Saturday, August 28, 2010

Political cost of standing by Kagame mounts by the hour

More than one million Rwandans fled into DR Congo, then Zaire, in 1994.

The political cost of standing with Rwandan President Paul Kagame mounts by the hour.

Here's a partial list, as of 08.28.2010, of world press reporting the leaked UNHCHR report mapping atrocities committed in D.R. Congo, which points to crimes which might be labeled genocide against Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese Hutus, committed by Kagame's Rwandan Army between 1996 and 2003:

Very partial list of the many outlets publishing the AP report, but here are a few:

Associated Press, World Service:

The final version of the report has become a political contest.  The Globe and Mail reports that UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon has argued for revision that eliminates the allegations of genocide against Rwandan and Congolese Hutus by Kagame's Rwandan army, after Kagame threatened to remove Rwandan "peacekeepers" from Darfur and Haiti.

What will Obama do?

As the political costs of standing with Kagame mount, many wonder, “What will Obama do?” On Jan. 20, 2009, all eyes were on the Washington, D.C., and the inauguration of our first African American president, Barack Obama. But Africa watchers were transfixed by the horrifying news coming out of Eastern Congo, as the Rwandan Defense Force and Congolese armies, the CNDP militia and MONUC, the U.N. peacekeeping force, emerged as a coalition formed to finally hunt down the FDLR.

The Telegraph’s headline was Rwandan troops enter DR Congo to hunt Hutu militias.

Few Americans noticed, not only because it was Obama’s Inauguration Day, but also because few could sort out the acronyms: Rwandan Defense Force (RDF), Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo or Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC), Congrès national pour la défense du peuple or National Congress for Defense of the People (CNDP) and MONUC (Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies en République démocratique du Congo or United Nations Organization Mission in Congo).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Rwanda: Lindsey Hilsum's Strategic Spin Concerning Leaked "Genocide" Report

Some journalists really are a disgrace to their profession. The perfect example today at Channel4:  Lindsey Hilsum. Off course Lindsey, there was a "strategic leak", Jason Stearns has explained that (which she fails to mention). The strategic leak has obviously to do with the fact that Paul Kagame's regime is accused of genocide and is trying to influence the final draft of the document. To avoid these changes the leaks have occurred. But Channel4's Lindsey Hilsum quotes a known and active RPF member from Rwanda, Rama Isibo, to spin the story  :

 "The motives for the leak have also been questioned by other commentators in Africa.
Journalist Rama Isibo who is based in the east African country, told Channel 4 News he believed the leak was strategic and a politically motivated move by the UN: "There's just a stunned silence here.At the time, there were several countries involved in that war, so why have they focused on Rwanda? My personal opinion is that (the report) was a counter-leak to take pressure off the UN which has been under a lot of scrutiny because of the rape story in Congo."
Lindsey Hilsum, let me call her the channel 4 spindoctor, obviously has an agenda, which we can read  later on:
"I have no doubt that the RPF tried to destroy the Hutus in DRC. But it accomodated those who returned to Rwanda. So is this morally equivalent to the Hutu extremists' attempt to wipe out the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994? Should "in whole" and "in part" be regarded as equally heinous?"
Apparently she is convinced that genocide is defined by public opinion and she is glad to spin it in the "right"  direction.

Jack De Vries Weer Terug?

In het heetst van de formatie strijd kwam ineens het volgende twitterbericht van de gevreesde spindoctor voorbij:
"Lubbers stelt dat zijn stem in het CDA zwaarder moet wegen dan van een gemiddeld lid uit de provincie. Hoezo belang (partij)democratie?."
Frits Wester nam deze lijn direct over en een aantal Maxime Verhagen secondanten  (Vroom bijvoorbeeld)  kleurden het plaatje "regenten versus gemiddeld lid" vlijtig in. Sindsdien zweeft deze "spin" rond. Zie bijvoorbeeld Afshin Elian's versie in Elsevier vandaag.

Jack de Vries suggereert namelijk dat deelname van het CDA aan een kabinet met VVD en gedoogsteun van  PVV onontkoombaar is op het moment dat het congres in meerderheid voor is. Daarmee worden vanuit de partijleiding potentiële dissidente Kamerleden onder druk gezet.

Er is echter binnen het CDA inmiddels ook een ander school waarvan de woordvoerder niemand minder dan CDA Senator Rob van de Beeten. Het Reformatorisch Dagblad schrijft:

"De keuze om het CDA-congres het laatste woord te geven stuit juist weer op groot verzet van CDA-senator Rob van de Beeten. Een congres beslist niet over coalitievorming, stelde Van de Beeten woensdag in een open brief aan het dagelijks bestuur van zijn partij. Het congres moet de afweging die elk individueel fractielid maakt, ten volle respecteren."
Uiteindelijk zal elk Tweede Kamerlid van het CDA de volle verantwoordelijkheid voor deelname aan een kabinet met gedoogsteun van Geert zelf op zich moeten nemen. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

KPFA News, 08.22.2010: Ugandan mercenary recruits in Iraq

Also playable and postable, as an audio here:


KPFA News Host Anthony Fest:
Earlier this week  the Pentagon proclaimed that the last U.S. combat forces had left Iraq.  This after an armored unit drove out of the country and crossed the border into Kuwait.  However, there'll still be 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.  An Iraq veteran turned war critic, Camillo Mejia, said that 4,000 U.S. troops who are leaving Iraq will be replaced by 7,000 employees of private military contractors.  Other observers say the U.S. has long outsourced the Iraq occupation to troops from some of the world's poor nations, such as Uganda, Angola, India, and Bangladesh, and that many of the mercenaries due to replace other U.S. troops will also come from those countries, especially from Uganda.   KPFA's Ann Garrison has the story. 

Ann Garrison for KPFA News:
The New York City-based Black Star News publishes many critics of U.S. foreign policy in Africa and Black Star's Ugandan American Editor Milton Allimadi is among the most outspoken critics of U.S. use of Ugandan mercenaries, elsewhere in Africa and in Iraq.  

Black Star News Editor Milton Allimadi:
This is not surprising.  It's a disturbing development and something needs to be done to really stop this because Ugandans are being victimized by the dictator, Yoweri Museveni, and now, in collusion with the United States government.  

And another reason why this is very disturbing:    

It's an extension of what the U.S. has been doing for a couple of years now with respect to Uganda---outsourcing of torture of people interdicted by the United States to Uganda.  And this was well documented in a report by Human Rights Watch that has not garnered sufficient attention.  

The report is called Open Secret; Illegal Detention and Torture by the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force in Uganda.  It was published last year, April 8 and 2009, and it says that the United States provided not only training, but also $5 million dollars for Ugandan security agents to torture individuals detained in Uganda, which is illegal according to the Leahy Amendment, an amendment by Senator Patrick Leahy, which prohibits U.S. cooperation or funding or training for any government that is torturing its individuals or committing human rights abuse.  

It needs to be investigated by the Senate and by Congress.  

KPFA News:
Black Star News contributor Michael Kirkpatrick has traveled in Northern Uganda, the war torn home of the indigenous Acholi people, and written about Blackwater, Dreshak and KBR's recruitment in refugee camps, otherwise known as Internally Displaced Persons, or IDP camps, which he first observed in 2007.  

Black Star News Contributor Michael Kirkpatrick: 
Back in 2007, I traveled to Northern Uganda at the invitation of some Acholi friends of mine.  This was an opportunity for me to see how that part of the country was rebuilding after a 20-yr. rebel insurgency.  While I was there, I met a young woman who was there from the British High Commission, and she was studying a local language, in the city of Gulu, which is the largest city in Northern Uganda.   And she was there to learn this obscure tribal African language because she needed to train translators in Iraq.  Well, I thought this was odd, that the Acholi language was being spoken in Iraq.  Well here what I learned was that there were Acholi, young Acholi men, being recruited by military contractors to go to Iraq and they obviously needed translators because these young men did not speak English, so they needed translators in Iraq to be able to instruct and direct these military contractor employees.     

I've come to learn even since then that the recruitment of Ugandans is a very common practice by these military contractors.  There are a lot of things going on in East Africa that require the U.S. presence there.  And currently, right now, there are recruiting stations in the capitol city of Kampala and there are regularly long lines of Ugandans waiting to get jobs.  

For Ugandans, this isn't an act of fighting Al Qaeda.  This isn't an act of justice or spreading democracy in the Middle East.  For them it is purely an economic issue.  They need the jobs; they need the money.  From my point of view, we are exploiting a desperate people. We're bribing them with money to carry weapons into a war that is not theirs.  

KPFA News:
Recruiting stations are private military contractors' stations or they are U.S. military? 

Michael Kirkpatrick:
They are private. They are not U.S. military.  They are not manned or stationed by U.S. military.  But believe me, the U.S. military is paying their bills. 

KPFA News: 
Kirkpatrick also says that private, for profit companies do not have to report casualties, or open their accounting books to anyone.  His report on the use of Ugandan mercenaries to replace U.S. troops leaving Iraq will be available on the Black Star News website later this week.  For Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I'm Ann Garrison. 

Afshin Elian Kletst Uit Zijn Nek

Afshin Ellian zal eens een geschiedenisles moeten volgen van de kerkelijke stromingen in Nederland. Het is namelijk uiterst irritant hoe het verzet  in Christelijke kring tegen Geert Wilders  keer op keer door Afshin en andere zogenaamde liberale rechtse schreeuwers wordt versimpeld tot een "Links-Rechts" tegenstelling. Laten we bijvoorbeeld eens kijken naar onderstaande quote van Afshin:
"Dominees van de Protestantse Kerk in Nederland (PKN) hebben elke onderhandeling met de PVV voor de vorming van een minderheidskabinet verwerpelijk verklaard. De linkse christenen zijn in rep en roer. Ze zijn boos. Ze zijn bang. Ze zijn verontwaardigd. Waarvoor zijn ze bang?  "
"De linkse dominees vechten de vorige oorlog uit. In de jaren dertig van de vorige eeuw kwam slechts een aantal dominees in opstand tegen de nazibeweging. Natuurlijk waren er moedige voorgangers en gelovige christenen die later gedurende het interbellum verzet hebben gepleegd tegen de nazi-overheersing. Maar het was te laat: de meerderheid zweeg, waar ze hadden moeten protesteren."
Het is natuurlijk heerlijk om een karikatuur van je tegenstanders te maken waar je lekker tegen aan kunt schoppen. In werkelijkheid gaat dit stukje van Elian (waaruit ik citeer), wat mij betreft, niet eens over moslims of Geert Wilders. Het illustreet de desinteresse die lieden zoals Afshin Elian voor de christelijke kerk in het algemeen hebben.

De christelijke politiek in Nederland is opgekomen in de tweede helft van de negentiende eeuw  en heeft dus altijd geopereerd in het spanningsveld van opkomend communisme, terwijl het zich, dankzij vooral Abraham Kuyper, duidelijk heeft onderscheiden van zowel  liberalisme als conservatisme. 

Om terug te keren naar het stukje van Elian, waar ik op reageer. Natuurlijk zijn alle delen van de Nederlandse samenleving diep beïnvloed door de Tweede Wereld Oorlog. De scheuring in de gereformeerde kerken in 1944 kan ik bijvoorbeeld niet los van de bezetting zien. (Professor Klaas Schilder werd afgezet door een Synode die te lang was blijven zitten.) De scheuring in de antirevolutionaire partij  vloeide daar rechtstreeks uit voort.

De manier waarop Afshin Elian in zijn stukje christelijke voorgangers en gelovigen daar uitlicht doet echter geen recht aan de werkelijkheid. Samenwerking met de NAZI's kwam voor in alle geledingen van de Nederlandse samenleving. Laten we alsjeblieft niet vergeten dat de liberalen en de sociaal democraten ook niet een erg overtuigende indruk maakten als tegenstanders van het nationaal-socialisme. Of wil Afshin Elian suggereren dat die stromingen het voortouw namen in het verzet? Dat zou pas nieuws zijn. Maar ik heb niet eens zin om die discussie te voeren. Want het is niet relevant.

Vervolgens kregen we na de Tweede Wereld Oorlog de doorbraak die zowel de sociaal democratie als de Christen democratie beïnvloed heeft. En dat alles in de context van dekolonisering en de zich verscherpende tegenstellingen tussen oost en west in de "koude oorlog".

Afshin Elian zou zich eens moeten verdiepen in de geschiedenis van de antirevolutionaire c.q. christen democratische politiek tradities. Dat is namelijk  als politieke methode niet hetzelfde als communisme, sociaal democratie of liberalisme. Natuurlijk waren christelijke politieke partijen tijdens de koude oorlog sterk anti-communistisch. Maar dat wilde toch nog niet zeggen dat ze anti-Islam of anti-migrant waren. Of wel soms Afshin Elian e.a.? De manier waarop Afshin Elian en andere Nederlandse opinie makers het etiket ""rechts" klakkeloos gekoppeld hebben aan de standpunten tegen migranten en tegen de Islam is niet alleen uiterst simplistisch, het doet vervolgens ook nog eens totaal geen recht aan de gecompliceerde werkelijkheid.

Afshin Elian zal zich ongetwijfeld bewust zijn, laten we het toch van harte hopen,  dat we in Nederland al sinds jaar en dag een antirevolutionaire politiek geschiedenis hebben. Als hij de boeken van  Groen van Prinsterer "Ongeloof en revolutie"of de rede van Abraham Kuyper "Maranatha" leest zal hij tot de ontdekking komen dat in die stroming de tegenstelling "links-rechts" vervangen wordt door een andere antithese. Ik zou Afshin Elian willen vragen waar hij deze stroming in het politieke spectrum wil neerzetten? In het linkse of in het rechtse vakje?

De vraag stellen, is hem beantwoorden. Wie zich beweegt in het denkkader van de antithese van Groen van Prinsterer Abraham Kuyper is niet te vangen in de oppervlakkige "links-rechts" tegenstelling. Het zou lieden als Afshin Elian sieren om ook die Nederlandse politieke geschiedenis mee te nemen bij het schrijven van zijn pamfletten tegen "linkse christenen".

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rwandan President Paul Kagame's "radical" move, or, how dumb does he think we are?

Does Paul Kagame think we're all stupid?  Or is he still counting on the West's ignorance and indifference to Rwanda and Western powers' manipulations there, and in neighboring D.R. Congo? 

How generous!!!  Rwandan President Paul Kagame's "radical move"!!!   He's offering to silence critics by forming a government of national unity with his handpicked opposition candidates and parties in the faux election that concluded with polls on August 9th.  That's no doubt better than assassinating critics, but since his critics now include Barack Obama and other western heads of state and foreign ministers, a new strategy, however implausible, was clearly overdue.

So, faux election, followed by faux compromise.  And, dare I say, Faux Truth and Faux Reconciliation? Faux Commission?   

Faux development miracle?  (One-third of Rwanda’s population now suffers from nutritional deficiencies, and life expectancy is among the 20 lowest in the world at only 44 years. -"When Foreign Aid Hurts More than It Helps," 

No mention, in news of Kagame's "radical move" of FDU-Inkingi candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, who remains under arrest and indictment, unable to leave the city of Kigali, or P.S. Imberakuri Party candidate Bernard Ntaganda, who remains in prison, or Democratic Green Party of Rwanda candidate Frank Habineza, who was not allowed to register his party, and, whose party vice president, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, was found beheaded in the wetlands of the Mukura River in southern Rwanda on July 14th?

Anyone else's intelligence insulted?  

If so, let's hope Barack Obama and the State Department, and their English, Dutch, Canadian, Australian, otherwise Euro, and European Union counterparts aren't going to come out cheering for this democratic opening and expect us to buy it.

Extra extra!  Read all about it; breaking "news" from the Africa Press Agency: 

"APA-Kigali (Rwanda) Rwandan President Paul Kagame in what looks like a radical move to silence critics questioning his democratic credentials has offered to form a government of national unity with the opposition candidates and their parties who lost to him during the recently concluded presidential elections, APA learns here Saturday."

Still The Model For Africa?

Paul Kagame reminded me somewhat of Dr. D.R.E.  while singing his "autocrat" blues "Rwanda's Democracy Still The Model For Africa " in the Finacial Times last week. These Rwandan elections have not been the "honeymoon"  he had anticipated based on all the praise he had received from people like Michael Fairbanks, Philip Gourevitch, Stephen Kinzer or Tony Blair over the last decade. Instead he was humiliated like a schoolroom sissy by Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero. The leader of the Spanish social democrats called him a "shaddy figure".  This public relations "meltdown" resulted in bloggers across the globe still asking long after the elections "Who won the Rwandan elections?"

STill, as in the US and in the Netherlands, an election is not just about who wins, but serves also to get an idea as to  what political parties stand for. And I think in that respect we can say that the world and Rwandans have gained a lot of information about the ideological "foundations" of the RPF.

Even if we just look at what Paul Kagame writes in the Financial Times we see some really valuable information emerging:
"Instead, they   (Rwandans) accepted political pluralism on the condition that parties would not operate at local level."
"It is a shame that some so casually disregard the views of the majority of Rwandans and prefer to elevate the dangerous opinions of fly-by-night individuals, which in turn threaten to reverse our hard-earned stability. "

 Dr. Thomas Obel Hansen has written an insightfull analysis of RPF politics which closely resembles Paul Kagame's article in which he quotes Aloysia Inyumba, the former General Secretary of Rwanda‟s National Unity and Reconciliation Commission and also a prominent RPF leader, who said:
“the ordinary citizens are like babies. They will need to be completely educated before we can talk about democracy”. 
Still the RPF apparently does not offer a path towards full citizenship for all Rwandans. You have the "elite" that knows what is good for Rwanda, and you got the babies. Still, I don't see a model for democratic development here. Let's compare this to the Philipines, to Mexico, to Ghana or Senegal. Still.

US State Department Lacks Consistency On Democracy Promotion

Dutch ambassador to Suriname, Aart Jacobi, reminded reporters Monday that Bouterse (who will head the newly formed coalition government) , was convicted in absentia in 1999 and later sentenced to 11 years in prison, would not be welcome in the Netherlands.

The US State Department put out a statement concerning the new coalition Government in Suriname, headed by  Desi Bouterse, which reads:

"We will be clear with the incoming Suriname government that, for good relations with the United States and the international community, we expect this new government to stand firm against corruption and respect democratic principles, human rights, and the rule of law," the State Department said."
It's a preposterous statement  for two reasons. Firstly, wether you like Desi Bouterse or not, he has certainly not rigged these elections. In Suriname free and fair elections took place and also: Desi Bouterse will head a coalition government.

Secondly, it's a preposterous statement considering the State Department's active support and propaganda for a man who has total disdain for democratic principles: Paul Kagame. A  war criminal who would be in exactedly the same situation:"convicted in absentia" (in Spain for much more serious crimes then those which Desi Bouterse is convicted of, were it not for his Presidential immunity).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rwanda’s Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza speaks to Women’s International News Gathering Service

 Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza

A complete transcript of my half hour interview with Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza for Womens International News Gathering Service, W.I.N.G.S., with an update on the Rwandan situation, is now available on the San Francisco Bay View, National Black Newspaper,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Maxime Verhagen Desinformeert Tweede Kamer

Tessel Blok, journalist bij Villa VPRO,  interviewde  op 10 augustus 2010 Filip Reintjens,  kenner van de landen rond de Grote Meren in Afrika en verbonden aan de Universiteit van Antwerpen,  naar aanleiding van de Rwandese verkiezingen. In dat interview (waarvan hier het transcript) doet Filip Reintjens de uitspraak dat Maxime Verhagen de Tweede Kamer  in zijn beantwoording van Kamervragen  op 30 juli 2010 met betrekking tot de context waarin de Rwandese verkiezingen plaatsvonden eigenlijk heeft
Het lijkt me voor de hand liggen dat Tweede Kamerleden de minister hierover aan de tand voelen. Na de verkiezingen  in Rwanda probeerde het Ministerie van Buitenlandse zaken op 17 Augustus via ambassadeur Frans Makken er toch nog een enigszins kritische draai aan te geven in een overduidelijk onoprechte uiting van "bezorgdheid" waarin je tussen de regels vooral bezorgdheid over de eigen reputatie leest.

Er mag tenminste aan de minister gevraagd worden wat de reden is voor de accent verschuiving sinds 9  Augustus. Wat zijn de nieuwe feiten? Het was ook al op 30 juli duidelijk dat er geen sprake zou zijn van vrije en eerlijke verkiezingen in Rwanda. Waarom heeft Maxime Verhagen de Tweede Kamer toen bewust  voorgelogen? Waarom heeft Maxime Verhagen bij de beantwoording de informatie van mensenrechten organisaties, kritische specialisten zoals Filip Reyntjes, maar ook de informatie hierover van Victoire Ingabire's UDF-Inkingi partij en Frank Habineza's Groenen niet meegenomen? Welke specialisten zijn wel geraadpleegd bij de beantwoording? Als de kamer dit gewoon laat gebeuren, kan Maxime in de toekomst  bij de beantwoording van vragen van Kamerleden wat mij betreft ook putten uit het werk van Godfried Bomans.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pascal Gahamanyi How Can You Stoop So Low?

Pascal Gahamanyi gets a full page in Andrew Mwenda's newspaper "the independent"  to write some fairy tales on what the RPF stands for. This is called propaganda of a very low kind. I hope those admirers of Andrew Mwenda will take note of this piece. And this is not the first article written in "the independent" that show that Andrew Mwenda's paper is in fact mouthpiece for the RPF.

It shows that Paul Kagame's RPF is not ready to listen to those in the west that are "concerned". Paul Kagame is ready to go forward with his campaign of propaganda and lies.  Reading several articles by African journalists I can imagine that Paul Kagame is buying journalists to write these distortions. Like he bought the "Kagame Cup" to gain popularity in east africa. 

Andrew Mwenda himself writes a piece  to say what?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bad Things Could Happen In Rwanda, Congo, Burundi

"The blind and the lame came to Christ at the temple, and he healed them. But when the high priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant." (Matthew 12:14,15)
During the ongoing Great Lakes political `Tornado Season`, we have seen numerous examples of what Jeff Jarvis might call :
"internet skepticism, which is really anti-populist fear of a loss of centralized control."
The reaction by one of the media ` high priests` , Alex Perry, to comments on one of his articles concerning the Congo war, serves as a good example. Especially his condescending attitude towards longtime Congolese activist Kambale Musavuli gives us some insight in this mindset:
"Kambale — that, I presume, is everything you know about the DRC in one post. Bravo, old boy. Such knowledge. Such erudite depth. Such spelling."
Mainstream media in western Europe and the US have over the last 15 years consistently been able to succesfully ignore the views of immigrants from Congo, Rwanda and Burundi concerning politics in their countries of origin. And the recurring theme to justify this attitude is oftentimes "Bad Things Could Happen". Thanks to Blogging and Paul Kagame´s `pyrrhic victory` we are now seeing a sharp paradigm shift. Allthoug, as Alex Sinduhije points out:
"political space is growing smaller and smaller as Burundi falls under the influence of the Kagame regime next door"
It's through respected Rwandan journalists like Olivier Nyirubugara  and François Bugingo that public opinion is finally ready to put the "Paul Kagame lovestories" by the selfappointed "highpriests" like Perry, Gourevitch and Kinzer into proper perspective. Through articles by bloggers like Zimbabwean Fambai Zvakanaka and polish Carmelite Father Maciej Jaworski  a realistic picture of  public life and politics in Congo, Rwanda and Burundi is emerging. On- and offline collaboration through events like the "Rwandan Elections" at the European parliament by bugesera or the press conference at the National Press Club organized by  Claude Gatebuke in DC illustrate that a strong web community of bloggers, activists and journalists is emerging. In order to take advantage of the existing momentum  frequent opportunities to connect community members to each other is essential. What are your ideas, if any, on this? How could this be achieved?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

KPFA News: Obama's National Security Council and the Rwandan election

Link for KPFA News audio:

The grisly beheading of Democratic Green Party of Rwanda Vice President Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, whose body was found in the wetlands of the Mukura River in Southern Rwanda on July 14th, is now mentioned in most all the accounts of Rwanda's 2010 presidential election year marked by arrests, assassinations, alleged torture, as the Rwanda Greens and all other viable opposition parties were prevented from registering and fielding their candidates. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chicago Public Radio's "World View" on the re-election of Rwandan President Paul Kagame

On Tuesday, August 10th,  I spoke to Jerome McDonald of Chicago Public Radio's "World View" about what was widely being reported as the re-election of Paul Kagame, though I made the point, as I had on Democracy Now, that the so-called election was really just a stage play with a few hand picked bit part players pretending to run against Kagame.   I emphasized, as I have again and again, that as a U.S. citizen, my overarching concern is the Pentagon's militarization of Africa and use of Rwandan soldiers as proxies on the continent and beyond.

The archive is available for listening and comment on this Chicago Public Radio page:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Democracy Now: Rwanda's 08.09.2010 presidential election

Listen at this link:

Guess who won the election, after running neck and neck with lead challenger Paul Kagame?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Victoire Ingabire speaks to WINGS, Womens International News Gathering Service

Audio interview link:

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza

August, 2010

Rwanda's FDU-Inkingi Party leader and presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza spoke to Ann Garrison, for Womens' International News Gathering Service (W.I.N.G.S.) in July 2010, near the close of Rwanda's 2010 presidential election year, on August 9th. Ingabire then was, and still is, under arrest and indictment for Rwanda's unique genocide ideology speech crime, with bail terms forbidding her departure from Rwanda or its capitol, Kigali.  Parti Social-Imberakuri candidate Bernard Ntaganda had been in prison since June 24 and still is. Democratic Green Party of Rwanda candidate Frank Habineza had been unable to register his party, and, several days after this conversation, his party's Vice President, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, was found beheaded, with his head all but completely severed from his body, in the wetlands of the Mukura River in southern Rwanda.  

Friday, August 6, 2010

Immigration and new media's impact on Democracy: Milton Allimadi and the Black Star News

Passport photo of Milton Allimadi, a Ugandan American graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and the Editor and Publisher of the Black Star News in New York City.

Milton Allimadi, in his investigative news journal, the Black Star News, offers an unusual forum for reporting on Africa, which is so little known to most Americans, including even African Americans, because there's so little coverage of Africa in the dominant American press, and what little there is is superficial or misleading.  

Allimadi's recent piece, "Will Obama Administration screw Africa, like all the rest?" compared the struggle for civil and political rights in Africa to those of the American South during the 1960s: 

This is abominable and harkens to the days when, here in the United States, elections used to be held in the Southern States while Black voters were either barred from voting, being lynched, being "disappeared," or showered with water cannons.

After reading this essay, I finished editing a radio interview for Womens International News Gathering Service, with Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, the FDU-Inkingi presidential candidate whom Paul Kagame arrested and prevented from entering Rwanda’s 2010 presidential race, which is now heading into its sham conclusion in Aug. 9 “polls.” 

I had to type up and read Victoire’s final statement, because my telephonic internet connection to her in Rwanda failed at the very end, so I introduced it, with Milton Allimadi's words in mind, by noting that it's reminiscent of the African American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the peace movement that was so much more active then than now:

"I want to be a leader of all Rwandans seeking political change which can help us overcome ethnic division, and embrace a new vision where people are judged on the basis of what they contribute to the welfare of their  country and not which party, racial, or ethnic group they belong to.  

I dream for a Rwanda where people gather around ideas and not ethnicity, a country respected for its value and not its military might."

As I did so, it occurred to me that Milton Allimadi and his Black Star News are examples of exactly what the Colored Opinions, the blog, was created to explore: "the impact of migrants on democratic development, at home and abroad, and the possibilities new media offer to migrants for democratic development."   In this case, a very positive impact.  The Black Star News, like the San Francisco Bay View, National Black Newspaper, and Global Research, is one of the few news sources that regularly features African voices, and news and analysis of the Pentagon's militarization of Africa, its use of African proxy warriors, and the foreign scramble for African resources, including not only oil, but also cropland, timber, hydropower, and the mineral wealth essential to modern manufacture for war. 

Election Rwanda 2010: Who will be allowed to run?

Ann Garrison's interviews Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza february 17 2010.

Avoid Simplistic Rwanda Narrative

The Dutch government claims Rwanda's elections are sufficiently "free and fair" and has therefore accepted to co-chair the Rwandan National Electoral Commission. So does Gaston Ain of the National Democratic Institute. It apparently all depends on what "Rwanda Narrative" you adhere to and how you assess the "Rwandan context". Norah Mallaney wrote a summary of a meeting on Rwanda's election organised by the National Democratic Institute June 14th, in which she explains why. Several American policymakers/lobbyist/experts voiced their opinions concerning Rwanda's civil society at this meeting. Norah summarizes the consensus at this meeting as follows:
"Kagame wants Rwanda to create its own identity and path to democracy, simultaneously serving as a model for its neighbors."
"Rwanda’s civil society is also an exception to more classic concepts of “civil society.” It does not fit a freely vocal, oppositional model nor does it fit with spaces for public interaction in government policy decisions"
"Through a decontextualized lens, the events (killing journalists, silincing political opponents) can be strung together in a narrative of “authoritarianism,” much like what we see in other one-party states such as Vietnam, Cambodia or China.But the reality is much more complex and fits less well with this somewhat simplistic narrative."
Nancy Welsh (National Endowment for Democracy) said:
“the very existence [of civil society in Rwanda] is a question.”
Gaston Ain (who works for NDI’s political party strengthening program in Rwanda since 2008): 
"repeated the refrain that international analysts and practitioners need to understand and respect the Rwandan context if they want to have any impact in nurturing the country’s nascent civil society."
However, precisely this "Rwandan context"  is increasinglly the center of heated political debate on- and offline. Paul Kagame encountered fierce hostility in Spain precisely because of this controversy. US lobbyists at the Atlantic council, instead of engaging Paul Kagame's critics in a fair debate, have tried to brand his political opponents  and those who claim that Paul Kagame's Maoïst revolutionarires are guilty of massive crimes against humanity and acts of genocide both in Rwanda and Congo, as "genocide deniers". It even seems the American and European friends of Kagame have tried to create a "fait accompli" by nominating Paul Kagame as co-chair of a UN group of "super heros" for the Millennium Development Goals.

Avoiding a simplistic narrative is exactedly what Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza has repeatedly asked for when she said:
“There was a genocide against the Tutsi, but there were also crimes against humanity, and Kagame doesn't like to talk about that.”
 If you want to have an idea of  what political debate in the Rwandan Context  looks like today, read this blogpost by Lydia, an American from Chicago and teaching in Rwanda:
"On my second day of teaching, my students asked me what I thought of Rwanda and after answering vaguely that I’ve enjoyed my time here thus far and that I am excited about the elections, I thought to ask them what they thought of their own country. Three students immediately raised their hands and began to profess their love for Kagame. One of them, a female student, became especially passionate when she discussed how people were previously defined and discriminated against by their height and the shape of their noses, but that these things were no longer important. She also talked about how women have been empowered since 1994 and that they now have more rights and opportunities to educate themselves and run their own businesses. I listened to the vocalized support of Kagame and commended the students for practicing their English, but my attention was not so much on the rehashed lists of Kagame’s achievements as much as the pervasive silence of the rest of the classroom. While the three students gushed their undying love for Kagame, I couldn’t tell whether the other students were silent because they were letting their peers express opinions with which they were in agreement, or whether they had reservations that they could not or would not vocalize."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dutch Government Helping Kagame Rigg Elections?

The Dutch Government Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen recently answered questions (google translated) in Parliament concerning Rwanda's election. (These answers were published online in Dutch on 30-7-2010).

The rush transcript shows that the Dutch government refutes claims by the Rwandan opposition parties of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Frank Habineza and Bernard Ntaganda that the process sofar has been rigged and since july the Dutch government is apparently co-presiding the Rwandan National Electoral Commission.

The translated answer by Maxime Verhagen which specifically refutes an important claim by the Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties states:

"The claim of the PCC that the independence of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) would only be guaranteed through the participation of opposition is not shared by me. The PCC "falls over" the fact that the chairman of the NEC is a member of the RPF. Neutrality, however, is effectively monitored by the co-chair, a donor (The Netherlands). The Netherlands is since July 2010  acting co-chairman of the NEC and as such co-responsible for setting the agenda and for bringing specific topics to the table. The NEC is directly involved in the process for the adjustment of the electoral law and also responsible for the electoral process. The NEC shall also ensure fairness of the campaign, for example by checking that the media focus on the current four candidates is distributed evenly. The registration of the presidential candidates was also done at the NEC. "
On Frank Habineza Maxime Verhagen states that the Rwandan Green Party  (my translation):
"wanted to participate without fulfilling all conditions, which is participating without holding a founding meeting. This is considered contrary to Rwandan constitution."
A statement that totally ignores the fact that the Rwandan government has made it impossible, through Kafkaesque measures, for the Green Party to hold such a meeting.

I advise those holding a meeting in August 3 in DC "Rwandan Elections: Implications for Peace and Stability in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region" to carefully read the transcript and to specifically adress the fact that the Dutch government is now member of the Rwandan NEC.

Has anyone in the world ever seen a foreign government be part of a National Electoral Commission?

If you want to read how Kagame rigged the 2003 elections, read here.

Paul Kagame Assassinated Archbishop Christophe Munzihirwa

Christophe Munzihirwa, Archbishop in Bukavu until his assassination by Paul Kagame's thugs in 1996, witnessed RPF crimes from very close range from 1994 to 1996 and informed the world:
"The world is stopping its ears because a larger ideology has been put into circulation, compared to which everything else is relative. Genocide become ‘ideological’ then works like a blank check that the current US administration has issued to Rwanda and Uganda to do anything they want to all the communities around in total impunity."
This last week we have seen a surge of articles in western media aiming to legitimize Paul Kagame's ongoing election rigging. Newsweek on the one hand gave a free ride to Rwanda's Foreign Minister to portray the regime in a very favorable light. The Guardian and Time on the other hand have published articles in which they try to put Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza's political party in a negative light without giving her a chance to react to their venomous slander and unproven allegations. Alex Perry has done so by intentionally misquoting her. Matteo Fagotto does so by quoting some anonymous opposition figure and concluding "The shortcomings of the opposition (he means UDF-Ingkingi) are undeniable".

Let me remind the readers that Paul Kagame is responsable for counter-genocide in Congo, as reported for example by Newsweek in 2003:
"For years, Rwanda mercilessly pursued Hutu refugees on the run in Congo. This campaign, still ongoing in some areas, amounted to a counter-genocide, but the World was unwilling or unable to stop it. During the overthrow of Mobutu in 1996, Rwandan troops systematically went to Congolese villages killing all the Hutus they could find. They massacred as many as 350,000 Hutu refugees, former U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State Herman Cohen estimates.
"The embarrassed USA and Great Britain are seeking a way out but are worried the removal of Kagame may interfere with the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or lead to another genocide in Rwandan and Eastern DRC" a Western diplomat in Kinshasa told AfroAmerica Network.
When all hell broke loose in 1996, the invasion of Congo by Rwandan troops disguised as Congolese rebels, Christophe Munzihirwa was archbishop in Bukavu . The representatives of the UNHCR had left Bukavu when it became clear that the attack by RPF troops was imminent, leaving Christophe Munzihirwa behind. Together with Spanish missionaries hee stood by refugees until 29 october 1996, the day he was Assassinated. Joseph Mukabalera has written a thesis on Christophe Munzihirwa work for refugees in Bukavu 1994 to 1996 at the ULB (Université Libre de Bruxelles). On wikipedia we read:

"Specifically during the attack on the city of Bukavu and the beginning of the massacres of Hutu refugees in South Kivu in the DRC (former Zaire) by the army of Paul Kagame. Officials of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had packed up, well before October 1996 and the attack on the DRC (formerly Zaire) was imminent. The first victim of this attack was Archbishop Christophe Munzihirwa. He had spared no effort to help refugees (since they had come into Congo in 1994). The night of his assassination, he had helped two tutsi trappist sisters to a place where they felt safe. The humanitarian and moral support by the Archbishop to Rwandan refugees from 1994 to 1996 had attracted the wrath of the RPF government in Rwanda against the catholic priests and brotherhoods of the DRC. This explains why Bishop Munzihirwa and Spanish missionaries were the first target of an armed commando when the town of Bukavu and the Hutu refugee camps were attacked."

Paul Kagame's RPF systematic assassinations of catholic priests in the DRC reminds us of the horrific crimes by Russia's communist revolutionaries in 1918

Those who claim peace in the great lakes region is served by revolutionaries like Paul Kagame have taken a wrong exit at some point. I am amazed that a Republican like James Inhofe supports a guy that has more revolutionary credentials then Che Guevara or Fidel Castro combined.

Or is it that liberal and anti-christian journalists like Alex Perry did not care about the fact that Catholic priests were butchered by Paul Kagame in Congo? That could be an explanation why Christophe Munzihirwa won't pop up in articles about Congo in English media.In French a book has been published about him by Joseph Sagahutu titled "Espérer contre toute espérance".

Josh Trevino, co-founder of Redstate, Chuck Devore's campaign manager (Republican) recently twittered: "It's probably past time for Paul Kagame to go". As Huckabee blogger during the primaries, I fully agree! Which reminds me of Mike's words when he made his candidacy official in New Hampshire:
"what makes this a great country is when its citizens take their responsibility seriously as citizens, and stand not because of the outcome but because of their hearts, their souls and what they truely believe is important for America."

Exactedly, that's what makes a country great, when citizens stand up, like Archbishop Christophe Munzihirwa, for what they truely believe in.