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During a recent campaign event, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson said: “That story of Rwanda is very instructive to us because when a place gets so tribal that the two tribes won’t have anything to do with each other, and that jealousy turns into hate – we saw what happened to the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda, it turned into a genocide. A million people hacked to death within a few months. And we have got to watch what’s happening here.”
Julian Assange could have turned his cyber-genius into a multi-billion dollar tech empire like Mark Zuckerburg’s, but instead he devoted himself to peace and justice by exposing the machinations of state, corporate and oligarchic power. For that he’s spent the last six years of his life as an asylee, in effect a political prisoner, inside Ecuador’s London Embassy. "The Julian Assange case is a key case for freedom of the press," and the Pacifica National Board voted to stand with Wikileaks and Assange.
On Sept. 15, Rwandan political prisoners Victoire Ingabire and Kizito Mihigo walked out of Nyarugenge Prison in Rwanda’s capital, along with nearly 2,000 more Rwandan prisoners whom President Paul Kagame had granted “executive clemency.” Victoire Ingabire is a politician and member of Rwanda’s Hutu ethnic majority. Kizito Mihigo is a gospel singer and a member of Rwanda’s Tutsi minority. Charging these two Rwandan leaders with terrorism was ludicrous to say the least.
He’s the president of Rwanda and the current president of the African Union, feted by the Brookings Institute, one of the most venerable ideological pillars of U.S. capital interests. So why is Paul Kagame manifesting more and more signs of paranoia? Let’s consider just a few possibilities: Assassination rumors, insurgency, political prisoner Victoire Ingabire, 7,000 Rwandan churches and mosques shut down.
April 6 was the 24th anniversary of the day that Gen. Paul Kagame shattered a ceasefire agreement and resumed the 1990-1994 war in Rwanda by assassinating Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira. His troops, acting on his orders, fired a rocket at Habyarimana’s plane when it appeared overhead in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, returning from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The 2018 Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize was awarded on Saturday, March 10, 2018, in Brussels, Belgium. The prize honors Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Despite the African Court of Human and People’s Rights’ 2017 ruling that her imprisonment is unjust and that Rwanda should free her, she remains behind bars. This year’s Victoire Prize went to Cameroonian French journalist Charles Onana and Canadian radio broadcaster Phil Taylor.
On the 16th of January 2010, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza landed in Kigali to launch the nonviolent movement for democracy, peace and justice for all. On that day, she gave a serious hammer blow to the cornerstone of the regime fortress: fear. The fortress is shaking, the fear has shifted from fear of democrats and peacemakers to fear of the regime, as reflected in erratic diplomatic behavior and more repression. The regime has been totally exposed.
On Nov. 14, CNN shocked the world with its video news report of Black African migrants being sold into slavery in Libya. Eight days later the Rwandan government issued a press release headlined “Rwanda’s door is open for migrants held captive in Libya.” Rwandan President Paul Kagame is grandstanding as Papa Africa on the world stage, but nothing could be further from the truth or more preposterous than his proposal. Here are four reasons why.
On Nov. 18, Rwandan President Paul Kagame inducted seven thieves without borders and one medical doctor into his “National Order of Outstanding Friendship,” presenting them with medals for “exemplary service” to the nation, meaning himself and his ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). Kagame is a modern day exemplar of French King Louis XIV’s theory of government: “L’état, c’est moi” (“I am the state”).
Friends and supporters of Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire are still waiting for the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights to rule on her appeal. In 2010, Victoire attempted to run for president against military dictator Paul Kagame and went to prison instead. Many Rwandans describe their country as a tinderbox, an earthquake fault, or a smoldering volcano because of its brutal oligarchy, unresolved ethnic polarization, and repressed memories of violence and loss.
In October 2016, the tiny East African nation of Burundi made history by raising an independent head against U.S. empire. Its legislature voted to withdraw from membership in the International Criminal Court, a tool that the U.S. and its Western allies use to discipline unruly African leaders – especially those who sign resource extraction contracts with Russia or China and/or those who try to do anything for their own people. The Burundian government fits both descriptions.
The 1994 bloodbath in Rwanda also became an argument for the suppression or even criminalization of speech. No one makes these arguments more fiercely and absolutely than Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Kagame claims to have inspired Rwandans to rise from the ashes to build an economic miracle and example for all Africa. In a new book, however, economist David Himbara says that Kagame’s economic miracle is in fact an economic mirage. I spoke to David Himbara.
Rwanda Day-San Francisco was a bad day for identity politics. Rwandan President Paul Kagame stepped to the podium and said that he was happy to be in San Francisco because it’s so diverse, seeming not to understand that his guest speaker, Rev. Rick Warren, champion of the 2008 Prop 8 ballot measure banning same sex marriage, wouldn’t appeal to San Francisco’s diverse population.
“A Brilliant Genocide” tells the story of the Acholi Genocide that President Yoweri Museveni and his army committed against the Acholi people during their 20-year war and occupation of the Acholi homeland in northern Uganda, from 1986 to 2006. Museveni waged that war in the name of fighting Kony and claimed to be protecting the Acholi, not destroying them. RT will air “A Brilliant Genocide” on Oct. 1.
Last week the U.S. helped its Saudi pals bomb another hospital and school in Yemen. Don’t imagine that its intentions are any more humanitarian in Burundi just because they’re not selling fighter bomber jets and guided bombs to their pal Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president for life. Kagame is intent on bringing down President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government in Burundi, as Saudi sheikhs are intent on bringing down the Houthi government in Yemen.
I answered some heartbreaking calls from Dr. Léopold Munyakazi phoning from an Alabama jail this week. Dr. Munyakazi is a gentle Rwandan born scholar, with a PhD in linguistics and further advanced degrees in French and African linguistics. He has lost his immigration case in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and will all but certainly be deported to Rwanda to face prison or worse.
The New Times of Rwanda, one of several state sanctioned media outlets, reports that a monument has been built on the banks of the River Nyabarongo “in memory of victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis who were dumped into the waters.” KPFA’s Ann Garrison reports that the story is disputed with evidence that the victims were actually Hutus rather than Tutsis.
The Rwandan Genocide is commemorated in Rwanda and at the United Nations as “the genocide against the Tutsi.” However, it was preceded by the assassination of three Hutu presidents and by the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Hutu civilians in Burundi. There is also ample evidence that hundreds of thousands of Hutus, as well as Tutsis, died in the Rwandan massacres.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred about U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, and particularly Honduras, during this week’s debate in Miami, Florida. In other debates, they have discussed the Middle East, Libya, Egypt, Russia, China and North Korea, but not Sub-Saharan Africa, aside from a few statements as to whether or not the U.S. should have intervened in Rwanda 22 years ago. KPFA’s Ann Garrison reports.
Dr. Léopold Munyakazi is in the custody of ICE, on the verge of being deported to Rwanda. The Rwandan government accused Professor Munyakazi of genocide crime after he made several speeches to university audiences in which he said that the Rwandan massacres were not genocide but class conflict. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Father Thomas Nahimana about the Munyakazi case.