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Rwandan opposition parties condemn grenade attacks in Kigali

February 21, 2010

To introduce Bay View readers to the volatile issues surrounding Rwanda’s August presidential election, here are a series of articles by Ann Garrison, the only U.S. journalist covering the issues, which were published on the dates shown in Digital Journal and other online news sites. The struggle for the leadership of Rwanda deeply affects the genocidal conflict in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, where, in the past decade, more than 6 million Congolese have been killed.

by Ann Garrison

Victoire Ingabiré
Feb. 20 – On the morning of Feb. 20, 2010, a coalition of opposition parties condemned the previous night’s deadly grenade attacks in Kigali, calling them “an attempt to instill fear in the population” prior to Rwanda’s August presidential election.

At 12:38 Greenwich Mean Time, on Feb. 20, the BBC reported “Rwandan capital Kigali hit by deadly grenade attacks.”

Several hours earlier, the Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties in Rwanda issued this statement, signed by the leaders of all three broadbased opposition parties, about the attacks:

“Condemnation of grenade attacks in Kigali

“The Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties in Rwanda, which brings together the following political organizations: The United Democratic Forces – Inkingi, The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Le Parti Social Imberakuri, has learned with shock and horror about the grenade blasts which occurred last night, 19th Feb 2010, almost simultaneously in three different localities in Kigali.

“At the moment there are conflicting reports about the dead and the injured; however, the main issue at hand is the lives of innocent and defenseless citizens who are at a serious risk. These cowardly and wicked acts are meant to instill fear in the population at a crucial time when we are heading for the presidential elections in a few months, with the polls scheduled for Aug. 9.

“We strongly condemn these barbaric acts in the strongest terms possible and call upon the Rwandan government, as we have done in the recent past to:

“1. Investigate and bring to book the perpetrators of these acts

“2. Ensure a fair hearing of the suspects once they are apprehended

“3. Guarantee security of persons and their property.

“Issued at Kigali, 20th February 2010.”

The statement was signed by Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, chairperson, United Democratic Forces; Frank Habineza, chairman, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda; and Bernard Ntaganda, chairman, Parti Social Imberakuri.

The state run Rwanda News Agency reported, also on Feb. 20, that Rwandan police are holding two men they believe to be responsible and that they already know, without further investigation, who is responsible – the Hutu paramilitary force known as the “interahamwe.”

Election Rwanda: Who will be allowed to run?

Feb. 17 – On Feb. 10, Human Rights Watch issued a news release, “Rwanda: End Attacks on Opposition Parties,” but the attacks haven’t ended. FDU-Inkingi candidate Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza was facing another interrogation by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Rwandan Police at the time I recorded this for KPFA Radio News including some of my most recent conversations with her. She was once again released, though still unable to register the FDU-Inkingi Party.

On Feb. 18, Amnesty International joined Human Rights Watch by issuing a release titled “Intimidation of opposition parties must end.”

Meanwhile, Kigali’s Gasabo District has once again refused to give the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda a permit to hold the convention that it must hold to field a presidential candidate, because the police have not given them a “clearance,” even though nonviolence is one of the 10 key values of Green Parties worldwide.

Rwandan opposition threatened by ruling RPF

Feb. 9 – Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza, Rwanda’s leading opposition presidential candidate, now believes that she could be arrested at any time. I spoke to Mrs. Ingabiré on the phone and created this video to elaborate on the audio interview.

Joseph Ntawangundi, an aide to FDU-Inkingi presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, was arrested, imprisoned and charged with the crime of genocide on Feb. 6.

The arrest happened three days after a mob in civilian clothes assaulted Ntawangundi and Ingabiré as the two waited for papers to register their party and her candidacy at a government office in Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. Ingabiré was not injured in the assault but assailants stole her passport and national identification papers.

“I could be arrested at any moment,” Ingabiré said, in a telephone call on Sunday, Feb. 7, from Kigali, Rwanda.

Frank Habineza, interim chair of another opposition party, the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, says that he could be arrested at any moment now as well, and asks, “Who will be next?”

“The international community should act now,” Habineza says, “before it’s too late.”

Rwanda’s 2010 presidential election? What election?

Feb. 7 – Joseph Ntawangundi, an assistant to Rwanda’s FDU-Inkingi presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, was arrested, imprisoned and charged with the crime of genocide on Feb. 6, three days after a mob in civilian clothes assaulted him and Ingabiré as the two of them waited for papers to register their party and her candidacy at a government office in Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali.

Ingabiré was uninjured in the assault, but assailants stole her passport and national identification papers. She will have to replace them before she can register for Rwanda’s 2010 presidential election, though it now seems unlikely that she or any other candidate with any chance of winning will be allowed to run against the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front Party’s President Paul Kagame.

Leaders of the ruling RPF Party have been calling for Mrs. Ingabire’s arrest for the crime of promoting “genocide ideology” ever since her return to Rwanda from exile on Jan. 17.

Frank Habineza
The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda has tried five times to convene, beginning in August 2009, only to be met with bureaucratic roadblocks and, on Oct. 30, violence and arrests, followed by more harassment, threats and arrests. On Feb. 5, interim Rwandan Green Party President Frank Habineza issued a press release stating that he had been accosted, threatened and warned that he is being watched all the time.

On Feb. 6, Senegalese Green Party President Papa Meissa Dieng called on Global Greens and the American and European Greens Federations to act while there’s still time by creating a mediation group to travel to Rwanda. Habineza also urged the Global Greens to act now.

Bernard Ntaganda
The Parti Social Imberakuri managed to register and nominate Mr. Bernard Ntaganda, but they’ve since been threatened with exclusion and accused, like Mrs. Ingabiré, of promoting “genocide ideology.”

The statute criminalizing “genocide ideology” was passed to suppress the disputed history of the 1994 genocide, which hangs heavy over Rwanda and this election. Mrs. Ingabiré has put herself at great risk simply by stating that not only Tutsi but also Hutu people died in the genocidal massacres of 1994, but some American journalists and academics have gone much further in challenging the received history.

Rwanda has revoked University of Michigan Professor Allan Stam’s visa because of his collaborations with other academics, investigators, lawyers and statisticians and his conclusions that:

  • a million people died,
  • the vast majority of those who died were not Tutsi, but Hutu,
  • American, French and Belgian leaders, including Bill Clinton and the CIA, knew what was happening every day as the massacres continued and
  • current Rwandan President Paul Kagame, a U.S. ally trained at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, is guilty of war crimes of an extraordinary scale.

Professor Stam also concludes that there are “no good guys in this story,” no simple right and wrong.

Mrs. Ingabiré, the FDU-Inkngi Party’s candidate, has called for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, like South Africa’s after apartheid.

The U.S. and its close ally, Rwanda

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at the 2009 AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) Conference in Kenya, called Rwanda the beacon of hope for Africa, and, in November 2009, President Bill Clinton presented Rwandan President Paul Kagame with a Global Citizenship Award. However, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy and Labor’s May 2009 report tells a very different story:

“Rwanda is a constitutional republic dominated by a strong presidency. President Paul Kagame was elected to a seven-year term in 2003; the next presidential election is scheduled for 2010. Chamber of Deputies elections that took place in September 2008 were peaceful and orderly, despite irregularities. Significant human rights abuses occurred, although there were improvements in some areas. Citizens’ right to change their government was restricted, and extrajudicial killings by security forces occurred. There were significantly fewer reports of torture and abuse of suspects than in previous years. Prison and detention center conditions remained harsh. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained persons. Prolonged pretrial detention was a problem, and government officials attempted to influence judicial outcomes, mostly regarding the community-based justice system known as gacaca. There continued to be limits on the freedoms of religion, speech and association. Restrictions on the press increased. Official corruption was a problem. Restrictions on civil society, recruitment of child soldiers by a Democratic Republic of Congo-based armed group and trafficking in persons also occurred.”

Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and 2010 election

Jan. 20 – The memory, consequence and disputed histories of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide loom large in Rwanda’s memory. Whether openly discussed or not, they will hugely influence the nation’s 2010 national election.

UDF-Inkingi leader Victoire Ingabiré at the Kigali Airport upon her return. Parti Social-Imberakuri leader Bernard Ntaganda and Rwanda Democratic Green Party leader Frank Habineza were both there to welcome Ingabiré home. – Photo: IGIHE.com, Rwanda
Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, leader of the United Democratic Forces of Rwanda, arrived at the Kigali Airport on Jan. 17, returning from 16 years in exile to register her party in preparation for Rwanda’s August 2010 elections. Frank Habineza, leader of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and Bernard Ntaganda, leader of the Parti Social Imberakuri, met her at the airport. All three parties are trying to register and field candidates, including presidential candidates, in Rwanda’s August 2010 nation elections.

Rwanda as the Israel of Africa

Rwanda, under the leadership of President Paul Kagame and the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) Party, is a close ally of the United States. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking in Kenya at the outset of her 2009 tour of the African continent, pointed to Rwanda as a “beacon of hope for Africa,” just as her husband, former President Bill Clinton so often does. On Sept. 24, 2009, Bill Clinton presented one of his Global Citizenship Awards to Kagame, for leadership in public service. Two days later, at his Saddleback Church in Orange County, evangelical Pastor Rick Warren, who has made Rwanda one of his “purpose driven nations,” presented Kagame with the second International Medal of P.E.A.C.E., having presented the first to George Bush at the close of 2008.

U.S., U.K., and their allies justify their military support of Rwanda with the genocide narrative that identifies Rwanda as the Israel of Africa and its Tutsi population as the Jews, who deserve special protection because they have suffered a holocaust. The hero of this narrative is Rwandan President Paul Kagame, described as the extraordinary leader who has led Rwandans in their rise from the ashes of genocide to swear, like the Israelis, “Never again.”

Rwanda, the Commonwealth and human rights

Kagame, however, stands accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, autocratic rule and political repression by human rights defenders the world round. On Feb. 6, 2008, a Spanish Court indicted 40 of his top military officers for “crimes including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and terrorism, perpetrated over a period of 12 years, from 1990 to 2002, against the civilian population and primarily against members of the Hutu ethnic group.” They did not indict Kagame himself, stating that he could not be prosecuted so long as he remains a sitting head of state.

Prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government’s acceptance of Rwanda into the Commonwealth in November 2008, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Group objected, presenting a report, written by Kenyan judge and legal scholar Yash Pai Ghai, who wrote:

“We believe that overwhelming evidence, conveniently ignored by leading Commonwealth states, demonstrates that the government of Rwanda is not sufficiently committed to the protection of human rights and to democracy.”

His report elaborated and cited evidence of compromised courts, flawed elections and human rights violations.

Journalist Derek Ingram, wrote, also for the Commonwealth Human Rights Group, in “Commonwealth Conversation”: “On Rwanda it [the Commonwealth] should wait for next year’s presidential elections, send a strong observer group to decide whether they are fair (the last ones were not) and then consider the application at the next CHOGM in 2011.”

The Commonwealth Heads of Government welcomed Rwanda nevertheless, thanks to the enthusiastic sponsorship of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and British Prime Minster Gordon Brown, and Rwanda’s elections are now scheduled for August, seven months away.

Rwanda elections, August 2010

Kigali Police shut down the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda's third attempt to convene as a party on Oct. 2, 2009, charging that their permit to meet lacked official approval. Provocateurs chanting "Hail the RPF!" disrupted their fourth attempt, on Oct. 30, 2009, which ended in broken bones and arrests, and the Rwandan government has not granted them a permit to convene again since. – Photo: Democratic Green Party of Rwanda
If the three viable opposing parties, the United Democratic Forces-Inkingi, the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda and the Parti Social-Imberakuri, are allowed to register and participate in free and fair elections, they have a good chance, in coalition, of defeating Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) Party.

However, that’s a very big IF.

To register and get a ballot line in Rwanda, a party must first convene, and the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda has now tried to convene five times, only to be met with bureaucratic obfuscation and, on Oct. 30, violence. Their members have been harassed and arrested.

The Parti Social Imberakuri has been allowed to register, but the Rwandan Parliament now threatens to take their registration away.

The FDU will now begin its attempt to register, but Rwandan Minister of Internal Security Sheikh Mussa Fazil Harerimana has already warned the FDU’s Umuhoza “against revisionist and Genocide denial pronouncements.”

Skulls of victims of one of the massacres during the 1994 Rwandan genocide are displayed at the Genocide Memorial Site Church of Ntarama in Nyamata, Rwanda, in 2004. – Photo: AFP
The memory, consequence and disputed histories of what we know as the 1994 Rwanda Genocide loom large in Rwanda’s memory, national consciousness and future as it heads into this national election year, which will conclude in August 2010 polls. Hence, the headline in the Sunday version of the Rwanda New Times, referred not to the upcoming election but to Ingabire’s assertion that not only Tutsis but also Hutus were killed in the Rwanda Genocide of 1994: “Ingabire espouses Double Genocide Theory.”

Victoire Ingabire spoke to the elephant in the room, and the reaction in the press from Kagame’s RPF Party has been swift and vitriolic, accusing her of both “revisionism” and “divisionism” regarding the history of the mass killings in Rwanda in 1994.

Rwandan exiles in the United States and Europe and seasoned Africa reporters, including Keith Harmon Snow and David Barouski, describe this as a very tense, sensitive and volatile situation.

Upon her arrival in Kigali, Mrs. Ingabire declared: “We totally agree and are conscious that there has been a genocide against Tutsis and we seriously and continuously advocate that all those who were responsible be brought before the courts of justice. We also agree that there have been other serious crimes against humanity and war crimes [against Hutus]; those who committed them have to bear the legal consequences. We must all the time remember those tragedies, make sure they don’t get ever repeated. We also need to ensure that people’s lives are effectively and strongly protected by laws.”

San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Digital Journal, Examiner.com, OpEdNews, Global Research and Colored Opinions. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. The first article in this series, dated Feb. 20, was originally published in Digital Journal; the other articles’ headlines are linked to their sources.


News video reported and produced by Ann Garrison

Grenades exploded at a bus station, a restaurant, and a commercial building site in Kigali, Rwanda, in the increasingly tense run up to Rwanda’s 2010 presidential election to be held on Aug. 9. Leading FDU-Inkingi candidate Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza anticipated her arrest.

Since this news report, Ingabiré has requested temporary refugee status at the U.K. Embassy in Kigali, which has not yet responded. Frank Habineza, president of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, has asked the government to protect him from an assassination plot which Umuseso, a Kinyarwanda language newspaper, reported on Feb. 22.

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40 thoughts on “Rwandan opposition parties condemn grenade attacks in Kigali

  1. teddy

    Hi Ann Garison,

    Why you dig the buried one to make it worst.
    leave the issue for Rwandan to solve it! why did’t you shout before the genocide occurred, do not sit on the back of a horse then point on Kagame to judge the unacceptable.
    Ingabire,
    you are welcome to Rwanda, by the way, how many ways have you contributed to Rwanda to see where it has reached now? Kagame makes it happen to stop every things which was in the country for the past years you have ever lived. Leave politics then build your country.

    Reply
  2. KAMANZI

    Teddy hahahha
    you have started feeling the heat, hahahah there is still more to come man just wait you feel good when they are prasing you but feel bad when they are exposing your evil deeds you have been enjoying for over 20 years?good annie goooo we are behind you you are our hero tell the world the truth we have been ignored and oppressed for so long. let people like teddy go to hell or they accept reconciliation way.

    Reply
  3. Ann Garrison

    Many Rwandans have thanked me for this collection on one beautifully organized page–with a French translation button. Very important in this case, that French translation button.

    Reply
  4. Joie Pirkey

    Ann,
    Although it seems at first glance that your intentions are honorable I can’t help but wonder why there are so many factual inaccuracies amidst your reporting here. I am also very curious why you have not commented on any opposing voice. Why not quotes from those on the ground and those involved in the government? Why no facts on the history of why these candidates have been in exile since genocide? As a news reporter I believe that ethically you need to be unbiased and give both sides of the story which you have failed to do. In allowing only one side to speak you have created the image of news but have simply propagated your own bias, an incorrect one at best.

    For those reading this Americanized propaganda I want to strongly encourage you to find the facts. Also, I want to say that I, another well informed American strongly disagree with Miss Garrison, not that Rwanda needs fair elections, that is something I would think we all believe in, but that what she has posted as fact, for instance what the professor wrote about more Hutus being killed in genocide then Tutsi, are simply more Hutu Extremist propaganda. You are hurting an already devastated country, and are ill informed and are being used by people with a very evil ideology.

    Reply
    1. Simon

      you do not know what you are talking about. you do not know anything about hutu or tutsi; you guys think that watching Hotel Rwanda and go a couples of times to Kigali makes you specialists about Rwanda?

      just mind about your own government and let those who want to help Rwandans do their job.

      Reply
  5. KAMANZI

    I think Joie does not understand what is going on in Rwanda. you do not understand at all who is going to give Annie facts and yet they are not willing to understand the truth so do you want to say that Amnesty Intl and Human rights watch are also biased actually I am rwandese living in Rwanda I think you have another intention or to protect Kagame and support him to continue oppressing innocent Rwandese and you are not interested in learning new truth about Rwanda so if you are promoting RPF propoganda thisi is not the right place for you.I can also leave more facts you are looking for on this link:http://www.fordschool.umich.edu/news/events/?event_id=154
    i hope it will shed more light on your better understanding of Rwanda politics.it was written by an American professor

    Reply
  6. Ann Garrison

    To Joie Pirkey:

    I’m reporting on the struggle of the opposition parties for a free and fair election in Rwanda in 2010. That’s the central subject of these reports, and what little voice I’ve been able to give to the opposition has been the only voice they’ve had in the United States until Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International called on the Rwanda government to stop attacks on opposition parties.

    I’m in no way “obliged” to report on anything but the subject I’ve chosen to cover–the Rwandan opposition parties’ struggle for a free and fair election, which the Bay View has chosen to publish here.

    Anyone writing about anything of such enormous human consequence, with so much life at stake, is obliged to report as honestly as they can, as I do. I’ve tried to help my readers understand what this story unfolding so far away has to do with them, by explaining:

    1) the resources we and U.S. or otherwise Western-based industries consume from this part of the world,

    2) the politics of resource extraction,

    3) the Pentagon’s manipulation of regional tensions to project military force.

    If you think you can make me an appointment to speak to Paul Kagame or other members of the government, I’ll gladly do so, although, let’s face it, incumbent Rwandan President Paul Kagame is quoted, interviewed, and presented with awards in the Western, and African press, most every week.

    As for “on the ground reporting,” I am not in Rwanda, and at this point doubt that I could get a VISA to get in. Critics of the Kagame regime often have their VISAs canceled. Professor Stamm reported that his VISA had been canceled in his Ford School lecture on the Rwanda Genocide, online at http://www.facebook.com/l/b298c;www.fordschool.umich.edu/news/events“/?event_id=154.)

    I am “on the ground” here, where I observe Reverend Rick Warren presenting Paul Kagame with his P.E.A.C.E. award, Bill Clinton presenting him with a Global Citizenship Award, and various U.S. universities presenting him with honorary degrees, despite all the Amnesty International, Human Rights, and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative group, and even U.S. State Dept. reports on human rights abuse, including torture, compromised courts, and faulty elections.

    I call, e-mail, and video conference with members of the opposition and other Rwandans I’ve met around other issues, like LGBT rights, follow the news closely, and I’ve made contact with Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, whose reports will be critical as this process unfolds.

    Will there be a free and fair election? This is a clear and very basic question, and a demand absolutely consistent with the stated goals and values of the U.S. government.

    What I have been able to do is barely noticeable in comparison to the overwhelming support, often adultation, for Paul Kagame and his government in the Western press, government, academia, and even Western courts, which continue to approve the extradition of Rwandan exiles, to stand trial for genocide in Rwanda. Last week the Rwandan who was serving as Rwanda’s Ambassador to Ottawa in 1994 was extradited, after an 11-year legal battle against it. He was extradited as a collaborator in the genocide in 1994, which can only mean that he somehow conspired, from Canada, even though the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR) ruled in 2009, that there was no conspiracy by the Habyarimana and Hutu dominated government to commit genocide.

    If the international media had widely reported the ruling of the ICTR in 2009, the Kagame government’s justifications for the extraditions, for the speech crime of “genocide ideology,” and for its prisons packed with still untried political prisoners, would have collapsed.

    Did you write to TIME Magazine suggesting they publish an opposing viewpoint when they named Paul Kagame one of the world’s 100 most influential people, after a glowing nomination by Reverend Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor who has made Rwanda his first “purpose driven nation,” put President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief billions in service to his Christian right, abstinence-only, HIV/AIDS agenda, and, who, last fall, awarded his “International Medal of P.E.A.C.E.” to Paul Kagame, just as he had to President Bush a year earlier?

    Have you urged the NY Times’s Africa expert Nicholas Kristof to even cover Rwanda’s election?

    The NY Times finally noted Rwanda’s upcoming election, for the first time, in response to Amnesty International’s report, “Intimidation of Rwandan Opposition Parties Must End,” http://www.amnesty.org/news-and-updates/news/intimidation-rwandan-opposition-parties-must-end-20100218 Meaning they published the Reuters wire.

    Reply
  7. Ann Garrison

    Thank you, thank you for the new translation button, which is better, and much easier to find than the old. I’m about share this with my Rwandan friends, many of whom, including Mrs. Ingabiré, speak French more readily than English.

    Reply
  8. Jim Higgins

    Quoting Joie Pirkey: “As a news reporter I believe that ethically you need to be unbiased and give both sides of the story which you have failed to do. In allowing only one side to speak you have created the image of news but have simply propagated your own bias, an incorrect one at best.”

    Why is it that the people who claim to be the most offended by someone else’s alleged bias…happen to be the people who are the most biased?

    Ann Garrison’s story is biased…and her bias is incorrect, while Joie Pirkey’s bias is correct?

    This is a pet peeve of mine because claims of “bias!” are very effective at discrediting facts and opinions. And that’s a shame because the savvy consumer of news and information understands that “bias!” is as intelligible a counterattack in debate as the classic, “Oh yeah? Well f@$k you!” And here’s why…

    I don’t give a crap if someone’s biased or not. They either get it right or they don’t. Given a choice between accurate and biased, on the one hand, or totally full of $hit and even-handed, on the other, and I’ll take the former every day of the year. Bitching about someone’s bias, therefore, is just a way of saying that they can’t dispute your accuracy. Rather than conceding defeat they’ll try to taint the accuracy of what you’re reporting by claiming it is “biased.”

    When I hear a cry of “bias!,” my bull$hit meter starts to redline because we all know that there’s no need to ever call out someone as being biased if you can point out actual inaccuracies or flaws in their reporting or editorializing. The only time you need to say, “Oh, so-and-so is biased,” is when you can’t refute what so-and-so is saying. Unfortunately, it is an effective ploy because there are lots of consumers of news and information but few of them are savvy.

    If there are factual inaccuracies, spell them out. Don’t throw down the claim that the facts are inaccurate and pretend you’ve backed it up by arguing the writer is biased. If you have a different opinion (or think your bias is the better one — which is really all Joie Pirkey does here) then, by all means, state your case. I just can’t abide the nonsense attack of someone else’s “bias” as a means of leveraging a differing view as being accurate. Yes, it’s a time-tested ploy that works on the teeming millions, but only because it dumbs down the discussion.

    Reply
  9. Mugisha

    As a Rwandan, I am extremely disappointed by Joie Pirkey’s statement. First of all, her statements are based on generalization/ignorance and reveal strong hatred for what she refers to as “Hutu extremists.” In reality, a majority of Hutu people are peasants just struggling to get by.

    Her conclusion that every Hutu person in exile is an “extremist” is typical of Rwanda’s propaganda. Hundreds and thousands of Rwandans leave in exile, away from a bloody dictatorship. Anyone who has lived in exile know very well how humiliating it can be. However, for most of us, It is a choice between life and death.

    Second, Miss Pirkey refutation of Mr. Stram’s research on Rwanda is poorly informed. At the very least, I expect her to state why, in her view, mr. Stram’s research is flawed.

    Finally, I wonder whether Miss Pirkey, as a Christian humanitarian, has taken any time to pray for the victims of Kagame’s war in the Congo. Could it be that she is unaware of the 5,000,000 lives that have been lost? Could it be that she doesn’t know Rwanda’s role in all this or Could it be that she has been too indoctrinated by her friends in the Rwandan government?

    A little more research, on her part, will help her understand the significance of this struggle and perhaps connect her to the pains of those living under the yoke of oppression–in Rwanda and DRCongo.

    Reply
  10. Sunday

    I think this is madness. You had a set of people who were in power and were perpetrators of one of the worst genocides in modern history. Then, you have the ones who came in and put an end to the genocide and brought back normalcy. In my opinion , the current govt should be in power as long as they can and take the country to the next level.
    If Ann Garrison wants to do any good, she should go to places like Congo, Ivory Coast, Somalia or Sudan and try to do something there ..rather than wasting time .

    Yes…. I have been to Rwanda … rode a motor cycle and walked the streets in Rwanda… and I am not an African or a Caucasian

    Reply
  11. Angela

    Sunday, you obviously have no clue about the history of Rwanda. You actually seem to believe that out of the blue for no reason one group of devils started killing a second group of angels.

    You should research the 500 years before 1960 when Kagame’s elite royal minority enslaved the majority peasants, killing them anytime they tried to rise up for their rights. Afterwards, you should find out what the royal family said in 1959 when the majority peasants who had finally had some formal schooling asked for a peaceful transfer of power. If I remember correctly, the exact words were “Go to hell you slaves. We were born to rule you! You will never be free. Now, get the hell out of here before we kill you all.”

    When the slaves managed to organize and topple the royal family and created a republic, the nation started moving in the right direction. Just research any reports about Rwanda in the 1980′s. All the way up to 1990, it was a model African nation. I dare you to prove otherwise.

    But of course Kagame could not let well stay well. In 1990, the same elite minority who believe they were born to rule over these so-called “slaves” attacked the country and spent 3 years killing these majority peasants whenever possible. Think of your siblings, think of your parents, and think of your uncles and aunts and imagine a group of rebels attacking your country and just killing them one by one as the months go by and the years go by.

    Then in the end, those rebels kill your president at the exact same time together with the chief of the army and pretty much your entire government. Then, after that the rebels also start going out killing your remaining family members. If you tell me that in that scenario you and your people will sit by idly as you get murdered by these rebels, I will not believe you.

    The current government is no different from the people who committed the genocide. They are all murderers and they are all bad for my country Rwanda. Kagame even went so far as to murder millions of innocent civilian Congolese (DRC). So, in a way he is even worse than the 1994 genociders. May be in your world it is normalcy, but in my world it is not normalcy when a mass murderer is ruling the country.

    In 1990, when the RPF wanted to get in power, they chose the path of war by attacking Rwanda from Uganda where Kagame used to be the Chief of Military Intelligence. The war of 1990 that he started eventually led us to the 1994 genocide.

    Today, there are peaceful non-violent opposition parties that are trying to remove Kagame via the electoral ballot instead of choosing the path of war that Kagame chose in 1990. The opposition parties need to be lauded for finally trying to break this cycle of violence by attempting a peaceful transfer of power for the first time in 50 years. Kagame and the RPF are bad for Rwanda, they are bad for Congo (DRC) which they keep attacking all the time, and they are bad for humanity. Without their war of 1990, there would never have been any genocide. It is time for them to go, hopefully in jail where they belong.

    Reply
  12. Mugisha

    Writes Mr. Sunday, “Yes…. I have been to Rwanda … rode a motor cycle and walked the streets in Rwanda… and I am not an African or a Caucasian”

    What you are is none of our business. Neither is it of any relevance to what you say or what you want us to believe. Walking the streets of Rwanda or riding a motor cycle there doesn’t make you an expert on Rwanda’s history. This attitude of “I know it all” is certainly regressive and typical of the colonial mind.

    You add, “If Ann Garrison wants to do any good, she should go to places like Congo, Ivory Coast, Somalia or Sudan and try to do something there ..rather than wasting time.”

    I suppose you don’t know Annie well enough. Otherwise, you’d be conversant with her activism on behalf of the oppressed everywhere, including the Congo. In fact, the reason why Annie is so passionate about democracy in Rwanda is simple. Rwanda is behind the genocide currently going on in Rwanda.

    If the world is truly guilty for not “stopping the genocide in Rwanda”, then, why are they allowing it to happen several miles across Rwanda’s northern border? The war in the Congo has an over 5 million dead toll. 30,000 continue to die every month.

    Every American that is concerned with US’ increase militarism should be concerned about Rwanda. President Paul Kagame, a former machine gun totting rebel leader, is a war criminal who has been indicted for genocide and war crimes.

    http://jicj.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/6/5/1003

    He has extensive collaboration with the imperialist world, is complicit in conflict minerals and serves as a proxy for the US. Military. In a way, what is happening in Central Africa is a flashback of the many covert operations funded by the US government in Latin America.

    The only difference now is that the American public has been deceived into lying in bed with the criminal.

    My friend Sunday, if you truly care about Africa, regardless of who you are, it is the right thing to support the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized. That is what Annie is trying to do. As far as I know, she is the only American journalist that is covering the elections in Rwanda.

    Lastly, let me set the record straight for the sake of other who might be deceived by your political correctness. President Paul Kagame is did not fight to stop the genocide. If he did, he wouldn’t be responsible for another one on his neighbor’s territory. It was a hegemonic power struggle between Hutu and Tutsi. Because of Kagame’s elite connections, the media has made him a hero—at least for the western world to consume.

    http://susanmthomson.com/Rwanda2008pc2.pdf

    Reply
  13. Sunday

    First … I did not in any way say that I am an expert on this subject. I am sure ..Neither are you and you probably haven’t been to Rwanda in a long long time .

    Second … If you want to go back in time by 500 or 1000 years …. The Native Americans should get back control of the US , The Mexicans should be given Texas , Hindus should not allow Christians and Muslims in India and so on and so forth.

    Third … Going back to what you were saying in your own words…. about the minority enslaving the majority ….
    I would give that to you due to what happened in Rwanda due to the Belgians and then the French propping up the their favourite sides.

    Fourth …. You mentioned that without the war of 1990, there might not have been a genocide…. I am not sure if you are living in flesh.
    I would like to remind you of the fact that Juvenal Habyarimana actually banned political parties other than his . I am wondering If you will even admit that .
    You will also need to realize the minorities were also refugees at one point .

    Fifth … I sure the US has more pressing needs at this point and is certainly not keen to have a proxy in a land locked Central African nation . The US does not stand to gain anything other than some Coffee by being there , get a hold of yourself .

    I am sure some of the ones who want to come back and stand for elections are depending on the fact that , the majority of the people might end up voting against the minority and they can get back to doing what they want …

    I think we can all look back at the African history and see how one tribe has fought the other and it’s a vicious cycle that happens once every few decades and it is up to the Africans to prevent that .
    I can still remember how Kofi Annan ( then head of the UN peace keeping ) refused to do anything saying , the UN cannot be responsible or intervene in an African tribal warfare. The last time the world including American kept quiet and the genocide happened , I guess not many are willing to do that again .

    Reply
  14. Ann Garrison

    Sunday, here is another video/radio news report I just created about Rwanda: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQSD82P3pIc

    Did you know that the Rwandan Army has grown from 7,000 to between 70,000 and 100,000 since General Paul Kagame took power in 1994? Or that Rwandan troops fight in Iraq, Congo, Sudan, and wherever else the U.S. feels the need to project military force?

    Or, that the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda ruled, in 2009, that there was no evidence of conspiracy to commit genocide in Rwanda in 1994? They did. If any serious reporters had still been covering that story by that time, the Kagame regime’s justification for everything it does would have crumbled.

    Reply
  15. Angela

    Sunday,

    To your point about me not having been to Rwanda in a long time, you are right. I will not step foot there while the country is still ruled by the mass murderer General Kagame. I do however have lots of family members there that I talk to via phone and e-mail a few times per week. So, trust I know a lot of what is going on there.

    About the minority enslaving the majority, it had nothing to do with the Belgians or the French. The minority enslaved the majority since around 1500. The first white person arrived in Rwanda in 1890. So, they just continued supporting a system that was already in place for centuries. They did not create that system.

    Between 1973 and 1990, yes Rwanda was a one-party system. But in case you did not notice, so were like a hundred other countries in the world. It is one thing to have a one-party system. It is a totally different story to kill thousands of people. In case you did not notice, there were no mass killings in Rwanda between 1973 when Habyarimana took power and 1990 when the RPF war started.

    Rwanda is indeed landlocked. It is however right next to Congo (DRC), a strategic location. When Kagame’s RPF first attacked Rwanda, everyone was wondering why America was supporting him. We did not have to wait too long to find out. Kagame won the war in 1994. Less than two years later, Rwanda’s army was in Congo (DRC) and since then Congo has gone from the French/Belgian sphere of influence straight to being exploited by USA/British companies. You should do a little bit of research about Congo (DRC)’s natural resources. You may be quite surprised.

    You made a very important point about how it is up to us Africans to make our countries peaceful. This is exactly what Mrs Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire is doing. When Kagame and the RPF wanted to change things in Rwanda in 1990, they waged an armed war. A war that has since resulted into millions of dead in Rwanda and in Congo (DRC). Ingabire is trying to change things through peaceful non-violent democratic means. That’s why she should be lauded. For 50 years, there has never been peaceful transfer of power in Rwanda. She is trying to break that cycle to show that this is 2010 and we need to stop relying on the use of weapons to make political changes.

    Reply
  16. Ann Garrison

    Angel, may I quote you thus?

    “When Kagame’s RPF first attacked Rwanda, everyone was wondering why America was supporting him. We did not have to wait too long to find out. Kagame won the war in 1994. Less than two years later, Rwanda’s army was in Congo (DRC) and since then Congo has gone from the French/Belgian sphere of influence straight to being exploited by USA/British companies. You should do a little bit of research about Congo (DRC)’s natural resources. You may be quite surprised.” –Angel, a Rwandan commenting on my Rwanda reporting posted to the San Francisco Bay View, National Black Newspaper

    Reply
  17. Joie Pirkey

    I love Rwanda. I love the Rwandese. I can see the political unrest. I can hear the ideologies banter back and forth. I can’t know who has killed who and what has motivated such slaughter of a beautiful and rich and interesting people. Rwandas recent history is a swirling of evil and power and politics and blood shed. Rwanda overwhelms me and I suppose the politics is for others to sort out. For me I am simply called to join God and what He is doing there. Come beside those broken orphans (from both tribes) and put my hand to the plow and do what God will do through me. I am not able to see their tribe, I can only see the woundedness in their eyes.

    When I read the post above woven with hateful postulations veiling revenge and evil in some places I was shocked and became defensive and afraid really.

    I have sat and listened to Paul Russesabagina, I read articles as are posted above, I watch the banter on Facebook and in emails, I read so many books on the history and the politics and the testimonies of Rwanda and I have come to this conclusion… I love Rwanda because God has placed this love inside of me. I think it’s best that I stay the course He has set for me. Keep my voice and focus and heart for her orphans and let the politics to those who have the unction.

    For those of you reading this who have been hurt by Rwanda’s past I beg you to go forward in forgiveness, wisdom, and love, acting for the best of Rwanda and her beautiful people. If that is impossible in your own strength then I encourage you to try Jesus.

    I’m out. Jo

    Reply
  18. Ann Garrison

    Joie, I don’t know whether you’re referring to my post as “woven with hateful postulations veiling revenge and evil,” but whether that was a response to me or anyone else here, it is not a forceful argument. That is just name calling.

    Reply
  19. Ann Garrison

    I’m sure you noted that Habyarimana’s widow has now been arrested, after all these years, for genocide conspiracy, in France, even though the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda ruled, in 2009, that there was no evidence of conspiracy to commit genocide.

    As a Rwandan friend of mine put it, Sarkozy traded Habyarimana’s widow, and others no doubt soon to be extradited, for the riches of D.R. Congo.

    Reply
  20. Sunday

    I am not sure If US is in any way interested in the so called riches or resources of Congo .If you go back in history, you will notice the US presence in that area was in counter to the Russian influence in Angola . It is very well known that Mobuto was known for corruption.

    This is similar to what most people said ,” The US started the war in Iraq to take over it’s oil resources . I would like that know what they have to say now that the Oil contract in Iraq was won by companies that are not US based and are European .

    I am interested in knowing what Mrs Ingibare was doing during the genocide and If she has even spoken against it before this election .

    And you might also want to take note that It was the Congo govt that asked Rwanda to help with the army in January 2009 .
    I think you guys need to get a grip and give peace a chance.
    And in reference to what Angela is saying about Africans trying to bring peace to Africa . I hope that time will come sometime soon . However, If you were to look at history , It might never happen , they will fight each other and blame it on others.

    Reply
  21. Angela

    Sunday, that is fine if you do not understand the US interest in the riches of the Congo. If you have time to read UN reports about the exploitation of the Congo resources during this never-ending war, let me know and I will provide you with the links. You are right that Mobutu was corrupt. But that is no reason for waging a war that killed more than 5 million (nearly 10 percent of the entire population) innocent civilians during the war that got rid of him.

    As for what Mrs Ingabire was doing during the genocide, she was studying in the Netherlands. As for Ingabire speaking out against the genocide before this election, ABSOLUTELY, UNEQUIVOCALLY YES!!!!!!! You just need to read a little more about her on her Wikipedia page (which is well-sourced) and you will see how many forums she has led or attended in her pursuit of peace, reconciliation, justice and democracy in Rwanda.

    As for the Congo, I was not talking about 2009, I was talking about 2006.

    As for Ingabire’s mom being wanted for genocide crimes, first of all, making such a statement implies a belief in collective punishment. You cannot blame someone for accused crimes allegedly committed by their brother, sister, father, mother, husband, wife. Every person should answer for their alleged crimes. Second, these allegations that the mother is accused of genocide have never surfaced until Ingabire started running for president. If you have not noticed, these allegations claim that she was sentenced in absentia but never ever have they given the day, month and year when she was allegedly sentenced. Probably because this was all made up only after Ingabire made her candidacy public. The country where the mother lives has never received any arrest warrant against her from the Rwandan government. So, please let us be civilized and stop playing this collective punishment game. It is totally uncalled for.

    I am an optimist and I know that lasting peace will come to African countries such as Rwanda, sooner or later. And I will do everything in my power to make it sooner rather than later. And I know I am not alone on this journey. And I really believe that Ingabire is genuinely trying to bring peace to Rwanda via true democracy, impartial justice, universal human rights and true reconciliation. That is why I, together with so many Rwandans are supporting her.

    Reply
  22. ALEX

    Ann,HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO RWANDA? DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT RWANDA? DO YOU THINK THAT ALL THE AWARDS PRESIDENT PAUL KAGAME IS RECEIVING ARE NOT MERITED? SO US UNIVERSITIES, AMERICAN POLITIC GEANTS-BILL CLINTON & OTHERS- ARE BLIND? WHAT INTERESTS DO THEY HAVE? WHY SHOULD THEY RECOGNIZE H.E.IF HE IS SO CRUEL/TYRAN BAD LEADER? DON’T YOU THINK YOU ARE INDEED EMBARKING INTO THE CRUISADE OF GENOCIDERS WITH RHEIR EVIL MISSION TO CONTINUE THEIR INTERRUPTED EVIL WORK”1994′? IF YOU BOYFRIEND IS A MEMBER OF FDU AND INTERAHAMWE PLZ STAY PROFESSIONAL AND DON’T BE BLIND BECAUSE YOUR LOVER’S PROPAGANDA…SO LONG.IF YOU WANT A VISA APPLY TO RWANDA IMMIGRATION/MIGRATION WEBSITE. SURE YOU’LL GET IT. IF NOT LET ME KNOW. BE BRAVE.

    Reply
  23. Ann Garrison

    Interesting theory you have about this boy friend of mine and my lover’s propaganda. My partner is interested in all this only because I am, and indeed, thinks I spend way too much time studying and analyzing Rwanda’s history, import/export statistics, and ties to the Pentagon, the State of California, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Reply
  24. Jeremie P. Musonera

    @Alex

    Tu me fais honte. Why do you bring such a theory of boyfriend on this forum ? Again don`t bring sophism theory here because getting awards from some oragnisations doesn`t make Kagame a saint and rightous leader.Do you think we don`t know abaout political games ?? Come on !

    Reply
  25. Angela

    Alex,

    Your tirade against Ann is exactly what is wrong with today’s Rwandan government. Instead of talking about the issues raised by Ann, you are making personal attacks against her. If you think what Ann is saying is wrong, then let us know specifically which line in her article is wrong and why you think is wrong. The personal attacks, which are prevalent in Rwanda as evidenced recently by General Kagame the President of Rwanda are totally uncalled for. For those who do not know, the President of Rwanda insulted opposition politicians who are trying to register to run against him in the upcoming August 2010 presidential elections. General Kagame called them “hooligans.” When the person at the very top of the RPF leadership uses language like this that is not suitable for his high office, it suddenly makes it all clear why his followers like Alex go around making personal attacks instead of focusing on discussing the issues. The saddest part about it all is that when General Kagame made those personal attacks, it was on the 16th anniversary of the genocide. When he was supposed to be leading the nation in remembering the lost ones, and uniting the nation for the future, he instead used that opportunity to make personal political attacks against the opposition politicians. I feel so sad for my country.

    Reply
  26. kami

    Indeed, i think Ann has links to FDU and all the other nonsensical parties. Good luck in your endeavours Ann.
    Try applying for a visa and see if you can come to Rwanda.

    Reply
  27. Christof

    Wow, I have really appreciated the debate on this site. Very intriguing. As a novice to Rwandan politics, I have immersed myself in current debates. I expect to be living in Rwanda soon for an extended period of time. I want to be informed. I currently support President Kagame, but I also recognize that he is human – not God. I read his speech, as posted by Ann in a previous comment. I agree that there are shameless, tactless, obvious abuses of his role in the celebration – clearly, he was being a political opportunist. At the same time, the rest of the speech is well done.

    Reply
  28. Christof

    I am very impressed that the opposition has remained peaceful throughout this election year. It is evidence that things are progressing well in Rwanda. One could say that it is evidence that Kagame's leadership is effective. One could also argue that it is because the people of Rwanda are determined to have a peaceful process.
    What this debate shows me is that all of us are interested in a peaceful Rwanda, maybe even a peaceful world. Our world is full of corruption, but it is also full of passionate and articulate people such as those who have already commented here.
    Regardless of President Kagame's strengths and failings, I think that all of us can agree that we want what is best for Rwanda.
    Thank you to all of you who have contributed.

    Reply
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