Instability and political repression are increasing in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, as the presidents of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda seek to remain in power beyond constitutional term limits. Rwandan and Ugandan troops crossed into the Democratic Republic of the Congo this week, sparking fears of another catastrophic regional war. Burundi is another pressure point further destabilizing the region.
This week marked the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Kibeho Massacre in Southwestern Rwanda, where an estimated 8,000 Rwandan Hutu people were killed by Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Army. The same number of people were killed in Bosnia, also in 1995. Professor Ed Herman explains the politics of genocide manifest in media coverage of the 1995 massacres in Kibeho and Srebrenica.
Three presidents in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Burundi’s Nkurunziza, DR Congo’s Kabila and Rwanda’s Kagame, are all doing their best to stay in office beyond constitutional term limits. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, however, doesn’t have to overcome term limits because Uganda’s Parliament abolished them in 2005. He has already announced that he will run again in 2016, his 30th year in office.
In a recently published open letter to 60 Minutes, the CBS TV news magazine, former New York Times Africa correspondent Howard French expressed concern about the program’s “frequent and recurring misrepresentation of the African continent.” Dr. Edmund Lubega says, “As Africans, it would be good if we could organize ourselves and try to find means by which we can share and broadcast our stories in our own way, in our own words.”
The Oakland International Film Fest is one of the premiere events annually in the Bay Area. The 2015 showcase of films highlights a plethora of genres from all over the world. This year, some of the headlining films are: “Melvin and Jean: An American Story,” “M Cream” and "The Shop." To introduce this year’s activities we reached out to the co-founder and director of the Oakland International Film Fest, the one and only David Roach, for a Q&A.
Over the weekend the organization Friends of Victoire hosted an international webcast to strategize about how to free Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Ingabire has become an icon of freedom, democracy and peace since returning to Rwanda in 2010 to attempt to stand for the presidency against incumbent Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Loretta Lynch, Obama’s nominee for attorney general, has cited her service as special counsel to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda as a credential, unlike her controversial 2012 settlement with the HSBC bank after the bank admitted to facilitating money-laundering by Mexican drug cartels. Critics of the International Criminal Court and the dominant narrative about the Rwandan massacres dispute the account.
A widely feared and anticipated military attack by U.N. and Congolese troops on the FDLR has not materialized, despite U.N. Special Envoy Russ Feingold’s repeated urgings. Instead, this week, the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo rose up in the streets to demand that their Parliament not pass legislation allowing Congolese President Joseph Kabila to extend his stay in office beyond constitutional term limits. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has the story.
In January 2010, Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza returned from The Netherlands to Rwanda to attempt to run against sitting President Paul Kagame. She said she knew that she would be either assassinated or imprisoned, and she is now entering the fifth year of a 15-year prison sentence. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Marie Lyse Numuhoza, the founder of Friends of Victoire, a new organization created to fight for her freedom.
Potentially catastrophic military operations, authorized by the U.N. Security Council, may lie ahead soon for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The U.N. Security Council has urged the Congolese army to join U.N. combat troops from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi in hunting down the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a Rwandan refugee militia commonly known as the FDLR.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Air Force website reported a record number of bombs assembled and dropped on ISIS during the past three months. Ammo troops, it said, meaning troops that build bombs in an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, are looking to break new records. Their senior commander said, “In the last three months we have already built over nine times the amount of munitions that the last rotation did in their entire six [months].”
The First Congo War began in 1996, the second in 1998. The second war drew in all nine countries bordering the DRC, left millions dead, displaced millions more, and ignited conflicts that continue in the country’s mineral rich east, despite the peace treaty signed in 2003. Competition for Congolese resources can’t be stopped, but the massacre of Congolese people can and must, says Dr. Jean Didier Losango.
Former Wisconsin senator, now U.S. special envoy to the Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo Russ Feingold held an online press conference with members of the African press in Africa earlier this week. He said that the FDLR had not surrendered enough of its troops to satisfy the U.N. Security Council’s requirement and that military action was therefore required.
Rwanda and Uganda are threatening to send troops across their borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo yet again to, they say, eliminate the Hutu refugee militia known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR. Going after the Hutu refugee militia has been Rwanda and Uganda’s excuse for crossing into Congo for the past 18 years, since the outset of the First Congo War in 1996.
International argument over “Rwanda’s Untold Story,” the BBC documentary that upends widely held belief about the Rwandan massacres of the 1990s and discredits the authoritarian regime of President Paul Kagame, continues in the European, African and U.S. press. Earlier this week, Belgium canceled 40 million Euro in development aid because “Rwanda continues to fail to make any progress in the areas of press freedom and good governance.”
Berkeley Copwatch co-founder Andrea Prichett spoke to KPFA about justice for Kayla Moore and organizing for the long haul, to make police obsolete. Berkeley Copwatch has been taking action against police violence in Berkeley since 1990. The Copwatch organizing model and investigative techniques have spread across the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. This week Berkeley Copwatch posted a list of local campaigns to create real change in Berkeley.
The government of Rwanda has established a Commission of Inquiry to indict the BBC for the crime of genocide denial. In its recently aired documentary, “Rwanda’s Untold Story,” the government and its supporters have accused the BBC of bias and speaking only to one side. This week, however, when Belgian scholar Filip Reyntjens offered to speak to the commission in response to those attacking him for what he told the BBC, they refused to speak with him.
A Rwandan witness for a French court investigating the assassination of two African presidents, Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, in 1994 has gone missing and is reported to have been kidnapped in Nairobi, Kenya. The witness, Emile Gafirita, is a former bodyguard to Rwandan President Paul Kagame. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has the story.
In Louisiana, a federal appeals court has affirmed a lower court’s ruling that overturned the murder conviction of Albert Woodfox, the last member of the Angola 3 still in prison. The Angola 3 are internationally recognized as political prisoners and symbols of a racist system of mass incarceration and solitary confinement. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Robert King, the other surviving Angola 3 member. Here’s that interview.
Nov. 8, 2014, was the 20th anniversary of the creation of the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, and the court celebrated itself with a new legacy website and video tribute. CIUT-Ontario radio host Phil Taylor, a former private investigator for ICTR defense attorneys, who became a prominent critic of the court, called the video contemptible self-promotion and endorsement of Paul Kagame’s military dictatorship in Rwanda.