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‘Good’ survivors of genocide and ‘bad’ survivors in the hands of Rwanda’s dictator and his agents

December 4, 2011

by Frank LeFever

Paul Rusesabagina was considered a “good” genocide survivor when the real life hero of the film “Hotel Rwanda” was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom on Nov. 9, 2005, by then President George W. Bush. Rwanda is heavily supported and subsidized by the U.S. for protecting U.S. corporate and government interests in the region.
In 1994, while working with head-injury patients at Helen Hayes Hospital and preparing to present some of my research at the next meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society, I heard of a genocide in Africa – in Rwanda, a country previously unknown to me – brutal and face-to-face, neighbor against neighbor, unlike the more systematic “impersonal” genocide in Germany a half-century before. I knew enough to reject the idea that it was a primitive “tribal” vendetta and suspected political manipulations exploiting some kind of social-economic rivalry but really could not focus on the details: I had trouble remembering from day to day which group was “Hutu” and which group was “Tutsi.” However, in my retirement (2003), largely through my involvement in the WBAI-FM, the NYC station of the Pacifica Foundation, I have focused a great deal of attention on Rwanda and on what happened and why – as a scientist, going to original sources whenever possible.

Among other things, I have learned how the 1994 Hutu genocide against Tutsis began in 1990 with an invasion by a specific group of Tutsis who grew up in exile in Uganda, an invasion with Uganda’s cooperation. I will not attempt to outline all the complexities of what happened between Oct. 1, 1990, and April 6, 1994, except to say that the story we have been told is incomplete and that Paul Kagame did not ride in like a knight in shining armor to end a genocide; indeed, some, including his former bodyguards and his former chief of staff, have even argued that he caused the genocide. The record is clear that he killed many who stood between him and his goal in his drive to seize Kigali, the capital – Hutus and Tutsis alike. Moreover, he killed more people subsequently in Rwanda and in eastern Congo – typically women, children, sick and elderly – in refugee camps or fleeing through the jungle.

Rusesabagina fell from grace politically in the U.S., becoming a “bad” genocide survivor, when he questioned support for Rwandan President Paul Kagame. – Video frame: Vimeo
I am moved to write this now because Kagame, having jailed or killed people in Rwanda for saying even less than I have said about this history, is sending his agents to pursue others in Europe and here in the U.S. for the crime of simply saying that not only Tutsis but also Hutus died in 1994. In this pursuit of dissidents, a disturbing trend has been developing, both within Rwanda and within the Rwandan Diaspora: Kagame’s agents pit survivors of the Rwandan genocide against each other, creating a class of “good” survivors as well as “bad” survivors; I know by name several survivors and have met and come to respect one young man who is now under attack as a “bad” survivor – Claude Gatebuke.

Kagame, having jailed or killed people in Rwanda for saying even less than I have said about this history, is sending his agents to pursue others in Europe and here in the U.S. for the crime of simply saying that not only Tutsis but also Hutus died in 1994. One young man who is now under attack as a “bad” survivor is Claude Gatebuke.

Within the “good survivor” vs. “bad survivor” framework, certain stories from survivors are encouraged, welcomed and embraced. More often than not, these are stories that reinforce the official image of leadership and benevolence of the current Rwandan regime. They praise the current president with having stopped the genocide against Tutsis but dare not mention his crimes prior to the 1994 genocide, his crimes during that period, nor his subsequent crimes, such as genocidal crimes in later years within the Democratic Republic of Congo. Acceptable survivor testimonies are ones that dare not raise the issue of war that was being waged by the current Rwandan ruling party, a war that claimed countless Rwandan lives over the course of four years leading up to the genocide of 1994.

Claude Gatebuke, a highly valued contributor to the Bay View, speaks at Vanderbilt University in October.
The “bad” survivors are individuals who raise concerns about the current regime’s status as a benevolent hero. They challenge the current regime’s stance on democracy and raise issues of human rights abuse both within Rwanda and outside of Rwanda. Susan Rice, U.S. representative to the U.N., recently told Rwandan authorities that Rwanda is not a democratic country and needs to allow basic freedoms.

Within Rwanda, genocide survivors saying this are targeted with smear campaigns, often exiled and – worse – imprisoned. Deo Mushayidi, a lone survivor from his entire family, an individual with no connection to the current military dictatorship, is serving a life sentence within Rwanda. His crime? Creating a political opposition party. Raising concerns regarding countless deaths committed by the ruling regimes. Speaking out against injustice, in a stifling atmosphere, and having little or no significant community to back him up.

Many other critics have fled to exile, including journalists of independent media. One of the most high profile exiles from Rwanda is Joseph Sebarenzi, former speaker of the House, whose book Claude praises as one of the fairest among many books written about Rwanda.

The Rwandan dictatorship has gone so far as to apply their typical charge of genocide denial against “bad” survivors to descendants of survivors of the Nazi genocide against Jews. The Kigali regime dictates to descendants of Holocaust survivors that they dare not defend “bad” Rwandan survivors, as in the case of the Lantos Foundation’s award to Paul Rusesabagina.

One of several anti-Kagame protests organized recently by Claude Gatebuke around the U.S. is this one on Sept. 16, 2011, when Kagame spoke at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. – Photo: Emily Russell
Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in the U.S. Congress, knew what it means to be imprisoned and beaten because of his ethnic classification, knew the kindness of strangers who sheltered him when he escaped, knew the risks of venturing out of a safe house to serve the underground opposition, and knew the pain of learning that his mother and other family members had been killed, along with 450,000 other Hungarian Jews. His daughter, Katrina Lantos Swett, continues to uphold her father’s human rights legacy through the Lantos Foundation.

Rwandan agents have engaged in a campaign calling her a genocide denier for simply stating the obvious – that the Rwandan government is an authoritarian dictatorship that does not tolerate freedoms. The hate for human rights activists comes from the top, as Paul Kagame has said that he doesn’t “give a damn” about organizations such as Human Rights Watch.

Clearly, Katrina Lantos Swett knows something about genocide and about shielding targets of genocide and has been quick to spot the origins and motives of the smear campaign, saying: “I think if Paul Rusesabagina had not had the determination to draw attention to some of the concerns about what’s happening in Rwanda today, none of this outpouring would have taken place. It didn’t take place when the movie came out … it’s when he began to speak out that suddenly many really questionable and unsubstantiated charges were raised.”

She is also firm in stating that the award was given not only for his doing what he did in 1994, but also for his “continued courage” in speaking out about political oppression in Rwanda: “When you have someone who emerges as a compelling voice that is an irritant to a regime, very often the regime or their supporters or proxies will go to great lengths to discredit that individual.”

“Bad” genocide survivors from Rwanda, without any political baggage or connection to the military dictatorship of Rwanda, are bullied, intimidated and harassed. They are attacked by diplomats at forums and constantly have to deal with questioning of their legitimacy as survivors, despite the trauma they’ve faced and despite the difficulty of speaking out against the regime.

“Bad” genocide survivors from Rwanda, without any political baggage or connection to the military dictatorship of Rwanda, are bullied, intimidated and harassed.

For example, the hero of “Hotel Rwanda,” who saved many Tutsis from attacks by Hutus, Paul Rusesabagina, became Public Enemy No. 1 for simply saying that Hutus also died and for speaking out against the repressive measures of the new regime. He is vilified as a “genocide denier” and as a “double genocide” revisionist – and even as a “genocidaire” intent on overthrowing Kagame and renewing the genocide!

The beheading of Rwandan Green Party Vice President Andre Kagwa Rwisereka on July 14, 2010, shortly before the last presidential election, was apparently meant as a warning to other critics of the Kagame regime.
Another on Kagame’s hit list is a much less known genocide survivor whom I have heard speak on panels in New York City and have met personally, Claude Gatebuke. Claude’s personal history and consistent antagonism to all forms and locations of genocide, his passion for peaceful resolution of conflicts and reinstatement of a democratic society in Rwanda and elsewhere – Congo, especially – are impressive.

The agents of the Rwandan government targeting Claude include a Rwandan “diplomat” at the U.N. by the name of Olivier Nduhungirehe, who also goes by the name of Theoneste Rwemalika (translated in English to mean one who kills instantly with one shot). The reasons for attacking Gatebuke include his criticism of the dictatorship in Rwanda as well as his vocal support for peace in the DR Congo and his denouncing of perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and even possible genocide against more than 5 million Congolese people. The U.N. Mapping Exercise Report for DR Congo released on Oct. 1, 2010, provides evidence for every claim Claude makes about the atrocities in Congo.

Gatebuke demands justice for the victims no matter who they are or where they are from and regardless of the perpetrators and is consistent in this in every forum. This is exactly the reason why the government of Rwanda and their supporters are targeting Gatebuke and denying his story of survival. Had he praised the policies of the Rwandan government or at least remained silent, no one would target Claude with hate speech in an attempt to stop his work.

Victoire Ingabire, Kagame’s leading opponent in the 2010 election had she been allowed to run, was instead imprisoned over a year ago and has been standing trial in recent months. She is shown in court, handcuffed, head shaved and wearing the pink uniform of prisoners in Rwanda. – Photo: New Times
The Kagame dictatorship’s agents do not limit themselves to verbal smears, vilification and outright lies in public forums and incessant propaganda encouraging hatred for dissidents – especially “bad” survivors. The regime in Kigali led by Paul Kagame is notorious for brutal attacks against those who disagree with them or denounce their crimes. In May of this year, the British police caught assassins sent by the Rwandan government to kill critics of the regime. Similarly, there have been three attempts to assassinate Rwanda’s former army chief of staff in South Africa. In June of 2010, he survived a shooting that lodged a bullet in his stomach.

The Kagame dictatorship’s agents do not limit themselves to verbal smears, vilification and outright lies in public forums and incessant propaganda encouraging hatred for dissidents – especially “bad” survivors. The regime in Kigali led by Paul Kagame is notorious for brutal attacks against those who disagree with them or denounce their crimes.

Many other critics have fled to exile, including journalists of independent media. Those who are in Rwanda are not as fortunate. Journalist Leonard Rugambage was shot dead as he was planning to break a story of the Rwandan regime’s involvement in the assassination attempt in South Africa, while Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, vice president of an opposition party, was found with his head severed and a machete lying next to his dead body. Journalists Agnes Nkusi Uwimana and Saidath Mukakibibi are in jail for 17 and seven years respectively for writing critical reports of the president, while virtually every opposition leader is in jail, including genocide survivor Deo Mushayidi, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and Bernard Ntaganda, among others.

The question before us now is: How can we help Claude and Joseph and Paul and Deo and so many other courageous “bad survivors” survive Kagame’s current and future deadly attacks?

Frank LeFever is a retired neuroscientist, a director and past-president of the New York Neuropsychology Group, a non-profit scientific and educational corporation which he helped found in 1979, a member and frequent presenter at annual meetings of the Society for Neuroscience and of the International Neuropsychological Society. He is also active in the governance of Pacifica Foundation’s New York City station WBAI-FM and of The New York Academy of Sciences Psychology Section. He can be reached at

First of three videos:

Rwanda Genocide survivor Claude Gatebuke breaks his silence and speaks on behalf of millions of Congolese victims.

On March 2, 2011, the African Great Lakes Advocacy Coalition (Africa Faith and Justice Network, Friends of the Congo, Foreign Policy in Focus, African Great Lakes Action Network, Foundation for Freedom and Democracy in Rwanda, Congo Global Action Coalition, International Humanitarian Law Institute of St. Paul, Mobilization for Peace and Justice in Congo) held a Congressional briefing for members of the Senate and House and their staffs in order to raise the profile of the U.N. Mapping Exercise Report and its implications for U.S. policy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region.

This report, released on Oct. 1, 2010, documents “the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed within the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between March 1993 and June 2003.”

Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth says, “If followed by strong regional and international action, this report could make a major contribution to ending the impunity that lies behind the cycle of atrocities in the Great Lakes region of Africa.”

State Department Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley said, “The United States is firmly committed to helping the DRC and other nations in the region take positive steps to end the corrosive cycle of violence and impunity.”

The speakers on the panel included Jacques Bahati of Africa Faith and Justice Network, Nita Evele of Congo Global Action Coalition, Nii Akuetteh, Africa Policy Analyst, and Claude Gatebuke of Africa Great Lakes Action Network and Rwanda Genocide survivor. The panel was moderated by Emira Woods of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute of Policy Studies. Kambale Musavuli of Friends of the Congo told the audience the report needs to be considered by members of Congress to address justice and stability in the Congo and Great Lakes Region of Africa.

Rwandan activist and genocide survivor Claude Gatebuke was among the speakers at the National Press Club on Aug. 3, 2010. The press briefing was organized to denounce the “sham” elections about to take place on Aug. 9 in Rwanda.

Speakers were Paul Rusesabagina, Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, who sent a written statement, as due to medical reasons he was unable to attend; Peter Erlinder, International Humanitarian Law Institute of Minnesota, William Mitchell College of Law; Pascal Kalinganire, Organization for Peace, Justice and Development in Rwanda and Great Lakes Region (OPJDR); and Claude Gatebuke, Rwanda Genocide survivor and activist.

President Obama said, in his 2009 speech in Accra, Ghana, that America should support strong institutions and not strong men. However, in the case of Rwanda, this has been no more than rhetoric. Rwandans, like most Africans, cheered Obama’s election, hoping that it might signal a new, more peaceful and cooperative relationship between the U.S. and Africa, but Obama has expanded AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command, and now he remains silent as Rwanda’s strongman, President Paul Kagame, prepares a sham presidential election to retain his brutal grip on power.

We are calling on President Obama and the U.S. State Department not to recognize the legitimacy of Rwanda’s upcoming Aug. 9 election results and to stop militarizing Africa and supporting repressive regimes.

Critics of the Rwandan government are urging the Obama administration to withdraw support from President Paul Kagame. Voice of America’s Carolyn Turner reports (in this video posted to YouTube Aug. 6, 2010).


41 thoughts on “‘Good’ survivors of genocide and ‘bad’ survivors in the hands of Rwanda’s dictator and his agents

  1. Pekaboo

    I don't care if this guy is a tutsi or hutu, but you have to realize that some people make up stories for many different reasons. My advice is, don't jump to the conclusion. That is what we call bad reporting.

  2. Rwibutso

    Genocide Survivor? Masquerader is the right name.Comeon,this guy is an insult to genocide survivors.LeFever Revisionist-in-Chief,stop embarrassing yourself….

  3. Diana

    Frank, what a creative piece I must say. You really seem to be enjoying indulging in your retirement hobby of smearing President Kagame. You claim going to ”original sources” whenever possible but then you neglect to mention what those sources are. It would have been proper for you to mention that you have never interacted with the Rwandese people living inside their country, never been to Rwanda and never been near any refugee camp in Uganda or DRC although you pretend write as a very ”knowledgable” person about matters in the Great Lakes Region. Secondly, not everybody out there in some European capital telling a sob story is peddling a genuine story so how do you verify their stories ?

  4. The Messenger

    Pekaboo : You say don't jump to the conclusion,but YOU jump to the conclusion by saying that is a bad report!DUMB!!

  5. victor

    I have been following this guy 's meetings and articles but never have i ever heard any genocide survivor giving a testimony of how they survived and don't mention any name of who helped them escape the horror and terror!!.I wonder if he is making up stories to attract followers or… help me understand this people.

  6. Dr John Kayitakirwa


    A person of your calibre should be more objcetive, even in retirement. They are neither bad nor good survivors of genocide in Rwanda, they are only survivors. second you have no write to invent our history, and more so playing on our wounded national memories of genocide!! whoever gave you the idea the that President Paul Kagame did what you purport to allege, is but a wishful negationist and you simply fell into his ploy! visit Rwanda, talk to survivors and soldier, they all tell you that, if it was’nt for President Paul Kagame, Rwanda would have burnt to ashes as you looked on in your comfort in US. You say you have learnt who hutus and tutsi are? You have not. You fell into the trap of one without knowing what you purport to know. Retire in diginity, you can’t rewrite our history. Never!

  7. Ann_Garrison

    I could point to 17 years of UN reports and human rights investigations about this, but I know by now that it wouldn't help. The last time I mentioned those reports, and a Reuters news archive from the third week of May 1994, I had to file an assault complaint against members of the Rwandan contingent at a Sacramento State University conference.

  8. Diana

    Anne Garisson,shelve the ”human rights investigations” and go to Rwanda and talk to the people who survived. They will tell you that had it not been for RPF,they would not be alive today. I have advised Frank to make the trip to Rwanda instead of spreading lies on the internet from a location in another continent. For some reason he imagines that Kagame knows about him and his ”Great Lakes activities” and is only waiting for an opportunity to arrest him !!! Hillarious !!

  9. Frank LeFever

    Two more Kagame agents? Rwibutso and "victor". Anything substantive in their complaints? No, just the schoolboy "not so!" "Revisionist in Chief"? Ha, thanks! I will ALWAYS seek to "revise" lies, chiefly by citing the evidence produced by those who have invested hard work and intelligence in the analysis of those lies and search for alternative accounts.

    I think Claude and other "bad" survivors have already told their survival stories in detail. There are very good reasons for not mentioning names of people who helped them survive. For one thing, they may not have known their names! More importantly, think about the risk of naming people. Think about it (if Kagame's koolaid has not eroded your brains entirely): what would someone's life be worth if he or she still lived in Rwanda and was identified publicly as someone who helped a critic of Kagame escape? If your imagination fails, think of Paul Rusesabagina who was publicly identified as someone who helped people escape the genocide, some of whom may subsequently have criticized Kagame.

  10. David

    Dear Frank.

    The reason why survivors protested against the Lantos Prize being given to Paul Rusesabagina was not because he is an outspoken critic of President Kagame – but because of serious misgivings and doubts about his motives.

    Paul documents himself that he demanded and accepted payment by those he sheltered at the Hotel des Milles Collines during the genocide. There are counter claims as to his motive for doing so. Whether that was for personal enrichment or altruistim can be debated – and only he knows for certain his intentions at the time.

    However, what is not in dispute is that he has never funded any genocide survivors or their organisations in Rwanda through his Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation. This point was made in the letter of survivor's organisations to the Lantos Foundation:

    If Paul truly cared for survivors, one would imagine that he would support, in at least some way, survivors of the genocide today. It is possible to verify that his foundation has never made any such donation by checking the 990 forms.

    As he evidently does not care to support survivors of the genocide today, it raises the question did he ever really care for survivors of the genocide? Or is the Foundation a means of supporting his own agenda, as many suspect was his motivation during the genocide.

    In fact, in reading through the 990 filing for the Foundation, one can ascertain that it seemingly is a vehicle for supporting himself:

    1. Ing Mahh

      I suppose that you know that nobody was killed/kidnapped/hurt among those who sought protection at the Hotel des Mille Collines. The RPF bombed the Hotel several times but without success (due to lack of precision) thanks God. They also attacked the Saint Famille Catholic Church (a couple blocks from the Hotel) were many Tutsis (especially women) had found refuge since the Assasination of Martin Bucyana and Felicien Gatabazi in 1993-94 (before the genocide) by RPF infiltrated agents. They killed many of them and kidnapped others. Later on they claimed in international media that they rescued Tutsi that were held hostage at St Famille Church..! You tell me. Are theseRPF agents have the moral grounds to criticize Paul Rusesabagina?

    2. therisingcontinent

      David, in your question of asking why Rusesabagina hasn't put any money towards supporting survivors of the genocide, I presume you are Tutsi and for that reason you also assume that only Tutsi were victims of the Rwandan genocide. That's I find very selfish from your attitude of thinking that there aren't Hutu survivors worth of any support, since Kagame regime does not recognise that there was any Hutu worth calling survivors.

  11. Andrew E. Mathis

    Frank, are you still buying that garbage that more Hutu died during the genocide than Tutsi? I'll give a clue: The genocide didn't start in October 1990. This is why you get called a genocide denier.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: Kagame is bad enough on his own, without having to buy into génocidaire propaganda.

    1. The messenger

      Andrew,keep on doing researches on Rwanda and Genocide and you'll be amazed!You'll finally find out that what is portrayed as the truth isn't necessarily , at least for those who are awake…

  12. Frank LeFever

    Andrew, I'll give you credit for signing your name. As for when the genocide began, much depends on the legal definition of "genocide". As I have tried to say (perhaps poorly), Kagame had no regard for people living peacefully under the prior regime and did not hesitate to kill Tutsis as well as Hutus who did so — hence, what he did between 1990 and 1994 cannot be called "genocide"; it can, however, be called a "crime against humanity" consisting of massive killing of civilians in the course of invading the country they lived in.

    Given the ratio of Hutu to Tutsi inhabitants, even random "collateral damage" would have resulted in more Hutus than Tutsis killed this way. As for estimates of numbers of Tutsis killed during the genocide proper, some people have difficulty reconciling them with census figures (before and after 1994).

    What he did in subsequent "mopping up" in refugee camps and in Congo jungles does indeed seem to have been directed preferentially (if not exclusively) against Hutus, and this (as long-suppressed UN reports indicate) might indeed meet technical/legal definitions of "genocide".

    Note also the illogic in saying that my specifying a different date for the beginning of genocide is "genocide denial". Get it? Not denying genocide, just saying it did not begin exactly when and how the official story says it did.

    As for the "garbage" about how many of which group died during this period (or other periods, 1990-1994 or 1994 exclusively or following 1994), there has been research which raises questions about the received doctrine.

    Sorry you perceive me as "buying in to genocidaire propaganda". The people doing this research and telling alternative accounts cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as "genocidaires", having neither partaken in nor supported genocide by anybody, anywhere, at any time.

    1. Andrew E. Mathis

      Frank, thank you for a thoughtful reply.

      Certainly Kagame had and has no regard for human life. I agree that he is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but not genocide. In the case of Rwanda, that "distinction" belongs to the provisional government and its allies in the aftermath of the assassination of Habyarimana.

      It is likely, given the period from 1990 to the present, that more Hutus have died than Tutsi. I only take issue with the notion that the specific period of the genocide was not primarily targeted against Tutsis and that they did not make up, in fact, the vast majority of the victims.

      I did an interview with Keith Harmon Snow recently on the topic of why the period from April to July 1994 constitutes genocide and the other periods of the civil war and its aftermath, including in DR Congo, do not. With any luck, you'll have a chance to see it. It's a bit lengthy to get into here.

      I would image that Davenport and Stam play some part in your reading of the genocide. I would caution you that their numbers are not wholly reliable and are dependent, to some extent, on properly defining the genocide. No, they are not génocidaires, nor would I call them that. I just question their methodology a bit. Certainly, however, they are being exploited by génocidaires, as many good-hearted lefties in the U.S. are (including yourself?).

      Again, thanks for a thoughtful response. I do appreciate it.


      1. Frank LeFever

        In the case of the genocide proper, no doubt about it: more Tutsis than Hutus killed. In the case of total deaths during that period, I think more Hutus than Tutsis. This includes "collateral damage" caused by the invading army which was probably only partly influenced by enmity towards Hutus specifically and otherwise due simply to the proportion of Hutus and Tutsis living where the invading forces struck, hence not "genocide".

        However, if one includes the rest of 1994 and who ended up in refugee camps or fled into the Congo, I think we have to consider a more ethnic-based pattern of killing. Certainly, as the pursuit of "excrement" in the Congo (Kagame's term), the long-suppressed UN report and other reports suggests a genocidal program in which Hutus were the major victims.

        As for Davenport & Stam's methodology, as a practicing scientist I appreciate the difficulties of confronting masses of data in unexplored conceptual territory and developing some way to organize and quantify it, and I admire their ingenuity in doing this. It is to their credit that they lay out their methods and the ranges of estimates from varied sources very explicitly and in detail, so that others may choose what they consider to be appropriate "confidence intervals".

        I should point out that they explicitly address mass killings BEYOND "the genocide" and differentiate (explicitly) several different kinds of killings during this period, some with political significance and some not (e.g. people taking advantage of the chaos to kill for personal or financial reasons or simply the panic and madness of the moment).

        As for genocide "by the government", I do not buy it. The record we receive (including that from the tribunal set up by victors to punish losers) is that extremists within and without government planned and executed genocide and in some cases early attempts to initiate genocide were put down by the government. In the US, border-patrol vigilantes, skin-head-Aryan, Tea Party, KKK groups might run amok in a period of panic (imagine invasion by Russia or China via Cuba!) and government collapse. This was what happened in Rwanda after assassination of its president (and the president of Burundi).

        No, I do not think I am being exploited by anybody. I certainly will not allow myself to be exploited by the US government (which does not have clean hands in this affair — nor now, in Congo) just because I am (or should be) overjoyed at seeing in my lifetime first a Catholic and now a Negro elected president, each with marvelous "liberal" rhetoric covering their practical activities.

        1. Andrew E. Mathis

          Well, I'm going to have to disagree that the government to some extent was not behind what happened. Certainly Bagosora et al., constituting the emergency committee that handled things in the immediately aftermath, bare a large amount of blame.

          Certainly, also, agents outside the government (Interahamwe, e.g., and Impuzamugambi) were involved, but as these were party-affiliated militias and these parties WERE the government at the time, for all intents and purposes, and certainly once the prime minister was assassinated on April 7, I have a hard time coming to any other conclusion.

          Finally, while Kambanda's role in all this remains far from clear, it IS clear that any contender to lead the government between the PM's assassination and the RPF taking the country was vetoed by Bagosora et al. — at least at some level.

          All that is perhaps a difference without a distinction (or is it the other way around), but there it is. I appreciate, again, your input on this.

          1. Frank LeFever

            The official doctrine (promulgated by RPF and rubber-stamped by the US et al.) is that the government BEFORE its president was assassinated planned a genocide.

            Individuals legitimately or illegitimately seizing command of government agencies in the chaos of presidential assassination and an invasion force in position to strike Kigali do not fit the usual description of "government policy and planning". Indeed, if the government had an intent to kill all Tutsis, why did it not do so when it had unquestioned command of its forces and its territory? Why wait until a force capable of stopping such a program was in place?

          2. therisingcontinent

            Andrew E. Mathis and Frank LeFever, this is what the current Rwandan constitution says about the period that covers the genocide:

            Article 14
            The State shall, within the limits of its capacity, take special measures for the welfare of the survivors of genocide who were rendered destitute by the genocide committed in Rwanda from October 1st, 1990 to December 31st, 1994, the disabled, the indigent and the elderly as well as other vulnerable groups.

            In my understanding, anyone who contests above defined period for the Rwandan genocide becomes a revisionist or a genocidaire according to Kigali. Of course, one must assumes that the only victims who are referred to in that official text are Tutsi, as it was written in the spirit of the fact that officially there hasn't been any Hutu victim or survivor who was worth taking care of.

            The entire logic of segregationist policies by the Kagame government are based on those premises which reflect the conditions under which Hutus lived before the independence of the country (1961). And people need to remember that Kagame, fled the country aged 3 only with his family and other Tutsis aristocrates and members of the royal family after the Hutu revolution of 1959. This revolution overturned the supremacy of Tutsis in favor of Hutus who had been slaves of the former for more than four hundred years.

            Another point I would like to highlight for Andrew is the political context which prevailed between October 1990 and July 1994. With the invasion of Rwanda by Kagame and his RPF rebel movement, and enabling multiparty political system, administrative authority eroded gradually up the point where that just before the assassination of Juvenal Habyarimana, the limited authority which remained was only in his hands. After his death, the country was in a total vacuum of authority. It was total chaos.

            The caretakers who came together as Interim Government under Jean Kambanda, begged several times Dallaire and his UN Mission to call a ceasefire and bring together RPF and the government side to stop massacres, but Kagame refused, because he was winning the war and better armed and equipped both in personnel and weaponry than his opponent.

            It is also important to remember that during the 4 years of civil war RPF had staged against Habyarimana government, RPF had managed to infiltrate all areas of the country with agents in all sectors of national life you can think of, occupying strategic positions that could guarantee them victory in case of resuming war. Which they did and won at their own terms.

            After July 1994, when RPF was declared the victor, as any other victor in any war, they narrated events in their own language. Until today, they are still doing that.

  13. Jason

    Dear Frank,

    the way you call anybody who is trying to present a different option a Kagame agent is quite immature and doesnt make it very appealing to engage into a discussion in this forum.
    It is too late and frankly it would be to exhausting to list all the factual and logical faults in your text and even worse in your comments/abuses.
    However let me ask you some questions: Have you ever been to Rwanda? If so, when was that? Pre-, -during or Post-94? Have you ever conducted your own research on the matter? Do speak kinyarwanda or maybe at least french? What is you qualification to write on this, besides having read some books and talked to some Rwandans in the states?

    Be aware a lot of aspects of the Rwandan genocide are still subject of academic (!!!) study, and no clear verdict has been spoken on them yet. Also be aware these people doing research a fellow Americans, just like yourself. So chance are that not all of them are indoctrinated by the Rwandan regime.
    Also be aware, everybody has an agenda. And although that does go for most topics of discussion it especially goes for very recent, highly controversial events.

    I hope you will read and understand these things, but judging from your previous comments, I would be surprised.
    What you should do is a course like this:
    It is an excellent program and I am sure you will learn a lot.
    Then maybe some day you will find are more balanced point of view, but until then I just hope you are not gonna offend to many Rwandans who lost their families and loved during these fatal days.

    If not you are yet another Georges Ruggiu and I will pray that nobody will listens to you!

    So long,

  14. Frank LeFever

    Congo elections & Congo atrocities: US Senate briefing Dec. 6, 2011

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011 Time: 2:30 PM to 04:00 PM

    Elections and the Implementation of the United Nations Mapping Exercise Report: Senate Briefing on Democratic Republic of Congo, Evaluating the 2011 Elections

    Who: African Great Lakes Advocacy Coalition (Africa Faith and Justice Network, African Great Lakes Action Network, Friends of the Congo, Foreign Policy in Focus)


    Federico Borello, Former United Nations coordinator of the Transitional Justice and Anti-Impunity Unit at the UN mission in Congo (MONUC) and was part of the UN Mapping Team in Congo

    Nii Akuetteh, Nii is a long-time activist, founder of the Democracy & Conflict Research Institute (Accra, Ghana)

    Ntama Bahati, Policy Analyst, Africa Faith and Justice Network

    Claude Gatebuke, Rwandan genocide survivor and Executive Director and Co-Founder of the African Great Lakes Action Network (AGLAN)

    Fidele Lumea, Executive Director of Congolese American Council for Peace and Development focus on Humanitarian Assistance, Peacebuilding and Development

    Emira Woods, co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies

    Kambale Musavuli, Friends of the Congo, Spokesperson & Student Coordinator

    Ngwarsungu Chiwengo, Professor of English at Creighton University Event

    For more information and speaker bios (PDF):


    US Capitol Visitor Center

    First St and East Capitol, NE

    Washington, DC

    Room SVC 202-203

    Entrance to the U.S. Capitol is located on First Street and East Capitol Street, NE. ROOM: SVC 203 and SVC-202

    RSVP required: The US government requires a list of attendees–Please RSVP at or call 202-884-9780

    For questions email Bahati Jacques at or call 202-884-9780

    Please allow time to be processed through security.

  15. Frank LeFever

    Jason says: "…It is too late and frankly it would be to exhausting to list all the factual and logical faults in your text and even worse in your comments/abuses…"

    Uh-huh. Yeah, sure.

    However, he has time for this: "…let me as you some questions: Have you ever been to Rwanda? If so, when was that?…" [etc. etc.]

    I have never been to the moon, but I know a great deal about it, due to the wonders of written language.

  16. Frank LeFever

    This is rich — "Jason" says (Jason who?) "…I just hope you are not gonna offend to many Rwandans who lost their families and loved during these fatal days…"

    I guess he means he hopes I will not offend any "good" genocide survivors. I am speaking on behalf of OTHER genocide survivors who also "lost their families and loved [ones?] during those fateful days". I am also speaking on behalf of those whose families were shot down by Kagame's thugs in refugee camps during Kagame's 1994 mopping-up exercises, and those he described as "shit" that he pursued and killed in the Congo. I do not think they will be offended by what I say, but will be greatly offended by the civil-toned reasonably-put malice so shamefully evident in Jason's expressed "concern" for "balance".

    I do not easily balance Jewish resistance and flight with Nazi genocide of Jews and others in WW2.

    "Jason" comparing me to someone who advocated genocide is too disgusting a perversion of "dialogue" to stomach.

  17. Jason

    Well, you reaction was not that surprising…

    So lets have it that way: your ignorance disgusts me, you sad old man!

  18. Diana

    Frank, your defense of pretending to be an ”authority” about a country that you are only able to locate on a map, is becoming more and more ridiculous. How dare you compare not ever having been to the moon but knowing about the moon, with never having been to Rwanda but ”knowing” about it’s history, it’s people and their experiences, the tragedies the people have lived through and survived and the milestones the country has achieved on it’s journey to reconciliation and building the nation ? You are writing about a tragedy suffered by people; how dare you treat this as a joke ? Do you not notice a common thread from the contributiors on this form asking you the same questions that I have asked time and time again; have you ever been to Rwanda, have you interacted with the people, have you visited rural areas in Rwanda ? Of course the answers to all these questions is NO !! That, am very well aware of.

  19. Diana

    Frank, before the genocide began Habyarimana’s government imported consignments of machetes from China and distributed them to the Hutu population. But then of course how would you ever be expected to know this since your genocidaire friends would definately not tell you. The government was the master planner of the genocide. You have no idea how nonsensical your attempt to twist this fact is. But of course I forget…….. you have read reports…….:………….

  20. Andrew E. Mathis

    That’s a fair point. Perhaps, then, more concise to say the “caretaker” government or provisional government. As the previous PM certainly played no role in the genocide and was, in fact, among its first victims and as Habyarimana was likely not involved in any genocide planning himself — if it’s true that the akazu killed him, then it’s likely they did so because he opposed the genocidal planning (I realize that it’s far from a proven point that the akazu killed him, but it’s also unproved that the RPF did), it would seem that the Habyarimana administration itself was not responsible.

  21. Franck Talk II

    Everybody knew and knows that Ruanda (Burundi) has 3 ethnic nations: the Twas (Pygmies9, the Tutsi and the Hutu. From demographic, statistic and mathematic points of view there are ONLY ONE MINORITY and ONLY ONE MAJORITY. In Ruanda (Burundi), there is a Hutu majority (85%), and a Twa minority (>1%). Today the Twa minority has disapeared in Ruanda. The Twa has disapeared from official statistics and there is no single Twa in the hills and cities. Where are they? Alle of them are killed, not educated, no lobby, so nobody is talking about them. If an entire group of people have been killed, because they belong to a minority group, how to qualify this mass killing if not genocide?

    talking of Hutus's and Tutsi's masskillings (itsambatsamba), but

  22. Frank LeFever

    Franck Talk II makes a sad commentary, indeed. Although not such an extreme case as what has happened to the Twa, one is reminded of "others" who shared Nazi concentration camps with Jews — for example the Roma ("Gypsies"). The Jewish victims have been better remembered partly because of the large numbers killed in Germany and other countries under German domination and partly because of the shock that this genocide could originate in the European country most noted for the extent to which Jews had been accepted and achieved success in many areas (in contrast to the implacable anti-semitism of other countries).

    The Roma, on the other hand, always were and continue to be a powerless minority, seemingly "born to be victims" and having few to speak for them (then or now).

  23. Frank LeFever

    Missing some of the discussion? Because of SFBayView's formatting, a series of comments (developing, I think, a useful dialogue) beginning "4 days ago" (as of today, i.e. beginning Dec. 5) and including a very helpful historical review by Rising Continent (yesterday, i.e. Dec. 8) is HIDDEN FROM VIEW unless one clicks on the "6 replies" link directly below my Dec. 5 reply to Andrew E. Mathis.

    I recommend a reading if you missed this sequence before.

  24. Frank LeFever

    Interesting that "Jason" and "ubuntu" (too cowardly to tell us their names or their positions in life — their careers, for example) both speak as if my being "old" is something shameful or something that invalidates what I say. What happened to the traditional African respect for the wisdom of elders?

    It is obvious from the poverty of their responses that I have much to teach them.


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