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Carnegie Mellon professors question university president over planned campus in Kagame’s Rwanda

September 29, 2011
Friends of the Congo Student Coordinator Kambale Musavuli leads chants at a Carnegie Mellon protest against the visit of Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Protesters say Kagame is responsible for the death, rape and the financial instability of millions of Rwandans and Congolese. Musavuli is a 1998 Congolese refugee, whose family was affected by the violence in the region. “Whenever there’s a genocide, just like the holocaust, we must say, ‘Never again,’” Musavuli said. “It’s my responsibility to be here and to speak up for those who can’t. It’s the value of free speech.”
Faculty members at Carnegie Mellon University’s Marianna Brown Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences have signed a petition questioning the university’s partnership with Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, as they plan to open a branch campus in Kigali in 2012. The petition cites charges that his government has committed gross human rights violations in Rwanda and in the Congo. It also cites increased repression of the press and political freedoms.

Below is the petition, dated Sept. 16, 2011.

President Jared L. Cohon
Carnegie Mellon University
Office of the President
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Dear President Cohon,

We the undersigned faculty members of the Marianna Brown Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences are writing to express our serious concerns over Carnegie Mellon University’s announced partnership with President Paul Kagame and the Rwandan government.

Also leading the protest against Kagame’s visit to CMU is law student Claude Gatebuke, a Rwandan who works with the African Great Lakes Coalition. – Photo: Emily Russell
Carnegie Mellon University has established itself as a global leader in the arts as well as the sciences in part because our university has extended its reach beyond Pittsburgh. We have established successful programs in countries like Japan, Australia, Portugal, Mexico, and opened a campus in Qatar.

Wherever we go, we bring our university’s vision of what a world-class institution of higher education should be. We rightfully pride ourselves with meeting “the changing needs of society by building on its traditions of innovation, problem solving and inter-disciplinarity.” With the announcement of Carnegie Mellon University’s partnership with the Rwandan government, our university has once again positioned itself on the cutting edge by being one of the first American universities to run degree-granting programs on the continent of Africa.

Given Rwanda’s attempts to rebuild after decades of civil war and murderous ethnic cleansing, Carnegie Mellon’s presence in the African nation indicates that your vision for our university includes not only meeting the changing needs of society but also helping Rwandan society change for the better. News articles in The Wall Street Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education as well as our hometown Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have applauded our partnership with President Kagame and Rwanda.

Another thing we bring is Carnegie Mellon University’s mission. As a faculty we pledge:

“To create and disseminate knowledge and art through research and creative inquiry, teaching, and learning, and to transfer our intellectual and artistic product to enhance society in meaningful and sustainable ways.

“To serve our students by teaching them problem solving, leadership and teamwork skills, and the value of a commitment to quality, ethical behavior, and respect for others.

“To achieve these ends by pursuing the advantages of a diverse and relatively small university community, open to the exchange of ideas, where discovery, creativity, and personal and professional development can flourish.”

Kambale Musavuli, with students from the U.S., the Congo and Rwanda, protests outside CMU’s University Center during Kagame’s visit on Sept. 16. – Photo: Andrew Russell, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
As faculty, we also commend a vision that includes facilitating meaningful social change. Yet we see a risk that could interfere with this vision. Carnegie Mellon University’s mission is based upon the fundamental pillars of any free society: the freedom of inquiry, a commitment to an open exchange of ideas and a belief that freedom and openness are crucial to the cultivation of an ethically sound citizenry. Given our university’s mission we are concerned about how this mission can be achieved in a country run by a president who does not guarantee freedom or openness for his own people.

President Paul Kagame controls a country that, according to Reporters Without Borders’ “Press Freedom Index,” ranks 169 out of 178 countries – the third worst ranking amongst African nations. In a June 2011 article, Human Rights Watch expressed their “serious concern that freedom of expression is not respected in practice under Kagame’s regime,” especially as this repression was connected to Kagame’s 2010 presidential re-election.

They cite numerous instances, including the imprisonment and intimidation of journalists critical of the Kagame regime, as well as the jailing and continued detention of opposition party leaders for endangering national security and “divisionism.” Claims of fraud and intimidation were so widespread that in an Aug. 13, 2010, press statement President Obama expressed “concern” about “disturbing events” prior to Kagame’s latest election. He highlighted the suspension of two newspapers, the expulsion of human rights workers and the barring of two political parties from participating in the election.

Another June 2011 report, this one from Amnesty International, condemned Kagame’s government, saying, “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 and publicly criticize the authorities. People who do speak out risk prosecution and imprisonment.”

In 2008, the Spanish National Court, the Audiencia National (who charged Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet), indicted 40 Rwandan military officers for terrorism, mass killings and several counts of genocide against Rwandans, Congolese and Spanish citizens, following the 1994 genocide. Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu stated he has evidence that implicates Kagame, who has immunity from prosecution as a head of state.

Carnegie Mellon University
Even our local Pittsburgh City Council adopted proclamation 1011-1897 on July 12, 2011, identifying the Rwandan government as a major destabilizing force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and scolding the federal government for continuing to fund the Rwandan government in the face of its many human rights abuses.

These actions are not those of a man interested in protecting his citizens, cultivating democratic society, or upholding human rights. Nor are these actions consistent with the ethical and moral principles at the heart of Carnegie Mellon University’s mission. If our mission as faculty is consistent with our university’s – to instill these principles in our students – we are seriously concerned that a partnership with President Kagame’s government compromises our institution’s ability to carry them out. President Cohon, we strongly urge you to consider the consequences that such a partnership will have on our local and global reputation.

Sincerely,

Concerned Faculty Members
Marianna Brown Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

To learn more, contact the African Great Lakes Coalition via Kambale Musavuli, spokesperson and student coordinator for Friends of the Congo, at kambale@friendsofthecongo.org.

 

11 thoughts on “Carnegie Mellon professors question university president over planned campus in Kagame’s Rwanda

  1. Jean Pierre Papin

    Dear Scholars, while respecting your views on Rwanda and its current leadership, i genuinely feel that copying and pasting reports from RWB, HRW, AI, organizations that are hell bent to destroy Rwanda is nothing more than discrediting yourselves as lousy scholars. I really wish you the Faculty members at Carnegie Mellon University’s Marianna Brown Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences could visit Rwanda and then scratch a little deeper under the surface (i mean figuratively) to understand first hand how Rwanda tries to solve its issues on daily basis. ALUTA CONTINUA!!

    Reply
  2. Ruterana Epimaque

    Rwandese genocidal forces known as FDLR are still the main source of deaths of population in eastern DRC. Why is nt this petition talking about it ? The source of killings and mass murder in eastern DRC originate from the presence of ex-FAR Interahamwe, a group that led the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. The Government of Rwanda and the Government of DRC have been conducting joint operations against those genocidal forces. The fact that your petition doesnt consider the presence of those genocidal forces in eastern DRC mean that you support their presence. Please try to get more facts on what is happening in eastern DRC. Otherwise, you will find yourselve supporting a group of people who conducted the genocide in 1994 and who have a personal hatred of Kagame !

    Reply
    1. Dunia

      Dear Ruterana,

      The whole world now knows who are behind killing in DRC,(Kagame).The Kagame administration has created and recruited these desperate Hutu refugees and some members of FDLR and formed another group of FDLR to terrorise population in DRC for his interest. In Congo there is 2 FDLRs, one belongs to Kagame and another is composed by survivor refugees after killing 5 millions according to the UN report that implicate Kagame for this killing and possible genocide.

      As proof, when Kagame needs any member of FDLR for his cause, he gets him from that Congolese jungle forest, .He has money and power to use these boys. For instance, he is now using some FDLR military leaders in Ingabire Victore fake case.

      People knows that many of these people are working for Kagame for money or to save their families in Rwanda(so that their families cannot be killed or jailed). They don’t have option, they live in jungle whoever wants use them gets them.

      Kagame doesn’t want peace in DRC or Rwanda as he can stay on power once Congo is stabilised

      Reply
    2. Dunia

      Dear Ruterana,

      The whole world now knows who are behind killing in DRC,(Kagame).The Kagame administration has created and recruited these desperate Hutu refugees and some members of FDLR and formed another group of FDLR to terrorise population in DRC for his interest. In Congo there is 2 FDLRs, one belongs to Kagame and another is composed by survivor refugees after killing 5 millions according to the UN report that implicate Kagame for this killing and possible genocide.

      As proof, when Kagame needs any member of FDLR for his cause, he gets him from that Congolese jungle forest, .He has money and power to use these boys. For instance, he is now using some FDLR military leaders in Ingabire Victore fake case.

      People knows that many of these people are working for Kagame for money or to save their families in Rwanda(so that their families cannot be killed or jailed). They don’t have option, they live in jungle whoever wants use them gets them.

      Kagame doesn’t want peace in DRC or Rwanda as he CANNOT stay on power once Congo is stabilised

      Reply
  3. Karamaga

    Is that university to be built going to help Kagame or the people of Rwanda and the region ? You are just being manipulated by a group of disgruntled rwandese politicians who do not want peace and stability in the region. I would advise you to support the construction of this university and suggest programs such as human rights and conflict resolution as a way of empowering the people of the great lakes region !

    Reply
  4. Dunia

    I believe that opening a campus in Rwanda is a good thing for Rwanda people, but this partnership with Kagame, who has killed and oppressed the whole central Africa, is a very bad thing. This is not the right time to open the campus in Rwanda as this consolidates the power of the lion over other animals and humans.

    Kagame should not be welcomed to this university. He his behaviour is inhuman; he does not even feel sorry over millions of people he killed!!!I have never heard him saying sorry at least, on the contrary, he says “I did not have enough time to exterminate all Rwandese and Congolese of Bantus ethnic origin

    This plan should be on hold or conditioned by ordering Kagame to release political activists and opponent form the Rwanda prison

    Reply
  5. Ann_Garrison

    Carnegie Mellon is one of the largest academic military contractors in the country, and is very much engeged and richly rewarded by the Homeland Security Department. It is almost impossible to believe that this doesnot have a heavy military and surveillance component.

    Reply
  6. Jean Pierre Papin

    Ann, are you trying to silence me by erasing my comments.
    Wow, you're doing exactly what you always accuse Kagame of (ie: censorship).
    Am i getting under your skin?
    Oh, i'm sorry babe, don't cry, i won't do that again.
    Wait a minute, on a second thought, i change my mind.
    You know what, if you can't handle my critical views of you, then you shouldn't accuse Kagame, either?
    Your hypocrisy is what makes you not credible.
    ALUTA CONTINUA!!

    Reply
  7. Isabelle

    It is concerning that faculty from a distinguished university such as CMU are just as capable as any commoner to take sides before verifying the veracity of their facts. The Spanish National court should not be given credence in the case of Rwanda simply because it indited Pinochet. Pinochet presided over the killing and torture of millions of Chileans, Kagame and his troop ended a Genocide, and tried to render Justice. If the Spanish were so concerned about Rwandan victims, perhaps they should take a look within their own borders (as many sympathizers of former genocidal government live in Spain), and next door, with former First Lady Agathe Habyarimana living in France, who played a major role in planning the genocide.

    Reply
  8. Isabelle

    Or how about the French military cadres that were in Rwanda before and during the genocide, who sanctioned the killing of civilians, and provided arms and logistical support to the FAR and Interahamwe? No, let's blame the African head of state who is actually making a difference, who is actually rebuilding the country, who works the hardest to provide best education (hence this partnership), who empowers women, provides universal health care…the long list continues. Wouldn't one think that a ruthless dictator looking to rule forever would do the opposite, as so many others have done before?
    Next time, please talk to Rwandans (more than one) living in Rwanda before making assumptions about the current state of affairs and acting as a self-proclaimed spokesperson for the "voiceless".
    Thank you!

    Reply
  9. Aimable

    Isabelle, Rwandans living in Rwanda get assassinated by beheading (Green Party Vice President, July 2010) or jailed (too many to count) when they speak out against the dictator mass murderer General Kagame.

    Reply

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