Kagame’s prisons, courts and killing spots: Ingabire, the Netherlands and the West

by Ann Garrison, Didas Gasana and Charles Kabonero

The argument over who has been most to blame for the bloodshed in recent East Central African history intensified even further this month with testimony further challenging the history of what we know as the 1994 Rwanda Genocide at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s former bodyguard, Aloys Ruyenzi, testified at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda that the president of the Interahamwe, the militia said to have massacred the Rwandan Tutsi population in 1994, was himself a Tutsi and Rwandan Patriotic Front agent.

Ruyenzi, in an interview in the Newsline East Africa, also described what he called “killing spots” where, he says, the Kagame regime continues to sort, classify and then systematically execute those it perceives as enemies with bayonets or, if they resist or run, with pistols:

“Signals used to announce victims

“Vehicles carrying category A (ex-FAR, Interahamwe and former refugees from DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo]) put on right hand indicators as they approach roadblocks (three of them) to the killing field.

“Those transporting category B victims (dissidents) put on left-hand indicators as they approach roadblocks to the killing field, whereas vehicles carrying category C victims (the high level personnel) put on no indicators as they arrive.

“The roadblocks

“’There are three roadblocks,’ the former officer explains.

“The first one has 12 soldiers comprising staff from the Directorate of Military Intelligence and the Republican Guards. On receiving vehicles bringing in victims, he says, the soldiers communicate to their colleagues at the roadblocks ahead, giving details about the category of victim coming in.

“The second has 12 soldiers, in two lines: Line one with five soldiers and line two, 5 meters behind the first one, has seven soldiers.

“’Each soldier has a bayonet and two pistols to kill the victims. Line two is supposed to reinforce line one in case of any resistance and the pistols are used to reinforce the bayonets in case of any problem,’ Ruyenzi claims.

“The third roadblock, he says, is the ‘burning site’ where dead bodies are destroyed by fire, using petrol.

“’After the bodies are burnt, the ash is left to cool and is carried in gunny bags loaded into a container on a lorry, a blue Mercedes Benz 1924, whose plate numbers are occasionally changed from GR to IT (and vice versa),’ Lt. Ruyenzi says.

“The GR… and IT… number plates belong officially to government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) respectively.

“After that, Lt. Ruyenzi says the lorry transports ash from the ‘cremated’ bodies to the heavily-guarded (by DMI [Directorate of Military Intelligence] operatives) Ruriba brick factory in Kigali city, where the ashes are emptied into the river Nyabarongo and the empty bags are kept to perform the next task.” – from “Another Kagame aide reveals boss’ secret killing spots” by the Newsline team

Ruyenzi also described the Nyungwe killing field in 1998, during the war in Rwanda’s neighbor D.R. Congo, where, he said, many people were brought in 30 minibuses and 10 pick-ups acquired for the express purpose of transporting the Rwandan Patriotic Army’s victims from Rwanda and elsewhere to Rwanda’s infamous Kami Prison torture chambers. He said they too were collected, sorted and classified, according to their crimes, then burnt alive after being doused in petrol.

Ruyenzi has had refugee status in Norway since 2004, but he told the Newsline editors that he maintains contact with soldiers in Kagame’s army who tell him that the executions within Rwanda continue as before.

Kagame remains on the offensive

On Tuesday, Nov. 12, Rwanda’s High Court denied opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s bail appeal and sent her back to prison to await trial for conspiring with terrorists and genocide ideology, which means disagreeing with the official history of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.

Rwandan exiles and supporters have demonstrated in Brussels, the Hague and London since her arrest, and the new Dutch Parliament, now led by a party best translated into English as Liberal Conservative, seems to be moving towards a vote to sustain a 2008 decision to cut economic aid to Kagame’s Rwandan regime because of its human rights abuses in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

H. Vincent Harris, a Dutch new media consultant and writer who, with his Colored Opinions blog, explores the impact of migrants on democratic development, particularly in relation to the Great Lakes Region of Africa, says that Ingabire has growing support in The Netherlands.

“Her husband and children are here, and she was a working, law abiding, respectable, taxpaying resident for 16 years before her return to Rwanda to try to contest the presidential election against Kagame. Church people who have influence with the Dutch Parliament have collected over 1,000 petition signatures and lobbied the Dutch Parliament to do whatever it can to ensure her safety and human rights.

“Parliament has already instructed its embassy staff to attend Ingabire’s trial to bear witness, even though they don’t think there’s any chance it will be fair.”

Harris also says that the Dutch Parliament is likely in December to reconfirm its 2008 decision to cut off economic aid to Rwanda because of its concern about Rwanda’s human rights record. In 2008, he says, they were concerned with reports of Rwanda’s human rights abuses in D.R. Congo, particularly those of CNDP [National Congress for the Defense of the People] militia leader Laurent Nkunda, who was finally arrested and imprisoned in January 2009, although, in a highly disturbing development, his CNDP militia was then integrated into the Congolese Army.

“The new Dutch Parliament is particularly concerned about the ‘U.N. Mapping Report’ released on Oct. 1,” Harris said.

The “Mapping Report” documents the Rwandan government’s war crimes, crimes against humanity and massacres of Hutu civilians that an international court would be expected to prosecute as genocide crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1993 and 2003.

A growing number of international critics argue that these crimes in Congo are ongoing – like those Aloys Ruyenzi claims are ongoing within Rwanda – with impunity, because the perpetrators have never been tried or “brought to book.”

Harris says that if, as expected, the Dutch Parliament sustains its freeze on budget support to Kagame’s Rwanda and makes a strong statement as to why they are doing so, it could make an issue of why other European nations and the U.S. continue to prop Rwanda up financially, diplomatically and militarily.

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 anniegarrison@gmail.com. Charles Kabonero and Didas Gasana write for The Newsline East Africa.

Listen to KPFA News on this topic, broadcast Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010