Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What News on the Ingabire Trial?

Is it just me, or is there no international or local reporting on the state of Ingabire's trial. I am not looking for a play-by-play akin to Casey Anthony's recently completed trial in Florida, but would like some updates or status reports or something. Anything.

I guess The New Times has not been instructed to report on the trial? And since independent journalists are all but silenced by Rwanda's Media High Council, I assume these folks are unable to report on the proceedings. Do we even know if journalists, independent or otherwise, are allowed in the court house? Or is it more simple than this -- Kagame's visit to France has eaten up all the available ink and column space?

I'd also like to remind the Rwandan government that its judiciary is on trial here as well. Is a little transparency to much to ask?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

16 Years under RPF Leadership, by Karekezi Eduard

Sharing this post, with permission of the author.

It is after a sour war of 1990-1994 that ended miserably with thousands if not millions of Rwandan people killed or had left the country, the RPF (the current ruling political party in Rwanda) took power. This human; savage and de-constructing act driven by human inevitable and irrepressible urge to come or cling to power left our society being the most wounded and shattered in the 21st century. Though many were left in a quandary without answers to causes and way forward, some still question the morality of this tragedy which uprooted our social bonds and left our society in tatters. Nevertheless this came to be a food for thoughts for political scientists, anthropologists, conflict resolution practitioners etc. as on the notion that management of post-conflict period can be influenced by how such a conflict ended. It has been crystal clear that when a conflict ended in a zero-sum style and an integrative solution to a conflict was disregarded, then the running of post-conflict period can not only be disastrous but also a seed-bed for future struggles. As the winning side tries to economically, politically and socially asphyxiate the losing one, the latter will only remain with a single option: digesting the defeat by smouldering inside silently. Thus in most cases while waiting for new avenues, survival strategies like total surrender to the winning party are crafted, and by virtue of being victorious, the winner takes all and subsequently pulls the strings. Here is Rwanda where we are.
Since the end of the abovementioned tragedy (war), activities have been undertaken in various domains. These range from infrastructure development, the fruitless and controversial reconciliation policy to toto closure (critical websites, newspapers, debates etc.) of whatever might have disturbed the political diet enjoyed by the ruling political party, the RPF. Aggressive population control mechanisms have been crafted. This is likely to be quickly achieved by the fact that due to unbearable living conditions, people are eager to get cash (10.000 Rfw (1.3 US dollars)) for vascotomy instead of searching for information regarding the policy and effects thereof. Deliberately designed vague and overarching laws were crafted to ensure that whoever dares to criticise the regime fits into a web of genocidaires. This significantly led one man’s meat (self-aggrandizment by the winner) being another one’s poisson (the loser being undyingly silent). Consequently goats (losers) are browsing where they have been tied (somewhere in prisons, refugee camps, rural areas etc.). To fully lock the nation, snippers were posted on the roofs by establishing a National Consultative Forum for Political Organizations in which all registered political parties are locked, and operate at the behest of the RPF.
Nevertheless, it is said that the love of a woman and a botle of wine are sweet for a season but last for a time, the RPF’s credibility recently began and continues to wear thin, the government needs to recalibrate its foreign policy and retool its way of dealing with external world. Wherever president Kagame goes and whoever he visits, we expect the unexpected flabbergasting, acidic stories for a president who has been receiving medals from some unwary leaders. Though he remains obdurate, president Kagame has opted for ‘school diplomacy’ whereby he would largely visit schools and students rather than heads of state who increasingly are becoming aware of his misdeeds committed inside and outside his area of jurisdiction. The unity between African diaspora is becoming more and more growing against him. With this in mind, he fully knows well that odds are stacked heavily against him. Indications are that the diaspora has handcuffed/dwarfed the regime’s drive toward self-posturing as benevolent and people oriented. Definitely this has been one of the causes for recurrent drought spell in Rwandan politics, and to that end, analysts suggest RPF has lost its ideological compass.
General perception on a case of General Kagame Vs. Ingabire
Once in history Lenin said that: “It is impossible to predict the time and progress of revolution. It is governed by its own more or less mysterious laws.” We used to follow from different channels about what this African woman stands for. But no one could gauge the bravery of Madame Ingabire Victoire until she, due to her psychological impulse to be and feel free, her belief that injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, decided to leave her country of exile and returned home to challenge the myths attached to RPF (of being a family for all Rwandese) by taking part in the largely criticized August 2010 presidential elections. Our sense was that the locked political space was going to be navigated. We thought it was the beginning of a genuine debate, constructive dialogue on the problems bedevilling our society. We appreciated her political acumen, her insightful thoughts. A new political dispensation was unfolding. However, it was a high-voltage political odyssey. Even though her philosophy on national reconciliation was irretrievably doubtless; sadly, she was arrested and re-arrested before presenting her political project to the electorate. While consuming this misfortune however, what we have to know is that in any field, professionals use tools to achieve their goals. Doctors use stethoscopes, mechanics use spanners, footballers use boots, teachers use chalk and blackboards etc. In the profession of politics, dictators use institutions to destroy their real or potential/perceived opponents; and subsequently score their political goals. The ruling political party here in Rwanda (RPF) is using the legal system as a technical tool against its potential political opponents. The judiciary system has become a willing appendage of RPF. The decisions of RPF politicians masquerading as judges, often of distant and confusing character, are indeed destroying perceived real opposition parties piece by piece. But equally important to note is that opposition leaders did not enter into politics to play second fiddle. These parties are, though not yet some registered, not led by dim-wit leaders. That is why the peoples of Rwanda think of being currently in a political quandary. In fact it is after realizing that unless it’s bent, a man cannot ride on your back, these pro-democracy took a decisive and uncompromising decision of telling the thruth the power. These pro-democracy, now in detention in one of the notorious prison known as 1930 have unwavering support of the entire population due to their thirst for truth, true truth and human dignity. These prominent opposition leaders are Mr. Ingabire Victoire the Chairperson of FDU-Inkingi a yet registered party along other key opposition leaders Mr. Bernard Ntaganda, the founder and president of PSI-Imberakuri (now split unto two, a move crafted by the ruling party), Mr. Ntakirutinka of UBUYANJA and Mr. Deo Mushayidi (PDP Imanzi) to name a few. The ruling party has used all instruments available to nip these rival political formations in the bud.
There is a German proverb which goes that if you want to kill a dog you must allege that it has rabies. This is what the RPF falsely has been using in order to justify the ill-treatment of prominent opposition leaders. They have been accused mainly of harboring genocide ideology. “genocide Ideology” has been an unimpeachable weapon of choice in its judicial arsenal. It does not need a rocket scientist to confirm that the circumstances under which Madame Ingabire Victoire, the chairperson of FDU-Inkingi found herself in is a result of having dared and called a spade a spade. This is well known by all and sundry. When something is right, it is right regardless of who says it, let alone how or when it is said. What we have to digest is that what Ingabire said on national reconciliation is unimpeachably true and therefore, realistically right. She put forward a clear framework on how solutions can be found to the problems that continue to smould our national psyche. Nevertheless, despite all these political tribulations, she remains the Rwanda’s most valued asset. Despite the suffering endured by these champions of democracy however, usually the unexpected happens. And it is said that the morning sun never lasts the day. Repeating what she said ‘time is nothing when there is courage and determination’. To end this, I would like to say that‘bitter pills may have blessed effects’.

Now dear friend, whoever you are, wherever you are, please you help is needed. People are languishing in prison because of me and you. You never know democracy has become a transboundary issue like HIV. Your voice is needed. We want to hear from you. Not today, not tomorrow, not……!!!!!BUT NOW!!!!!!!!

By Karekezi Eduard
Email: karekezieduard@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wikileaks: US Embassy on Spanish Indictments of Rwandan Officials

While I agree there is much wrong, and politically-motivated by the Spanish indictment, the analysis of the author of this cable shows that the US Embassy was not overly critical of the current regime....

"US embassy cable - 08KIGALI292

Identifier: 08KIGALI292
Origin: Embassy Kigali
Created: 2008-04-24 08:08:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.

DE RUEHLGB #0292/01 1150808
P 240808Z APR 08
C O N F I D E N T I A L KIGALI 000292



E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/24/2018

Classified By: Ambassador Michael R. Arietti, reason 1.4 (B/D)

1. (C) Summary. The Spanish indictment of 40 Rwandan military officers offers an unrecognizable version of some of
the most painful and violent episodes in Rwanda's history, distorting the established record, inventing mass killings,
placing the blame for any misfortune Rwandans have suffered (including the 1994 genocide) on the Kagame government. It is
a bloated political tract, sloppily organized and endlessly repetitive, and, ultimately, a disservice to those Rwandans who suffered real losses from revenge killings by the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), the armed forces of the Rwandan
Patriotic Front (RPF). End summary.

2. (SBU) Mission has reviewed an unofficial English language version of the Spanish indictment of 40 Rwandan military officers (several of whom are now dead) issued by Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles in February. This translations was produced by the Rwandan government; we are also in possession of a French language version of unknown provenance. While we do not claim extensive knowledge of the alleged abuses imputed to the RPA/RDF during the 1994 genocide or in the years before or after, we can offer a number of comments on the overall tone and structure of the document, as well as the overarching political theme offered by the Spanish judge.

3. (SBU) The thematic approach of the Spanish judge is evident from the opening paragraphs. The Rwanda Patriotic
Front was founded, according to the judge, not as is conventionally understood as a political organization of refugees, unable to return home and finally deciding upon using military force to do so -- to regain a homeland -- but as a criminal organization consecrated to the elimination of Hutu civilians, the raping of women and girls, abduction, and terrorist acts. According to the judge, the three-fold aim of this terrorist organization was the elimination of the entire Hutu ethnic group, securing of power by force, and the establishment of a Tutsi criminal hegemony over all the Great Lakes region. Those assisting the RPF-RPA included various western powers, principally the United States. In fact, the RDF operated as an instrument of American power, took
instructions from American officials in pursuing its criminal and genocidal assault on the Great Lakes region, and fought side by side with American Green Beret troops in Rwanda, the DRC and elsewhere in the region.

4. (SBU) To this entirely fanciful account of the origins and directing agencies of the RPF, we now turn to the judge's wildly inaccurate, not to say repugnant, description of the origins of the genocide and the carrying of mass slaughter of
civilians in 1994. At no point in the judge's narrative is the Habyarimana regime or extremist elements within that
government at fault -- there is no planning for genocide, no carrying out of prepared massacres, nary a mention of the
insidious and all-encompassing psychological preparation of mass killing by media outlets controlled by extremist
elements. No, in fact, according to the judge, everything is the fault of the RPA. If there were large massacre of Tutsis
anywhere in the country, it was the spontaneous reaction of an aggrieved Hutu population to organized killings perpetrated by the criminal Tutsi band of terrorists, killings intended to both terrorize the Habyarimana government and its Hutu supporters, and to provoke just such a reaction. If a moderate Hutu political leader was killed anywhere in the country (while the RPA occupied a small sliver of territory in the far north), according to the judge, in each and every instance it was the terrorist Tutsi
band of evil-doers, intent upon slaughtering moderate Hutu political leaders and attributing responsibility to the
Habyarimana regime. The larger goals the PRF/RPA had in mind in carrying out such actions, according to the judge, were to "demonize the Habyarimana regime," and "awaken and strengthen inter-ethnic hatred Hutu-Tutsi." In the judge's
mistaken view, the Habyarimana regime was a peaceful, law-abiding government, intent upon bringing good to all
Rwanda's people, if only left alone by the Tutsi hegemonists. The most casual of readings in recent Rwandan history would
affirm what everyone in fact knows: ethnic hatred was stoked for years by Habyarimana extremist elements; however, not for
for the Spanish judge, who apparently believes that ethnic hatred was never previously seen in Rwanda, not until the
RDP/RPA sought to impose its terroristic ideology.

5. (SBU) With a short acknowledgment by the Spanish judge that hundreds of thousands of the Tutsis did lose their lives, somehow, in the mid-year months of 1994 (no attribution of the killings is hazarded), we now arrive, courtesy of the judge, at mathematically stupendous killings by the RPA, following their "criminal" conquest of the country. Upon "usurping power" (from the genocidal rump government that tottered from place to place in Rwanda from April to July, 1994) massive killings began -- from July 1994 to July 1995, "312,726 people were killed in a selectively and deliberate way." The numbers have an interesting
precision: not 40,000 executed in Gitarama, but 39,912. Not 33,000 killings in Butare, but 33,433. The judge does not
explain how such precision was reached. The bodies were subsequently disposed of in exactly 173 mass graves, using
different "methodologies," such as hiding corpses, burning corpses, transporting them in trucks to undisclosed
locations, and using heavy equipment to dig massive communal graves.

6. (SBU) The judge then proceeds to the time of the insurgency in northwest Rwanda, and the sprawling refugee camps in eastern Congo. Again, any casual reader of Rwanda's history would know that Hutu militias, remnants of the defeated Habyarimana armed forces and the Interahamwe, fought tooth and nail with the RPA, and engaged in indiscriminate
killings across the northwest of Rwanda (the RPA engaging in revenge killings of its own, as the RPF itself acknowledges).
Not so for the Spanish judge. According to the judge, there were no attacks upon any portion of Rwanda's population by
Hutu militias operating out of the eastern Congo -- everything was staged by the RPF/RPA. For example, "There
were continued attacks on the Hutu civilian population using a new technique devised by the Office of Intelligence, to
simulate attacks against the civilian population by rebel infiltrators or (Hutu extremists), by attacking civilians in
the area of Ruhengeri." The purpose of these simulated attacks by the PRA, according to the judge, was to "justify a
rapid intervention by the RPA," and the accompanying slaughter of Hutus. According to the judge, the RPA fought
with itself, as a pretext to further planned massacres of Hutus.

7. (SBU) The judge then cites, at various places, various immense numbers of killings of Hutus by the criminal Tutsi
regime since 1994. At one point he cites 1.7 million Hutu victims (thereby doubling the figure of approximately 800,000
victims of the genocide), and at another, 4 million Hutu refugees and Congolese citizens, "the majority of them
Congolese Hutus." While we cannot evaluate each and every incident recorded in the massive indictment, and some may
well concern real killings by renegade RPA troops, we find these numbers, as well as those in paragraph 5, to be
literally unbelievable.

8. (C) Comment. The indictment is very long (182 pages in the French translation), badly organized, and sloppily
repetitive. The narrative repeats itself over and over, hundreds and hundreds of separate paragraphs, covering
ground, recovering it, re-recovering it, a Sisyphean retelling of some of the most painful episodes of Rwandan
history in outrageously inaccurate terms. The indictment dishonors the actual dead, while conjuring up legions of
ghost victims to blame on the Kagame government. There are episodes of revenge killings at the hands of the Rwandan
government, the RPA in the field, that have never been accounted for; yet the overall lack of credibility in the
judge's approach to events undermines his description of specific actions the Rwandan military allegedly committed.
This document does not move the squaring of accounts forward one iota -- if anything it is a disservice to those Rwandans
who seek an accounting for their losses at the hands of Rwandan government troops. End comment.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ingabire's Verdict?

The long awaited and much anticipated trial of Victoire Ingabire, the imprisoned de facto leader of the Rwandan political opposition, was due to start today. The judge adjourned court until Wednesday, citing the need for competent interpretation.

Yet, on Twitter, the Government of Rwanda has declared victory in the case, stating that it (not the prosecution) has documents to prove her ties to 'terrorist' groups in the region, and thus her guilt.

Nice to see the government being *this* transparent on its interference in the judicial system. I wonder what diplomats resident in Kigali might have to say on this. My guess is a muted response, particularly since President Kagame recently called international justice two-faced in reaction to the denial of visitors visas for several members of his delegation to France (or at least the timing of his reaction suggests as such).

While some people might find it a bit of a conceptual stretch to link Ingabire's domestic trial to Kagame's visit to France, what I think we are looking at is not justice, but rather fodder for Kagame's duplicitous actions vis-a-vis international criticism of his regime. Indeed, Ingabire's trial corresponds to continued demands from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others to revise and update the genocide ideology and ethnic divisionism laws. The timing of the two events is actually pretty crappy for continued government efforts to show itself as forward looking, progressive and ethnically inclusive. My sense is that we are about to enter an intense period of government propaganda that will further reveal points of weakness in ruling RPF....