FROM RWANDAN ORGANIZATIONS BASED ABROAD
TO: His Excellency Barrack Obama
President of The United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Washington, DC 20500
Subject: President Kagame’s visit to New York and Chicago
With our respects, we, Rwandan organizations listed below, urge your government to not welcome President Paul Kagame on the US soil for a trip that is leading him to New York and Chicago as one of the ways to pressure him and his government to open a genuine democratic process that accepts critics, dialogue with political opponents and allows freedom of speech.
We strongly praised your vision and the prospect that you would like to project on Africa through primarily the speech that you delivered in the Ghana’s parliament on July 11, 2009 addressing not only the population of Ghana but also of the whole African continent in general. You did lay down your views, proposed policies and whishes for Africa which reiterated and re-energized us on our commitments to continue our fight for hope of true democracy and stronger institutions particularly in Rwanda that give everyone equal rights in front of justice and economical opportunities. It has been however deceiving on the Rwanda’s side as while the situation on the ground was getting worse with more political opponents to President Kagame and journalists being put in jail or simply killed, we’ve not only seen unweave red US aid to the current regime maintained or increased in some areas but also we are seeing President Kagame often being welcomed on the US soil.
We know how much the US people in general and your administration in particular have so generously helped Rwanda in response to the aftermaths of the 1990-1994 civil war followed by genocide, mass murder and massive population movements which devastated Rwanda’s physical infrastructure and social fabric. From the ‘‘support hope’’ mission and different forms of assistance to the Government of Rwanda and civil society groups, let alone different initiatives aiming at restoring peace in the Great Lakes region, the United States has proven to be a true friend and a key player in the economic and political landscape of post-genocide Rwanda.
Nevertheless, over the past seventeen years, our concerns have been increasing with respect to seeing the donor community in general and the Unites States of America in particular not only fail to achieve their higher-order aims of fostering peace, justice, democracy and reconciliation values in post-genocide, but also to even run counter to them by encouraging the culture of impunity, dictatorship and state-capture practices. Indeed, Since 1994, as numerous key observers including Human Rights Watch, Freedom House and your own State Department through the annually Human Rights report have noted, the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front)-led government has been accused of committing numerous human rights abuses, assassinating or harassing political opponents, targeting human rights defenders and narrowing the space for freedom of expression and independent civil society. In addition to have invaded a neighboring country and deliberately massacred thousands of Rwandan refugees and Congolese people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Kagame’s regime has maintained security arrangements with and provided weapons to armed proxy groups who continue to operate and commit serious human rights abuses in the DRC, including killings and rape.2
On October 1, 2010, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published the report of its human rights mapping exercise on Congo. The report covers the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in Congo between March 1993 and June 2003 that also shaded some light on how President Kagame’s led regime was implicated in most of those tragic events. Our organizations along with many other Human Rights organizations have urged the United Nations members with US leadership to make a concerted international effort to initiate judicial investigations into grave human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo documented by the UN and bring those responsible to justice.
As Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated in its today’s Council of June 7th, 2011 titled “Rwanda: Serious Concerns Regarding Freedom of Expression”, it remains seriously concerned that freedom of expression is not respected in practice, as evidenced by these recent cases:
- In February 2011, Agnès Uwimana and Saidati Mukakibibi, journalists with the newspaper Umurabyo, were found guilty of endangering public order and sentenced to 17 years and 7 years respectively, in connection with articles viewed as critical of the government. Uwimana was also found guilty of minimizing the genocide, “divisionism” and defamation.
- Bernard Ntaganda, leader of the opposition party P.S.-Imberakuri, was sentenced to four years' imprisonment in February 2011 for endangering national security and “divisionism”, in connection with his statements criticizing government policies.
- Several other members of the PS-Imberakuri and the FDU-Inkingi opposition parties, including FDU-Inkingi leader Victoire Ingabire, remain in detention.
- To HRW knowledge, there has been no progress in the investigation into the murder of Democratic Green Party Vice-President André Kagwa Rwisereka in July 2010.
In addition, President Kagame has expanded his terrorist activities abroad where assassination of any critic voices has been reported. As recent as last month, U.K. police warned two Rwandans in exile of evidence that they may be assassinated by the government of Rwanda. One recalls that in June 2010, Lt General Kayumba Nyamwasa, former close aide to Kagame and High Commissioner of Rwanda to India, now living in exile in South Africa, was victim of an assassination attempt in Johannesburg. South Africa authorities suspected the involvement of the government of Rwanda and since then has recalled his Ambassador to Rwanda. The list of critics to President Kagame who have been assassinated abroad is long, it includes Seth Sendashonga, former Minister of Interior in post genocide government assassinated in Nairobi, Kenya in 1998, Col. Theoneste Lizinde, a RPF officer who has just fled Kagame regime was killed in Nairobi, Kenya the same year of 1998. It is feared that these Kagame criminal activities towards his political opponents and critics are now in high gear mode as shown by recent activities in UK and that he may be using venue in Chicago on June 10-11, 2011 as a launching pad of the same criminal activities in North American, where American and Canadian citizens will be harmed.
We have been strongly disappointed to see how President Kagame and his RPF-led government have cynically been levering genocide as a tool used for covering some leaders and protégé’s with a mantle of impunity and for monopolizing power by capturing by force state institutions and by delegitimizing, disarming and silencing dissent voices. They skillfully exploited the guilt and debt of the international community, which means that, with genocide, international community has lost the right to ask ‘awkward’ question of President Paul Kagame and his government’s agenda.
Against this deceitful background and in response to the sheer complexity of the post-genocide challenges and the incapacity of the international community to bring down the conflict potential, we believe that time has come to break the siege of silence and give Rwandans a chance to sit down, talk openly about their tragedy and forge a common vision to shape their future as did the American people three centuries ago. This is why we strongly believe that time has come to take a bold step with courage and engage Rwandans of all walks of life in a genuine process of sincere Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation in order to break away from the longstanding cycle of violence and impunity and to pave the way for a lasting solution.
We believe you have the potential and good will to help Rwandans bring out the best of themselves and overcome the culture of fear and despair, get rid of politics of warlordism and ethno-centric tyranny as your predecessors did in Europe a half-century ago. Above all, we believe you have the potential and good will to restore hope and America’s image in Rwanda and in the Great Lakes region of Africa. We believe that we can speak on behalf of a great many voiceless Rwandans if we tell you that Rwandan people as a whole expect from your administration policy a strong support to their hope to see sincere and inclusive dialogue about the past and the future of their country prevail over the longstanding culture of repression and the cycle of violence and humanitarian crisis it brings about.
Once again, we thank you Excellency Mr. President for all efforts you deployed in an attempt to make a positive difference in Rwanda and request your considerations in assisting us in sparing future tragedy and give the next Rwandan generations the prospect of living in harmony with a lasting peace. Your critical support can mostly be achieved by asking President Kagame to do the right thing and open a roadmap of a genuine democratic process and dialogue and only until then can he be welcomed on the US soil for either private or official visits. In hope to hear from you soon, we wish you a productive trip and thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
For the Rwandese Community
Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Honorable Governor Pat Quinn
James R. Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph, 16-100
Chicago, IL 60601
100 W. Randolph, 16-100
Chicago, IL 60601
Honorable Rahm Emanuel
Mayor of City of Chicago
121 N La Salle St
Chicago City Hall 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60602
List of Civil Society and Political Organizations for this initiative.
Mr. Félicien NDINDABAHIZI Mr. Jean-Marie Vianney Ndagijimana
CERCI –Cote D’Ivoire (se) FEIDAR-France (se)
Mr. Théobald Gakwaya Rwaka Mr. Raphael Rwambonera
CNR-Switzerland (se) RFIEKU-Suede (se)
Mr. Gerard Karangwa Semushi Mme. Agnes Mukarugomwa
PDP-Imanzi Netherlands (se) Dialogue & Convivialité – Belgium (se)
Théobald RUTIHUNZA Mr. Eustache Habumuremyi
RIPRODHOR (se) Jambo-Belgium (se)
Mr. Léon Ngarukiye Mr. Joseph Matata
Amical-Rwandais Danermark (se) CLIIR-Belgium (se)
Mr. Jean-Baptiste Ngarambe Mme. Daphrose Nyirankundwankize
HRRF-Belgium (se) RIFDP-Belgium/Canada/Netherlands (se)
Mr. Jean-Paul Mihigo Mr. Gilbert NIZEYIMANA
RAYA-USA (se) CORWABEL-Belgium (se)
Mr. Pacifique Kabalisa Mr. Pierre-Claver Nkinamubanzi
CPCH-Belgium (se) CRC-Canada (se)
Mr. Elysee Ndayisaba Mr. Theophile Murengerantwari
AVICA-Belgium (se) MDPR-Intiganda Germany (se)
Mr. Etienne Mutabazi Mr. Jean-Paul Rwasamanzi
RDTJ-South Africa (se) AKAGERA-RHEIN Germany (se)
Mr. Ildephonse Murengezi
Mr. Callixte Kanani Mme. Marthe-Antoinette Balihe
CRES-Switzerland (se) ARL-Luxemburg (se)
Mr. Jean-Damascene Rugomboka Mr. Pascal Kalinganire
CARP-Netherlands (se) OPJDR-USA (se)
Mr. Jean-Marie Vianney Ndagijimana
COVIGLA Collectif des victimes des crimes de masse
commis dans la région des grands lacs africainsFrance (se)