by Ann Garrison
“Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame holds a copy of the constitution at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali, Rwanda, 6 Sep 2010. Kagame was sworn in for a second seven-year term in a colorful ceremony witnessed by 14 African presidents and attended by thousands of citizens,” reports the Voice of America in its caption to this photo. – Photo: AP
Rwandan President Paul Kagame was sworn in to serve another seven-year term on Sept. 6, 2010, 11 days after the explosive Aug. 26 leak of a U.N. report documenting genocide committed by his army in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Official publication of the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), leaked to Le Monde on Aug. 26, has been postponed until Oct. 1, 2010, to give those countries accused, most notably Rwanda and Uganda, time to prepare responses. Its OHCHR investigators mapped and collected evidence of “the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed within the territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo between March 1993 and June 2003,” including massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese Hutus, hunted down from Congo’s far eastern to far western borders, in what some call “the Congo Genocide.”
The Great Lakes region of Africa includes Rwanda, with its western border on the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kagame, a general who took special training at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in the United States, has long been credited with ending the horrific violence known as the Rwanda Genocide, against both Rwandan Tutsis and Hutus in 1994, but his actual role then, and in the years before and after, is so fiercely disputed that French and Spanish courts and a civil lawsuit filed in Oklahoma City all accuse him and his top officers of ordering the political assassinations triggering the Rwanda Genocide and with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Spanish protestors objecting to the July 2010 visit of Rwandan President Paul Kagame to attend a U.N. conference pressured Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to cancel his scheduled meeting with Kagame.
During the third week of July in Spain, protestors objected to Kagame’s visit to attend a U.N. conference by taking to the streets with their hands, faces and clothes drenched in red paint to simulate blood, chanting “Kagame Killer!” and holding up signs reading “Paul Kagame = Genocidio en Africa.” In response to complaints from human rights campaigners, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero finally withdrew from a U.N.-backed meeting with Kagame.
Rwandan exile Claude Gatebuke says that highly armed men in civilian clothes ordered him to dig his own grave when he was a young man trying to escape Rwanda. On April 30 he protested Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s commencement address at Oklahoma Christian University. – Photo: Kendall Brown
No Western heads of state attended Kagame’s inauguration, though former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who sits on Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council, sent his congratulations. President Barack Obama’s National Security Council
and Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon both expressed grave concerns about political repression after Rwanda’s Aug. 9 presidential polls, in which Kagame won 93 percent of the vote, a dubious victory in any real multi-party democracy.
American evangelical pastor Rev. Rick Warren, another member of Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council and one of his closest allies, not only attended but also delivered the invocation at the Kagame inauguration, as he had at Barack Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009.
Rev. Rick Warren and then-Sen. Barack Obama share a laugh Dec. 13, 2008, shortly before the controversial announcement that Warren would deliver the invocation at Obama’s presidential inauguration. - Photo: Floyd Brown
Warren made Rwanda his first “purpose-driven nation” in 2005, after a 40-days and 40-nights campaign recalling the 40 days and 40 nights of rain in the Old Testament, when, according to the Book of Genesis, God wanted to cleanse the earth. Rwandans were urged to read Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” in school, at work, at home, and in church.
Warren has not made a statement about the leaked OHCHR report documenting genocide by Kagame’s army in D.R. Congo or the upcoming official release of the report on Oct. 1.
Barack Obama, whom Rev. Rick Warren endorsed during his 2008 presidential campaign, has not yet responded to the leaked report either, but many Rwandese and Congolese, including exiles, refugees and genocide survivors in Canada, Europe and the U.S., are closely watching signs as to how he will. A U.S. coalition of NGOs including Friends of the Congo, Africa Faith and Justice Network, the Chicago Coalition for Congo, Foundation for Freedom and Democracy in Rwanda, and Mobilization for Peace and Justice in Congo argue that the report should signal the end of the special relationship between the U.S. and the Kagame regime, in which Kagame has often been misrepresented and even extolled as a great leader.
San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Digital Journal, Examiner.com, OpEdNews, Global Research, Colored Opinions and her blog, Plutocracy Now. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story originally appeared in Digital Journal.