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Posts from — November 2011

Rwandan Diaspora: Are We Really ‘Dogs’ As Kagame Famously Called Us?

AD and fellow members of Rwandan Diaspora, I am an angry and frustrated man I admit. Every time I catch an image of Kagame on TV or Newspaper, I become sick.  Not at him but at me, for my cowardice.

Look at our situation. This scheming high school dropout Kagame is terrorizing 11 million people day in day out. I cannot stand this any longer. And we in Diaspora, what are we doing? If our compatriots cannot do much inside the country before they fear for their lives, what is our excuse for not doing more at least go isolate this dictator?

In my circles now people are debating if our dictator will change the constitution to stay in power or he will find a stooge to take over to keep the dictator safe after he leaves office.

This is the most useless debate because we cannot remain in this situation for another six years. No way. This man has to go, or at least we must figure out how to make his life intolerable as he is making ours miserable.

Can we stand this man who has made Rwanda literally a prison where wife and husband spy in each other?

A head of state who has locked up opposition and media – and even killed some?

A man who sends his killers to assassinate people, and even when caught discussing the details on telephone how to accomplish their sick deeds, Kagame promotes them as he did with Nziza and Munyuza?

A so called leader that abuses a visiting American ambassador, after her head of state President Obama just saved Kagame from loosing presidential immunity in light of accusations leveled against the dictator?

A man who on his own freezes a foreign country’s ambassadorial bank accounts in retaliation to a judiciary-sanctioned action that Kagame provoked by stealing from a businessman as in the case of Belgium?

A horrible, vain and shameless human being that lives like a medieval emperor in unimaginable luxury while most of Rwandans live on less than a dollar a day?

And we the Rwandan Diaspora what are we doing, besides being part of our dictator’s boasts that we contribute to his alleged “impressive economic growth” through our money transfers?

If our people inside Rwanda are either apathetic or afraid to act openly for change – which is understandable given the brutality of Kagame regime, why are we the Diaspora not actively engaging for change? And please, showing up to demonstrate once in a while when Kagame shows up is hardly enough.

I often wonder what goes on in our Diaspora minds when I read other people using Facebook and Twitter to try and launch Egypt-type protests in their countries. I read about Diaspora bloggers who were mobilizing their Libya compatriots from Switzerland and I just hang my head in shame. Why are we so cowardly or should I say lazy?  Or in Kagame words, turimbwa?

Part of the problem is off course that we are not exactly a unified group.

We are often mixed up and disorganized, and this is because there are many people who are disruptive and are blocking any initiatives aiming to bring change to Rwanda. And guess what, our disruptive members are in service of Kagame cronies and embassies in countries where we live. Sadly, some key figures in Rwandan Diaspora are sometimes the partisans of the regime prompted by the money the regime dangles in front of their faces.

Look fellow Rwandans, I am frustrated by a realist. The wind of revolution that swept North Africa will not arrive in Rwanda today that is for sure.  But we cannot play dead dogs or noisy frogs and wait to see what Kagame will do in 2017 – stop these silly debates of 2017 and focus on what to do now. Begin by talking and convincing yourselves that change is possible in Rwanda today not in six years.

In the end I am so thankful that there is this site AD – when I am totally frustrated I read it. Please read and others like it, talk and write and debate – about today not what will happen in six years time. We need every Rwandan Diaspora member to begin to take the future of our country in our hands by even dreaming that a Rwanda without this thin cruel man Kagame is possible.  Stand up. We are not dogs, frogs or mosquitoes to be smashed by Kagame as he is always boasting.

I now pay tribute to Dr Susan Rice, President Obama’s Ambassador to the UN, who stood up to the dictator right in Kigali and told him to his face that he is predator under whose watch people are afraid to talk, are in prison and some simply vanished.


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African Dictator

November 29, 2011   No Comments

Kagame: Will he Stay or Will he go?

By Didas Gasana

The end of Paul Kagame’s term in office in 2017 represents a key moment for Rwanda’s political future.

Will Paul Kagame (right) find a way to emulate the longevity of his friend Yoweri Museveni?

Will Paul Kagame (right) find a way to emulate the longevity of his friend Yoweri Museveni?

For the past one-and-a-half decades, President Paul Kagame has dominated Rwanda’s political life. His political CV tells it all: a rebel leader who managed to out manoeuvre all his bush colleagues and establish himself as an indispensable figure during the 1990-1994 Rwandan Patriotic Army invasion and later in post-genocide Rwanda; a vice-president and defence minister who in reality held executive power behind the back of his predecessor Pasteur Bizimungu; a military strategist who, with foreign backing, launched two invasions in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo; a soldier who ruthlessly crushed opposition and dissent to grant himself two electoral victories in 2003 and 2010; a man as much praised for economic recovery and stability as he is accused of authoritarianism, war crimes and the abuse of human rights. The list goes on.

But according to article 101 of Rwanda’s constitution, the position that gives President Kagame this immense power expires in 2017 when he completes his second and supposedly last term: “The President of the Republic is elected for a term of seven years renewable only once. Under no circumstances shall a person hold the office of President of Republic for more than two terms.”

Yet the question of whether the constitution will reign supreme come 2017 – and, crucially, whether it will remain untouched by Kagame – is the political question facing Rwanda.

Kagame’s position

Kagame has made it clear on several occasions that he will not change the constitution to stay in power. However, he has, on occasion also been non-committal. Just a day after voting in last year’s presidential polls, on August 10, 2010, he was hosted by journalist Andrew Mwenda on a radio show on Contact FM in Kigali. One of the contentious issues was whether Kagame would change the constitution to run for a third term.

“I don’t want to be involved in changing the constitution so that I stay in power,” he replied. “And particularly changing the constitution for that purpose – I would really hate it. I don’t intend to do that.”

Scrutinised closely though, his response suggests that if any reason other than his staying in power comes up that “necessitates” changing the constitution, the constitution can be changed. While one could also infer that although Kagame himself does not “intend” to change the constitution, he may not mind anyone else getting involved in doing so. And when asked the same question in a president’s press conference at the end of 2010, he replied: “I will answer that when [the] time comes.”

Popular demand

While Kagame has expressed his dissatisfaction with the idea of changing the constitution, some Kagame allies have expressed the opposite viewpoint.

Interior minister Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana, chairman the small Ideal Democratic Party (PDI) which is part of the RPF-led government, said in September 2010 that Rwanda needs “to move to real democracy” by scrapping the seven-year term.

While few may have taken him seriously at the time, the PDI party congress recently started campaigning for an end to term limits. Describing Kagame as exceptional and as having done much for Rwanda, the minister argued Kagame should go on ruling Rwanda for as long as he wants.

“We as the population will remove that impediment from the constitution such that there is nothing stopping him except his own choice,” Harelimana said.

It seems apparent that Harelimana’s appeal is a political game plan to lay the groundwork for constitutional changes that will pave the way for Kagame to stay in power. However, in this situation Kagame would be portrayed as riding on the back of popular demand and epitomising the meeting of the people’s wishes, rather than overriding the constitution that lies at the heart of his country’s democratic process, as was the case with Kagame’s politico-military mentor, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni – who heads the only East African country without term limits for presidents.

Asked in the aforementioned talk show what his position would be if the RPF said it wanted him to stay, Kagame replied thus: “That is why I don’t want to pre-empt any debate. By the way it may come from people other than the RPF.”

And indeed, whether by coincidence or political calculations, this is exactly what happened: the call for abolishing term limits came from those other quarters, and not the RPF.

Uniformity as unity

While praised for the stability and economic growth he has brought to Rwanda, Kagame receives an equal measure of criticism as an autocrat atop a personality cult, who has been accused of killing to perpetuate his power.

Indeed, his treatment of dissent, his crackdown on political opponents and journalists during his already eight year rule shows his determination to retain power in Rwanda.

Writing in The Guardian of London in August 2010, Phil Clark argued that Kagame’s clampdown on dissent is aimed at maintaining cohesion with in his own divided party rather than subduing relatively harmless external opposition. Indeed, in the run-up to last year’s polls, when Kagame denied registration to two opposition parties, shut down two private newspapers, put two opposition figures behind bars, it was not because he was afraid of their impact, but to threaten dissenters within his own Rwandan Patriotic Front.

“You don’t talk of party cohesion when the party exists only in letters,” John Nkongoli, an RPF founder who has been imprisoned after disagreeing with Kagame at a party congress a decade ago, has said.

And the facts vindicate his view. There is no doubt the RPF has disintegrated somewhat, with former senior party and military top men falling out with the president, and many of them opting to go into exile. At the top of the list are his former army commander and spy master, respectively, Kayumba Nyamwasa and Patrick Karegeya, both currently exiled in South Africa.

Since 1996, there have been ominous signs of internal cracks in the RPF. Kagame says the fallout is a result of the failure of his former lieutenants to be accountable. But none of them agree.

“The problem is his dictatorship, his false sense of holding [a] monopoly of what is best for Rwanda. It is his pursuit for unaccountable power. It is how he reacts to contradicting viewpoints on matters of national importance,” says long-time friend turned bitter critic, Nyamwasa.

And in what seems to be a notable turn to critical words, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice pointed to the need for greater openness in the country while praising the economic leaps made by the Kagame regime.

“Press restrictions persist. Civil society activists, journalists, and political opponents of the government often fear organizing peacefully and speaking out,” said Rice. “Some have been harassed. Some have been intimidated by late-night callers. Some have simply disappeared.”

But why should a man who says he is ready to pass over the leadership mantle come 2017 be allergic to criticism and opposing views? Critics argue Kagame’s iron hand when dealing with dissent is meant to ensure an unchallenged 2017 bid – either his own, or his chosen successor’s.


One point stands out in Rwanda’s succession politics: Kagame’s only safe exit in 2017 – presuming he decides to go – will be through choosing a successor who would not hold him accountable for his past actions and guarantee his security in Rwanda, given that he has two international arrest warrants hanging over him.

But in a country where his biggest threat is not the Hutu majority but his fellow Tutsis, specifically those who made him who he is now, finding a successor whose protection he could trust and powerful enough to quell a Tutsi intra-group resistance is not easy.

When Kagame sent his eldest son Ivan Cyomoro to the elite American West Point Military Academy, speculation grew that he was preparing him for the presidency – a hypothesis that only time will prove.

However, a sceptical view could be that without such a successor in place the chances of an extended term for Kagame only increase. In fact, unconfirmed media reports say that in a recent army high command meeting, members resolved Kagame should stay beyond 2017.

Whatever course Kagame takes, 2017 will be a defining moment of his political legacy, and Rwanda’s future – either further entrenching a dictatorship or laying the seeds of an open and competitive electoral democracy.

[Source: Think Africa Press]

November 28, 2011   3 Comments

Kagame offers up more clichés to Susan Rice’s criticisms

US Envory Susan Rice delivers speech at KIST

AD, just in case some of our pen-fighters may have missed this, there is the debate of the absurd between President Obama government and our dictator here in Rwanda. You may remember that President Obama’s UN Envoy Susan Rice recently stated the obvious about the terrible situation Dictator Kagame has created in Rwanda:

  • “Civil society activists, journalists, and political opponents of the government often fear organizing peacefully and speaking out.”
  • “Some have been harassed. Some have been intimidated by late-night callers. Some have simply disappeared.”
  • The political culture in Rwanda under President Paul Kagame’s government “remains comparatively closed.”
  • “Press restrictions persist.”
  • “In Rwanda, economic development and political openness should reinforce each other.”

Our dictator has come back swinging as usual. He does not do what my Nigerian friend used to advise that ‘engage mind before engage mouth.’ And is Dictator Kagame response to Ambassador Rice?

  • Over 11 million Rwandans can say what they want, where they want, using means he, Kagame has put in place, including modern internet infrastructure.
  • Rwandans choose the leaders they want.
  • His regime has done everything possible to promote citizen’s development.
  • It is impossible to understand why outsiders conclude that Rwandans do not have space to express themselves.

Kagame, why do you abuse the entire world’s intelligence? Frankly we Rwandans fail to understand why President Obama does not let you find your way into the dustbin. As we all know, a federal court in Oklahoma recently dismissed a lawsuit against the Rwandan dictator for killing his predecessor. And guess who stood by the Rwandan dictator – President Obama, whose administration urged the court to recognize Kagame’s immunity in the United States.

And now, the same Obama government gives the dictator good advice, by stating the known and arguing common sense, the Rwandan butcher comes swinging with his usual lies, arrogance, rudeness and dismissive crudeness.

Dictator Kagame, you should do well to read to piece in Kenya’s Standard Newspaper on Africa dictators, and how they live lavishly but die ingloriously.

Butcher Kagame, the author of this article has you in mind when he states the following:

“When the going is good, African dictators run their countries unchallenged as if they were their private property, thanks to the absolute power they wield. But their exit from power has acquired something of a predictable refrain: They bow out in utter disgrace and hatred, partly because of the near utopian they live in and cavernous appetite for material riches that exposes the ruled to abject poverty.”

Your end is near – brought about by your reckless abuse of the very American hand that sustains you. But it is us the Rwandans that have the responsibility of dumping you in the bin. You bet we working on it. Yes indeed, do enjoy your $ 100,000,000.00 jets, $ 20,000.00 hotel rooms, and education of your children at fancy American schools, but like fellow dictators, you will sooner end ingloriously.


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African Dictator

November 28, 2011   No Comments

Carnegie Mellon University and President Kagame: A venture capital romance

The caption with this photo from Paul Kagame’s flickr photostream says, “President Kagame speaks with faculty, staff and students at Carnegie Mellon University before making a speech and answering students’ questions.” – Photo: Paul Kagame

Rwandan President Kagame and Carnegie Mellon University’s new relationship has the whiff of a celebrity marriage. There’s an unmistakable aura of money and convenience when powerful public figures suddenly get moon-eyes and pretend to look past the sum of their mutual assets at some pure and ideal reason for their union written in the stars.

Whether you are claiming undying love or revealing plans to produce a “university community open to the exchange of ideas” together, forgive us if we notice that this partnership appears to have been forged in publicity stunt heaven and reads like a trashy venture capital romance novel. Perhaps it was fate.

When you take Kagame’s Rwanda, with its clinical orderliness, access to bucketloads of no-questions-asked international aid and unchecked state power, entrepreneurs like CMU are bound to come a-courtin’. I believe it was Jane Austen who said, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that an African war criminal in possession of a presidency must be in want of a Western institution whose reputation can lend him international credibility.”

The plot is painfully familiar. Quick, someone pop the cork and think of an appropriate toast for the new couple that sounds sincere. And, as CMU throws her arms around Kagame in an exaggerated show of public affection, for godsakes, don’t be gauche and mention the dirty money she is coincidentally fingering in his back pocket or point out the embarrassing way she’s twittering on about what an international, adventurous and humanitarian character this new African commitment proves she is.

CMU and Kagame went public about their relationship on Sept. 15, 2011, just a day before the president arrived in Pittsburgh to deliver a commemorative speech at the university and take part in a ceremonial signing to celebrate their dewy, contractual bliss. We know, however, that the romance began years earlier when they met in 2007 at the Connect Africa Summit.

Kambale Musavuli, student coordinator and spokesperson for Friends of the Congo, and other Congolese and Rwandans joined Carnegie Mellon students to protest Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s visit to the university on Sept. 16. Though hastily organized due to little advance notice, the protest was well covered by the media. – Photo: Lindsay Dill

According to the June 2011 publication by ISOKO Institute(“Africa’s Leading Free Market Think Tank”), the investment frontier in Africa is like water for chocolate, ready to melt entrepreneurial hearts everywhere – or, as they less amorously put it, “ripe for business.” At the summit, the African Development Bank lit some candles and put on some lilting Vivaldi.

Suddenly, CMU looked across the board table, admired how the light fell across Kagame’s general hat and felt strangely “impressed by Rwanda’s remarkable growth.” Kagame, for his part, enjoyed the salon-fresh smell of CMU’s hair and the expansive effect the institution promised to have on his country’s “knowledge hub.”

Before you could say “hail to the cupid of convenient wedlock,” the president was down on bended knee, gazing longingly into CMU’s prestige, asking “will you open a CMU branch campus with me in Kigali, if I underwrite all your operating costs, paying you nearly $ 100 million over the next decade?” Swoon!

Despite four years of private courting, CMU’s press release about its collaboration with Kagame had the public timing of a shotgun wedding. With less than a week to respond, letters of concern went out from CMU faculty and from the African Great Lakes Coalition too late to influence any discussion surrounding the contract. The deed was irrevocably done by the time anyone with a cautionary opinion could respond.

On the day commemorating the happy union, 40 protesters, including some students from the university, held signs and shouted, “CMU, shame on you,” for the duration of the president’s visit. This can be a mood-killer, as CMU’s honeymoon-is-over tone soon reflected.

Before the event, the university’s fawning publications put Kagame in the front and center, crediting him with a large part of Rwanda’s “success story.” Afterward, when criticism and curiosity began to mount, CMU changed its assessment of Rwanda’s status to “it’s complicated,” dodging questions about the many indictments against the Rwandan president, including the fact that he’s considered by Reporters Without Borders a “predator of the press,” by BBC and Scotland Yard a would-be assassin of critics abroad, by the UN Mapping Report of 2010 a war criminal responsible for massacres that may prove in court to be genocide, and by the Spanish Court a criminal implicated in mass murder and terrorism.

I wish someone could sit with CMU over a cup of something steamy and deliver this warning: “Yes, he is powerful. Yes, he is monied. Yes, he is intelligent. I’ll take your word for it that he has a huge investment territory. It’s good to have things in common: You’re both entrepreneurial, you both receive an obscene amount of money from the U.S. government, and your Western allies seem to get along.

“However, I would gently urge you to consider the fact that this man is most certainly, besides all the things that make you go gaga, an accomplished war criminal in a region positively littered with the bodies of his victims. CMU, you have signed up for the trials of a mob wife. I know that you’re determined to make this relationship work and that you think his ‘business’ elsewhere won’t affect what you have together privately on your campus.

“However, even if you never look directly into the trunk of his car, it’s a safe bet you will hear and see things that will trouble your conscience. From what I gather, Kagame does not tolerate open and free spaces for inquiry, dissent or criticism of any kind. He’s gifted at keeping people quiet through legal shams, disappearances, assassinations and plain, old-fashioned intimidation.

“What will silence you, if you ever get up the gumption to say something? And how long are you prepared to pretend you don’t see victimization, in the face of evidence, to protect Kagame’s name – a name that is now associated with yours? I hope you know what you’re doing. Claiming ignorance or looking strategically the other way has a nasty habit of coming back to roost. Just ask Penn State.”

Rebecca Cech authors, using culture, art, scholarly studies in post-colonialism and four generations of family life in Congo to inform her advocacy.

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African Dictator

November 26, 2011   No Comments

KivuWatt: Powering Rwanda and Averting Disaster

KivuWatt: Powering Rwanda and Averting Disaster

By Nick Aster | November 23rd, 2011

This post is part of a series on exploring Rwanda as part of the International Reporting Project’s Gatekeeper Editor trip. Follow along on our page here.

Do you smell gas? The KivuWatt Methane extraction platform off the shore of Gisenyi, Rwanda in Lake Kivu

One of the more vivid memories of my childhood was hearing about the 1985 disaster at Lake Nyos in Cameroon. In case you forgot, Lake Nyos was naturally super-saturated with dissolved carbon dioxide and other gasses. When disturbed by an earthquake, the lake literally “fizzed” out millions of tons of CO2 like the opening of a soda can. Being heavier than air, the CO2 spilled over the lake’s banks and down a valley suffocating over 1700 people and countless animals over the course of an hour or two. Anything that wasn’t a plant died.

It turns out there are two other lakes in the world which have smiler saturations of gas and therefore share the potential for this kind of disaster. One is another minor lake in Cameroon and the other is the vastly larger and more significant Lake Kivu between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lake Kivu (upon whose shore I sat researching this post) is 2000 times larger than lake Nyos and has more than two million people in its immediate vicinity. It is not only saturated CO2 but, it turns out, is also saturated with methane. It remains stable, but being in an area of seismic activity, it’s only a matter of time before a volcanic event or earthquake could disturb the lake enough to release these gases. In fact, scientists say that the phenomenon, known as a limnic eruption, is expected to occur at some point in the next 100 or so years.

However, there might be a solution that would both prevent disaster and create tremendous economic opportunity for an impoverished nation at the same time.

In 1992, A French team figured out that they could reduce the CO2 content of Lake Nyos by simply lowering a free standing pipe into the water and pumping water from a deep point to the surface. CO2 would fizz out with such speed it would pull more water behind it, allowing the pump to be turned off and creating a tremendous fountain of water and gas blasting into the sky – just like taking the cork out of a shaken – up champagne bottle. The CO2 released would, in theory, come up with managable volume so that it would prevent a more catastrophic release sometime later.

Contour Global, a power development company with operations around the world, observed this technique and figured it could be applied to Lake Kivu, with the added commercial benefit of collecting methane, (which can be burned to produce electricity). The project is known as KivuWatt and is scheduled to start operating in early 2012.

Theoretically, by simply sticking a pipe into the water, the company could extract some of the estimated 65 cubic kilometers of methane in the lake to produce as much as 100MWs of electricity for a country whose current total production is a mere 69MW. Even better, half of Rwanda’s current electricity production comes from diesel generators, a dirty and expensive proposition when compared to the relatively clean and cheap burning of methane – a powerful greenhouse gas which breaks down into CO2 and water vapor when burned. Diesel generation could be greatly reduced as Rwanda improves its electricity grid to bring on power coming from the project.

Granted, KivuWatt is not an emissions-free source of electricity. However, according to Global Post (I was unable to get in touch directly with KivuWatt while in the country) and other sources, the CO2 gas which naturally comes up with the methane will be separated and re-sequestered into the lake at a less dangerous depth. This process happens to be the most complicated piece of the puzzle but means that the KivuWatt project should have about the same CO2 impact as a typical natural gas power plant, and perhaps even less given the possibility to eliminate the burning of diesel.

Most importantly, giving Rwandans access to cheaper, more reliable electricity means more opportunity to bring themselves out oft he grip of poverty and into “middle income” status – a key component of the country’s “2020 vision” to modernize.

via KivuWatt: Powering Rwanda and Averting Disaster.

November 26, 2011   No Comments

Does Dictator Museveni Want To Become A Kagame?

In our AD categorization of African dictators, Museveni falls in a “soft” grouping. In the soft category are dictators that are no longer able, thank goodness, to suppress entirely parliament, the judiciary, and the media. The iron-fisted dictators are Kagame-like: not only do they dominate all these sectors, they out-rightly imprison, kill, and assassinate anything that moves. The opposition and media are silent, in prison or in exile.l

Dictator Museveni, once in a while, blunders towards the Kagame-like iron fisted dictator. Take the case of the criminal libel case against two Daily Monitor journalists accused of defaming the Ugandan dictator.

This is the so-called case against Henry Ochieng, the paper’s political editor and Angelo Izama, a senior reporter.

The Ugandan dictator was unhappy because of the article the two journalists wrote back in December 2009 titled “Will the people’s power defeat President Museveni in the poll?” The Dictator’s prosecutors allege that the journalists compared M7 to the late Fernando Marcos who was deposed in 1986 (the same year that M7 came to power) by people’s power in the Philippines.

What is this Mr Dictator M7? Of course the journalists are right in arguing that this bogus court case is nothing but harassment that infringes on media freedom and fundamental rights the world over.

Shame on you Dictator Museveni for wanting to be like the butcher of Rwanda in use of draconian iron-fisted human rights abuses!

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African Dictator

November 25, 2011   No Comments

Stop This Brutality – Kagame Told By Obama Government

Susan Rice (C) is visiting Rwanda (AFP/File, Steve Terrill)

Dear Pen-fighters, increase the pace of efforts to remove Kagame. The man is finished. Its just that Rwandans are not yet organised to dump him in the dustbin where he belongs.

Guess where we are getting support to rid ourselves of the Rwandan butcher – from his friends, the Americans and the British.

Yesterday (Wednesday 22 November), we in Kigali witnessed something extraordinary. President Obama’s Envoy to the UN, Susan Rice, told Kagame right here in Rwanda that he should stop harassing the opposition, media, society and allow greater political openness to develop.

These are her own words and shocking analysis of the toxic environment Kagame has created in Rwanda:

  • “Civil society activists, journalists, and political opponents of the government often fear organizing peacefully and speaking out.”
  • “Some have been harassed. Some have been intimidated by late-night callers. Some have simply disappeared.”
  • The political culture in Rwanda under President Paul Kagame’s government “remains comparatively closed.”
  • “Press restrictions persist.”
  • “In Rwanda, economic development and political openness should reinforce each other.”

In the world of diplomacy, this is a slap in Kagame’s face – on his own soil! The Kagame the strongman is finished.

What is striking is that Susan Rice, who used to be Kagame personal friend, came all the way from America to tell the Rwandan dictator that he is no good.

And of course Rice is no other than President Obama’s top diplomat and Envoy to the United Nations. In other words, Obama has told the Rwandan dictator that the whole world knows what the tyrant is presiding over – “iron fist rule.”

In the UK, the British Conservative Party activists recently admitted that they now place greater distance between Kagame and their community work in Rwanda.

Fellow Rwandans, the message to us is loud and clear. Let us wake up and organise to end the Kagame tyranny. His American and British friends that have sustained Kagame politically and economically are ahead of us – they are telling him to his face that he is a rotten dictator who must change his ways.

But we know better. A hyena or vampire cannot live without killing people. Kagame belongs in a dustbin. What are we waiting for?

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African Dictator

November 25, 2011   1 Comment

“This is not a show, it’s my trial”, Ingabire tells biaised Rwandan Court

by Boniface Twagirimana.

Kigali, 24 November 2011 – The evidential stage of the political trial of the opposition leader Victoire Ingabire started on 05 September 2010 almost one year after her imprisonment in maximum security. Until now, the national public prosecution authority is still introducing new contreversial materials . The latest development is the transfer of 600 pages from the Netherlands, a judicial ambush that gives unlimited additionnal time to the prosecutors to keep the opposition leader in prison, officially in order to get the files translated, analysed, and submitted for subsequent court proceedings. In the meantime, the behaviour of the judges has reached a questionnable level of intimidation. Since 22nd November 2011, the hearing was suspended for two days on the request of the key defendant because of renewed threats and attacks from the presiding judge towards the defence counsel. Ingabire stated: “the tense atmosphere of the debates has reached such an alarming level that I don’t trust the fairness of the proceedings anymore. It looks like I have been convicted before we present all our means of defence. This is not a show, it’s my trial. I need deeper consultations with my defence to have a fresh look at this wierd situation”.

The high court and the prosecutor are always siding very closely and become clearly anxious every time the defence details the fabrication and manipulation of the politically motivated evidence by the government. They don’t want to hear anything about the contradictions and inconsistencies of the key prosecution’s witnesses.

A two-day adjournement was granted but the presiding judge ordered the key defendant to present conclusions on 5 counts of genocide ideology; complicity in terrorist acts; discrimination or sectarianism; dissemination of rumors aimed at inciting the public against the existing leadership; recruitment into an armed force. This is a shortcut to convict the political leader without waiting for defence closing arguments.

It’s time for a status hearing of this trial and the ambiguous role of the presiding judge.

The hearing will resume on 25 November 2011.

Boniface Twagirimana
Interim Vice president.

November 25, 2011   1 Comment

Shoah Foundation gathers stories of Rwandan genocide

Shoah Foundation gathers stories of Rwandan genocide

By Jonah Lowenfeld

Crispin Brooks, left, curator of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s visual history archive, demonstrates the use of the archive’s indexing program for the four visiting Rwandan fellows — Paul Rukesha, second from left, Diogene Mwizerwa, Yves Kamuronsi and Martin Niwenshuti. Photo by Jonah Lowenfeld

Crispin Brooks, left, curator of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s visual history archive, demonstrates the use of the archive’s indexing program for the four visiting Rwandan fellows — Paul Rukesha, second from left, Diogene Mwizerwa, Yves Kamuronsi and Martin Niwenshuti. Photo by Jonah Lowenfeld

The USC Shoah Foundation Institute is home to more than 52,000 videotaped testimonies about the Holocaust, and people searching the archive’s index enter a single keyword into their queries more than any other: “Auschwitz.”

“Auschwitz seems to be the one that people go to most,” said Crispin Brooks, curator of the foundation’s visual history archive.

Likewise, people tend to focus on dark topics when accessing the archive of videotaped testimonies at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center (KGMC) in Rwanda’s capital, which is dedicated to preserving and disseminating memories of that country’s genocide. Among the center’s holdings is an archive of recordings of survivors, perpetrators, rescuers and others telling of their experiences during the 100-day period in 1994 when 800,000 members of Rwanda’s Tutsi population were massacred by Hutu militias.

“Mainly they want to know the way people were killed,” said Diogene Mwizerwa, 29, an indexer at KGMC.

About 80,000 people visit KGMC every year, most of them to pay respects to the more than 250,000 Rwandan genocide victims whose bodies are buried in 14 mass graves on the site. But those visitors also include students and scholars interested in consulting the Rwandan genocide testimonies that are currently housed there.

Thanks to a new partnership between the Shoah Foundation Institute and KGMC, some of the Rwandan testimonies soon will become much more widely accessible and searchable.

Since mid-October, Mwizerwa and three other KGMC staffers have been in residence at the Shoah Foundation Institute in Los Angeles. The four fellows, who are all survivors of the genocide, are part of a recently announced joint effort between the two centers that will also expand the Shoah Foundation’s archive to include 50 new testimonies about the Rwandan experience.

“We are not trying to compare human suffering,” Stephen D. Smith, the foundation’s executive director, said, adding that there are also plans to incorporate voices from the Cambodian and Armenian genocides into the archive in the near future. “What we’re trying to do is document each of these experiences with depth and dignity.”

The new Rwandan testimonies, all conducted in Kinyarwanda, will be translated and subtitled into English. As part of this $500,000 project, they will become part of the Shoah archive by the end of 2012, making them accessible in part via the Internet, and in full at 32 locations around the world.

Karen Jungblut, the foundation’s director of research and documentation, who is directly responsible for the Rwanda project, also has worked with groups of archivists from Cambodia in the past.

“The mission of Shoah has always been, ‘To overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry — and the suffering they cause — through the educational use of the foundation’s visual history testimonies,’ ” said Jungblut, who started out as an indexer in 1996, just two years after the foundation was founded by Steven Spielberg, and 10 years before it moved its archive to the University of Southern California, in 2006, to become the USC Shoah Foundation Institute. “At that time, it was a conscious decision not to say ‘Holocaust testimony,’ with the view that it would open the door to including testimonies of survivors of genocides other than the Holocaust.”

To make the videos of Rwandan testimonies searchable for scholars in the way the Shoah archive’s testimonies of the Holocaust already are, they need to be indexed in the same way.

For the last few weeks, Mwizerwa and his colleagues have been working with Brooks and other Shoah staff to learn the process, starting with learning how to use the proprietary computer program that Shoah indexers used to attach keywords to specific segments of Holocaust testimonies.

On Nov. 10, Brooks led the Rwandan fellows through a segment of one Holocaust survivor’s testimony from the Shoah archive. In the upper-left-hand corner of Brooks’ computer screen, Peter Hersch, a Central European Jewish survivor who migrated to Australia after the Holocaust, could be seen describing a particularly vicious kapo, a prisoner who had authority over other prisoners, whom he encountered while imprisoned in Auschwitz.

The rest of the screen was full of drop-down menus and boxes. Using the mouse, Brooks could rapidly click and double-click on the menus and boxes to attach keyword tags to the Holocaust survivor’s story on a minute-by-minute basis.

“So we have the name of the kapo, and the ‘forced labor’ terms,” Brooks said, stopping the recording, “but I added in ‘forced labor conditions,’ because it definitely felt like, early on, he was describing what the conditions were like doing this forced labor.”

Distinctions between the more than 10,000 keywords in the Shoah’s database are very nuanced — “camp deaths” is not the same as “camp suicides,” “camp killings,” “camp executions” or “camp corpses” — and some keywords are specifically related to the Holocaust experience.

So, before the Rwandan fellows can index the testimonies about the 1994 genocide, they will first have to create a new set of keywords — a process that will require that they put themselves into the positions of the information’s end-users.

“How did you survive? That means how did you hide until the end,” said KGMC Archive Manager Yves Kamuronsi, 30, explaining why “hiding” would be one of the more commonly used keywords attached to the testimonies of Rwandan survivors.

The index will be crucial to the usefulness of the archive. Before joining KGMC, another fellow, Paul Rukesha, 33, spent one year working with the traditional Gacaca Courts that were set up after the Rwandan genocide to try perpetrators. Researchers, he said, shouldn’t have to go through three hours of testimony to get to the information they’re looking for.

“You want to be as perfect as possible, as accurate as possible, because indexing, for me, is all about time management for the researchers,” he said.

In addition to asking how people were killed, Kamuronsi said, visitors to KGMC also ask about other topics — like reconciliation or forgiveness — albeit less often.

That’s likely to change, Kamuronsi said.

“I’m imagining that, let’s say, 40 years after genocide, I think people will be asking different questions,” he said. “We will be asking ourselves different questions.”

By comparison to the Holocaust, Rwanda’s genocide is still recent history to many —  and especially so in the country itself, where people who once would have been identified as either Tutsi or Hutu now live side by side but are prohibited from using those group names in many contexts.

The very words “Tutsi” and “Hutu” started off as Rwandan cultural designations but took on far greater importance during the colonial and post-colonial periods, after the colonizers empowered the Tutsi minority to exercise authority over the country.

The mass killing of Tutsis by members of Rwanda’s majority Hutu population can be traced directly back to this distinction — and today, usage of the terms in Rwanda is banned in many situations. But, for the purposes of the index, the terms will be used.

“If you say, ‘Tutsis and Hutus,’ ” Kamuronsi said, “it’s fine. But if you say, ‘You are not allowed into here because you are Hutu or Tutsi,’ you will be punished, because you are discriminating against someone based on who you know he is.”

“Frankly speaking, people still have that kind of perception, of Tutsis and Hutus, in their minds,” said Rukesha, who trained in sociology at the National University of Rwanda. “And you can’t stop them from perceiving that issue like that.”

Some survivors, Rukesha said, consider all Hutus as enemies. But though he works at KGMC, he does not see it as part of his mission to change that perception.

“My mission is to index,” Rukesha said. “And to index is not to interpret the history; it’s just to facilitate you as a journalist, as a researcher, to focus on a certain issue you want to work on.”

This kind of compartmentalization was common to all indexers — no matter which group of testimonies they were working with.

“We have to forget the other things and focus on this,” Martin Niwenshuti, 34, said.

“You have to know how to deal with emotions,” Rukesha said. “You do some relaxation techniques.”

“You take a break,” Brooks said.

Rukesha nodded. “You drink some water.”

The Rwandan fellows will appear in conversation with USC Shoah Foundation Institute Director of Research and Documentation Karen Jungblut on Nov. 30. Visit the foundation’s Web site,, for further details.
Shoah Foundation gathers stories of Rwandan genocide

November 25, 2011   No Comments

US feared killing spree in Libya, Rice tells Rwanda; Urges Kagame to expand political freedoms – The Washington Post

US feared killing spree in Libya, Rice tells Rwanda; Urges Kagame to expand political freedoms

By Associated Press, Published: November 23

NAIROBI, Kenya — The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. told an audience in Rwanda on Wednesday that the U.S. had feared a killing spree in Libya was about to happen earlier this year along the lines of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

President Barack Obama was determined not to watch “another predictable horror unfold,” Ambassador Susan Rice said. She spoke in Rwanda after visiting Libya on Tuesday, where she visited the site of a mass grave near Libya’s capital.

There were “strong echoes of 1994” when then-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said his forces would kill rebel supporters in Benghazi like “rats,” she said. Allowing that to happen would be like giving license to dictators to kill the Arab Spring, she added.Instead, the U.N. Security Council approved a mandate to protect civilians in Libya.

“This time, the Security Council acted. And acted in time. Having failed in Rwanda and Darfur, it did not fail again in Libya. Within less than two days, American firepower played a decisive role in stopping Gadhafi’s forces and saving Benghazi,” Rice said, according to prepared remarks to be delivered at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology.

“Because we acted, countless men, women and children were spared. Because we acted, the Libyan people had the time and space to end the Gadhafi regime and chart a new beginning. Because we acted, the international community gave meaning to the promises that have been made so many times on Rwandan soil — that we will not stand idly by when we have the capability to stop an atrocity,” Rice said.

Rebel forces closed in on Gadhafi and killed him in October after months of upheaval in Libya, including bombing runs by U.S. and NATO fighter jets.

More than 500,000 Rwandans were slaughtered in that country’s 1994 genocide, deaths that have haunted the world’s conscience because of the lack of international will to intervene.

President Paul Kagame has won worldwide praise for keeping the peace in Rwanda since the genocide, which mostly killed ethnic Tutsis but also moderate Hutus. The country has seen strong economic development, but rights groups say that Kagame holds a strong and sometimes brutal grasp in the country, and silences political opposition and freedom of expression.

Rice cited the Responsibility to Protect, a doctrine that compels the international community to protect civilians in other countries when their own government fails to do so. Rice noted that Kagame is a strong backer of the doctrine and had urged action in Libya, the only African leader whose country is not on the Security Council to do so.

“Rwanda has not just moved beyond its own genocide, it has consistently led by example, from Darfur to Libya, in standing up against those who would commit genocide or mass atrocities,” Rice said.

Rice also slapped Kagame on the wrist, saying that his country’s political culture is being stifled, that freedom of the press is minimal and that activists, journalists, political opponents don’t have the ability to organize peacefully.

“Some have simply disappeared,” she said, referring to highly suspicious deaths of political opponents.

Rice said that the demand to be heard has spread across North Africa and the Middle East, and that freedom of expression and assembly are vital rights in Africa as well. She said Rwanda’s next development challenge was to deepen the country’s democracy.

“As President Kagame said, ‘The uprising in Libya has already sent a message to leaders in Africa and beyond. It is that if we lose touch with our people, if we do not serve them as they deserve and address their needs, there will be consequences. Their grievances will accumulate – and no matter how much time passes, they can turn against you,’ Rice quoted Kagame as saying.

via US feared killing spree in Libya, Rice tells Rwanda; Urges Kagame to expand political freedoms – The Washington Post.

November 24, 2011   1 Comment