracy – instead, for example, a system that would organize a democratic space in non-EU lines – which illustrates the refusal of functioning of a democratic society and the RPF will exercise only the total power for the benefit of the ideology and interests of the small Tutsi elite who control.

That the trial of Victoire Ingabire was a political trial is clear when the heads of the initial charge and those used by the High Court to give its verdict is examined. One can find as it should be a dominant ‘genocide’ – spreading genocide ideology, sectarianism, denial – and a terrorist theme – “conspiracy against the government by terrorism and war.” Regarding the latter topic, it should be noted that due to the lack of credibility that attaches to charges such as “spreading genocide ideology” and “sectarianism” under international law, Rwandan government has made a habit of trying to legitimize, when he wants to attack an opponent, by associating them with the terrorist organization of undermining the security of the State. Ingabire and was accused of having collaborated in the creation of a terrorist organization to force the Rwandan authorities to trading by armed violence, with Hutu rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) , an organization based in the Kivus, responsible for many crimes against humanity and containing in its ranks former members of militias and genocidal army. The eve of the verdict, a close adviser to Rwandan President Tom Ndahiro described in this regard Ingabire – a reference to his alleged links with the FDLR – ‘guardian of Hutu extremism “and” world leader of the genocidal more radical. “

It is interesting first of all observe that the charges related to the theme of genocide complemented that of “spreading rumors” to encourage the population to rise up against the state. This is indeed good for his opposition to the government of Paul Kagame and the criticism it had publicly expressed since his return to Rwanda against policies – disclosure of a “reign of terror” a generator “chronic fear” call “the establishment of a democratic process” and the rule of law, stigma of the “instrumentalization of genocide” and “the failure of the policy of reconciliation” and “the crying famine in the countryside” – that Ingabire could a sentence of life imprisonment, a sentence required by the Rwandan prosecution. And it is these politically motivated the charges referring to genocide function was to hide. Just look in the light of recent statements by Ingabire, especially – but not only – the day of his return to Rwanda, Jan. 16, and in his “Letter to Rwandans” May 3, to convince the weakness of such charges and understand that they are an outright falsification of reality. The key point to note in this regard is that it explicitly recognizes these statements on its behalf and on behalf of his party, “in 1994 there was a genocide in Rwanda against the Tutsi.” His first political act, the day of his arrival in Kigali, will lay a wreath of flowers at the memorial to the tragedy at Gisozi. And recognition of the genocide and the identity of its victims is unambiguous. When in fact it evokes the Hutu victims of the Rwandan conflict of the 1990s – hundreds of thousands of civilians, including many children, women and old people, massacred by the RPF in Rwanda and Congo Zaire – Victoire Ingabire, unlike many in the pro-Hutu movement, does not denounce “another genocide”, which would trivialize, somehow cancel the Tutsi genocide, but uses the term “massacres.” When it also defines genocide as “the fruit of manipulation of ethnicity for political purposes by an oligarchy”, she clearly involved Hutu extremists who perpetrated, she extremists demand that not one of them to escape justice.However, she says emphatically – breaking the ban imposed by the government on public evocation of community components of the Rwandan nation, along with the myth of a RPF spotless and blameless – he could not be possible and meaningful reconciliation of the Rwandan people to himself without suffering “all victims” is recognized. That is to say without justice is done to the Hutu victims of the civil war, and that therefore the “Tutsis killed Hutus” are also considered. It’s such a speech should be borne in mind when you want to take the measure of political motivations that underlie the trial of Victoire Ingabire. For it is this speech that earned him at first to be described in the state media as a “descendant of the Nazis,” missionary of ethnic hatred and defending the thesis of “double genocide”, then be charged of “spreading genocide ideology” and “sectarianism” to end up being convicted of “denial.”

The Rwandan government and its relay inside and outside Rwanda were not fouls highlight the “leniency” of the judgment against the president of FDU-Inkingi – eight years’ imprisonment while a life sentence was required. It should really be no mistake. The acquittal on the charges on genocide ideology and sectarianism largely reflecting both by the extreme weakness of the past and the international pressure on the Rwandan regime, especially in the context of strong suspicion of creation it a particularly destabilizing rebellion in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. After all, leaders and denial of participation in a terrorist organization and a few years in prison were well enough to achieve cheaply political and diplomatic the desired goal of neutralizing the opponent policy.

This alleged leniency (in respect of an innocent person the facts alleged against him!), The pro-government camp in particular gave an explanation that, this time, highlights the weakness of the second charge finally Holding – “conspiracy against the government by terrorism and war” – as well as its usefulness to hide the real political motivations of the trial. The crime in question, he was advanced, was only in its preparatory phase. And for good reason! There is no evidence of a terrorist organization that was created by the FDLR with the participation of Victoire Ingabire, nor any indication as to its chain of command or operational area, not to mention its workforce. There are not even any tangible evidence of a project to create such an organization. The prosecution and judgment are based primarily on the testimony of four former members of the FDLR, co-accused of the opponent, who all pleaded guilty to the charges of belonging to a terrorist organization and creation of an armed group while reports of the involvement of Ingabire their side. However, it turned out, without this émeuve the Court that at least two of them had been detained for some time in pre-trial by the Rwandan military intelligence service Kami camp on the outskirts Kigali recently designated by Amnesty International as one of the illegal detention of civilians by the Rwandan army under torture and ill-treatment regime military camp.The organization of human rights has also received reports that other detainees in the camp were subjected to a “intense pressure” to incriminate that Ingabire. Finally, a witness called by the defense, former spokesman of FDLR time in Camp Kami accompanied by a co-accused, the main prosecution witness, said that he told him he was encouraged to criminalize opposition politician, adding not to know in any way. He also tried to recruit this defense witness in the prospect of starting a false accusation case against her. It is therefore understandable that, given the inconclusive nature of the evidence adduced by the prosecution, it and the pro-government camp have found it useful to go back to the period of the refugee camps in Zaire in the post-genocide , a period of chaos where opponents – genocide or not – the new Rwandan regime tried to organize politically, to discuss past relationships Ingabire with a political party which would later from the FDLR. Without the rest, again, provide compelling evidence of the accession of the opponent’s theses and radical goals of future rebels.

Here again, it is also necessary to confront what Ingabire is accused on this point – an attempt to force the government to trading by terrorism and armed violence – with his statements and stated intentions. The feeling aroused by the testimony of his co-accused were found strongly reinforced. In fact, the whole of his speech, whether written or oral, is a constant and unequivocal call for peaceful political change in Rwanda, a friendly change of law, in particular election, as well as search reconciliation among Rwandans. Upon his return to Rwanda, and it speaks to his fellow marked a message from his rejection of violence and its desire for unity: “I’m going to lead a peaceful struggle. I am not accompanied by an army. We do not need another war, and we condemn anyone who wants to plunge us into war. We do not commit you in meetings that could lead to clashes. “Or:” We chose the peaceful way to avoid further bloodshed and to preserve the reconstruction of the Rwandan social fabric. We must unite and build our country together in peace. ” On the FDLR, if it says that solving the problem they pose through the opening of a political dialogue, it is nevertheless equally clear: “Those who are involved in crimes of genocide and other crimes against humanity will have to explain to a fair trial. ” And she says: “The rebels, I do not need.”

As if all this was not enough, as if his persecutors feared that the charges against her do not take the road, Victoire Ingabire has been on the other hand made it impossible to defend effectively because of many irregularities that marked his trial. She has not had a fair trial. If, indeed, the Rwandan dictatorship, in his desire to see records of Rwandan genocide suspects to be transferred to it by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda or third countries, in recent years has brought improvements to the judicial system, but as prison, it remained impossible to actually go against his very nature. The Rwandan judicial system remains a dependent institution of power, effective instrument of political repression of it. A review of a few incidents during the trial of opposition leader in offering ample illustration. Interference by the executive – a habit – did not initially missed, in defiance of the most basic presumption of innocence. One was able to hear Paul Kagame declared on CNN that the place of the accused was in jail, then announce some time after his government had “collected enough evidence to establish a link between Ingabire rebel movements active in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo “(DRC). The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo assured about it on RFI that the accused had “committed grave crimes.” There was also, when the defense raised an objection of unconstitutionality of the 2008 law on genocide ideology, the refusal of the Supreme Court in the first instance, to decide on the merits and argument that judges advanced, properly amazing, that the defenders had not accompanied their referral to a copy of the relevant law! Trial judges were not left out, who repeatedly manifested in the place of the defense and his client itself outright hostility, showing a remarkable contrast vis-à-vis the indulgence charge. They are particularly distinguished when their bias pushed – under the pretext of a previous conviction for genocide by the local courts – to refuse to hear a second time, at the request of the defense, the witness who had made damages the credibility of the main prosecution witness. This witness, finally, after passing the bar, was subjected to intimidation – as indeed of other defense witnesses – in the prison where he is serving his sentence. The prison authorities asked him outside the trial without the assistance of a lawyer and seized all his personal documents. So that April 16, 2012, six months before the verdict of the Court, Victoire Ingabire, announced that before the evidence uncovered by such irregularities that his trial was more a political than a judicial nature, she and her lawyers would attend more hearings to come.Having “irrevocably lost confidence in the possibility of a smooth running of the trial,” she spoke more to the end of it.

Thus a sense of mere admiration that foremost the fate of this remarkable woman that seems to be Ingabire. Knowing she could, she left work and family, especially children, to throw himself into the lion’s den in the hope that it would serve the cause in which she believes and that of his country. The second feeling aroused by this issue – if we set aside that can be felt with regard to the RPF regime – is less pleasant. There is a deep concern with the idea of ​​what could unfortunately be the future of Rwanda. Whole sections of policies pursued by the current Rwandan regime will indeed against the policy of unity and national reconciliation meant to be the central axis of the reconstruction strategy implemented by the State and presented as one of its successes. Thus the power structure reintroduced ethnocentric policy and “divisions” which are also supposed to be addressed: the real power in the state, parastatal and military, is, predominantly, concentrated in the hands a Tutsi elite, while the Hutus in positions of high responsibility to have a facade. Moreover, the Hutu community, the largest part of the population is entitled to consider themselves marginalized: excluded from power other than cosmetically, she sees the ethnocentric policy RPF is also manifest in the field of memory conflict 1990s. Only the actual genocide is commemorated every year, only Tutsis are granted the status of victim, while the Hutus undergo ban speak publicly mourn their hundreds of thousands of deaths in the civil war. Except – very shy – personalities killed in the early hours of the killings and some “fair”, they are systematically criminalized block. As researchers have observed over the Rwandan hills, frustration and resentment aroused by this situation worsen the other hand, those caused by other measures, regulations and policies: the absolute control of all the political and social life of the country, from national to local level, and into the daily lives of people, decisions imposed an iron hand to the people without any consultation, or economic growth concentrated in the hands of a small elite and resulting in a limited reduction of poverty and growing inequality, leaving many farmers in the sense of being excluded.

The drama, as illustrated by the case of Victoire Ingabire, is that the policy of the government, in its desire to suppress critical voices and, more generally, freedom of expression, depriving the Rwandan Democratic opposition any legal way to not only channeling frustrations and resentments, but also to assert their positions. This opens the door to possible violent confrontations. It would suffice conjunction discontent increasingly common among the people and events are difficult to control by the power – economic crisis, exacerbating already deep divisions within the military defense alliances of former political and military leaders in exile with armed groups based in eastern DRC – so that the situation becomes highly flammable and that the alleged Rwandan miracle is reduced to its simplest expression. In this perspective, the memory of past paroxysmal violence that Rwanda does not actually cause a legitimate concern.

Source: Jambo News (Released April 16, 2013 in the Newsletter of the Fondation Jean-Jaurès)

April 24, 2013   No Comments