Tagged: Rwanda

Britain’s Bashir-Esque Dilemma – What to Do With the Arrested Rwandan Spy Chief?


(Photo by Daily Maverick)

2015-06-30 15_36_41-Home _ Daily Maverick

By Simon Allison 

He might not be a president, but Rwandan spy chief Karenzi Karake is still a very big fish. His arrest in London, on a Spanish warrant, could precipitate another crisis for international justice. A word of gratuitous advice for the British authorities: This one’s delicate!  Handle with care. 

Another day, another crisis for international justice.

First it was the arrival of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on South African soil, and South Africa’s ensuing failure to arrest him – defying both the International Criminal Court and South Africa’s own judiciary in the process.

Then it was the arrest in Germany of Al-Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour, detained at the airport in Berlin at the request of the Egyptian government. Egypt had convicted Mansour in absentia for allegedly torturing a lawyer in Tahrir Square in 2011, and sentenced him to 15 years’ imprisonment. On Sunday, Mansour was released without charge, with the Germans citing diplomatic, legal and political concerns that could not be ignored (presumably, these have something to do with the Egyptian military regime’s notorious lack of respect for the judicial process, especially when it comes to journalists).

Finally, news broke on Tuesday that Rwandan spy chief Lieutenant-General Emmanual Karenzi Karake, head of the notorious National Intelligence and Security Services, had beenarrested in the United Kingdom while trying to depart from Heathrow. Karake is one of 40 Rwandans indicted by a Spanish judge in 2008 for allegedly ordering revenge massacres in the wake of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. If the process gets that far, it will be to Spain that Karake is extradited.

The three cases represent three very different facets of international justice. Bashir’s is an example of the top-down approach, where an international body investigates and prosecutes international crimes; Mansour’s is an example of the national approach, where bilateral agreements and coordinating bodies like Interpol help countries enforce their national laws in other jurisdictions; and Karake’s is an example of universal jurisdiction in action.

“The term ‘universal jurisdiction’ refers to the idea that a national court may prosecute individuals for any serious crime against international law — such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and torture — based on the principle that such crimes harm the international community or international order itself, which individual States may act to protect,” explains the International Justice Resource Centre.

The majority of states (163 of the 193 UN member states, according to Amnesty International) provide for some kind of universal jurisdiction, but few exercise it. Spain is a notable exception. Spain has actively prosecuted international crimes committed in faraway jurisdictions such as Argentina, El Salvador and Guatemala – and, of course, Rwanda.

Karake’s arrest is a major test of universal jurisdiction in action, and there are enough allegations surrounding him to suggest that he should have his day in court. As well as the charges relating to the post-Rwandan genocide massacres, Karake is implicated in the killing of hundreds of civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo during fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces.

(Coincidentally, given the current comparisons with Bashir, Karake was appointed in 2007 to head the African Union/United Nations hybrid mission in Darfur, with strong backing from the US and UK. Bashir, of course, is wanted by the ICC on charges of committing genocide in Darfur).

Although the legal case for Britain to extradite Karake to Spain is solid, there are political considerations that might get in the way.

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Karenzi Karake in London, on Rwanda Day. (Photo byJambo News)

The most significant is the close relationship between Britain and the Rwandan government. Rwanda is a major destination for British aid, and President Paul Kagame is advised by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Already, Rwanda is putting on heavy diplomatic pressure to secure Karake’s release, with its ambassador the UK describing the arrest as “an insult”. But the British government won’t be able to ignore its courts in the South African manner. Should Karake’s arrest warrant be in order, and all procedures properly followed, it’s going to be difficult to prevent his extradition.

Which begs the question: why was Karake detained in the first place? According to media reports, Karake has made several trips to Britain since 2008, and he has been permitted to leave each time. This implies either that something has changed – most likely, that the furore around Bashir’s non-arrest forced Britain’s hand – or that some border official was a little over-zealous in the execution of his duties, and now it’s too late for anyone to turn a blind eye.

Another factor that the politicians will be considering is the ramifications that extraditing Karake will have on the already strained relations between the African continent and international justice. It will be a public relations coup for African leaders looking for further justification that they are being unfairly targeted by the West. While there are sound reasons for the German court to have released Mansour, and for a British court to extradite Karake, these decisions could just as easily be portrayed as western judiciaries choosing to enforce western arrest warrants (in the case of Spain and Karake) while refusing to enforce African justice (in the case of Egypt and Mansour).

Britain, in other words, is in an extremely delicate position. If it does go ahead with extradition proceedings, and eventually extradite Karake to Spain, it risks angering an important ally and alienating a continent – while giving self-interested leaders more fuel for their claims of western bias in international justice. If it doesn’t, it will have to defy its own rule of law, potentially dealing a crippling blow to the concept of universal jurisdiction in the process. It’s a legal and political minefield, complicated by a diplomatic storm that shows no signs of letting up anytime soon. No one ever said international justice was easy.

How Rwanda’s clinics have gone off-grid and onto renewable energy


ANALYSIS

By Bruce Krogh, Carnegie Mellon University and Taha Selim Ustun

Rwanda is located in the poorest region in the world, sub-Saharan Africa. Despite this, it is making advances with off-grid renewable energy solutions for rural areas that could be a model for similar economies.

Rwanda has harnessed its endowment with enormous, untapped renewable energy generation potential to address the problem of how to get energy into remote parts of the country.

The approach being taken accepts that extending the electricity grid to remote areas is fraught with problems. It is expensive, transport costs are high, and accessibility is difficult. In sub-Saharan Africa, grid-extension costs $23,000 per kilometre.

A project to get clinics in remote areas of Rwanda onto reliable sources of renewable energy has recently been stepped up a notch with the introduction of technology that smooths distribution.

Small-scale generation for remote areas

Off-grid electrical systems, where power is derived from renewable energy, have the potential in Rwanda for taking advantage of several types of small-scale generation.

This has become more feasible with the development of new technologies that have revolutionised the possibilities for making these systems highly resilient and economically sustainable. Examples include smart meters with wireless communication and sophisticated technology for fine-grained monitoring and control.

Rwanda is taking advantage of developments such as this to crack the problem of getting electricity to remote clinics.

Uninterrupted access to electricity is a key requirement for improving care in health facilities. But access to either grid or off-grid electricity is still one of the grand challenges for rural health centres in the region. One-quarter of health facilities are not connected to any source of electricity. On average, three-quarters of facilities have no reliable source of electricity. This leads to a poor health care service delivery.

83% of Rwanda’s population live in rural areas. This makes healthcare in these areas all the more important. And ensuring that healthcare centres have power is vital.

To overcome this obstacle decentralised power sources such as PV systems are becoming popular in rural areas because of their cost effectiveness compared to grid extensions. PV systems basically convert solar energy to direct current electricity using semi-conducting materials. But these have not proved adequate in matching supply with demand because:

  • Health centres operate on a first-come first-serve basis. If health centres continue to use connected electronic devices without proper management, the chances of blackouts will increase and patients will suffer.
  • Unused energy from fewer patients than expected also presents a problem as energy is wasted. Making batteries available to store energy can be a way to ensure less is wasted, help avoid shortages and manage excess demands. But this option is expensive.

The graph below shows the ad-hoc scheduling of energy services in PV-power health clinics. Between t0-t1, the power demand exceeds available solar power. The t1-t2 window sees no load. This results in some services not being delivered, unnecessary use of batteries, and hence a shorter life-time, and less orderly operation.

Existing ways scheduling show overutilisation and underutilisation of the energy generated by solar systems.
Click to enlarge

Smart scheduling has done the trick

Smart scheduling is used to match consumption of active services with the available solar power. This results in minimum use of batteries or other energy sources.

The idea lying behind is as follows: the central controller estimates daily solar profile of the PV panels by pulling solar radiation information from online servers. Then when a physician wants to undertake an operation that requires electricity he sends a request to the central controller. This request includes power consumption and the duration of the operation.

In our prototype, the final decision lies with the system. Different services have different priorities. So, a surgery room may be given the highest priority during system planning. If an emergency occurs and a surgery room is fed into the system, it will be given the highest priority.

But human intervention is possible. The central controller is a photo voltaic (PV) inside the clinic. This means that a clinic administrator or the highest ranking physician can tap into the system, remove some services from the list and add some others.

The central controller checks the available solar power and the loads that are already being served. If there is sufficient excess energy, the request is confirmed and the energy is delivered. If there is not sufficient energy the controller schedules the request to when there will be enough energy. This may happen due to solar radiation, hence the generation, increasing or a service that was already receiving energy load being terminated.

In this way, facilities are used in a smart way and solar generation is used as it is generated.

Copied from The Conversation.

King of the Mountains


… it’s been a long time I haven’t posted anything. Here I am. First of all giving my greates honours to Samuel Mugisha, the King of the thousand moutains.

Growing up, Samuel dreamed of being a part of the Rwandan national cycling team, Team Rwanda, as he believed it would be a way to help make money for his family. What he discovered was something else entirely. In a country trying to get over the trauma of a genocide, Team Rwanda represents a lot more than sport. It represented hope.

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?

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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/

It Is Economic Development That Demonstrates Government’s Respect for Human Rights


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Analysis

by Richard KARUGARAMA Lebero

14/03/2014

On 7th April, Rwanda marks 20 years since the 1994 genocide. A lot has been written about Rwanda’s journey and, as is to be expected, much of the commentary is misleading, lacking sufficient understanding of the extent to which Rwanda has been transformed over the last 20 years.

This year’s theme – unite, remember and renew – aptly reminds us to commit ourselves towards ensuring that genocide never happens in any part of the world.

We also have the opportunity to reflect on Rwanda’s transformation and deliberate upon the lessons post conflict countries can draw from its resilience.

The narrative of Rwanda’s past is one of anger and pain. Starting from the colonial period and stretching up to the 1994 genocide,Rwanda was a deeply divided society entrenched with the scourge of ethnic politics and bad leadership.

Although the colonialists did not invent the Hutu and Tutsis ethnic identities (historically the labels existed), colonial intervention changed the meaning, practice and importance attached to these labels.

Following the 1994 genocide, modern Rwanda articulated and implemented a vision of co-existence between Hutus, Tutsis and Twa which emphasizes the virtues of being Rwandan.

The dividends from collective reconciliation and nation rebuilding have resulted in unprecedented social, economic and political transformation.

Rwanda’s rebirth is by all measures remarkable considering that for over five decades it was characterized by systemic governance failures, authoritarian rule, entrenched ethnic tensions, corruption and a spiral of extra judicial killings.

Indeed, the failure of state institutions to galvanise citizens into productive means of labour and the use of government structures as instruments of social disharmony, culminated in the horrors of 1994 and the loss of one million lives.

Twenty years after the genocide Rwanda is experiencing significant improvement in poverty levels, women and youth empowerment, transparency and accountability, democratic governance, respect for the rule of law and a profound mindset shift towards self-reliance.

The depth of reforms and the increasing levels of efficiency are well captured in numerous governance and business surveys conducted periodically by reputable institutions.

On the basis of the reforms, Rwanda ranks favorably across most indicators. For instance, in the 2014 World Bank ‘Doing Business Report’, Rwanda is ranked as the second most improved country in the world and the second easiest place to do business in Africa.

Despite evident improvement in social well being, modern Rwanda regularly witnesses unprecedented attacks – some commentators arguing that economic development has been achieved at the expense of human rights.

Historically, this type of commentary is not unprecedented and is well illustrated by the experience of Singapore – once accused of trading off human rights for economic prosperity.

But Singapore’s journey from third world to first world country demonstrates that the one size fit all approach to democracy and human rights barely makes a dent in the challenge of improving the material state of people’s lives.

As Professor Kishore Mahbubani correctly argues, economic development is the only force with the power to liberate the Third World. In essence, human rights can only be enjoyed when people are liberated from the scourge of hunger, insecurity, disease and poverty.

It is also too simplistic to argue that emerging countries such as Rwanda are advancing economically at the expense of human rights. The premise of this argument overlooks the fact that strides in economic development are intertwined with respect for human rights.

The two are not mutually exclusive as there can be no economic development without the respect and protection of fundamental freedoms.

The philosophical underpinning of human rights is both controversial and ambiguous because protection of fundamental rights means different things in different parts of the world.

The most recent Gallup poll best illustrates this point; it ranks Rwanda as the safest place to live in Africa with 92% of ordinary Rwandans feeling safe and secure. Additionally, the poll shows that among African countries, Rwanda is the safest place for women to flourish.

Even without the Gallup survey, Rwanda’s respect for gender equality is unprecedented – 64% of Rwanda’s parliament is constituted by women (the highest globally). Moreover, the Constitution stipulates that for all leadership positions, women must constitute a minimum of 30%.

The trust and confidence ordinary Rwandans place in state institutions to guarantee security, law and order extends to other important rights such as privacy, life and dignity which are cornerstones of human existence.

It is only through guaranteeing respect for the rule of law and a peaceful environment that people are able to freely exercise their right to dignity, privacy, life and freedom of expression.

Put succinctly, personal liberties do not operate in a vacuum – such rights are meaningless without a certain level of development. Indeed, over the last twenty years, modern Rwanda has strived to lift ordinary people out of poverty because only when people have been liberated from it can they fully enjoy personal liberties.

 

Source: African Arguments

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]

Kwibuka20 – Press release of March 6, 2014


The Flame reaches Gicumbi

The Flame of Remembrance  moves to  Gicumbi today , the 20th step of its national tour. The flame will return to Kigali April 7, 2014 , to mark the beginning of the period of national mourning , twenty years after the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda . You can view an interactive map of the tour here

The next step in the national tour of the Flame will be the Nyagatare District , March 11, 2014 .

The community event today will be hosted by the Mayor of the District of Gicumbi Alexander Mvuyekure , and will aim to reflect on the events of 1994 as well as on the developments made in Gicumbi and Rwanda since. The guest of honor is the Hon. Agnes Binagwaho , Minister of Health. The governor of the Northern Province , Aime Bosenibamwe , will also speak .

The Flame of Remembrance will be received from the District Rulindo by two students aged 20 years , Marie- Louise Dusabe Viateur Mbarushimana . A children’s choir will sing ” Urumuri Rutazima “ to welcome the flame.

Testimony will be given by Anastasius Kamizikunze , a 40 years old survivor of the genocide  . He will tell how he survived the genocide in Mutete and how he was able to return to school after the genocide. Innocent Nyirigira , 48 years old genocidal will talk about his role in the genocide and his new life after being released from prison. Finally, Chantal Ndatenyirigira will sing a song.

The Gicumbi District is composed of the former municipalities of Kiyombe , Mukarange Cyumba , Kibale , Bwisige , Kinyami , Rutare , Giti , Buyoga and the commune Cyungo .

The town of Byumba in Gicumbi is among the places where Tutsis were systematically killed in 1990. Some of the victims who perished there , were brought from Nyagatare and other regions of the country. The first training of the militia, in what was then called “civil defense” , began in the municipalities of Byumba where the distribution of weapons to civilians began in 1991.

When the genocide began , half of the district was under control of the Rwandan Patriotic Front but widespread massacres took place in Mutete , an area under the control of government forces (FAR) . Initially the Tutsi, who had gathered to Zoko , were able to resist the attacks of the Interahamwe , but they succumbed to the arrival of reinforcements April 15, 1994 . There were 1,789 victims of genocide Gicumbi , some of which were killed before 1994. Among the known murderer of this region was influential business man , Ntakaveve Athanasius , who killed his wife , Catherine, as to encourage others to kill.

Tour Flame Kwibuka : Program Gicumbi

Time: 14h-16h , The March 6, 2014
Location: Mutete Gicumbi District

Welcome
Interpretation of the song ” Urumuri Rutazima ” by the children’s choir at the arrival of the Flame
Speaking of the Mayor of Gicumbi Alexander Mvuyekure
Testimony of Anastasius Kamizikunze , genocide survivor .
Song Chantal Ndatenyirigira
Testimony of Innocent Nyirigira , author of Genocide
Invite participants to write on the Ribbon of Remembrance
Introduction by the Governor of the Northern Province , Aime Bosenibamwe
Address by the guest of honor , Hon. Agnes Binagwaho , Minister of Health
Final performance of ” Urumuri Rutazima ”
Information on Tour of the Flame of Remembrance

The Flame Kwibuka symbolizes remembrance, resilience and courage of all Rwandans in the past twenty years. Transported in a single lamp , it will be used to light other lamps in communities throughout Rwanda . To mark the 20th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, all commemorative fires across the country come from this single flame Kwibuka . When it will return to Kigali April 7, 2014 , President Paul Kagame will use to light the flame of national mourning , marking the official commemoration period . The flame will also be the source of light used during the candlelight vigil to be held at Amahoro stadium on the evening of April 7, 2014 .

Learn more about the flame and its national tour here.

Photos of today’s event will be available on the Flickr page Kwibuka20 and videos here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/kwibuka20

Please send all media inquiries to media@kwibuka.rw

Source: Rwanda Embassy in Belgium

Rwanda’s Peacekeeping Operations – a Poisoned Pill That Blackmails the West


OPINION

by Theogene RUDASINGWA

30.1.2014

Rwanda’s leader uses UN peace missions to maintain the dictatorship in Kigali and to enhance his formidable global financial and criminal network that liquidates his opponents

President Paul Kagame has come to love United Nations peacekeeping operations. This is ironic since he hates the United Nations, and does not actually believe in peacekeeping. It is now an unwritten rule that the West (mostly the US and UK) will ask Rwanda to participate in UN peacekeeping missions, and Kagame will kindly oblige.

Photo: Rwandan peacekeepers serving with UNAMID escort IDPs on their return from an IDP camp to their original village in Sehjanna, near Kutum, North Darfur, July 2011. Source: un.org

What is the deal?

First, the West will not shed the blood of their sons and daughters for Africans. They need their favourites like Kagame to do the job for them. Hence, Rwanda’s troops can now be found in Darfur, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Haiti. Rwanda’s officers, some of them notorious human rights abusers, are the most favoured when it comes to leading United Nations peacekeeping missions. The unspoken thought from Washington and London seems to be ‘Africans are killing Africans, who cares even if African murderous dictators like Kagame pretend to keep an illusive peace?’

Second, Kagame needs these ‘gifts of love’ from the West. He needs something to occupy his increasingly restless Tutsi army. If they are not in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they should be somewhere else.

Third, Kagame has made a fortune out of peacekeeping. His family and clique pockets most of money that should otherwise go to the Rwandan officers and men in these UN missions. Through the Horizon Group ( controlled by Rwanda’s military and intelligence), alongside Crystal Ventures ( Kagame’s financial empire that controls most of Rwanda’s economy), he gets money directly from the UN system, and indirectly from taxpayers in the West. With vast resources, Kagame has built a global financial and criminal network to liquidate any of his opponents, be they Rwandans or heads of states of other countries.

Fourth, by having his troops in these peacekeeping missions, Kagame can always blackmail the West into silence, inaction and protection when it comes to calls for accountability for his horrendous human rights abuses. All that Kagame has to do is to threaten to withdraw Rwandan troops from UN peacekeeping missions. In 2010, when the UN Mapping Report chronicled his war crimes, crimes against humanity and even possible ‘acts of genocide’ in the DRC, Kagame threw a tantrum, and threatened to withdraw his troops from Darfur. The next day, UN Secretary General embarked on a pilgrimage to Kigali to pay homage to Kagame. The report was shelved, joining many others that tell the sad story of unaccounted crimes by Kagame and his clique before and since 1994.

Fifth, Kagame has come to believe that he is indispensable to the West, in war-prone and far-flung hot spots that are still viewed as the dark continent. Through Kagame’s deployments in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region, Western military and intelligence establishments have proxy eyes and ears on the ground. Occasionally, Washington and London will timidly voice their concerns as in the M23 saga in DRC, or the assassination of Patrick Karegeya in South Africa, but the hard-nosed analysts will insist Kagame is still their man.

As in 1994, it will take another civil war, more bloodshed, regional instability and the demise of the Kigali regime for Washington and London to wake up to the new national and geopolitical realities. When that happens, Washington and London, like Paris before them, will hopefully learn that even powerful nations can be wrong, be on the wrong side of history, and knowingly help inflict damage on poor nations.

* Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa is President Paul Kagame’s former envoy to Washington and now an opposition leader in exile in the US.

 

Source: allAfrica.com

Kagame calls for end to genocide militia group


 

(Reporter’s name unknown)

31.1.2014

Photo: President Kagame (centre in glasses) in a group photo with other Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa yesterday. The New Times/ Village Urugwiro.

President Paul Kagame has called for an immediate end to the continuous impunity of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (F DLR) militia, operating in eastern DR Congo.

The President was speaking at the opening of the 22nd Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa yesterday.

His remarks followed a discussion and presentation of various reports, including the report by the Peace and Security Council.

“Despite the welcome agreement signed between the government of DRC and M23, an armed group behind the 1994 Genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda, the FDLR, remains untackled, even though it is the bedrock of instability in our region. Rwanda requests this gathering to urge and follow up the end of the FDLR threat to Rwanda and the region,” the head of state said.

Kagame underscored the importance of Africa solving its peace and security issues across the continent.

“There is increasing evidence of Africa’s genuine commitment to manage our own security crises. But a lot more could be done, if together, we redoubled our efforts to confront instability; the single biggest obstacle to the prosperity we all aspire to,” he said.

President Kagame also urged all member states to keep in mind the central purpose of peacekeeping missions.

Genocide a reminder of reality

His call comes amid an ongoing conflict in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

“Whatever the stated mandate, the protection of civilians should always be at the heart of our interventions. In Rwanda, we learned the hard way that this seemingly evident principle does not always translate into corresponding behaviour on the ground. The 1994 Genocide that we commemorate this year for the 20th time is one important reminder of this reality,” Kagame said.

Rwanda has contributed peacekeepers to several countries, including Sudan, South Sudan and, more recently, Central African Republic.

Yesterday’s discussion was preceded by a hand over ceremony of the AU chairmanship from Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania.

In his handover speech, Prime Minister Hailemariam thanked all African Union members for their support and urged them to work towards a dignified Africa.

 

“Let us strive to achieve our collective vision of a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa.”

 

President Kagame, who is accompanied by First Lady Jeannette Kagame and Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo, later held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Hailemariam.

Contact email: editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

source: The New Times

Bill Gates Has a Point


 

 

by Gitura MWAURA

30.1.2014

Photo: Multimillionaire Bill Gates (onlinegadgetstore.com)

Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of an American multinational software giant, Microsoft, has made a bold prediction in his 2014 Gates Annual Letter.

By 2035, he suggests, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. There are those who would not like to believe him, which he attributes to three myths. The first myth, he says, is the belief that poor countries are doomed to stay poor. The second myth is the notion that foreign aid is a big waste, with the third suggesting that saving lives leads to overpopulation.

Looked at closely, the second and third myths affirm the first, or feed from the first, and vice versa. “The belief that the world can’t solve extreme poverty and disease isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful,” Gates writes.

That anyone should hold the belief that “life in Africa never gets better, and it never will,” he describes it as a most pernicious version of the first myth.

To dispel the myth he looks at the available facts, pointing out that countries supposedly doomed to remain poor have not stayed poor.

“The percentage of very poor people has dropped by more than half since 1990,” he observes.

He notes that gross domestic product (GDP) which, on average describes annual income per person, has risen in sub-Saharan Africa over the past 50 years, while seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies of the past half-decade are in Africa.

While the annual income per person in a country such as Ethiopia is $800 (RwF 545,000), Botswana has a GDP of $12,000 (Rwf 8,160,000). But on average across Africa, “after plummeting during the debt crisis of the 1980s, (the GDP) has climbed by two thirds since 1998, to nearly $2,200 from just over $1,300.”

Africa, he writes, has also made big strides in health and education. Since 1960, the life span for women in sub-Saharan Africa has gone up from 41 to 57 years, despite the HIV epidemic. Without HIV it would be 61 years.

The percentage of children in school has gone from the lowly 40s to over 75 percent since 1970.

With such gains one can see why it is a myth that life in Africa never gets better, and never will.

On the second myth, that foreign aid is a big waste, Gates points out that the “aid breeds dependency” argument misses all the countries that have graduated from being aid recipients, and focuses only on the most difficult remaining cases.

He lists former major recipients that hardly receive any aid today: Botswana, Morocco, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, Thailand, Mauritius, Singapore, and Malaysia.

South Korea, he observes, received enormous amounts of aid after the Korean War, and is now a net donor. China is also a net aid donor and funds a lot of science to help developing countries. India receives 0.09 percent of its GDP in aid, down from 1 percent in 1991.

These are persuasive arguments, which, with the healthy dose of optimism that he displays makes one see why he believes that there will be almost no poor countries left in the world in the next twenty years.

What about the myth that saving lives leads to overpopulation?

He enumerates the achievements then puts them in a historical perspective: A baby born in 1960 had an 18 percent chance of dying before her fifth birthday. For a child born today, the odds are less than 5 percent. In 2035, they will be 1.6 percent.

Does this imply saving lives can be a negative thing, say, overpopulation?

The irony is that saving lives doesn’t lead to overpopulation. In fact, he notes, it’s quite the opposite. Creating societies where people enjoy basic health, relative prosperity, fundamental equality, and access to contraceptives is the only way to secure a sustainable world.

Rwanda provides an apt example. Limiting reproduction started by helping women seize control of their own lives. In a span of only 5 years, from 2005 to 2010, the fertility rate decreased from 6.1 children per woman in Rwanda to 4.6 children.

Perhaps Bill Gates has a point.

The writer is a commentator on local and regional affairs.