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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.
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.
U.S. U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the U.S. State Department, the E.U. and Belgium have fiercely advocated for the deployment of 5,000 African Union troops in Burundi, whether Burundi agrees or not. Senegalese diplomat Ibrahima Fall, the African Union’s special representative to the African Great Lakes Region, told Radio France International that deploying AU troops without Burundi’s consent was “unimaginable.”
Both Rwandan and Congolese Americans and other members of the Rwandan and Congolese diaspora have for years asked the United States to stop supporting the military dictatorship of Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Earlier this week U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power called on Kagame to step down at the end of his term in 2017. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.
Five Rwandan political parties and organizations – Amahoro PC, FDU-Inkingi, PDP-Imanzi, PS-Imberakuri and IHURIRO-RNC – have united in a common platform. The platform calls for the unconditional release of all political prisoners, including Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, president of FDU-Inkingi, and Déo Mushayidi, president of PDP-Imanzi.
The Burundian army has been engaged by troops near its northern border with Rwanda and this week Aljazeera reported that young men in Rwandan refugee camps are being recruited to join a rebel force to fight in Burundi. Burundian Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe, speaking to The Voice of America, said that the Burundian government had asked the Rwandan government to prevent any action threatening Burundi’s security.
As Burundian voters went to the polls on Tuesday, the U.S. State Department warned that “elections held under the current conditions in Burundi will not be credible and will further discredit the government.” It also said it planned to suspend partnerships that it hasn’t already suspended with “anyone promoting instability in Burundi through violence.” Will those “promoting instability through violence” include the renegade Burundian military officers who staged a failed coup attempt in May, then fled to Rwanda and declared war on Burundi? Will it include Rwandan military and political support for a rebel force?
Rwandan intelligence chief Emmanuel Karenzi Karake was arrested last Saturday in London on a European arrest warrant. The warrant was based on a Spanish court’s 2008 indictment of Karake and 39 other top Rwandan officials for genocide – that is, the massacre of Rwandan Hutu civilians and refugees in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has the story.
On May 21, 2015, David Himbara told a U.S. Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing on U.S. relations with Rwanda that “the smallest administrative unit is 10 houses, and every 10 houses is watched by one individual, and as you move on, the whole state machinery driving fear is very well established.” KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to David Himbara, a Rwandan exile in Canada, who addressed the House subcommittee about how this climate of fear is created.
On April 22, 1995, 4,000 to 8,000 Rwandan Hutu people, maybe more, were massacred at the Kibeho Camp for Internally Displaced Persons in Southwestern Rwanda. The Kibeho massacre is one of many committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Army in Rwanda and DR Congo, but it is one of the most shocking because it was witnessed by U.N. Peacekeepers and well documented by at least two photographers, but no one was ever prosecuted for the crime.
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.”
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.
After becoming the leader of the Rwandan Diaspora’s opposition to the authoritarian regime of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Victoire Ingabire returned to Rwanda to run against him in the 2010 election. She was instead placed under house arrest shortly after her return and is now serving a 15 year sentence. This week the African Court of Human and People’s Rights agreed to hear her case on appeal, in Arusha, Tanzania.
A new BBC documentary titled “Rwanda: The Untold Story” upended the world’s basic beliefs about what really happened during the Rwandan war and genocide of the 1990s. The history that the documentary challenges is not legally enforced in the United States, as it is in Rwanda, but it is ideologically central to U.S. foreign policy. The bombing of both Libya and Syria were prefaced by U.S. officials’ urgent warnings that we must “stop the next Rwanda.”
Gen. Paul Kagame ordered the shooting down of the plane in which President Habyarimana and President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi, French citizens, and all others on board were killed on April 6, 1994. This assassination triggered the genocide. Since then President Kagame has imposed a reign of terror to keep himself and the ruling party in absolute power.
Paul Kagame has been touring top American universities giving speeches about what he calls accomplishments of his reign: peace, human rights, democracy, development etc. This is vintage Kagame. He has the whole Rwandan population under lock and key, assassinates and imprisons dissenting voices, and then goes to the land of his benefactors to taunt the West as if to say, “I do what I want; you can go to hell!”
While Rwandan President Paul Kagame was in South Africa to pay his last respects to Nelson Mandela, the Rwandan Supreme Court upheld the conviction of imprisoned opposition leader Victoire Ingabire and extended her sentence from eight to 15 years. As she left the courtroom, Ingabire gave her usual thumbs up salute and urged her supporters not to be afraid, because, she said, time and history are on their side.
Rwandan opposition leader Bernard Ntaganda is reported to be in perilous condition after going on a hunger strike to protest inhumane conditions in Rwanda’s Mpanga Prison, which is also known as Rwanda’s Guantanamo. Rwanda has been a close ally and military partner of the U.S. since President Kagame and his Rwandan Patriotic Front seized power in 1994.
Earlier this week, a court in Kigali, Rwanda found Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire guilty of treason and denying the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Ingabire’s daughter, Raissa Ujeneza. Ujeneza is a student of international and European law in the Netherlands.
"While we applaud the strides you are making in your humanitarian efforts, we ask you to reconsider your support of Kagame and his means of 'progress' and to use your political influence to encourage true freedom and democracy for the people of Rwanda," writes Paul Rusesabagina in a letter to Bill Clinton.