Sunday, June 27, 2010

Please help raise awareness about the political situation in Rwanda

As many of you likely already know, Rwanda is holding Presidential elections this August. In the run up to the elections, the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front, has done everything in its power to suppress the opposition. The situation is very tense. And is growing more tense by the day as dissent within the military increases, and the government opts for assassination as a viable option to control its opposition and critics. Of course, as the Swahili proverb goes, "When the elephants fight, it is the grass the suffers...", meaning of course that ordinary people are caught in the crossfire.

There are some very easy and powerful things you can do to raise awareness about the likelihood of election-related violence in Rwanda.

1. Call your Member of Parliament (Canada) or your Senator (America) to tell them you are concerned about reports of violent repression in Rwanda. Simply google your "Member of Parliament" and your city of residence in Canada and just the name of your state in the US. You'll get direct numbers and email addresses there. In Canada, call Paul Dewer's office, as he is the head of the All-Parliamentary Committee on the Prevention of Genocide (613-946-8682 or; or call the office of Senator Dallaire (613-995-4191 or 1-800-267-7362 or In the US, contact the office of Senator Russ Feingold, chairman of the Subcommittee on African Affairs (

2. Worried that you don't know enough about the political situation in Rwanda to call? If so, call anyway and ask your representative what the policy of her/her office on Rwandans upcoming elections is. If you think a simple phone call is not effective, public policy scholars have found that in Canada that politicians equate one phone call from a concerned citizen with the opinions of at least 250 constituents. In the US, similar studies show that elected officials consider one phone call to equate the viewpoint of as many as 750 constituents. So your phone call could indeed make a difference!

3. Get talking about politics in Rwanda. You can easily educate yourself with online resources like the Rwanda page on the BBC Africa homepage. Write letters to the editor, blog, repost this message on your facebook page. Watch Hotel Rwanda with your friends. Do something!

4. Share the idea of raising awareness with your networks and with journalists. We all know people who care about social justice issues both at home and abroad. Stand up and let folks in your network know that this is a pressing issue.

5. Still have questions? Get in touch with researchers like me (; 413.835.0156). I will share all my knowledge with you, and can put you in touch with other academics, human rights advocates, and other like-minded individuals who can share their thoughts and opinions on the current situation.

Please consider acting on this important issue. Studies have shown that one of the main reasons that the international community did not intervene early enough to stop the Rwandan genocide of 1994 was the lack of alarm. The issues simply did not matter to enough Westerners for their governments to act....


  1. Susan

    I usually read your posts with interests but I am a bit worried with your last two ones!

    It is good that you are encouraging your fellow canadians to get involved and to educate themselves about the situation to avoid 'emotional pleas that pass as analysis'.

    However, I am surprised to see that you are not doing what you preach!

    In the first paragraph of this post, you say that 'and the government opts for assassination as a viable option to control its opposition and critics'. To me, this is 'emotional pleas'.

    Trust me, I am not a Kagame supporter, however I do not think that this is the best way to deal with him. In fact, I think many people in Western world, including media are just putting every thing on him without any facts (re murder of Umuvugizi journalist)!

    I think we should stop being too partisan and give the government 'une benefice du doute'!

  2. @ the confused
    Do you think the Rugambage murder is not enough fact?
    If you are rwandan as i suspect, you must know that you cannot just shoot at someone in nyamirambo with the police, locol defense, military ... everywhere, without having a serious backing, and the only way to get that backing in rwanda is getting it from the security services.

  3. Very nice post.Non partsan analysis!!

  4. I do not hide my identity, I'm a rwandan if you want to know more about me. Thanks for your concerns about my poor country. I read your article and, it seems to me that, you want to show that the rwanda government failed to reconciliate rwandans. For that, I agree with you but to tell that the governement did not any thing about reconciliation is wrong. From your story, I feel that the survivor Jeanne does not even get interest in rwandans renconciliation and it seems like you approve her point of view. The other side, it seems to me that you want to use Jeanne deception as a proof to act against rwandan governement. I would like to read if you've not yet do, 'Life and destiny' a vassilli grossmann fiction where he was telling that when russian went to fight the nazi germany invasion, each soldier had his own reason. Probably, it's same to Jeanne even to you. But that is not the matter! the most for me is the future of that the country. I hope you travelled too much in rural africa country areas. The poverty you found in Rwanda is allmost same even less than other african countries which even didn't face the same tragedy or are not few ressources country as Rwanda. RPF has things he did you can't find in many african countries but let tell you that I'm not proud of rwanda government. Because, mainly, the lake of a true justice system and also the fact that RPF didn't get the vision of the political alternation which should help to overcome our historical tragedy. This was possible to be done peacefully. But I find that your activism against rwanda governement misses wisdom and objectivity.

  5. Pour moi, ce que vous dites revient à dire : en Afrique, et pas seulement au Rwanda, il n'y a pas de problématiques, il y a juste des bons et des mauvais. Et ils sont interchangeables. Les opposants "dont on ne connaît généralement pas les programmes" sont des victimes par principe et les gens qui ont des programmes mais pas assez "opposés" sont des suiveurs. Feriez-vous la même analyse aux USA ou en Europe?
    Est-ce qu'en Europe,ou aux USA, on crée un parti quelques mois avant une élection et on prétend que le président en place a tellement peur qu'il doit ligoter le parti? J'en doute. Généralement ce sont les partis qui ont acquis de l'expérience qui se hissent peu à peu au pouvoir. Pourquoi croyez-vous qu'en Afrique il suffise de s'inscrire aux élections pour retourner des masses qui n'ont qu'une chose en tête avoir suffisamment à manger.