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‘Kagame, stop killing’: Rwandan and Congolese protest Rwanda’s president in Chicago

June 13, 2011

by Ann Garrison

KPFA Weekend News broadcast June 11, 2011


KPFA Weekend News Host: Rwandan, Congolese and American activists rallied in Chicago Saturday to protest the appearance of Rwandan President Paul Kagame at “Rwanda Day,” a Chicago event produced by a multimillionaire commodities trader at Chicago’s Hyatt Regency Hotel. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.

KPFA: The June 3, 2011, report from Amnesty International condemns Rwandan President Kagame’s government, saying that “the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), in power since the 1994 genocide, tightly controls political space, civil society and the media, contending that this is necessary to prevent renewed violence. Human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents cannot openly criticize the government without facing repression, and Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, leader of the FDU-Inkingi coalition of opposition parties, remains in maximum security prison, charged with terrorism and genocide ideology, which means disagreeing with the government or the official government history of the Rwanda Genocide.

KPFA spoke to Celestin Muhindura, a Rwandan American and president of the Initiative for Democracy and Development, a non-profit organization that advocates for peace, democracy and development in Africa, with focus on Rwanda and Congo, whose histories and struggles have been inextricable since the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.

Celestin, can you tell us how the demonstration went today?

Celestin Muhindura: The demonstration went very well as planned. The goal was to show, to the American people and to the Chicago people in particular, the true color of the Rwandan government and the true color of the leader, Gen. Paul Kagame.

Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza
As you know, Victoire Ingabire left the Netherlands to go run for president. She tried to follow the rules in Rwanda, and once she got there, she was denied the right to register her political party, and the violence against her continued until she was arrested, arbitrary. She was not able to run for president, when the Constitution allows her to run.

So it’s not just for Victoire Ingabire. It’s the same for Bernard Ntaganda. Bernard Ntaganda was in the country. He registered his party, which presented him as a candidate, but, when the time came for running, he was put in prison.

So there are many other signs that the Rwandan government doesn’t offer a political space. Any journalist who tries to speak out is either killed or put in prison. People who try to free the government, their spies follow them in exile to try to kill them.

KPFA: Do you believe that if she were freed from prison, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza could bring reconciliation to Rwanda?

Celestin Muhindura: As I know her, Victoire Ingabire is a Rwandan patriot, who loves people and who loves the country, and who has the capability to bring people together. If freed, she’s going to be the hope for the country.

KPFA: And do you think there’s any chance of her being freed?

Celestin Muhindura: I believe, if the international community puts pressure on Kagame, he will end up freeing her.

Rwandan opposition leader Bernard Ntaganda
KPFA: Many people seem to fear that there could be another outbreak of violence in Rwanda, possibly even worse than before, because the Hutu majority is so repressed. Are you worried about this yourself?

Celestin Muhindura: I’m worried about that and that’s why we put together this organization, to try to advocate for a peaceful solution. So we are afraid because Kagame is pushing hard on people, and if he continues, the volcano will erupt.

KPFA: Celestin Muhindura, I certainly hope that that does not happen, and thank you for speaking to KPFA.

Celestin Muhindura: Thank you very much.

For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Star News, the Newsline EA (East Africa) and her own blog, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, Weekend News on KPFA and her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at

38 thoughts on “‘Kagame, stop killing’: Rwandan and Congolese protest Rwanda’s president in Chicago

  1. Xmass

    Hahahahah, Ann Garrison, now I see that you become a queen of liar. 20 persons( Include journalists) are protesting while 3000 rwandans are talking about the success of Rwanda and his future, but you prefer to become the voice of friends of evil. Remember the words of HE Paul Kagame " “Our democracy, our quest for transformation provides us with the desire, the energy to give ourselves that dignity. When we give our citizens access to health, education, food security, tools of communications…there is no basis for any accusations. No one can teach us about the importance of human rights…we know it more than anyone.” Me I can say that Ann Garrison doesn't know the banyarwanda's right more than us. Only she is doing her job, and she has a shame because Rwanda day in Chicago became a huge success .

    1. Jeremie

      You`re crazy mr Xmass !!! If you watch those videos,do you think those people were 20 ? ?? And you dare call Ann Garrison a liar ???Hahahahahahahaaaaaaa!!!! Now the whole world is finally coming to know who you are !!!!! The message from the protesters was well received by the media.People are now becoming aware of the true identity of the hitler of africa Paul Kagame.And let me twell you man,this is the beginning .Wherever this criminal is going,he will be received by people determined to show the whole world who he is.What we claim is freedom,peace and reconciliation among rwandans.There are many people who have clean hands and who are not racists and who can lead the country in the right way and unite all rwandans for a true and lasting peace and development.The criminal Kagame is a shame for rwandans of good will and even for all africans !!!No no no ,a very big NOOOOO to that CRIMINAL with bloody hands !!!!!

  2. Barbara Mbabazi

    its unfotunate that you chose to report one side of the story. If you are free and fair reporter, you should have metioned that 3000 Rwandans attended the event. It would have been nice. But we know the internationall media wants to bring Africa down, that is you job.

    1. Ann_Garrison

      You got plenty of press. I knew you were there. Reverend Jesse Jackson even showed up and was filmed introducing Paul Kagame. That was reported in the Sun Times. He gets press and gets interviewed all the time all over, wherever he goes. For many years it was all good.

      I would like to see you find true reconciliation in Rwanda. Bringing Africa down is hardly my goal. Anyone who knows me would laugh at that.

  3. Aimable

    The apologists of mass murderer General Kagame such as "Xmass" and Mbabazi, I feel bad for you. Because General Kagame's days are numbered. Especially after the British Police have publicized that this murderer General Kagame is trying to export his killer culture to the UK. You wait and see.

    1. June Sina

      @Aimable .Those are your wishes .UK and more especially the Conservatives are the biggest supporters of Rwanda.Thats evident with both the financial and social support they offer.Come July a group of conservatives will be here constructing houses of widows and orphans.We both know that the media does not represent govt,actions speak louder my dear.
      Keep mourning while we work.

  4. Agaciro

    Garrison, you should first check the background and occupation of the 20 street militia who were protesting before selling your soul to the devil… I don't think you care about rwandans more that 10 million people who are witnessing progress and development of their nation or more than the 3,000 guests who attended the amazing Rwanda day in Chicago so please stop wasting your time with the negative forcesbecause we are not a nation to be defined by foreign media anymore…

    1. Ann_Garrison

      I know many of those who were there, including Paul Rusesabagina, and a number of American college professors from Loyola and elsewhere. And others who drove from around the country.

      I don't wish anyone ill. I would like to see true reconciliation for all Rwandans.

      1. June Sina

        @Ann.What can you possible know about reconciliation when you reside with criminals who have either never been in the country since 1994 or have left for crimes they commited that coould have retard reconciliation? True reconciliation is inside Rwanda not outside on the streets.

  5. rwandan

    Ann Garrison very sorry because you are pretending just for your stomach, no one can blame you. go ahead and work your on your job but the reality is, Rwanda will survive and you will die and leave it as you born and found it. so please stop talking arrogantly no sense about Rwandan politics because you know nothing about it. if you are a good reporter i think you would have talked about how 3000 people are welcoming and having fun with the president but you only decided to post the negative part.. but it's obvious that international media you wish and has no truth for Africa. but remember one two phrases" you are not God and " our eyes are open now"

  6. Jeremie

    Many medias are now talking about protesters against the criminal dictator Kagame Paul. I was watching TV5 and France 24, and RTBF sunday.They were talking about rwandans demonstrating against the criminal and autoritarian president of Rwanda. Many rwandans in London are now waiting their ultimate turn to show that killer that time is running fast for him and very soon he will face justice and accountability.The so called MBABAZI and SINA and so on…you are loosers !!

  7. Ann_Garrison

    Interesting list of interests you have there on Facebook, RwandaInfo English:

    The EastAfrican, Rwandaimmigration, Travel Rwanda, Rwanda, Bridge2Rwanda, Donald Kaberuka, John Rucyahana, Tony Blair, African Burial Ground National Monument, Philip Gourevitch, The Rwanda U-17 World Cup (Junior Wasps) Team, Linda Melvern, Rwanda Day 2011, PaulKagame

  8. @renadeann

    The unity demonstrated by the 3000 inside is meaningless if it does not extend to ALL Rwandans, regardless of political belief or background. How much more significant could this event have been if instead of belittling those outside, someone had instead invited them in to have a genuine dialogue about their grievances? This is what true unity and reconciliation is about…listening to each other with an open mind and an empathetic heart, and refusing to judge a person without even knowing him/her. As long as both sides continue to hurl insults at each other without seeking understanding, this cycle will continue.

  9. Richard Taylor

    Ms. Garrison. With all due respect, this is a terribly biased article. I attended Rwanda Day not as a Rwandan but as an interested Westerner. It was inspiring to see thousands of Rwandans in the Diaspora embracing the dignity of their culture and choosing to play a part in their countries future, rather than sitting on the sidelines. It is easy to protest and complain. The hard work is building and moving forward. As Teddy Roosevelt says, "the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena". Might want to try it sometime. Despite his near heroic status because of a Hollywood style movie, Rusesabagina has political ambitions and a nose for the spotlight, and is hardly a credible neutral voice.

    1. Ann_Garrison

      @Richard: The idea that everyone, including Paul Rusesabagina, should be "neutral" is absurd. Are you "neutral"? How so? You have no values or opinions? You have not made an honest effort to evaluate the evidence and argument available about the history of the Rwanda Genocide and both Rwanda and Congo as they are now?

      Objectivity is a ridiculous, epistemologically indefensible idea. Honesty is not. And I make every effort to be an honest reporter.

  10. Ann_Garrison

    Regarding my failure to report on the Rwandans inside cheering Kagame:

    1) Did The New Times report on those protesting outside?

    2) Were there any Congolese people cheering Kagame? I haven't heard of any.

  11. Richard Taylor

    Not sure what you are curious about Frank. Ann, you may have taken it down but you put up a comment earlier about the fallacy of objectivity. I grant you that all of us approach things from our own perspective and cannot help but have that shape our viewpoint even when we are looking at the same evidence. Inside the Hyatt, only the final event was about Kagame, and even then he took and answered 30-40 questions from many different people. The rest of the event was a great opportunity for the Diaspora to find out how they can truly engage in their country. There were business people, Rwandan musicians and poets, academics, social entrepreneurs, and politicians. People were energized and excited about finding ways to move forward. I do not know how you could call that a bad thing.

  12. Richard Taylor

    For me, the most exciting moment at the conference was a standing ovation for young Hutu poet and filmmaker Eduard Bamporiki. What an amazing young man! I have actually not been at a Rwandan event where an individual had the effect Bamporiki did on those in attendance. I would encourage you to learn more about his story by watching clips of the film Rwanda: Take Two, posted here.

  13. Ann_Garrison

    @Richard: Here's the remark on objectivity again. It was buried in replies, a reply to you, above:

    The idea that everyone, including Paul Rusesabagina, should be "neutral" is absurd. Are you "neutral"? How so? You have no values or opinions? You have not made an honest effort to evaluate the evidence and argument available about the history of the Rwanda Genocide and both Rwanda and Congo as they are now?

    Objectivity is a ridiculous, epistemologically indefensible idea. Honesty is not. And I make every effort to be an honest reporter.

    1. pippa

      what else were you expecting her to say? You have a long way to go before you understand what politics really means! Good luck!


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