Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day Without Immigrants France

To protest the direction the debate on "national identity" is taking in France, tomorrow rights groups in France organize a "no work, no consumption day". The Day Without Immigrants: is organized through new media, France24 and globalvoices report. On Facebook this Day Without Immigrants allready has 70000 fans. A very interesting experiment in Europe, sofar immigrants have not been able make a statement similar to the Great American Boycott and the protests we witnessed in 2006 in the US. Alex Engwete has a post in French on this event.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Frank Habineza requests that the Rwandan Government guarantee his security

Frank Habineza, Chairman of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

On February 25th, after reports that he would be assassinated within 60 days appeared in Umuseso, a newspaper published in Kinyarwanda, the African language shared by all Rwandans, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda Chair Frank Habineza wrote this letter to the Minister of Internal Security requesting protection:

FRANK HABINEZA

           B.P. 6334 Kigali, Tel: 078 85 630 39,  Email: fhabineza@rwandagreendemocrats.org



25th February 2010

The Minister of Internal Security

KIGALI, RWANDA

Dear Sir,

              Re: Security Threat to My Life, Requesting for Protection

I would like to take this opportunity to draw your kind attention to very disturbing events that have in the recent past surrounded my daily life as the Chairman of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR), a party that, as you very well know, is yet to be registered.

Since early February this year, there have been several verbal reports about my imminent demise through assassination. At first I dismissed that information as ordinary rumours that form part of the occupational hazard of a politician’s life.  I had tried to ignore the various threats, intimidation, and harassment I have been subjected to, including those committed against our members since 30th October 2009.

However, subsequent events have forced me to reconsider all aspects relating to my security. Recent press reports published in UMUSESO No.396, of 22 Feb-01 March 2010, on Page two, reveal that there are people who plan to kill me in 60 days, according to reliable sources. I also have information which I can’t substantiate that there are planned robberies, beatings, grenade attacks, and harassment being prepared against my family in particular and other senior leaders of the party.  Other details indicate that we are supposed to be assassinated before the August 2010 presidential elections.

Similar events have happened to Ms.Victoire Ingabire. She was beaten by a mob at Kinyinya Sector in Kigali also in February 2010.

These security threats are preceded by an event that happened to me on 4th February 2010, while I was at Hotel Le Printemps, Kimironko, Kigali, sharing a soft drink with a friend Jean Paul MUDAHERANWA aka.   Suddenly, a certain person unknown to me approached us and greeted me in my names and then told me in a menacing voice, that they are watching me very closely and asked me why I was fighting them, yet they paid for my education. I reported the matter to Police on 5th February 2010 and on 9th February; i gave a full statement to Remera Police Station in Gasabo District.

In a country like Rwanda, which is supposed to follow the rule of law and try to be democratic, where a significant community is peaceful, these developments are very worrying.

The purpose of this letter is therefore to request you to use your good offices to verify these threats and, if they are found true, bring the perpetrators to book. I would also like to request you to ensure my security in particular and that of the senior leaders of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda and fellow opposition leaders in other yet to be registered parties.



I am looking forward to getting a kind consideration from you.



Yours Faithfully



Frank HABINEZA

Chairman, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda



C.C:

-  H.E. President of the Republic

-  The Right Hon. Prime Minister

- The Commissioner General of Police

- The Director General of National Security Services

- National Human Rights Commission

-  All Embassies in Rwanda

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sarkozy Urged to Confront Kagame on Rights Issues

Reporters without Borders urged French President Nicholas Sarkozy to address human rights, and, specifically press freedom, in Rwanda. 


Voice of America, reported 02.24.2010
http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Sarkozy-Urged-to-Confront-Kagame-on-Rights-Issues-85219612.html


Sarkozy Urged to Confront Kagame on Rights Issues

Media rights groups are condemning Rwanda's criminal conviction of three top journalists at one of the country's last independent news publications. The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders is calling on French President Nicolas Sarkozy to address press freedom concerns with his Rwandan counterpart during a watershed visit to the central African nation later this week.

The publisher, the acting editor, and a reporter at the private Rwandan weekly Umuseso were sentenced to prison terms and fines this week for reporting on an alleged romantic affair between two senior government officials.

Global press freedom watchdog groups, including U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists and France-based Reporters Without Borders, are slamming the convictions, which they cite as the latest example of the systematic repression of free press in Rwanda.

Earlier this week Amnesty International accused Rwandan President Paul Kagame of using vague criminal speech laws to suppress political opposition.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is arriving in the Rwandan capital Kigali later this week to signal a pivotal thawing of relations between the two nations.

Reporters Without Borders secretary-general, Jean-Francois Julliard, said his organization was urging the French leader to bring up the issue of press freedoms during his meeting with Mr. Kagame.

"We have sent a letter to President Sarkozy about the situation of the press in Rwanda, and we want him to speak about this issue and human rights in general with President Kagame during Sarkozy's visit to Kigali in a few days," he said.

Relations between France and Rwanda have been icy ever since the 1994 genocide that left some 800,000 dead in 100 days, most of them were Rwandan Tutsi. Kagame's ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front has accused the French of supporting the ethnic Hutu militias which led the slaughter.

Rwanda cut off official diplomatic ties between the two nations after a French judge accused President Kagame of ordering the killing in 1994 of Rwanda's then-leader, whose death served as the trigger for the ethnic bloodshed.

The two nations restored ties last year.

The three journalists were convicted for violating the privacy of government officials in reporting the alleged extramarital affair between Kigali's mayor and the cabinet affairs minister. But the three media workers say that the issue is a matter of public concern because a 2008 ethics law specifically forbids public officials from committing adultery.

Julliard says that the Umuseso weekly, printed in the local Kinyarwanda language, is significant because it is one of the few remaining private weeklies remaining with an independent editorial stance, which often has put it at odds with the Kagame government.

Rwanda ranked 157th out of 175 countries worldwide in a Reporters Without Borders 2009 press freedom index. Only three African countries - Eritrea, Somalia, and Equatorial Guinea - fared worse.

A recent Committee to Protect Journalists report on attacks against the press last year around the world also named Rwanda as one of the worst offenders of media rights on the continent.

The Rwandan judge refused to order the Umuseso publication completely shut down, as had been sought by the state prosecutor.

Rwandan political update, including claims of a plot to murder Frank Habineza


President of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Mr. Frank Habineza

Via World News Journal, 02.23.2010
Yesterday's edition of Umuseso published claims of an RPF plot to kill Mr. Frank Habineza.  A translation of part of the article follows below. This issues follows yesterday's Nyarugenge Primary Court ruling that handed various jail sentences to editors of Umuseso after they were found guilty of defaming and invading the privacy of Cabinet Affairs Minister Protais Musoni. They will be allowed a chance to appeal. Charles Kabonero, the former Managing Editor and his predecessor, Didas Gasana, were given one-year and six months jail sentences respectively. They were also each ordered to pay a fine of 1 million Rwf. Richard Kayigamba was sentenced to six months and a fine of 1 million Rwf in a verdict that was pronounced in the absence of all defendants. The Rwandan government has threatened to close the newspaper permanently. While the paper has been accused many times of defamation and publication of inflammatory articles by various Rwandan officials, Reporters Without Borders has documented the Rwandan Government's repeated oppression of Umuseso and shown the government has often violated the right of freedom of speech to independent Rwandan periodicals in general. The well-known organization ranked Rwanda as one of the worst countries in the world for press freedom. Last year, they ranked 157th out of 175 countries and is the 4th worst country in Africa.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UMUSESO NEWSPAPER No.396 of 22nd February-01 March 2010

BAD PLANS-HABINEZA TO BE KILLED IN 60 DAYS

Translation of some text from Page 2.

………………. While Victoire Ingabire is in the process of being sent to prison, another opposition politician Mr.Frank HABINEZA will be killed within 60 days.

One of the security operatives who gave us the information had this to say Frank is going to be killed within 60 days, they have no case against him. They can’t charge him with harboring genocide ideology.

They have been trying to frame him up but have not yet succeeded, yet he is the one fully supporting (giving courage) to Victoire Ingabire.

Frank Habineza, who was physically threatened by an unknown person while at a Kigali Hotel known as Le Printemps admits having received this information but says he does not believe that this Government can do such a thing “I do not believe that RF can stoop so low by killing a person just simply because he/she has different views, but from what aim hearing anything is possible”

Arrangements are being made to kill Frank Habineza, the party he is leading is at road blocks, still struggling to get registered.

ICTR Accused and Political Prisoners in Arusha Respond to the Mutsinzi Report


Posted 02.24.2010, via World News Journal.

ICTR Accused and Political Prisoners in Arusha Respond to the Mutsinzi Report.
Arusha, 18 February 2010

(Edited by Michael Collins)

ICTR Detainees
United Nations Detention Facility (UNDF)
Arusha, Tanzania

The President of the UN Security Council,
The UN Secretary General,
The President of the ICTR,

Subject: An independent inquiry into and prosecution of the
perpetrators of the terrorist attack against the airplane of Rwandan
President Juvénal Habyarimana on 6th April 1994.

Your Excellencies,

We, the undersigned detainees of the ICTR, have the honor of sending
you, herewith attached, our reaction to the report by a Committee[1]
established by the Rwandan government to investigate the attack on
President Habyarimana’s airplane. As you will notice, we have
demonstrated, on the basis of evidence, the falseness of the report
produced by this so-called independent Committee.

Actually, this committee of Experts, composed of eminent RPF members,
was given, by the current President of Rwanda, General Paul Kagame,
the mission of fabricating exculpatory evidence in order to absolve
him and his henchmen, who took part in the murders of the Heads of
State of Rwanda and Burundi, seven of their collaborators, as well as
the three French crew members of the presidential Falcon 50 airplane.
This Committee was also put in place to block the international arrest
warrants issued by the French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière after his
eight year inquiry into the terrorist attack of 6 April 1994. In the
Mutsinzi Report, we see the RPF’s final attempt to completely silence
the truth of its responsibility in the Rwandan tragedy, in general,
and in the assassination of President Habyarimana, in particular.

Given its creator, its composition, and its real mission, the Mutsinzi
Committee can hardly be independent. It can not produce an objective
report because from the first outline of its methodology, it
considered a priori that the RPF is innocent and reflexively charged
“the Hutu extremists within the former regime” with being the
perpetrators of the attack. This is the postulate that prevailed
throughout the drafting of the report.

Aside from Paul Kagame’s sycophantic admirers, most commentators, from
the moment it was published, described the Mutsinzi Report as partial.
Prof. Filip Reyntjens, the Belgian researcher, said that “it is an
opportunistic political report of highly dubious quality.”[2] Belgian
Colonel Luc Marchal, former UNAMIR officer and the Commander of the
Kigali Sector, said: “We had the feeling of having been an audience to
a parody of an investigation, the script of which had been written in
advance.”[3]

In the long preliminary section about its methodology, the Mutsinzi
Committee indicated that it interviewed a large number of witnesses
and read hundreds of documents from different sources, including those
available from the ICTR. Actually, after reading the report, one
discovers that the Mutsinzi Committee systematically excluded all
relevant witnesses and documents that were likely to contradict its
postulate.[4]

Concerning the motive and circumstances of the attack, the Mutsinzi
Committee did not hesitate to repeat, in its conclusions, the outdated
theory of a planned genocide of the Tutsi by the former regime, a
theory the ICTR Prosecutor has failed, up to now, to demonstrate
despite his tremendous efforts and the vast material means at his
disposal.[5]

With regard to the technical part of its report, the Committee
commissioned a pair of British experts to clarify two points: i.e., to
determine the place from where the airplane was fired on, and to
identify the type of weapon fired on the airplane. Concerning the
place from where the missiles were fired, the two experts were content
to read testimony handed to them by the Committee. Without any
critique or cross-checking, they concluded exactly what the Committee
wanted them to conclude. However, the Committee had excluded all
testimony given by the local residents of Masaka and Kanombe that did
not support its theory. With respect to the identification of the
weapon that was used to perpetrate the crime, the British experts
brought nothing substantial to the Mutsinzi Committee. In short, one
must conclude that the report of the two British experts is rather
fanciful. It is colored by a troubling feebleness that suggests a
complicity in the lies and intoxication of public opinion. In our
Reaction to the Mutsinzi Report, we demonstrate clearly that the
missiles were fired from the Masaka farm and that those missiles were
part of the RPF arsenal.[6]

In our reaction, we looked particularly into those responsible for
the attack. Our conclusion is irrevocable: in the face of Judge
Bruguière’s overwhelming evidence against Kagame and his accomplices
in the attack of April 6, 1994, the Mutsinzi Committee has made every
possible effort to fabricate elements that might impede, however
momentarily, the French judicial proceedings. The publication of the
Mutsinzi Report fits right into the political stratagem launched by
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner with an aim toward renewing
diplomatic relations between Paris and Kigali. As Professor Filip
Reyntjens[7] quite aptly stated, it is frightening that justice can be
so cynically sacrificed on the altar of politics.[8]

The Mutsinzi Committee indicates, without credible basis, that some of
those under indictment at the ICTR are the perpetrators of the attack
against President Habyarimana’s airplane.[9] These false accusations
are nonsense. All those named by the Committee have been in the
custody of the ICTR Prosecutor for many years. Despite the fact that
the attack against President Habyarimana’s airplane is regarded by the
international community as the event that triggered the genocide, the
Prosecutor has never charged any of them with that attack. On the
contrary, he has continuously avoided arguments on this important
factor in the Rwandan tragedy. By so doing, he has prevented the ICTR
Judges from hearing evidence in the case. It is in the same attitude
that the Prosecutor vehemently opposed the oral motion recently filed
by the defense for Joseph Nzirorera in Trial Chamber III, on 18
January 2010.

Since the memorandum on the assassination of President Habyarimana
sent you in a letter dated 3 June 1999, the ICTR detainees have
constantly reminded you, in their numerous correspondences, of the
necessity for an independent inquiry into this terrorist attack.
Various commissions of inquiry created to look into the tragic events
in Rwanda 1994 have issued recommendations to that effect.[10]

Whereas they have been called upon many times to investigate the
assassination of President Habyarimana, the ICTR Prosecutors
invariably claimed that this terrorist attack does not fall within
their mandate. This position was once again strongly affirmed by ICTR
Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow at the Symposium on the ICTR held in
Geneva from 9 to 11 July 2009:

“All the Prosecutors, I believe, have taken a similar position with
regard to the
shooting down of the aircraft, and this is that it is not a matter
which falls within
the mandate of the ICTR.” [11]

However, there is a notable exception: Mme Carla Del Ponte was
dismissed from her position as ICTR Prosecutor because she had
expressed an inclination to prosecute the RPF, notably on the basis of
the investigation conducted by the French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière.
Previously, she had publicly stated:

“If it is the RPF that shot down the plane, the history of the
genocide must be rewritten.”

ICTR Prosecutor Hassan B. Jallow put a stop to all the inquiries that
might implicate Kagame and his henchmen. Obviously, he takes advantage
of the indifference of the UN toward the assassination of two sitting
Heads of State. However, the UN Security Council did not hesitate a
single moment in setting up commissions of inquiry into the
assassinations of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri or
the former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Various independent personalities and NGOs have continuously denounced
the impunity granted by the ICTR to RPF members responsible for
serious violations of international humanitarian law. They rightly
consider that such impunity irreparably compromises the reconciliation
of the Rwandan people.

Therefore, we fervently request that an inquiry by a genuinely
independent commission be initiated to determine those responsible for
the 6 April 1994 attack carried out in an area under UNAMIR control,
and that the perpetrators be duly prosecuted. This is the only way to
counter the dictatorial Kagame regime’s last desperate attempt to bury
the truth of the RPF’s responsibility in the Rwandan tragedy. Should
the ICTR not be willing to deal with this matter that falls well and
truly within its jurisdiction, the UN Security Council and the UN
General Assembly are duty bound to come up with a mechanism for
entrusting the case to another independent international tribunal.

Yours sincerely,
The signatories: [See the attached list.]

Notes:
[1] Independent Committee of Experts charged with the investigation
into the crash on 06/04/1994 of the Falcon 50
aircraft, registration number 9XR-NN. That Committee was created by
Prime Ministerial Decree no. 07/03 of
16/04/2007 (hereinafter called Mutsinzi Committee).

[2] Filip Reyntjens : Rwanda : Analyse du Mutsinzi Report sur
l’attentat contre l’avion présidentiel, p. 25 [non official translation]

[3] Rwanda: Analysis of the MUTSINZI Report By Luc Marchal & The
Collective for the Truth [translated from French by CirqueMinime/
Paris], January 31, 2010.

[4] We demonstrated this manipulation in Sections 2 and 3 of our
Reaction to the Mutsinzi Report.

[5] We demonstrated the falseness of these allegations made by the
Mutsinzi Committee on that subject in Section 1 of our Reaction to the
Mutsinzi Report.

[6] See Sections 2 and 3 of our Reaction to the Mutsinzi Report.

[7] Filip Reyntjens : Rwanda : Analyse du Rapport Mutsinzi sur
l’attentat contre l’avion présidentiel.

[8] The visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Kigali, scheduled for 26
February 2010, will mark the normalization of diplomatic relations
between the two countries.

[9] These individuals are : Théoneste Bagosora, Anatole Nsengiyumva,
Aloys Ntabakuze, François Nzuwonemeye, Joseph Nzirorera and Matthieu
Ngirumpatse.

[10] The Special Rapporteur of United Nations Committee for Human
Rights, Mr. René Degni Segui (Report of 28/08/1994), the Commission of
Experts (Report of 09/12/1994), the Inquiry Commission of the Senate
of Belgium, the Information Commission of the French Parliament and
the International Group of Prominent Personalities designated by OAU.

[11] Geneva Symposium, Session 5, p. 12.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

San Francisco Bay View, National Black Newspaper, now in French and more

 The "San Francisco Bay View, National Black Newspaper," based in San Francisco, California, U.S.A., is one of the few publications in the United States that makes an effort to cover the African Continent and Diaspora.  During the Copenhagen climate talks, it published 'We Stand with Africa'; Africa Group shuts down climate talks," one of many reports in its "Africa and the World" section. 

This week the Bay View published a collection of my own online and radio reports on Rwanda's 2010 election, under the headline "Rwandan opposition parties condemn grenade attacks in Kigali."

And, this week they  added a translation button, just beneath the headline on each article, offering a long list of auto translation options, including of course French, the European language that most Rwandans speak more readily than English, although English became the official business language of Rwanda, after English speaking General Paul Kagame led the English speaking Rwandan Patriotic Front Army to power in 1994.  

Machine translations are of course funky and flawed, often downright comical, but, the funky flaws are usually obvious, and the machine translations generally communicate a report's essential meaning nevertheless.

Unfortunately, the translation button doesn't include an option for Kinyarwanda, the African language shared by all Rwandans, Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa, probably because such a button is not yet available, but it does include Kiswahili, Afrikaans, and quite a few languages I don't immediately recognize. 

A French translator is helping me create English-to-French annotation translations for my news videos about Rwanda, posted to the Youtube, and they're not quite done, but, given the French/English language competition still being negotiatied in Rwanda, I wanted to announce the addition of this translation button right away.




Huckabee Rips CPAC

Huckabee is a distinct voice within the Republican party and he intends to keep it that way. A good analysis of the lingering division in the GOP.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza home safe



FDU-Inkingi, 02.22.10
http://www.fdu-rwanda.org/fr/rwanda/detail/article/i-am-home-and-safe/index.html





PRESS RELEASE 
Kigali 22 February 2010

I am home and safe.

This morning my political organisation, FDU-UDF INKINGI informed the national and international community about my request for a temporary refuge. It’s true I was for many hours today inside the British High Commission in Kigali. We discussed the current political situation in Rwanda and threats to opposition leaders and I still expect that all the stakeholders will do the utmost for a peaceful democratisation of Rwanda.

However, the police harassment is still on the agenda because the CID persistently summoned for fresh questioning this evening. I like to make it public, that from now on during this night and all next police interrogations; I will, if necessary,  use my constitutional right to silence until my case is taken to a court of law.

Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza
Chair, UDF INKINGI.

Rwanda Election 2010: voices of Frank Habineza and Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza

 
Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza, presidential candidate of the Rwandan FDU-Inkingi Party expects to be arrested after interrogation by Rwandan Police on February 22, 2010, or within the next week.


February 21, 2010 net radio report on heightening tension and violence leading up to Rwanda's scheduled August 2010 presidential election:


To urge press coverage, contact;

Democracy Now, +1 (212) 431-9090, http://www.democracynow.org/contact
New York Times, Nicholas Kristof, http://www.nytimes.com/gst/emailus.html



Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rwandan presidential aspirants given 26 days to register and campaign

On February 19, 2010, parties planning to enter Rwanda's 2010 presidential election against incumbent Paul Kagame were given eight days to register their candidates, between June 26th and July 2nd, followed by 18 days to campaign throughout Rwanda, and told to keep it to themselves, in accordance with the law, and not engage in politics outside that 26-day time frame.

From Agence de Presse Africaine,



Accueil du site > Home > Election > Rwandan presidential aspirants given 26 days to register, campaign

Rwanda-elections-politics
Rwandan presidential aspirants given 26 days to register, campaign

APA-Kigali(Rwanda)

vendredi 19 février 2010, par modou
Aspirants for the forthcoming presidential polls in Rwanda have been given 26 days to declare their candidature and carry out campaigns before the polls day on August 9, APA has learnt.

According to the electoral calendar made public Thursday evening, presidential candidates are supposed to declare their candidature between June 24 and July 2 while campaigns will officially begin July 20 to August 8.

Registration and approval of candidates was given 8 days while the act of campaigning was strictly allocated 18 days.

The Chairman of the National Electoral Commission, Professor Crysologue Karangwa told APA Friday that the eighteen days were enough for a serious presidential aspirant to go around the country of thirty districts campaigning.

"Eighteen days are enough for a serious presidential candidate to cover the country, we do not expect them to visit every village or district in the country by themselves, they have supporters who should help in campaigns," Karangwa said.

In the remaining less than four months those wishing to stand for presidency were advised to keep it to themselves as in accordance to the law.

"Before the said dates, those planning to declare their candidature should abide by the law and wait. According to the electoral law no political activities are expected before the approval of candidates," Karangwa said.

This will be the second presidential election to be held after an eight-year provisional government that ran from 1995 to 2003 walking the country out of the political crisis triggered by 1994 genocide.

The first presidential elections were held in 2003 seeing the incumbent President Paul Kagame in power.

Rwandan constitution allows a presidential term of seven years with the incumbent expected to serve not more than two terms.

The electoral calendar was announced at a time when the constitution is under amendments where a clause on presidential elections is to be amended.

The clause says any one aspiring to be presidential candidate is expected to be in the country by the time of declaration of their candidature.

Karangwa said Rwandan government will foot 60% of the over 10 million dollar electoral budget, the remaining 40% is expected from the national budget and international community based on bilateral relations of the donor countries.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Probably Past Time For Paul Kagame To Go

Today, while twitterers across the globe were diligently retweeting the Rwandan Government tweet: "Three grenade explosions occurred in Kigali on Friday evening, resulting in one death and thirty injuries", one lonely twitterer went upstream: Josh Treviño, communications director for U.S. Senate candidate (R) Chuck DeVore (California): "So this Rwanda story breaking now reminds me: it's probably past time for Paul Kagame to go." It actually got quite interesting when he got the impression that I accused him of racism for not being a Kagame fan.

This short conversation illustrates the fact that the critics of Kagame's autocratic rule have gone mainstream in the US. How much longer will the US political elite in Washington be able to resist this major shift in public opinion about their "beacon of hope" in Africa? The words from Richard Durbin (number two in the US Senate's Democrat majority) show that the US administration desperately needs to see results and progress concerning the unresolved FDLR (the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) issue.

Richard Durbin stated last monday in a visit to Goma, that:
"The question of FDLR should be resolved both by the Congolese government, Rwandan government and the international community."
The Illinois senator, who is close to President Barack Obama, suggested that Rwanda should publish the names of FDLR fighters accused of violating human rights.
"Opportunity should be given to people who were not involved in horrific crimes to go back to Rwanda. There are some who have already been back to Rwanda. They live quite well, because they were not involved in horrific crimes,"
Durbin said.

Sofar Kigali has not responded to Richard Durbin's request, what Kagame did do was publish the article on The New Times website without proper exegesis.

However if you take a closer look you will notice that the statement contains a strong message. A message that comes close to what Kris Berwouts, said on february 10th in a interview with Jason Stearns:
"We consider the FDLR problem as political, so the solution needs to be political as well. We have no taboos about a military dimension, but only when it’s focused, and when it’s part of a broader political approach. A military solution does not exist. But the chances for a diplomatic approach to succeed will also depend on Rwanda: today, the outlook is gloomy as far as democratic participation, guaranteed human rights and socio-economic opportunities are concerned. Yet if the FDLR combatants are to return home, they need to be sure that they can live in future in peace and dignity. A huge stumbling block comes from the fact that an entire community is blamed for the genocide. The génocidaire label is applied to a whole group and not to individuals. The only way to make progress on this question is to be more explicit as to which persons are to blame and of what they are accused. "
Apparently Kagame doesn't see the writing on the wall.

Rwanda News Agency reports arrests for Kigali bombing; government blames interahamwe

The state run Rwanda News Agency published this report that Rwandan Police have arrested two men and that they have claimed, within less than 24 hours that "all the evidence" points to the guilt of the Interahamwe.

Interahamwe accused by Govt. of grenade blasts  

"By RNA Reporter
 
Saturday, 20 February 2010 12:42

Kigali: Police is holding two men alleged to be behind the three grenade blasts in Kigali on Friday evening – and already knows which group exactly is behind the blasts, RNA reports.

At around 19:40, three blasts rocked three different but very busy areas of Kigali leaving one person dead and more than 30 others injured. The first grenade exploded at Rubangura area close to a new magnificent skyscraper under construction.

Another grenade went off just minutes later at the popular Chez Venant restaurant, about 400 meters from the first blast scene. Chez Venant is popular with foreigners and the local rising income class. As news started flowing about the attacks, it emerged that another bomb had gone off at the Nyabugogo bus and taxi park.

All the three places attacked are busy at the time the blasts happened, as public taxis pack there. Residents of Kigali board taxis to different places around these areas – which explains the large number of the injured.

Police is already pointing fingers. There is no doubt that the interahamwe are behind this terrorist act targeting innocent people, said Police Spokesman Superintendent Eric Kayiranga. “They are continuing with their plan from 1994 to kill innocent people.”

He said two men had been arrested immediately at one of the scenes, adding that “all the evidence” shows the interahamwe are behind.

The Interahamwe are the Rwandan rebels fighting in DR Congo, under the name of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Some of the rebels are accused by government of taking part in the 1994 Tutsi massacres."

Rwandan opposition parties condemn grenade attacks in Kigali



Update on the grenade attack in Kigali, Rwanda, on the night of February 19th, 2010, condemned by Rwanda's coalition of opposing parties early the next morning:


Digital Journal: Rwandan opposition parties condemn grenade attacks in Kigali,
http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/287851

Coalition of Rwandan opposition parties condemn grenade attacks in Kigali

At 12.38 Greenwich Mean Time, on 02.20.2010, the BBC reported "Rwandan capital Kigali hit by deadly grenade attacks."  

Several hours earlier, the Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties in Rwanda parties issued this statement, signed by the leaders of all three broadbased opposition parties, about the attacks:

"CONDEMNATION OF GRENADE ATTACKS IN KIGALI

The Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties in Rwanda which brings together, the following political organisations: The United Democratic Forces–Inkingi, The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Le Parti SocialIMBERAKURI, has learnt with shock and horror about the Grenade blasts which occurred last night 19th Feb 2010 almost simultaneously in three different localities in Kigali
At the moment three are conflicting reports about the dead and the injured;however the main issue at hand is the lives of innocent and defenceless citizens who are at a serious risk.These cowardly and wicked acts are meant to instil fear in the population at a crucial time when we are heading for the Presidential elections in a few months to come.

We strongly condemn these barbaric acts in the strongest terms possible and call upon the Rwandan Government, as we have done in recent past to:

1. Investigate and bring to book the perpetrators of these acts
2. Ensure a fair hearing of the suspects once they are apprehended
3. Guarantee security of persons and their property

Issued at Kigali, 20th February 2010

Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza
Chairperson, United Democratic Forces

Mr. Frank Habineza
Chairman, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

Me. Bernard Ntaganda
Chairman, Parti Social-IMBERAKURII"

The state run Rwanda News Agency reported, also on February 20th, that Rwandan Police are holding two men they believe to be responsible and that they already know, without further investigation, who is responsible---the Hutu paramilitary force known as the "interahamwe."

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Cybercrusading Warrior Princess

Gina McCauley of the extremely effective blogging conference Blogging While Brown tells us how she went from being a "carboholic couch potatoe to a cybercrusading warrior princess". A great interview with her is also available on blackweb20. .The cubicle chick writes on her blog: "If you are a blogger and want to get to the next level, networking is essential. If you have meet-ups or tweet-ups in your area, attend them and get to know the other bloggers and social media experts in your town. Attending workshops and conferences is also a good way to network, meet other bloggers, and gain valuable knowledge and information. Below are a list of conferences that are coming up in the next few months that you may be interested in attending for networking purposes: South By Southwest, Blogging While Brown, BlogHer, Blogalicious."

Amnesty International joins Human Rights Watch in calling for political freedom in Rwanda

On February 17, 2010, I posted an update to my KPFA Radio News report and video, "Rwandan Election: Who will be allowed to run?" to Colored Opinions and Digital Journal, including news that Amnesty International has joined Human Rights Watch in calling for the end of intimidation of Rwanda's opposition parties.  Here are links to both releases:


Human Rights Watch Release: "Rwanda: End Attacks on Opposition Parties
Intimidation of Political Opponents Increases in Advance of Presidential Election,"


Amnesty International Release:
"INTIMIDATION OF RWANDAN OPPOSITION PARTIES MUST END,"
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/intimidation-rwandan-opposition-parties-must-end-20100218



Thursday, February 18, 2010

Link TV quotes the NY Times's Nicholas Kristof, calling for an earthquake or tsunami in eastern Congo

Eastern Congolese women are not only raped and tortured in the violent scramble for the region's vast natural resources; their suffering is then manipulated to raise funds for the non-profit industrial complex, and to justify ongoing U.S. military engagement.

Sometimes I despair of ever seeing the truth come out about the imperial scamble for resources in D.R. Congo and the rest of Africa.  Now even Link TV, generally considered to be a "progressive" outlet,  is quoting the NY Times's Nicholas Kristof on how much he'd like to see an earthquake, like Haiti's, or a tsunami in Eastern Congo turn attention to the "barbaric civil war" in Eastern Congo:

"Sometimes I wish eastern Congo could suffer an earthquake or a tsunami, so that it might finally get the attention it needs. The barbaric civil war being waged here is the most lethal conflict since World War II and has claimed at least 30 times as many lives as the Haiti earthquake." - Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/31/opinion/31kristof.html
 
These barbaric African people, according to Kristof's reasoning,  just can't stop killing each other, so we Western white folks just have to give them some more of our "attention."   


Since Kristof and the Pentagon are still waiting for their earthquake, violence against women in this "barbaric civil war" will have to do.

Stop Violence Against Women in Congo

Very hard to argue against this campaign, this "Run for Congo Women," no?   I'm against violence against women, in Congo and everywhere else.

But I also think Nicholas Kristof should be sold into slavery, or, at the very least fired, for promoting such a racist, imperial, ahistorical distortion of the Congo war and the pain of the Congolese people.

Any Western narrative about Congo should begin by looking back to the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, in 1961, ordered by Dwight Eisenhower, which truncated the hopes and possibilities of the Congolese people, despite their hardwon, and still nominal, independence, in 1960.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Election Rwanda 2010: Who will be allowed to run?

On February 10, 2009, Human Rights Watch issued a news release, "Rwanda: End Attacks on Opposition Parties," but the attacks haven't ended.  FDU-Inkingi candidate Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza was facing another interrogation, by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Rwandan Police, at the time I recorded this KPFA Radio News including some of my most recent conversation with her.  She was once again released, though still unable to register the FDU-Inkingi Party.

On February 18, 2010, Amnesty International joined Human Rights Watch by issuing a release titled "Intimidation of opposition parties must end."

Meanwhile, Kigali's Gasabo District has once again refused to give the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda a permit to hold the convention that it must hold to field a presidential candidate, because the police have not given them a "clearance," even though nonviolence is one of the 10 key values of Green Parties worldwide.
 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rwanda's political exiles demonstrate in Brussels, 02.15.2010

On Wednesday, February 10th, Rwandan exiles demonstrated for political freedoms in Brussels, Belgium, while Rwanda's Criminal Investigations Division was interrogating Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza, the presidential candidate of the Rwandan FDU-Inkingi Party, in Rwanda's capitol city, Kigali.

To see the English translations, click on the video twice to get to its link on the Youtube.


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Monday, February 15, 2010

Launch Of Congo's "Cinquantenaire"

Seven hundred people took over Brussels City Hall at the end of January to launch the celebrations of the cinquantenaire (fiftieth anniversary) of Congolese independence in Belgium. Fabien Kusuanika interviewed some of those who attended. Cheik fita did a great job summarizing the event.

The word "cinquantenaire" should off course immediately remind all of us of Belgium's own Cinquantenaire in 1880. King Leopold II, who played an extremely ugly role in the history of Congo, even built a parc for the celebrations, the "Parc du Cinquantenaire", or in Dutch "JubelPark" (Translated this means "parc of wild celebration"). The celebration website rdcongo50.be and video of the launch event were put online last week.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dutch Political Parties Aren't Worth It

Let's just stay home!

(Picture: moroka media, Oscar Nkala, Matabeleland, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe)

In June 2009 Djengis Gabor, President of VON, representing a large number of minority organisations in the Netherlands, had written a letter to all Dutch political parties voicing his concern. He was worried because signals had reached him that Dutch political parties were blocking the road to minority candidates at local elections out of fear. Djengis Gabor reminded these political parties that migrants are still underrepresented in Dutch politics and that they still have a lot of work to do in this respect. At the time the media ignored this.

Yesterday however, we learned, that indeed, this time around Dutch political parties at the local level have put even fewer candidates of foreign origin on their lists in local elections. In Rotterdam for example, a city where about half of the population is of foreign origin, only 20 percent of the municipal candidates have an immigrant background.

Mohammed Benzakour, blogger at the muslim immigrant blog wij blijven hier ("we stay here") voiced the exasperation of many immigrants in the Netherlands with Dutch politics in his article "The Dutch Labour Party is not worth our vote" (English summary here).

Allthough the Netherlands has about 3 million immigrants within it's borders, political parties have been ignoring immigrants for another four more years. Why would immigrants now all of a sudden have to make the effort to get out and vote? The walk to the voting booth is not worth it! Let's just stay home.

BBC interviews Human Rights Watch and Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza on Rwanda's 2010 election harassment

by Ann Garrison




On February 10, 2010, BBC World Service spoke to Human Rights Watch's senior researcher Carina Tertsakian about harassment of Rwanda's opposition political parties, in the run-up to Rwanda's August 2010 presidential election, with focus on harassment of the FDU-Inkingi Party and the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda:




Earlier that day, Human Rights Watch had issued a news release titled Rwanda: End Attacks on Opposition Parties, which was reported by the BBC, AFP, Reuters, and Afrique en ligne, but not by the Washington Post, the New York Times, or Africa Online.


Rwanda's Criminal Investigations Divison interrogated Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza, the presidential candidate of the FDU-Inkingi Party for four hours on the same day that Human Rights issued their news release, and the BBC then interviewed Ingabiré the next day:


In "The power of horror" published in the Los Angeles Times on April 11th, 2009, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth wrote:

". . . the government essentially runs a one-party state. And ironically, it is the genocide that has provided the government with a cover for repression. Under the guise of preventing another genocide, the government displays a marked intolerance of the most basic forms of dissent."

Gay Kiss-in for Valentine's Day in Paris


Friday, February 12, 2010

"Twas, Tutsis, and Hutus united against Kagame!"


On February 10, 2010, In Brussels, Rwandan exiles demonstrated outside the Rwandan Embassy, against the repression of opposition political parties in Rwanda's 2010 presidential election.   Some held signs reading "Twas, Tutsis, and Hutus united against Kagame!" in both English and French, the two European languages spoken in Rwanda. 

Others held signs of Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza, the presidential candidate of the broadbased FDU-Inkingi Party, who was, on the same day, being questioned, for four hours, by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Rwandan Police, about "genocide ideology," "divisionism," and her relationship to the FDLR militia in Eastern Congo.  Also visible were signs that read, in French, "Liberez Joseph!" (Liberate Joseph), and pictures of Joseph Ntawangundi, Mrs. Ingabiré's aide, who was arrested several days after the two of them tried to register their party, and her presidential candidacy.

On the same day, Human Rights Watch issued a news release, "Rwanda: End Attacks on Opposition Parties," with a press release stating that "opposition party members are facing increasing threats, attacks, and harassment in advance of Rwanda's August 2010 presidential election, and urging the government "to investigate all such incidents and to ensure that opposition activists are able to go about their legitimate activities without fear."

The three viable Rwandan opposition parties have faced harassment, threats, bureaucratic roadblocks, arrest, and even violence as they've tried to register and convene so as to field presidential candidates in the race against incumbent President Paul Kagame, the former Rwandan Patriotic Front general trained at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in the U.S.  Neither the FDU-Inkingi nor the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda have been able to register and the government has threatened to revoke the Parti Social-Imberakuri's registration.

Congolese Valentine's Party In London Tomorrow

Claudia La Perle Noire, a Congolese singer in London, will perform at a party of the Congolese community in London saturday February 13th. Further information can be found at Congo Vidéos webpage. Today she was interviewed in Boutique la Fontainein London.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Major media cover Human Rights Watch report on Rwanda's political opposition


 

Victoire Ingabire, presidential candidate of the FDU-Inkingi, left the Kigali, Rwanda Police Criminal Investigation Division headquarters after 4 hours questioning on "genocide ideology," "divisionism," and links to the FDLR militia in Eastern Congo, but she was not arrested. 


The BBC, Reuters, and AFP, are all covering the Human Rights Watch report, published February 10, 2010, Rwanda: End Attacks on Opposition Parties, in which its director, Kenneth Roth, says:

"Rwanda has a long way to go. Despite the facade of occasional elections, the government essentially runs a one-party state. And ironically, it is the genocide that has provided the government with a cover for repression."


Reuters South Africa:  Rwanda opposition faces intimidation




On February 10th, hundreds of people protested in front of the embassy in Brussels against the repression and dictatorship in Rwanda.

Many now ask how the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the U.S. State Department will respond, given that Rwanda is the U.S.A's closest ally in Africa, with an army of 70,000 to 100,000 serving in accordance with U.S. foreign policy all over Africa, and, that Hillary Clinton, speaking at the 2009 African Growth and Opportunities Conference in Nairobi, called Rwanda "the beacon of hope for Africa."

And, how Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will respond.   Both championed Rwanda's application to enter the Commonwealth last November, despite the adamant objections of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Group.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blogging Is A Community

As Monroe Anderson so eloquently recollects from his conversation with Gina McCauley, creative mind (she explains the idea here) behind the Blogging While Brown conference: "Blogging is a community". This year Blogging While Brown takes place in Washington DC, June 18-19. The video below is an invitation to this valuable event. A window of opportunity!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Election Rwanda 2010: Paul Kagame, Victoire Ingabiré, & Memories of Genocide

On February 7, 2009, I spoke to the Rwandan FDU-Inkingi Party's presidential candidate Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza, on the phone from San Francisco, California, U.S.A., to Kigali, Rwanda, for KPFA News.

The Colored Opinions column width doesn't make quite enough space for the images in this video, so I recommend clicking twice to watch on the Youtube.


Tea Party Blogs

During the Republican primaries in the US, I closely followed Mike Huckabee's grasroot campaign (I am now actively following Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza's campaign in Rwanda, allthough Kagame (this guy has soo much blood on his hands) seems to have allready decided that she is no candidate).

Some Quotes of Mike Huckabee's Supertuesday victory speech, thanks to jews 4 Huckabee):
"You know, over the past few days a lot of people have been trying to say that this is a two-man race. Well, you know what? It is. And we're in it!"

"Tonight, we are making sure America understands that sometimes one small smooth stone is even more effective than a whole lot of armor...."

"Now, it's tough for this old Razorback to say things like roll, Tide roll, but I'm doing it tonight. And it's tough for this old Razorback to look over there to the state just to the east of us and anticipate being able to say that we're, too, Volunteers. I think before the night is over, I'll even be singing "Rocky Top."...
He did a great job and I liked his speeches ( for example this one in New Hampshire), where he "thanked the weather committee". People like former South Carolina Governor David Beasley and Marco Rubio were ardent Huckabee supporters as well. I remember a picture of Marco Rubio canvassing cars in New Hampshire for Mike Huckabee. And off course Huckabee's criticism of Bush's "bunker mentality" foreign policy (rejected by Condoleeza Rice in public). Looking around in Europe for a politician that has some similarities to Mike Huckabee I immediately think of Michel Daerden of Liège.

Through "the Huckster's" campaign I came across a lot of Huckabee supporter blogs, most of them didn't last long, but one stood out, it was Kevin Tracy's blog. Kevin Tracy loves blogging and loves politics. I continue following his journey through the Tea Party movement. It's an intriguing movement in relation to how fringe groups can influence political processes through new media. It's a very loosely organized movement, but seems to have a strong impact. Apart from Kevin Tracy, I know that the redstate blog is an important part of it too.