From Africa Global Village By: Jennifer Fierberg, MSW
In his op-ed article on September 8, 2010 Charles Landow addresses the dichotomy of the Rwandan political situation. He writes, “No one is quite sure what to make of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. Since his re-election last month with 93 percent of the vote, the United States has reacted warily. The White House cited “a series of disturbing events” in a statement that pointedly congratulated “the people of Rwanda,” not Kagame himself. “Democracy is about more than holding elections,” the statement said. This is a step in the right direction. The United States and others must continue supporting Rwandans without directly boosting Kagame. Why is this uncertain embrace necessary? After all, Kagame has made his country one of Africa’s development stars. The economy is growing, the streets are clean and secure, corruption is under control, and women enjoy a prominent role.”
This track of thinking is what has kept the Rwandan people under the oppressive rule of dictatorship that their allies are turning their heads from. The humanitarian issues that overwhelm the country of Rwanda continue to be ignored by the western media to the detriment of those who suffer.
One has only to scratch the surface in Rwanda on humanitarian issues to find that hundreds of young men are being held without cause on a prison island. That there are hundreds of thousands of children suffering every day from the ongoing effects of the genocide; yet that does not make the nightly news. Due to Rwanda having allies with some of the strongest and most powerful nations in the world the media centers not dare publicize that the ongoing suffering in Rwanda is immeasurable.
Until there is a new regime in place the resilient people of Rwanda will continue to suffer under President Kagame’s iron fisted rule.
Many groups have tried to provide a new direction for this small country but have found themselves imprisoned, in exile or beheaded. Unspoken repression continues to linger silently over Kagame’s record, giving many supporters second thoughts but none have taken action. In the months before the presidential election, the deputy leader of an opposition party and the deputy editor of an opposition newspaper were killed; a prominent politician who intended to challenge Kagame was arrested; other opposition parties were excluded from the election; and a former head of the army and Kagame critic was shot in South Africa, where he had fled. (The government has denied involvement in the violent incidents and has accused various other groups of these acts at different times.)
Until Rwanda is liberated from dictatorship the Rwandan people will continue to suffer at the hands of an iron fisted ruler who presents himself in democratic clothing. Until the media, government and churches of the west who support him, including Rick Warren’s Saddleback Community Church in California, open their eyes to the realities of President Kagame’s regime he will continue to be a double handed leader.
What will it take to wake up the west to the increasingly grave situation in Rwanda?