Tagged: RPF

Happy Liberation Day, after all…


girl holding flag

Photo: Rwandan girl holding US & Rwandan flag. Source: anotherwilhem.blogspot.com

This Friday, on the 04th of July 2014 Rwanda and Rwandans all over the world will celebrate 20 years of peace and growing prosperity. Twenty years ago, back in 1994, that date marked the end of the Rwandan Genocide and gave birth to a new government that kind of rose from the ashes.

How “libre” are we?

Rwanda has (hopefully had) a very turbulent and tragic history. The country’s journey has been long, pain- and eventful. The first three decades of Rwanda’s independence were characterized by unfortunate upheavals perpetuated by ideologically bankrupt politics. This culminated into the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in which over one million people were annihilated in just a 100 days. During the dark three months of the Genocide, Rwanda died and descended into an almost failed state.

The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the current leading political party, led by President Paul Kagame ended the  genocide by defeating the civilian and military authorities responsible for the killing campaign. As RPF troops advanced south down the eastern side of the country and then swept west, they encountered little opposition from government forces, except around Kigali. They drove military, militia, and other assailants from the region and so made it possible for Tutsi to return from the swamps and bush and to emerge from their hiding places. The RPF soldiers saved tens of thousands from annihilation. They even stopped the killers in the act of attacking or preparing to attack Tutsi at several churches or camps and relentlessly pursued those whom they thought guilty of genocide. In their drive for military victory and a halt to the genocide, the RPF killed thousands, including noncombatants as well as government troops and members of militia.

As RPF soldiers sought to establish their control over the local population, they also killed civilians in numerous summary executions and in massacres. They may have slaughtered tens of thousands during the four months of combat from April to July. The killings diminished in August and were markedly reduced after mid-September when the international community exerted pressure for an end to the carnage. Carried out by soldiers who were part of a highly disciplined military organization, these killings by the RPF rarely involved civilian participation, except to identify the persons to be slain. In only a few cases, particularly in areas near the border with Burundi, civilian assailants reportedly joined soldiers in attacking other civilians.

During the months when the RPF was just establishing its control, it is quite certain that the kinds of abuses that occurred must have been directed by officers at a high level of responsibility, but most reports of the genocide focused on the genocide itself and the crimes committed by the RPF are very poorly documented.

The first convincing evidence of wide-spread, systematic killings by the RPF was gathered by a UNHCR team dispatched for another purpose. When the team and the head of the UNHCR attempted responsibly to bring the information to the attention of the international community, the U.N. decided to suppress it, not just in the interests of the recently established Rwandan government but also to avoid further discredit to itself. The U.S., and perhaps other member states, concurred in this decision, largely to avoid weakening the new Rwandan government…

Between 1994 and 2003, Rwanda was governed by a set of documents combining President Habyarimana’s 1991 constitution, the Arusha Accords, and some additional protocols introduced by the transitional government. As required by the accords, Kagame set up a constitutional commission to draft a new permanent constitution. The constitution was required to adhere to a set of fundamental principles including equitable power sharing and democracy. The commission sought to ensure that the draft constitution was “home-grown”, relevant to Rwanda’s specific needs, and reflected the views of the entire population. They sent questionnaires to civil groups across the country and rejected offers of help from the international community, except for financial assistance.

The draft constitution was released in 2003. It was approved by the parliament, and was then put to a referendum in May of that year. The referendum was widely promoted by the government; ultimately, 95% of eligible adults registered to vote and the turnout on voting day was 87%. The constitution was overwhelmingly accepted, with 93% voting in favor.

The constitution provided for a two-house parliament, an elected president serving seven-year terms, and multi-party politics.

The constitution also sought to prevent Hutu or Tutsi hegemony over political power.

Article 54 states that:

“political organizations are prohibited from basing themselves on race, ethnic group, tribe, clan, region, sex, religion or any other division which may give rise to discrimination”.

According to Human Rights Watch, this clause, along with later laws enacted by the parliament, effectively make Rwanda a , as “under the guise of preventing another genocide, the government displays a marked intolerance of the most basic forms of dissent”.

 What does peace and development look like in Rwanda?

children-in-independance-day

Photo: Children at the Liberation Day 2012. Source: rwanda-in-liberation.blogvie.com

Rwanda’s economy has grown rapidly under Kagame’s presidency, with per-capita gross domestic product estimated at $1,592 in 2013, compared with $567 in 2000. Annual growth between 2004 and 2010 averaged 8% per year. Kagame’s economic policy is based on liberalizing  the economy, privatizing state owned industries, reducing red tape for businesses and transforming the country from an agricultural to a knowledge-based economy. Kagame vision for 2020 is to emulate the economic development of Singapore since the 60’s and achieve a middle income country status.

The Vision 2020 program consists of a list of goals which the government aims to achieve before the year 2020.These are:

  • Goof governance 
  • An efficient state
  • Skilled human capital, including education, health and information technology 
  • A vibrant private sector
  • A world-class physical infrastructure
  • Modern agriculture and livestock

Rwanda is a country of few natural resources,and the economy is heavily dependent on subsistence agriculture, with an estimated 90% of the working population engaged in farming. Under Kagame’s presidency, however, the service sector  has grown strongly. In 2010, it became the country’s largest sector by economic output, contributing 43.6% of the country’s GDP. Key tertiary contributors include banking and finance, wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants, transport, storage, communication, insurance, real estate, business services, and public administration, including education and health. Information and communication technology (ICT) is a Vision 2020 priority, with a goal of transforming Rwanda into an ICT hub for Africa. To this end, the government has completed a 2,300 kilometers (1,400 mi) fiber-optic telecommunications network, intended to provide broadband services and facilitate electronic commerce.

Tourism is one of the fastest-growing economic resources and became the country’s leading foreign exchange earner in 2011. In spite of the genocide’s legacy, Kagame’s achievement of peace and security means the country is increasingly perceived internationally as a safe destination the first half of 2011, 16% of foreign visitors arrived from outside Africa. The country’s mountain gorillas  attract thousands of visitors per year, who are prepared to pay high prices for permits (500$ for non-Rwandan!).

Rwanda ranks highly in several categories of the World Bank’s ease of doing business index.

The Rwanda Development Board asserts that a business can be authorized and registered in 24 hours. The country’s overall ease of doing business index ranking is fifty-second out of 185 countries worldwide, and third out of 46 in Sub-Saharan Africa. The business environment and economy also benefit from relatively low corruption in the country. In 2010,Transparency International ranked Rwanda as the eighth cleanest out of 47 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and sixty-sixth cleanest out of 178 in the world.  

Health & education indicators dramatically improved

Kagame’s government has made education a high priority for his administration, allocating 17% of the annual budget to the sector. The Rwandan government provides free education in state-run schools for twelve years: Six years in primary and six in secondary school. The final three years of free education were introduced in 2012 following a pledge by Kagame during his 2010 re-election campaign. Kagame credits his government with improvements in the tertiary education sector. The number of universities has risen from 1 in 1994 to 29 in 2010, and the tertiary gross enrolment ratio increased from 4% in 2008 to 7% in 2011.

From 1994 until 2009, secondary education was offered in either French or English. Since 2009, due to the country’s increasing ties with the East African Community and the Commonwealth of Nations, English has been the sole language of instruction in public schools from primary school grade 4 onward. The country’s literacy rate, defined as those aged 15 or over who can read and write, was 71% in 2009, up from 38% in 1978 and 58% in 1991. Rwanda’s health profile is dominated by communicable diseases,including malaria, pneumonia and HIV/AIDS.

Prevalence and mortality rates have sharply declined in the past decade but the short supply or unavailability of certain medicines continues to challenge disease management. Kagame’s government is seeking to improve this situation as one of the Vision 2020 priorities by increasing funding and setting up more training institutes such as the Kigali Health Institute (KHI), and in 2008 effected laws making health insurance mandatory for all individuals by 2010, over 90% of the population was covered.

These policies have contributed to a steady increase in quality of healthcare and improvement in key indicators during Kagame’s presidency. In 2010, 91 children died before their fifth birthday for every 1000 live births, down from 163 under five deaths for every 1000 live births in 1990. Prevalence of some diseases is declining, including the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus and a sharp reduction in malaria morbidity, mortality rate and specific lethality. In response to shortages in qualified medical personnel, in 2011 the Rwandan government launched an eight-year US$151.8 million initiative to train medical professionals.

So we’re all good, now?  

The results of the iron management methods of Kagame’s government have surely not gone unnoticed. His economic policy has been praised by many foreign donors and investors, including Bill Clinton (Clinton  referred to Kagame as “one of the greatest leaders of our time”) * and Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz.  However, the DRC government and human rights groups have accused Rwanda of illegally exploiting Congolese minerals,which the London Daily Telegraph describes as an “important part” in the success of Rwanda’s economy Read: London Daily Telegraph article: “Paul Kagame: Rwanda’s redeemer or ruthless dictator”.

In 2010 Kagame’s relations with the US and UK came a under strain, following allegations that Rwanda is supporting the M23 rebel movement in Eastern Congo. The UK suspended its budgetary aid program in 2012, freezing a £21 million donation. The US has also frozen some of its military aid program for Rwanda, although it stopped short of suspending aid altogether.

Today, it’s hard to imagine where Rwanda will be on its 40th 4th of July Independence day but if I were to bet on it, it will be nothing like how we used to know it.

About Bill & Paul…
*As the killing intensified in April 1994, the international community deserted Rwanda.  Western nations landed troops in Rwanda or Burundi in the first week to evacuate their citizens, did so, and left.  The UN mission (UNAMIR), created in October 1993 to keep the peace and assist the governmental transition in Rwanda, sought to intervene between the killers and civilians.  It also tried to mediate between the RPF and the Rwandan army after the RPF struck from Rwanda to protect Tutsi and rescue their battalion encamped in Kigali as part of the Accord.  On April 21, 1994, the United Nations Security Council, at the behest of the United States—which had no troops in Rwanda—Belgium, and others, voted to withdraw all but a remnant of UNAMIR.  The Security Council took this vote and others concerning Rwanda even as the representative of the genocidal regime sat among them as a non-permanent member.  After human rights, media, and diplomatic reports of the carnage mounted, the UN met and debated and finally arrived at a compromise response on May 16.  UNAMIR II, as it was to be known, would be a more robust force of 5,500 troops.  Again, however, the world failed to deliver, as the full complement of troops and materiel would not arrive in Rwanda until months after the genocide ended.  Faced with the UN’s delay, but also concerned about its image as a former patron and arms supplier of the Habyarimana regime, France announced on June 15 that it would intervene to stop the killing.  In a June 22 vote, the UN Security Council gave its blessing to this intervention; that same day, French troops entered Rwanda from Zaire.  While intending a wider intervention, confronted with the RPF’s rapid advance across Rwanda, the French set up a “humanitarian zone” in the southwest corner of Rwanda.  Their intervention succeeded in saving tens of thousands of Tutsi lives; it also facilitated the safe exit of many of the genocide’s plotters, who were allies of the French. [Read: “The U.S. and The Genocide – Evidence of Inaction]
Sources:
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Kagame
http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/rwanda/Geno15-8-03.htm
http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?a=68456&i=15412
http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/happy-liberation-day-rwanda/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB53/
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Rwanda’s Twitter-Gate – the Disinformation Campaign of Africa’s Digital President


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Analysis

by Susan THOMPSON

17/03/2014

As Rwanda prepares to mark the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 genocide, it has found itself in an unprecedented diplomatic crisis. The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front has all but claimed responsibility for the murder of its former Spy Chief Patrick Karegeya in Johannesburg in January.

More recently, the South African government has accused Rwandan diplomats of a third bungled attempt on the life of the country’s former army chief Kayumba Nyamwasa.

The State Department scolded the government of President Paul Kagame for the attempt. The South African government then expelled three Rwandan diplomats, and is considering ending formal diplomatic ties with Rwanda.

Foreign journalists reporting on the attack on Nyamwasa raised the ire of President Kagame. On March 7, Radio France International journalist Sonia Rolley was subject to misogynistic harassment from the account of @RichardGoldston. American freelancer Steve Terrill came to Rolley’s defense, resulting in a series of mocking tweets from the account of Rwanda president @PaulKagame himself, not the @RichardGoldston to which Terrill (@steveinafrica) had directed his Tweets.

A week later, on March 15, Terrill was denied entry into Rwanda. The denial appears politically-motivated as Terrill broke the story that someone in the office of the Rwandan president also had access to the @RichardGoldston account.

The @RichardGoldston account trolled Twitter for any sign of criticism of Kagame or the RPF, and regularly harassed and demeaned Twitter users that criticized the government.

On March 8, the official Twitter account of the Office of the Rwandan President (@UrugwiroVillage) tweeted that the @RichardGoldston account had been deleted and the staff member responsible for the account had been “reprimanded”.

Rwanda’s Twitter-gate raises questions about the central role of RPF Twitter-trolls in calling out foreign journalists who seek to hold it to account for its excesses at home and abroad.

President Kagame’s reactionary tweets provide insight into the political reality behind his government’s carefully crafted narrative that Rwanda is a nation rehabilitated from the ruin of the 1994 genocide. Twitter-gate is also illustrative of the harassment and intimidation to which critics of the RPF regime regularly experience.

Twitter-gate is the first crack in the armor of the RPF’s longstanding disinformation campaign that has relied on Western exchange students, public relations firms, commemorative events, and a whole host of other techniques to craft an idealized and often invented version of what Rwanda was like before the onset of colonialism and what it has become since the 1994 genocide.

Since 2009, the RPF has worked with American and British PR specialists whose primary task is to drown out the voices of foreign critics and bury evidence of the RPF’s human rights abuses under rosy language about political stability, economic growth, and the stated intention of helping the poor.

In January, Rwanda launched the Kwibuka20 campaign, from inside Kagame’s office of course, for the same instrumental reason: to substitute the trope of genocide for the trope of authoritarianism in narratives about Rwanda.

The disinformation strategy is simple: ensure maximum international sympathy and donor dollars and a minimum of international inquiry into the government’s denial of liberties and human rights abuses.

The Kagame-led regime has a penchant for U.S. visits and visitors, and until recently successive U.S. administrations turned a blind eye to massive human rights violations for which the Kagame-led regime, according to the United Nations, is responsible in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Americans in particular have been taken in by the rhetoric of reconstruction, development, and reconciliation that invariably accompanies most public events in the country.

The RPF frames itself for Western audiences as the political party best able to move Rwanda towards a Western-style democracy because it has regularly held presidential and parliamentary elections.

The RPF handily won the most recent round of parliamentary elections, in September 2013, with 76% of the vote. In theory, it was contending with nine other parties. In practice, Rwanda’s nearly six million voters had little choice on the ballot. A total of 98% of the votes went to the RPF and its four coalition parties.

The continued dominance of the RPF in the electoral realm projects a semblance of political pluralism while masking the fact that all parties are expected to acquiesce to the ruling party. Two actual opposition parties have been banned and their leaders jailed.

Another pillar of Rwanda’s disinformation campaign is that the government promotes gender-equality. 64% percent of parliamentarians in Rwanda’s lower house are women, but this number masks reality. Although women are very visible in Rwanda politics, their ability to shape the future of women, ironically, is circumscribed. Rwanda’s parliament has limited influence.

Parliamentarians – be they male or female – actually have little power to legislate on behalf of their constituents. They have little room to develop policy or even to debate openly; space for free and open political expression is limited. Put differently, an assessment of political realities shows that women parliamentarians in Rwanda are mere accessories of power; they do not actually wield any of it.

Though the genocide has not repeated itself, growing socio-political and economic inequalities – notably the exclusion of youth – under an increasingly authoritarian and repressive government have meant that post-genocide Rwanda is still deeply entangled in its violent past. Rwandans deserve better from their American friends.

Rwanda’s Twitter-gate also reminds us that, on this 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, we should not allow our generally rosy perception of Rwanda as a stable and free country under the visionary leadership of President Kagame to mask long-standing political tensions, unresolved resentments, and the rise of an authoritarian regime.

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Susan M. Thomson is Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Colgate University in the United States. She is author of Whispering Truth to Power: Everyday Resistance to Reconciliation in Postgenocide Rwanda (Wisconsin University Press, 2013).

Amazon: “Whispering Truth to Power: Everyday Resistance to State Power in Postgenocide Rwanda” (Wisconsin UP, 2013)

Source: African Arguments

Related articles:

Daily Maverick

16/03/2014

How to spread Rwandan propaganda, and intimidate opponents? Twitter, of course.

Last week, a few unfortunate clicks revealed to the world that the Twitter account of Rwandan President Paul Kagame is run by the same person who spews pro-Rwanda propaganda under the handle @RichardGoldston. The faux Goldston is, of course, allowed to be a lot less guarded than Kagame himself, and a trawl through his Twitter cache offers up a few revelations – none of which are complimentary toward South Africa. No wonder SA-Rwanda relations are at an all-time low. By SIMON ALLISON

[read full article]

*** VOTE: ELECTIONS 2013***


*** As a reminder, the election of deputies will be held on Monday 16/09/2013 in Rwanda. ***

To allow as many people to vote, elections will be held on Sunday 15/09/2013 from 7AM to 7PM, at the Embassy of Rwanda in Brussels for all Rwandans resident in Belgium and Luxembourg.

To get more information click here: Embassy of Rwanda (Brussels)

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

THE NEW TIMES

Rwanda Polls to Boost Ruling Party

14/09/2013

Kigali — Rwandans vote Monday in parliamentary elections set to bolster the ruling party and highlight the stability of a country wracked by genocide nearly 20 years ago.

With Rwanda’s economy one of the continent’s fastest growing, the government is keen to show off the elections as a badge of its democratic credentials, despite fierce criticism dismissing the polls as a sham.

In stark contrast to election campaigns in many other African nations, the race for 80 seats by 410 candidates has so far generated little if any excitement in the capital Kigali.

Only a few posters — mainly for the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of President Paul Kagame, who has held power with an iron fist since 1994 — suggest the vote is coming.

Experts say there will be little if any real political challenge to Kagame’s ruling RPF, which heads a coalition of smaller parties.

“There won’t be any surprises,” said Andre Guichaoua, an expert on Rwanda at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Some six million people are eligible to vote, with direct voting Monday for 53 seats, followed by a further 24 seats reserved for women to be chosen Tuesday by women’s groups and local councils, and then on Wednesday, representatives of the youth and the disabled will be named.

The last elections in 2008 brought in the only parliament in the world where women held a majority, with 56.3 percent of seats.

Rwanda has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past two decades, with powerful economic growth and the strangling of corruption credited to the strong rule of Kagame.

The World Bank’s ease of doing business index for 2013 ranked Rwanda 52nd out of 185 countries, and third best in sub-Saharan Africa — after Mauritius and South Africa.

The small nation was left in ruins by the brutal genocide of 1994, in which 800,000 people, mostly from the ethnic Tutsi minority, were butchered by Hutu extremists.

But critics say the economic growth and security have come at the expense of freedom of expression.

Alongside Kagame’s coalition are the Liberal Party, Social Democratic Party and the PS-Imberakuri party, but even though they are outside the RPF-led group, they too have backed the party of the president.

The Liberals and Social Democrats both backed the overwhelming election of Kagame in 2003, and while they put forward candidates for the next polls five years later, that did not stop Kagame from an overwhelming win again with 93 percent of votes.

Meanwhile PS-Imberakuri, whose former leader was jailed in 2010 for crimes against state security and “sectarianism”, is now believed to have been effectively taken over by supporters of the ruling party.

These three parties are “satellites circulating around the party in power without challenging its hegemony,” said Kris Berwouts, an independent analyst specialising in Central Africa.

Registered political parties “do not play the role of a political opposition”, Human Rights Watch said in a recent report, arguing that they do not oppose the RPF but rather “actively support” it, criticising the “harassment” and “obstacles” against those who do challenge it.

Rwanda’s Green Party won official recognition last month but chose not to field candidates as it said it did not have time to prepare.

Another large opposition group, the Unified Democratic Forces, is not recognised. It was set up in exile and led by Victoire Ingabire, who is currently appealing an April conviction for conspiracy and minimising the extent of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The group has said the elections have “no legitimacy”.

Kagame’s RPF and its allies held 42 of the 53 directly elected seats in parliament’s lower house.

Voting opens Monday at nearly 15,500 polling stations at 0500 GMT.

RPF Urges Its Members to Spearhead Development of Communities


RWANDA EXPRESS

by Stephen RWEMBEHO, 20. August 2013 (The New Times)

Photo: posted by Peter (Author at Rwanda Express)

 

THE RWANDA PATRIOTIC FRONT (RPF) has challenged party members to spearhead the development of communities across the country.

RPF Commissioner Protais Musoni, speaking during a training of 140 party leaders in Eastern Province, said the journey to lead the country to economic stability was still on despite visible development in recent years.

The training was focused on imparting critical thinking, social politics, development and peaceful co-existence into the cadres.

“Our commitment as RPF is that every Rwandan lives a decent life… sustainable self-reliance for all is what we strive for,” he said.

Musoni, who was among RPF senior cadres who conducted the training, lectured the party leaders on philosophical reasoning, saying patriotism was the bottom-line.

 

“Patriotism is paramount. We must do what our nation needs instead of pushing for our individual interests. It is in this line that our actions will meet the demands of the vulnerable in the country,” [Musoni]

Appreciating the training:

Odette Uwamariya, the RPF chairperson in Eastern Province, reiterated the need for party members to engage in development plans of the country.

She said the training offered an opportunity to refresh the minds of party members, adding that the acquired knowledge would help them solve domestic problems.

“The training was timely and will help us develop our districts. It is also our obligation to help end domestic conflicts in some families. I am sure RPF members remain committed to community development,” she said.

Marie Claudine Mukamajwa, an RPF cadre from Ngarama Sector, Gatsibo District, said grassroots party members had started projects to develop their communities.

“The acquired knowledge will enhance development programmes we already have in villages. I can assure you, Rwanda under the leadership of RPF, is emerging from poverty to prosperity,” she said

Let us commemorate the Genocide against the Tutsi as we strive for self reliance


Bruxelles, 09.4.13

Today Rwanda has two days commemorating the Genocide. It is the 7th of April marking the start and 4th of July marking the end, the Liberation day.  However this weekend two groups commemorated, one on the 6th and one on the 7th in Brussels, Belgium.

Saturday 6th

Rwandan commemorating in front of memorial. Photo: cliir.org

The commemoration of the 6th was organized by CLIIR– coordinator and activist Joseph Matata and his group.

A crowd of approximately 30 people gathered at Montgomery and marched together to the memorial dedicated to the victims of the Genocide 1994 where then prayers were held and poems* were read.

Before reaching the memorial, Mr. Matata was stopped by the Belgian police and advised to hold back his group of continuing as the mayor of Woluwe St. Pierre, Mr. Benoît Cerexhe had previously prohibited the assembly, due to the ban of commemorations on the 6th of April set in 2007, claiming that the authorization of such commemoration has been prone to cause incidents that have had consequences on the relations between Belgium and Rwanda, particularly those between the municipality of Woluwé-Saint-Pierre and the district of Kamonyi, sector of Musambira ’’. As the coordinator explained that the group was peaceful and that the march was not politically motivated the police finally let the crowd continue and followed them to the memorial.

Be that as it may, accused of desecration, Benoît Cerexhe had to comment the non-intervention of the police and justified it by saying:

“As a mayor I had forbidden the manifestation of the “commission against the impunity and injustice in Rwanda (CLIIR)” that was supposed to take part the day before the commemoration, but to prevent damages the police decided not to interfere.”

Sunday 7th

photo

Photo: kigalinews.wordpress.com

The commemoration of the 7th is organized by the Embassy of Rwanda and IBUKA*.

The commemoration ceremony of the Embassy started the with tree opening speeches held by the Ambassador of Rwanda Mr. Robert Masozera, the representative of the Belgian Government and Ibuka Chairman. The greetings were followed by a moving testimony and a speech of the Founder of Souvien toi le 7avril*. The morning ended with a minute of silence for all victims of the genocide against the Tutsi.

For the afternoon the Embassy had invited the ACP* Secretary General, HON. Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni who declared:

“It is important that we continue to commemorate this day in order not to forget one of the most heinous crimes against humanity perpetrated by one group of people against another. 

As we take time out to commemorate this day, we honour the lives of the nearly one million people who were senselessly murdered, and the many more who survived with painful physical and psychological scars they carry to this day.

This terrible tragedy occurred 19 years ago, but its effects are still being felt today by its survivors. The ramifications are still evident in the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa.”

“NEVER AGAIN, I say! For this to become a reality, we must resolutely attack the root causes of the genocide, namely hatred, intolerance, racism, fundamentalism and tyranny, as well as poverty and exclusion. I call on all States, therefore, to remain mobilized and to strengthen cooperation so as to meet the challenges and eradicate these scourges that can serve as weapons of mass destruction.”

The afternoon program ended after a movie on the genocide was played and the attendees had the opportunity to make comments and ask questions.

The memorial march organized by IBUKA started at 7pm. at the “Place Royale” where around a hundred of people were gathered and walked together to the “Palais de Justice”, where a last memorial speech was held.

The mourning night itself was opened by a speech of IBUKA President Eric Didier Rutayisire and followed by a testimony of a survivor of the Genocide against the Tutsi. After exchanging solidarity messages, the night ended with songs, prayers and poems for all victims.

Why the 6th and not the 7th?

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Photo: kigalinews.wordpress.com

At first it seems as the division finds its roots in a terminological inexactitude.

If Matata’s group chose the 6th it’s because the Government of Rwanda officialized the label “Genocide against the Tutsi” instead of “Rwanda Genocide”. Matata explains that this would exclude Hutu other non-Tutsi victims from the official annual commemoration that now only talks about the Tutsi casualties, even though there were obviously thousands of non-Tutsi victims.

 ‘’The 7th of April is not a date chosen by the Tutsi, it is a date that has been imposed by the President. Kagame could not choose April 6th, because on April 6th he is accused of the crime committed against the head of states Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira. April 6th scares Kagame. There is no neutral date, one has got to choose the right date. The date on which the chaos was created must be chosen, that is to say on April 6th.’’  Matata on Jambonews

So instead, they seeking justice in organising their own marches of peace and commemoration services, one being notably the 6th  and not the 7th of April, because to them, April 6 is the day that marked the beginning of the mass slaughters as then Rwandan President Habyarimana and Burundian President Ntaryamira were killed in the shooting down of  their plane.

Obviously the problem is that the one commemorating on the 6th think that the current regime of President Kagame tries to cover the real implicity of those responsible by continuing to advocate that the shooting down of the presidential plane on April 6th, 1994 which carried the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, did not have any relation with the tragedy which unfolded immediately.

Comments like the one of the Rwandan Ambassador, in The Netherlands, Immaculée Uwanyiligira at a commemoration conference saying that the non-Tutsi victims were not caused by the Genocide, but that they were caused due cross fighting of the Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF) and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), only subsists the irritation and division.

Fact is…

that the assassination of Habyarimana’s and Ntaryamira’s airplane was a catalyst for the Genocide 1994, but curiously the responsibility is still a matter of contention, with both Hutu extremists and the Rwandan Patriotic Front under suspicion.

that the Genocide 1994 was the apex of a three year Civil war between the Rwandan Patriotic Front and the national Government, that started 1990.

that the Genocide was prepared and organized by the mainly Hutu-led government of Habyarimana, the local military and the Akazu at that time, with strong implicitly of France and other countries as a reaction to the Habyarimana’s signature of the Arusha Agreements in Tanzania 1993, that intended a sharing of power between the rebels and the Rwandan government. Hutu racial nationalists felt doubled by their President, as they continued to be strongly opposed to sharing power with the former insurgency and to the Agreement, which called for them to lose control of the army and the government without compensation.

that the Genocide propaganda was supported by state controlled mass media which triggered daily the killings of Tutsis or any kind of “traitors” and “Tutsi-collaborators”. A few days before the assasination of the presidential airplane, warning messages were diffused on the national radio, claiming that something will happen in Kigali around the 7. or 8. of April!

Can we agree to disagree and at least commemorate together?

If the Rwandan government chose the label « The Genocide against the Tutsi » so it’s to accentuate that, as cruel, as it sounds Tutsi were the main target group of this Genocide. And even if there might be various types of victimhood during the Genocide, there was a clear aim there, and this was to have a pure Hutu nation. That is important and significant to remember, as it is brutal and hateful!

Were all Rwandan, Tutsi, Hutu or Twa aware of this atrocious idea of the national government? Of course not! In 1994 Rwanda’s population was estimated to about a number of 10’950 000  and a great bunch of them were totally indifferent towards their ethnical origins, as all they felt and needed to know is that they are Rwandan.

As the human history shows, a war hits the ones, who know the less. But still, we (as the Rwandan people) are all responsable for what happened and by claiming ignorance towards what was going on we just make it worse.

500’000-1’000’000 people Tustsi, Hutus + Twas, 20% of the nation, were killed. A Genocide led by a few hundred politicians, nationalists and extremists, witnessed and ignored by the UN and other Nations.

Some think President’s Kagame regime is going the right way now, as Rwanda strives for self reliance and independence. Some think that we haven’t learned anything and Rwanda’s current government is a threat to justice.

Whoever is right, at least we had 19 years of peace…

Maybe we should just agree to disagree.

Mr. Matata,  himself said:

“With all the elements that we now have, can we agree on one date to commemorate all our dead together?”

Mau.

Read also: 

The New Times, 11.04.2013

Rwanda: UN Admits Failure in 1994 Genocide, Pledges Support

The United Nations has pledged to unreservedly support Rwanda’s road towards development, self-reliance, and peace after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, despite the organisation’s poor response during the Genocide...read all

Sources: CLIIR, wikipedia.org, the rising continentAmbassade RwandaiseAfrican Carribean and Pacific Group of States,

Rwanda will survive


 

 

Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told the press that Rwanda has proven over time that it can withstand the toughest of conditions and this will be no different albeit with difficulties.

“With or without aid, Rwandans will not give up, we shall fend for ourselves as we have always done, in any case, we have done so before,” she said.

A visibly stressed Mushikiwabo added her government has dealt with several reports full of false allegations before and no matter how long it took, in the end, the truth vindicated them.

She cited the long running allegations by the French that Paul Kagame’s rebel group shot down the late Habyarima’s plane setting off the genocide, but the matter was recently laid to rest with RPF being cleared of all charges by a French judge. On the significance of the threatened aid cuts, Mushikiwabo admitted that though her country needs aid, it’s not entirely the basis of Rwanda’s prosperity.

“Come to think of it, over 50% of our budget is domestically funded and though the balance is expected from aid, you can’t dismiss our own efforts as Rwandans and if we need to survive without aid, we shall do it,” she noted.

But she added that Rwanda needn’t fear as the country has many friends who have stood by it since the end of the genocide.

Increasing domestic borrowing

Meanwhile, Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning has revealed that the Government will be forced to increase domestic borrowing to counter the impact of delays in disbursement of funds to the national budget by donors.

The UK government said it was delaying disbursement of £16m ($25m) in budget support due this month ‘while it considered whether aid conditions had been met.’

Germany suspended $26m to Rwanda’s budget planned from this year through 2015, while the Netherlands delayed US$6.15m also in budget support. Though Rwangobwa sounded optimistic that affairs will improve concerning the UK, he added that Netherlands and Germany were not clear in their decision saying it’s compromising the policy on aid effectiveness.

Rwanda plans to boost its national 2012/13 budget, with Rwf297 billion from development partners in form of direct budget support compared to Rwf279 billion in 2011/12. The aid delays came after reports that alleging that Rwanda is supporting M23, a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, allegations Rwanda has denied.

Rwanda meets accusers

On Monday last week, Rwanda submitted to the UN Sanctions Committee its rebuttal on allegations contained in an addendum to a Group of Experts report that claims Kigali is backing the M23 rebels, who have, over the last two months, seized parts of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“There wasn’t a trace of truth in their allegations and we have provided evidence and facts that will only expose the report as some dark plot aimed at an equally darker agenda,” said Foreign Minister, Mushikiwabo.

 

 

Source: East african Busines Week (allAfrica.com)

Paul Kagame answers questions of YouTube users in World View interview


Interviewed by Khaya Dlanga, a YouTube partner and one of South Africa’s leading video bloggers, President Paul Kagame answers a range of the most popular questions submitted by YouTube users.


This is the first YouTube World View interview with an African leader, Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

World View is a project launched by YouTube, where a series of monthly interviews with the world’s foremost leaders are uploaded. The idea is that YouTube users ask the questions. The top-rated questions will then be asked in the exclusive interviews.

Source: World View (YouTube)

Victoire Ingabire dared to speak of Hutus victims of genocide


How is the relation between Hutus and Tutsis 15 years after the genocide? In the past years we surely did hear that rebels have to face european courts for what they did during the civil war and it seems like there’s something like an attempt to find justice and democracy, but fact is that the government procurement and apointments is still based on nothing else than ethnicity.

The following article gives a little insight of what happens on the other side of Kagame’s regime.

Rwanda’s blood-soaked history becomes a tool for repression

written by Geoffrey York, March 2 2010

First published: The Globe and Mail

Kigali — The symbolism was incendiary. In front of the mass graves where 250,000 genocide victims are buried, a Rwandan politician dared to speak of the Hutus who were killed in those same terrible months in 1994.

Perhaps more astonishingly, Victoire Ingabire was not imprisoned for her taboo comments – not so far, at least, although the police have interrogated her three times and accused her of the crime of spreading “divisionism.”

Her challenge is posing an uncomfortable dilemma for the minority Tutsi-led government that dominates Rwanda. Sixteen years after the genocide of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis by Hutu extremists, can the authorities tolerate a political candidate who appeals openly to the Hutus who still comprise 85 per cent of Rwanda’s population?

How long can the government use the genocide as a justification for strict controls on the political system? And who decides the official history of the genocide?

The woman at the centre of the storm is an unlikely politician: a cheerful 41-year-old emigrant who has worked as an accountant at a U.S. company in the Netherlands for the past decade.

She wears a frilly-strapped dress and giggles merrily when she is asked about the barrage of wild attacks on her in Rwanda’s state-controlled media.

But she is backed by many of the Hutus who fled to Europe and North America during the Rwandan wars of the 1990s. She clearly has money and resources. She rents a large house in one of Kigali’s most exclusive neighbourhoods, where she has a Land Cruiser parked in the driveway.

Ms. Ingabire’s decision to return to Kigali this year has sent shock waves through Rwandan politics. In a country where ethnic divisions are officially never discussed, she has dared to raise Hutu grievances – especially the killing of thousands of Hutus in 1994 and 1995, which she describes as a “crime against humanity.”

It’s a potent appeal. Many Hutus feel excluded from power, excluded from the best jobs and schools, and afraid to speak out. It was to them that Ms. Ingabire was deliberately appealing when she returned to Rwanda in January – after 16 years in exile – and made her controversial comments at the genocide memorial.

Ms. Ingabire has carefully couched her appeal in diplomatic language. She condemns the genocide, calling for reconciliation and dialogue. She denounces “extremists” on all sides. She urges the authorities to bring all criminals to justice, regardless of ethnicity. She pledges to work for a peaceful country, united in mutual respect.

Yet merely by talking of Hutu victims, she has triggered a firestorm of reaction. She and her assistant were assaulted by a gang of young men in a government office. Her assistant, who was badly beaten, has been jailed for “genocide” crimes. She is facing a police investigation for her alleged “genocide ideology.” And even the country’s powerful President, Paul Kagame, has warned that “the law will catch up with her” – a clear threat that she will be arrested.

At the heart of the battle between Ms. Ingabire and Mr. Kagame is a stark disagreement about Rwanda’s identity. The President argues that any talk of ethnicity must be suppressed because Rwanda is still in a fragile post-genocide period, where hatred and violence could rise again. His opponent sees this as an excuse for repression, leading only to resentment and bitterness among those who cannot speak out.

It is unclear whether the government will permit Ms. Ingabire to challenge Mr. Kagame in the presidential election in August. The President won the last election with an official margin of 95 per cent, and he has brooked no real opposition since 1994, when he led the Tutsi rebels who defeated the genocidal Hutu regime.

So far, Ms. Ingabire has been denied permission to gather the 200 signatures that she needs to register her political party. She is routinely subjected to fierce attacks in the pages of Rwanda’s only daily newspaper, the state-connected New Times, which refuses to publish her responses to the attacks.

“I don’t know why the government is so afraid of me,” she says. “They watch me and follow me all the time. I know anything can happen to me – they can arrest me, they can kill me.”

The managing director of the New Times, Joseph Bideri, confirmed that the newspaper refuses to give any “space” to Ms. Ingabire’s responses. He wrote a personal letter to her on Jan. 22, vowing she would never get a “platform” in the newspaper because she is a “genocide denier.”

In an interview, however, Mr. Bideri was unable to provide any evidence that Ms. Ingabire denies the genocide. In fact, in her public speeches and in a lengthy interview with The Globe and Mail, she repeatedly acknowledged and condemned the 1994 genocide. She draws a distinction between the slaughter of the Tutsis – which she calls a genocide – and the killings of many Hutus, which she describes as a “crime against humanity.”

Although she emigrated to the Netherlands shortly before the genocide began, Ms. Ingabire’s own family suffered in the genocide. Her brother was killed in 1994 because he was mistaken for a Tutsi.

“When people talk about the pain they feel, they need to understand that everybody feels pain,” she says. “We have to understand the pain of others. When I condemn the genocide, I’m also thinking of my brother. Not all Hutus are killers, and not all Tutsis are victims.”

International human-rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have criticized the Rwandan government for attacking and harassing opposition leaders such as Ms. Ingabire. Amnesty says the Rwandan law on “genocide ideology” is so vague and ambiguous that the authorities can use it to suppress dissent.

There is strong evidence to support Ms. Ingabire’s allegations of war crimes against Hutus. For example, a United Nations investigator in 1994 estimated that 25,000 to 45,000 civilians, primarily Hutus, were killed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front – the army of Mr. Kagame, now the governing party. Many other civilians, including thousands of Hutu refugees, were killed in further attacks in later years. Only a small handful of RPF members have been prosecuted for the Hutu deaths, which remain a taboo subject in Rwanda.

Ms. Ingabire says she doesn’t know how many Tutsis died in 1994, how many Hutus died, or even whether the number of Tutsi victims was larger than the number of Hutu victims. Some observers say she is leaving the impression of an equivalency between the two sides, despite historical evidence that the Tutsi victims were far more numerous and were the only ones subjected to a deliberate campaign of attempted extermination.

But even the Rwandan government has struggled with how to write the history of the genocide. At the memorial where 250,000 victims are buried, a guide says it commemorates only the Tutsi victims of the genocide. Yet he distributes an audio guide that calls it a memorial to the “Tutsi and moderate Hutu peoples” who were killed.

Didas Gasana, editor of a weekly newspaper whose staff is often harassed and threatened by the authorities for its independent views, says the government needs to provide justice and truth to the Hutu victims. “There needs to be debate and justice and openness,” he says. “It’s a part of history that can’t be denied.”

Mr. Gasana is himself a Tutsi. And despite the official view that ethnicity has disappeared, he says he is often told privately by government officials that he should not write such critical articles – because he is a Tutsi.

Comment: I do not claim any political position by posting this article. I find it a well researched and very well written article. In order to find the truth I want to share with you all points of view!!
Source: Rwandainfo_ENG.