Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch

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Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Theogene Rudasingwa | "A Case For Humanity"


By Sam Chafe

What if you were sentenced to prison for writing negatively about the U.S. government?

This is the reality for Theogene Rudasingwa, former secretary-general for the Rwandese Patriotic Front, and many of his colleagues.

Rudasingwa recently was convicted by Rwanda President Paul Kagame and sentenced to 24 years in prison for writing about Kagame’s oppressive regime and the need for peaceful reform. The paper that Rudasingwa co-authored is called “The Rwanda Briefing.”

In the briefing, Rudasingwa and his colleagues share information about the current administration that is in place in Rwanda. They discuss how Kagame is a corrupt leader who does not allow for political opposition and actually uses his ties with the western countries as a way to hold his “monopoly of power.” Rudasingwa is part of the reason Kagame has these ties. As the first post-genocide Rwandan ambassador to the U.S., he helped the flow of resources from U.S. companies for the reconstruction of Rwanda.

“The U.S. and the U.K. have been friendly to Kagame,” says Rudasingwa. “He uses those friendships for intimidation purposes.”

Rudasingwa thinks that the U.S. and other big western countries need to throw their weight behind the people instead of the government. He also sees the current situation in the Middle East as an opportunity for the people of Rwanda to gain and use the support of the U.S.

“It will depend on if the situation in Libya drags on,” says Rudasingwa. “If it goes quickly, then Rwanda could get help, but if it drags on, then the western countries are likely to shy away.”

Bill Smith, director of the university's Martin Institute, compares this to the U.S. involvement in Somalia.

“Somalia happened a few months before the Rwandan civil war and genocide,” says Smith. “If that went smoother and quicker, there’s a chance the U.S. would have stepped in and helped Rwanda.”

However, the message is far different from the current situation in Libya. Rudasingwa and his colleagues want to build the citizens freedoms peacefully.

“The people of Rwanda still have not recovered from the war and genocide in the early 1990s,” says Rudasingwa. “They do not want more war and more bloodshed.”

According to Rudasingwa, more than 1 million people were killed in the Rwandan genocide.

“Egypt is a great example of peaceful change,” says Rudasingwa. “Once militaries get involved, the fight for change becomes more difficult.”

Rudasingwa will be speaking at the 2011 Borah Symposium, which addresses "Human Security in the 21st Century."

“It’s great that this year’s theme is highlighting human security,” says Rudasingwa.

Human security is essentially being free from oppression and fear. Both of these are things, he notes, that the Rwandan people have been experiencing for many years.

He hopes to educate the students at the University of Idaho on the broader view of human security. Rudasingwa says that the situation in Rwanda, as well as the Middle East, may affect the average college student more then they know. He also sees a great importance in speaking at University of Idaho because of the idealism of college students.

“Many college students want to change the world,” he says. “We need to tap into that resource because the youth truly are the leaders of tomorrow.”

Rudasingwa feels that students everywhere need to be aware of what is happening around the world because it affects us all, even here in Idaho.

“It is imperative that people be involved,” he says. “If the U.S. was to get involved then that is American tax dollars and American lives that will be affected.”

He said it is like the “Butterfly Effect” because the actions of the world have a far lying affect.

“Being future leaders, these are the challenges that they will be facing and need to face,” he says. “Students are motivated by these causes; they don’t have as much baggage as my generation does and have fewer restraints.”

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