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NYT calls Rwanda’s Paul Kagame ‘Darling Dictator of the Day’

May 30, 2012 1 comment
Most opposition political parties were barred from registering for Rwanda’s 2010 presidential election, in which Paul Kagame won 93 percent of the vote. Photo: Finbarr O’Reilly/Reuters

That the New York Times published an op-ed by Marc Sommers calling Rwanda’s Paul Kagame “The Darling Dictator of the Day” is significant. As is the comment that “he does not merit his reputation as a visionary modernizer” because, “The reason is simple: his state is all about force.”

Sommers, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, wastes no time in pointing out that, “There’s no question who’s in charge in Rwanda.” Sommers stresses that, “The government’s commanding presence in Rwandan lives is aggressively maintained by Kagame and a clique of other former Tutsi refugees from Uganda.” He even notes that, Kagame’s government asserted its power in the run-up to the 2010 presidential elections, when authorities barred most opposition political parties from registering for elections, closed down many independent newspapers, and witnessed the flight into exile of several prominent government officials who said they “feared for their lives.”

There were also three suspicious pre-election shootings. One of the exiled officials, Kagame’s former chief of staff, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, was shot in the stomach in South Africa after openly criticizing the Rwandan government. A Rwandan journalist, Jean Léonard Rugambage, was killed shortly after his article, which pointed to government complicity, was published. The deputy leader of the Green Party, which was among those unable to register, was found not only dead but with his head partly severed.

Probably most important is the comment that, “Soon after the election [where “Kagame garnered 93 percent of the vote”], an exhaustively researched United Nations ‘mapping exercise’ report led the veteran Rwanda expert Filip Reyntjens to state that ‘there is overwhelming evidence of responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity’ against Kagame. A foreign expert (who asked not to be named) also reported the disappearance of ‘a large number’ of Rwandan civil society members in 2007.” That the Times published a piece which referenced not only the UN mapping report and Kagame’s complicity is significant. The conflicts in Democratic Republic of Congo, which have been steadily going on for nearly twenty years, have been the most bloody since World War Two—with around ten million killed. Noting Kagame’s “overwhelming evidence of responsibility” is an important fact to publish.

This could well signal the end of Paul Kagame’s love affair with America. Like Saddam Hussen, Suharto, Mobutu Sese Seko, and other dictators who lost favor with the American Empire, the media did not begin to acknowledge the skeletons in their closets until after they had become the boogeyman—which was often long after the worst of their crimes and human rights abuses had been committed, and which often had Western complicity in their tyranny sanitized from the record.

Thus, it was common to condemn former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein for “gassing his own people,” but references to how the U.S. government supplied the dictator with chemical weapons, or initially blamed Iran for the Halabja massacre, and so on were not facts the media was prone to point out. In the preface to After the Cataclysm: Postwar Indochina and the the Reconstruction of Imperial Ideology, the second volume of “The Political Economy of Human Rights” series, writers Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman wrote that, “The Free Press has fulfilled its primary obligations to the state by averting Western eyes from the carnage of the war and effacing U.S. responsibility.”

For now, the New York Times continues to avert “Western eyes from the carnage of the war and effacing U.S. responsibility” in regards to Rwanda. Sommers continues to reinforce certain lies. Chief among them deal with the Rwandan war and genocide. Sommers writes that Kagame led “a remarkable recovery from war and genocide in the heart of Africa,” and that his “government is renowned for reducing corruption, expanding security, addressing genocidal crimes and increasing women’s rights.” Sommers even says that, “Kagame is no Idi Amin or Charles G. Taylor.” But neither of the two men ever amassed the record for murder and genocide like Paul Kagame.

The truth of the matter is that Kagame is the instigator of the war and genocide in Rwandan and Democratic Republic of Congo. It was the army he led, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) that invaded Rwanda in 1990 and carried out extensive acts of terrorism and sabotage; who routinely violated ceasefire agreements; and who assassinated President Habyarimana in 1994 and within two hours conducted a massive military offensive that swept across the country in one hundreds days of genocidal violence. Not to mention the “overwhelming evidence of responsibility” of Kagame’s crimes in Congo, where, again, an estimated ten million have died.

As Sommers notes, “The government’s commanding presence in Rwandan lives is aggressively maintained by Kagame and a clique of other former Tutsi refugees from Uganda.” Here, Sommers is referring to the political and military leaders of the RPF. These men were part of the Ugandan national army, and the RPF was an arm of the Ugandan military. They wore Ugandan military uniforms. And it was this event, the 1990 invasion, that is integral to understanding all of what is transpiring. That, and the subordination to the U.S.—who is not only the main backer of the Museveni regime in Uganda, but Kagame in Rwanda.

When Uganda invaded Rwanda, its goal was to destabilize the government, and then overthrow it. This is what Museveni did in Uganda. And from October 1990 to April 1994 that is precisely what happened in Rwanda via the RPF. This is also what happened in Democratic Republic of Congo, when Museveni and Kagame invaded and overthrew President Mobutu, and conducted some of the most brutal crimes that were committed.

The second-in-command for United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, Col. Luc Marchal told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR): “From my experience, my conclusion is that the RPF had one goal, seizing power by force and keeping it to themselves.” Marchal also stated that, “Not once, never have I sensed the desire to make concessions, to smooth rough edges, to reach a consensus.” He told the court that, “It was almost a daily struggle, and I received remarks because of the violations of the agreement”, and that, “All these elements led me to the conclusion that their goal was certainly not to concretize the peace process.” Marchal believes it was Kagame who assassinated President Habyarimana.
He is not alone in this regards.

There is also James Lyons, an FBI agent who came to the same conclusion.

Another UN investigation headed by Michael Hourigan, came to the conclusion as well. It’s report buried.

And former Rwandan genocide prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, who was removed from her ICTR duties after she insisted on prosecuting Kagame for the assassination and various other war crimes.

Robert Gersony, an American consultant hired by the UN, concluded that Kagame’s RPF committed genocide. He reported a “scene of systematic and sustained killing and persecution of civilian Hutu populations” by Kagame’s forces. Like Hourigan, his report was buried.

It was during this time, and acting on Gersony’s report, that UN forces were blocking refugees from returning. This was reported in the New York Times in late September of 1994:

the United Nations has stopped encouraging Rwandan refugees to return and is refusing even to assist those who wish to go home because of a report that the new, Tutsi-dominated Government in Rwanda has killed thousands of members of the Hutu ethnic group.

The timing of this is important because earlier that month George Moose, a State Department official, sent a memo to Secretary of State Christopher Warren in which it was noted that the “RPA and Tutsi civilian surrogates had killed 10,000 or more Hutu civilians per month, with the RPA accounting for 95% of the killing.”

Spanish and French courts have even ruled on various matters related to the Rwandan and Congo conflicts (more so for the Spanish court), and both found the RPF responsible for the assassination of President Habyarimana, and the genocide that followed. And issued warrants.

It is for these reasons, and more, that it is unfathomable for Sommers to claim that Kagame is “addressing genocidal crimes” when Kagame’s crimes, and that of the RPF he commands, have gone unpunished. And it is cynical beyond belief for Sommers to imply that punishing the victims of the RPF—the government Kagame overthrew and those accused of “genocide”—makes the case. But not once has any RPF soldier been indicted at the ICTR or ICC. As noted, Carla del Ponte made an attempt to do so, but was systematically removed.

The ICTR has yet to find a plan to commit genocide in Rwanda. After nearly twenty years they have not uncovered a conspiracy to commit genocide. They have also refused to consider a RPF conspiracy, which there is significant evidence of.

And if you look at their biggest trial of top military personnel—Bagosora, et al—the ruling is revealing. For one, all were acquitted on conspiracy to commit genocide, the gravest charge.

The court acknowledged that “a cycle of ethnic violence against Tutsi civilians has often followed attacks by the RPF,” and that “[f]ollowing the October 1990 RPF invasion, there were mass arrests as well as localised killings at the time and in subsequent years in several northern communes,” and the court ruled that “the alternative explanations for the events have added relevant context to a few allegations against the Accused.”

The ICTR judges admit that the military preparations by the Rwandan government were “consistent with preparations for a political or military power struggle,” and that “in the context of the ongoing war with the RPF, this evidence does not invariably show that the purpose of arming and training these civilians or the preparation of lists was to kill Tutsi civilians,” and that “in the context of the immediate aftermath of the RPF’s violation of the cease fire agreement, it does not necessarily show an intention to use the forces to commit genocide.” What it shows is an intention to use the forces to stop the RPF’s efforts of overthrowing the government by military force—i.e. defend Rwanda against RPF aggression.

This is backed by what a couple of American analysts who closely studied the conflict found. In their piece “What Really Happened in Rwanda?” Christian Davenport and Allan Stam write that,

Perhaps the most shocking result of our combination of information on troop locations involved the invasion itself: The killings in the zone controlled by the FAR seemed to escalate as the RPF moved into the country and acquired more territory. When the RPF advanced, large-scale killings escalated. When the RPF stopped, large-scale killings largely decreased. The data revealed in our maps was consistent with FAR claims that it would have stopped much of the killing if the RPF had simply called a halt to its invasion. This conclusion runs counter to the Kagame administration’s claims that the RPF continued its invasion to bring a halt to the killings.

Furthermore, the statement that Kagame is “increasing women’s rights” is disputable in one name: Victoire Ingabire. Here is a Rwandan woman who ended her exile by coming back to be a political opponent and fight for national reconciliation and democracy. A mother, she now sits in jail awaiting the conclusion of a kangaroo court trial that will surely convict her of Rwanda’s so-called “genocide ideology laws” that Human Rights Watch has warned is “a broad and ill-defined offense [which is used] as a tool to silence independent opinion and criticism.”

While there is a lot of important details missing from Sommers op-ed, and not all of his comments pan out, it still is an extraordinary development at the “paper of record” that Paul Kagame would be called the “Darling Dictator of the Day” who is clamping down on dissent at home while committing serious crimes in Democratic Republic of Congo. But again it could be a sign of the Darling’s day having ended, and if this is indeed the case, it is important to not only hold Kagame to account, but also U.S. officials who have facilitated him, backed him, and quite possibly directed him.

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The NYT Makes Excuses for Rwanda’s Genocide in Congo

Companies who “do business” in Democratic Republic of Congo

On page eight of the New York Times May 29, 2012 edition is a story about a leaked United Nations report which shows Rwandans were recruited by the Rwandan government to go fight in Democratic Republic of Congo, or the D.R.C.

Josh Kron’s article “U.N. Report Says Rwandans Recruited to Fight in Congo” reports that “rebel soldiers who have defected told United Nations officials that they were Rwandans who had been sent across the border to fight in a mutiny in eastern Congo that has displaced tens of thousands of civilians.”

Kron also reports that “Rwandan authorities have been seemingly complicit in recruiting soldiers for the new Congolese rebel leader, Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

It is rare to read this level of criticism of the Rwandan government in the New York Times. Rwanda is an important U.S. ally in Africa, and the “paper of record” often complements U.S. interests by providing differential treatment towards allies and foes.

So it comes as no surprise to see Kron makes excuse for Rwanda’s genocidal involvement in D.R.C.—a resource-rich African country which has suffered considerably and continuously since the late 1800s ever since colonial powers discovered the country’s wealth—and get a number of other issues wrong in the process.

For Kron, the reason Rwanda is even in D.R.C. is for self defense.

Tensions [between Rwanda and D.R.C.] began soon after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, in which an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis were killed by Hutus. Many organizers of the genocide fled across the border and later established a Hutu rebel group in eastern Congo bent on overturning the Rwandan government. Various militias supported by neighboring countries have been organized in Congo over the years. Rwanda in particular was accused of supporting Laurent Nkunda, a Congolese rebel who is also an ethnic Tutsi, and his movement, known as the National Congress for the People’s Defense, or the C.N.D.P., which in 2008 threatened to overturn the Congolese government.

There are quite a few things wrong with this statement. For starters, “800,000 ethnic Tutsis” is 200,000 more Tutsis than there were in the 1991 census. And with a reported 300,000 survivors that leaves the figure half-a-million high. Of the roughly one million killed in the Rwandan genocide, the majority were Hutu’s. The significance of this exposes a gaping hole in the official version of the Rwandan genocide: If the majority of the killed were Hutu, then who killed them and why?

Rwanda’s dominant politicay party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (R.P.F.), which is headed by the country’s President Paul Kagame, has its roots in Uganda. The R.P.F. was an official arm of the Ugandan military, and consisted largely of Rwandan exiles that were a part of the U.S.-backed National Resistance Army, which was led by now Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni. Paul Kagame was the head of military intelligence for the N.R.A., which was an armed militia whose goal was to seize power in Uganda. After they successfully did so in the mid-1980s, the R.P.F. was created to carry out a similar plan in Rwanda. And on October 1, 1990 the R.P.F. invaded Rwanda from Uganda. And for nearly four years the R.P.F. conducted a plan to destabilize and overthrow the government, which came to a crescendo on April 6, 1994 when the R.P.F. assassinated President Habyarimana, and carried out a massive military offensive.

A couple of American analysts, Christian Davenport and Alan Stam, who studied the conflict closely noted in their article “What Really Happened in Rwanda?” that,

Perhaps the most shocking result of our combination of information on troop locations involved the invasion itself: The killings in the zone controlled by the FAR seemed to escalate as the RPF moved into the country and acquired more territory. When the RPF advanced, large-scale killings escalated. When the RPF stopped, large-scale killings largely decreased. The data revealed in our maps was consistent with FAR claims that it would have stopped much of the killing if the RPF had simply called a halt to its invasion. This conclusion runs counter to the Kagame administration’s claims that the RPF continued its invasion to bring a halt to the killings.

It was the R.P.F. who was the main antagonist in the conflict, and who largely outgunned the Rwandan military—which explains how they were able to overthrow an entire government in less than 100 days, and send their military forces fleeing to neighboring countries.

And this pattern, which occurred in Uganda, and repeated in Rwanda, was again carried out in Democratic Republic of Congo when Uganda and Rwanda invaded, overthrew the government of President Mobutu, and began butchering people. This was facilitated through men like General Ntaganda, who Kron describes as once having “military ties to [Paul Kagame’s] government.”

Kron goes on to write that, “Although [Ntaganda] was accused of orchestrating a massacre in eastern Congo as a rebel in 2008, General Ntaganda became a senior officer in the Congolese Army, working alongside the United Nations as well as Rwanda to subdue the Hutu rebels.”

This is very misleading, especially the word “although.” It is inaccurate to give the impression that Ntaganda’s record as a war criminal is an aberration in regards to his relationship with Kagame’s Rwanda. The leaked report and a previous U.N. report show that the Rwandan government is deeply involved in human rights abuses in the neighboring country. According to the U.N. Mapping report, which describes “The systematic attacks, in particular killings and massacres perpetrated against members of the Hutu ethnic group”:

These attacks resulted in a very large number of victims, probably tens of thousands of members of the Hutu ethnic group, all nationalities combined. In the vast majority of cases reported, it was not a question of people killed unintentionally in the course of combat, but people targeted primarily by AFDL/APR/FAB forces and executed in their hundreds, often with edged weapons. The majority of the victims were children, women, elderly people and the sick, who posed no threat to the attacking forces. Numerous serious attacks on the physical or pyschological integrity of members of the group were also committed, with a very high number of Hutus shot, raped, burnt or beaten. Very large numbers of victims were forced to flee and travel long distances to escape their pursuers, who were trying to kill them. The hunt lasted for months, resulting in the deaths of an unknown number of people subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading living conditions, without access to food or medication. On several occasions, the humanitarian aid intended for them was deliberately blocked …

And unlike Kron’s article, the mapping report also deals considerably with mineral exploitation. Democratic Republic of Congo is a very wealthy country, and the report states that, “A growing number of foreign actors became directly involved in exploiting the D.R.C.’s natural resources.” The report then names Rwanda and Uganda as doing so “either through the intermediary of their Congolese partners [writers note: e.g. Ntaganda] or connections or by directly occupying a part of the country.” In sum, the report stresses that, “Given the weakness and corruption of the central government, the D.R.C.’s wealth was within the grasp of any group violent and determined enough to impose its control by force.”

Another misleading aspect of Kron’s excuse for Rwanda’s involvement is the comment about “organizers of the [Rwandan] genocide fled across the border” to D.R.C. It is worth pointing out here that there are no “organizers,” at least as long as we keep to the official version which claims a Hutu conspiracy. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (I.C.T.R.) has not convicted one person for the conspiracy or planning of genocide. The largest trial to date, that of Colonel Théoneste Bagosora and a few other former high-ranking Rwandan military officials, ended with an acquittal on charges of planning a genocide. The inability to uncover a plot to commit genocide, however, is largely due to the court’s unwillingness to consider or prosecute an R.P.F. conspiracy—where evidence is abound.

Furthermore, Rwanda was targeting a lot more than so-called “organizers of the genocide” in their effort “to subdue the Hutu rebels.” Australian soldiers doing United Nations peacekeeping work bore witness to the carnage of Rwandan forces against unarmed civilians. As reported in Australia’s Herald Sun:

By early 1995, the displaced persons’ camp at Kibeho was the biggest in Rwanda, sprawling for 9sq km and containing 80,000 to 100,000 people.

The 32 Australian soldiers and medical officers arrived there as part of the UN peacekeeping force on April 18, 1995.

There were daily random killings by the Rwandan soldiers, but the slaughter exploded out of control soon after 10am on April 22. The Australians had a grandstand view of the nightmare from the Zambian compound.

The RPA soldiers murdered women and children right up to the UN wire. Bodies were everywhere. For the Diggers behind the wire, the next few hours were agonising.

For the refugees, there was nowhere to run.

As the Australians collected the wounded from among the piles of dead, the crisis began to escalate as panic-stricken Hutus overran the Zambian compound, driven forward by machete-and rifle wielding militia.

Hundreds were killed in the crush and the Australians were forced to repel at bayonet point the terrified victims they were supposed to be protecting, pushing them back into the RPA killing zone.

The RPA went wild and cut loose with another hail of fire on the panicking crowd.

All of this, and more, goes a long way to explaining why, as Kron put it, “The relationship between Rwanda and Congo has long been considered crucial to the stability in one of Africa’s least stable regions, an area laid waste by militias over the last two decades.” This is partially accurate. The problem here is that Rwanda is not at the top of the political pyramid. While the Times will publish Kron acknowledging that Rwanda is recruiting forces for militias in D.R.C., what is inconspicuously missing from the article is that the destabilization of Congo—which has seen around ten million killed and millions more displaced since the Rwandan and Ugandan invasion in 1996—is part of a U.S. imperial project to control and exploit the wealth of the Great Lakes region.

The unwillingness to identify Rwanda as a subordinate of the United States (in fact the U.S. and U.S. businesses are completely missing in the article), or a major component of the “conflict mineral” wars, or to provide accurate information on the Rwandan genocide (which is absurdly used to explain why Rwandan forces are in D.R.C.), and such, leaves the article void of any means for readers to understand what is really going on.

The impression that is given, that Rwanda is merely involved to protect itself from “a Hutu rebel group in eastern Congo bent on overturning the Rwandan government” and thus supporting criminals like Ntaganda (who have gone astray from their noble purpose), is simply not true. Not only is the R.P.F. a considerably more powerful military force than the Hutu forces, as the events of the last 20 years show, but the narrative is a total distraction from what really happened and is happening, and why.

When it comes to "genocide," Guardian UK’s George Monbiot has pulled a Hitchens

May 22, 2012 7 comments
George Monbiot having a fit

There is just something about British left intellectuals.

Christopher Hitchens fell from grace when he allowed his atheism to become a tool for Western imperialism.

Now The Guardian UK’s George Monbiot has pulled a Hitchens by allowing his outrage of “genocide” to become a tool for Western imperialism.

It started last year with his tirade against writers David Peterson and Edward Herman over their book The Politics of Genocide. George just couldn’t believe they wrote what they did. By challenging the popular narrative of what happened in Rwanda and Srebrenica they were guilty of being “genocide deniers.” (See “George Monbiot and the Guardian on ‘Genocide Denial’ and ‘Revisionism’ ” for Peterson’s and Herman’s rebuttal)

Monbiot still buys the propaganda narrative put out by the West, and has been foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog ever since. His obsession has infected him like a virus, and now Monbiot has even published an email exchange he had with Noam Chomsky, who wrote the foreword for The Politics of Genocide. (Really bad form, George.) Monbiot tries and tries to get Chomsky to turn on Herman and Peterson, to which Noam says he will not because to do so “would be sheer cowardice.”

As someone who has read The Politics of Genocide (a few times), and who has checked the notes, I see nothing controversial. In fact, I highly recommend the book—especially the second edition because it has a new introduction with the compare and contrast of the conflicts in Libya and Sri Lanka.

I have also read The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics, the book on Srebrenica that Herman contributed to. Again, I don’t see what the fuss is about.

In regards to Srebrenica, Herman, Peterson and the others who contributed to The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics point out a few important facts.

In The Politics of Genocide, Herman and Peterson write that,

The case for eight thousand “men and boys” being executed at Srebrenica is extremely thin, resting in good part on the difficulty in separating executions from battle killings (of which there were many in the July 1995 Srebrenica actions), partly on highly contestable witness evidence (much under coercive plea bargaining), and an interest and passionate will-to-believe the worst of the thoroughly demonized Serbs.

This is why Herman, Peterson, et al. challenge the narrative. With such incomplete information it makes perfect sense to challenge the narrative that they were 8,000 Bosniaks who were the victims of “genocide” by Serb forces.

This is also quite possibly why Chomsky wrote to Monbiot that,

A second point raised in my letter to you (and in the article) is the vulgarization of the phrase “genocide,” so extreme as to amount to virtual Holocaust denial, and the reason why I rarely use the term. Take a concrete case: the murder of thousands of men and boys after women and children are allowed to flee if they can get away.

I’m referring to Fallujah, different from Srebrenica in many ways, among them that in the latter case the women and children were trucked out, and in the former case the destruction and slaughter was so extreme that current studies in medical journals estimate the scale of radiation-related deaths and diseases at beyond the level of Hiroshima. I would not however call it “genocide,” nor would you, and if the word were used, the more extreme apologists for western crimes, like Kamm, would go utterly berserk. Another of many illustrations of the two basic facts.

And of course, the information available on Rwanda is so overwhelming it’s astounding. There are just too many holes in the popular narrative which claims there was a genocide of Tutsi’s at the hands of “Hutu extremists” who planned the assassination of President Habyarimana and the violence that followed. Which is why I seriously doubt George Monbiot has read The Politics of Genocide, followed up with the notes, or anything. If he has, then I can only conclude that he is being intentionally dishonest.

Because had he read the Gersony report, he would have read about a “scene of systematic and sustained killing and persecution of civilian Hutu populations” by Kagame’s forces.

Had Monbiot read the U.S. State Department Memo to Secretary of State Warren Christopher he would know that “RPA and Tutsi civilian surrogates had killed 10,000 or more Hutu civilians per month, with the RPA accounting for 95% of the killing.”

George also could have read the affidavit of U.N investigator Michael Hourigan which notes that he found “considerable detail about information implicating President Kagame” in the assassination of former President Habyarimana. This was the event that kicked off the genocide, and which was quickly followed by a massive, organized RPF invasion within two hours.

This was confirmed by an FBI investigator, James Lyons.

And it also happens to compliment what UNAMIR official Col. Luc Marchal told the ICTR in his testimony to the court: “From my experience, my conclusion is that the RPF had one goal, seizing power by force and keeping it to themselves.” Marchal also stated that, “Not once, never have I sensed the desire to make concessions, to smooth rough edges, to reach a consensus.” He told the court that, “It was almost a daily struggle, and I received remarks because of the violations of the agreement,” and that, “All these elements led me to the conclusion that their goal was certainly not to concretize the peace process.”

As well as former ICTR prosecutor Carla del Ponte, who insisted on prosecuting Kagame and RPF officials for the assassination and their war crimes.

And I have yet to see Monbiot deal with any of this, or the Davenport-Stam work that shows the majority of deaths were Hutu. This is something Monbiot often refers to. But rather than address Christian Davenport’s study “Rwandan Political Violence in Space and Time,” which is the basis of Herman’s and Peterson’s comment, he just shoots the messengers. In their piece “What Really Happened in Rwanda?” Davenport and Stam write that,

According to the census, there were approximately 600,000 Tutsi in the country in 1991; according to the survival organization Ibuka, about 300,000 survived the 1994 slaughter. This suggested that out of the 800,000 to 1 million believed to have been killed then, more than half were Hutu. The finding was significant; it suggested that the majority of the victims of 1994 were of the same ethnicity as the government in power.

They also noted that,

Perhaps the most shocking result of our combination of information on troop locations involved the invasion itself: The killings in the zone controlled by the FAR seemed to escalate as the RPF moved into the country and acquired more territory. When the RPF advanced, large-scale killings escalated. When the RPF stopped, large-scale killings largely decreased. The data revealed in our maps was consistent with FAR claims that it would have stopped much of the killing if the RPF had simply called a halt to its invasion. This conclusion runs counter to the Kagame administration’s claims that the RPF continued its invasion to bring a halt to the killings.

In the summer of 1994, the RPF killings were so widespread and devastating that UN peacekeepers were blocking refugees from returning, citing the RPF killings and their fear for their safety.

Going back to the Gersony report, we know that the RPF carried out “large-scale indiscriminate killings of men, women, children, including the sick and the elderly,” and they did so with tactics like,

Local residents, including entire families, were called to community meetings, invited to receive information about “peace,” “security,” or “food distribution” issues. Once a crowd had assembled, it was assaulted through sudden sustained gunfire; or locked in buildings into which hand-grenades were thrown; systematically killed with manual instruments; or killed in large numbers other means.

What readers have got to understand is that the RPF were an official arm of the Ugandan military, and consisted largely of Rwandan exiles that were a part of the National Resistance Army, which was led by now Ugandan Dictator Yoweri Museveni. The NRA was an armed militia whose goal was to seize power. After they successfully did so in Uganda in the mid-1980s, the RPF was created to carry out the same plan in Rwanda. And on October 1, 1990 the RPF invaded Rwanda from Uganda. And for nearly four years the RPF conducted a plan to destabilize and overthrow the government, which came to a crescendo on April 6, 1994 when the RPF assassinated President Habyarimana, and carried out massive military offensive.

And this pattern, which occurred in Uganda, and repeated in Rwanda, was again carried out in Democratic Republic of Congo when Uganda and Rwanda invaded, overthrew the government and began butchering people. According to the UN Mapping report, which describes “The systematic attacks, in particular killings and massacres perpetrated against members of the Hutu ethnic group”:

These attacks resulted in a very large number of victims, probably tens of thousands of members of the Hutu ethnic group, all nationalities combined. In the vast majority of cases reported, it was not a question of people killed unintentionally in the course of combat, but people targeted primarily by AFDL/APR/FAB forces and executed in their hundreds, often with edged weapons. The majority of the victims were children, women, elderly people and the sick, who posed no threat to the attacking forces. Numerous serious attacks on the physical or pyschological integrity of members of the group were also committed, with a very high number of Hutus shot, raped, burnt or beaten. Very large numbers of victims were forced to flee and travel long distances to escape their pursuers, who were trying to kill them. The hunt lasted for months, resulting in the deaths of an unknown number of people subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading living conditions, without access to food or medication. On several occasions, the humanitarian aid intended for them was deliberately blocked …

Now, considering all of the above, and how the ICTR has yet to uncover a plan to commit genocide in Rwanda, or how not one RPF official has been prosecuted for well-documented crimes (del Ponte was actually fired for her insistence in prosecuting the RPF) there is a considerable basis for Herman and Peterson to challenge the official narrative on the genocide that occurred in Rwanda.

And nearly all of the above is mentioned in The Politics of Genocide, which, again, leads me to conclude that either George Monbiot didn’t read the material, or he is being intentionally dishonest in his smear campaign, which now not only includes Herman and Peterson, but Noam Chomsky as well. var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-32113110-1’]); _gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]); (function() { var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true; ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();

Interview with William Penn University’s Statesmen Status on Rwanda’s Paul Kagame

The following are my answers to a list of questions presented to me for a radio interview that, for whatever reason, never happened. When learning of how William Penn University was to award Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s genocidal dictator, with an honorary doctorate in celebration of his alleged “contributions to the humanities and human welfare” I contacted the school’s President, various Vice Presidents, as well as other members of the school’s faculty, and the heads of all the student organizations I could find. I even contacted the editors of the Oskaloosa Herald.

Other than an apparently copy and pasted boilerplate response from Steven Noah, the school’s Vice President for Government Relations and Special Projects, (see the comments section of my post “Rwanda’s Top Genocidaire, General Kagame, to give Commencement speech at William Penn Univeristy“) only one other person responded to me: Hailey Brown—a junior.

Before proceeding I do want to call out Mr. Noah. I hope you read the following interview in its entirety and diggest it. I also hope you compare it to the image Mr. Noah tries to present. No amount of whitewashing on his part will clean the stains of murder and tyranny from Paul Kagame’s hands. The crimes and human rights abuses of America’s favorite African dictator have been thoroughly documented, and only a tiny portion of it is represented here in this piece.

One more thing, one of the last questions I was asked was “What do you think his victims would say about the commencement?” This is an excellent question. Hailey, this comment is directed to you. I can get you in touch with some of them, if you would like.

Anyway, Ms. Brown told me she works for the news at the school’s radio station, and writes for the school’s news blog website called the Statesmen Status. She asked if I was interested in doing an interview, and that she could air it on the radio, which goes out to Oskaloosa and the surrounding towns, and post it on the website. This student assured me that there would be no hostility or loaded questions or anything like that, and that she was genuinely interested in my perspective that was never brought to the students’ attention.

I checked it out to verify she wasn’t misrepresenting herself, then told her I would be glad to do it. I gave her my phone number and the time I would be free.

I received no call.

I then emailed her asking if she would like a written response to the questions.

With no word back I can only assume that the interview is a no-go. One can only speculate as to why.

Anyway, here are her questions and my answers—which I did email to her.


Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s genocidal, mass-murdering dictator



Question: What do you know of “General Kagame”?  
Paul Kagame was born in Rwanda but moved to Uganda when he was two.

In Uganda Kagame joined Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Army, where he was the head of military intelligence.

He also, along with other Rwandan exiles, formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (the RPF changed its name to the Rwandan Patriotic Army, so you will often see the abbreviation RPA).

These men were part of the Ugandan national army, and the RPF was an arm of the Ugandan military. They wore Ugandan military uniforms. This is important to stress when considering the Ugandan/RPF invasion on October 1, 1990. At the time, Kagame was in the US receiving military training, but he eventually became the Major-General of the RPF.

It was this event, the 1990 invasion, that is integral to understanding all of what is transpiring. That, and the subordination to the U.S.—who is not only the main backer of the Museveni regime in Uganda, but Kagame in Rwanda.

Basically a foreign military (Uganda) invades its neighbor (Rwanda) with the sole goal of destabilizing the government, and then overthrowing it. This is what Museveni did in Uganda. And from October 1990 to April 1994 that is precisely what happened in Rwanda via the RPF. (A great book people can read online is Robin Philpot’s Rwanda 1994: Colonialism dies hard.) This is also what happened in Democratic Republic of Congo, when Museveni and Kagame invaded and overthrew President Mobutu.

The second-in-command for the UN forces in Rwanda before the “genocide” was a Belgian officer, Luc Marchal, and he testified to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) that his experience with the RPF was that they had no interest in making concessions and were completely dedicated to overthrowing the government. Marchal also testified that he believed it was the RPF who assassinated Rwanda’s President Habyarimana.

He is not alone in this regards.

There is also James Lyons, an FBI agent who came to the same conclusion.

Another UN investigation headed by Michael Hourigan, came to the conclusion as well. It’s report buried.

And former Rwandan genocide prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, who was removed from her ICTR duties after she insisted on prosecuting Kagame for the assassination and various other war crimes.

Robert Gersony, an American consultant hired by the UN concluded that Kagame’s RPF committed genocide. He reported a “scene of systematic and sustained killing and persecution of civilian Hutu populations” by Kagame’s forces. Like Hourigan, his report was buried.

It was during this time, and acting on Gersony’s report, that UN forces were blocking refugees from returning. This was reported in the New York Times in late September of 1994:

the United Nations has stopped encouraging Rwandan refugees to return and is refusing even to assist those who wish to go home because of a report that the new, Tutsi-dominated Government in Rwanda has killed thousands of members of the Hutu ethnic group.

The timing of this is important because earlier that month George Moose, a State Department official, sent a memo to Secretary of State Christopher Warren in which it was noted that the “RPA and Tutsi civilian surrogates had killed 10,000 or more Hutu civilians per month, with the RPA accounting for 95% of the killing.”

Question: How has he contributed to human welfare?

Kagame has contributed with the deaths of millions of people. Estimates range about 1-2 million in Rwanda (1990 – present), and about 6-10 million in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

He has also contributed to human welfare by turning Rwanda into a police state where dissent and political opposition is not tolerated.

Human Rights Watch has released a number of reports (here, here, and here) lately detailing how Kagame’s government has disrupted the work of human rights organizations, has attacked political opposition, clamped down on media and journalists, and is abusing the so-called “genocide ideology” law.

Question: What crimes has President Kagame supposedly committed?

There is the October 1990 invasion and the list of terrorist attacks, and violations of cease fire agreements that ran up to the RPF  assassination of President Habyarimana on April 6, 1994 and subsequent coup d’état. A lot of the details can be found online. Official UN reports and such. Peter Erlinder has archived hundreds, if not thousands, of documents online at The Rwanda Documents Project, like the State Department memo noted above.

American researchers Christian Davenport and Allan Stam found a few things worth noting on the Rwandan genocide. One was that most of those killed were Hutu’s, not Tutsi’s. They also found that the bulk of killings were not only perpetrated by the RPF, but centered around RPF offensives. Their report, commissioned by the UN? Suspended and buried. It drew the wrong conclusions.

We also know that the RPF killed tens of thousands of unarmed refugees right in front of Australian forces. As reported in Australia’s Herald Sun:

By early 1995, the displaced persons’ camp at Kibeho was the biggest in Rwanda, sprawling for 9sq km and containing 80,000 to 100,000 people.

The 32 Australian soldiers and medical officers arrived there as part of the UN peacekeeping force on April 18, 1995.

There were daily random killings by the Rwandan soldiers, but the slaughter exploded out of control soon after 10am on April 22. The Australians had a grandstand view of the nightmare from the Zambian compound.

The RPA soldiers murdered women and children right up to the UN wire. Bodies were everywhere. For the Diggers behind the wire, the next few hours were agonising.

For the refugees, there was nowhere to run.

As the Australians collected the wounded from among the piles of dead, the crisis began to escalate as panic-stricken Hutus overran the Zambian compound, driven forward by machete-and rifle wielding militia.

Hundreds were killed in the crush and the Australians were forced to repel at bayonet point the terrified victims they were supposed to be protecting, pushing them back into the RPA killing zone.

The RPA went wild and cut loose with another hail of fire on the panicking crowd.

Also, it should be noted that—since this goes along with the theme of American imperialism—in April of 1994 it was the Rwandan government who was asking for more UN troops, while the U.S was pushing for total withdrawal. Keeping in mind that the U.S. backs Museveni in Uganda, provided military training for Kagame at Fort Leavenworth, and never moved to stop the 1990 aggression (as opposed to such a move against Iraq when they invaded Kuwait), it is very interesting that as the RPF is going on a massive offensive, and the Rwandan government is asking for more UN troops to stop the violence, the U.S. is pushing for a complete withdrawal, presumably to remove any obstacles to Kagame’s drive to power.

In 2010 the UN released the DRC: Mapping human rights violations 1993-2003 report in which they say that Rwanda is guilty of massive war crimes, some of which may constitute genocide.  The report describes “The systematic attacks, in particular killings and massacres perpetrated against members of the Hutu ethnic group”:

These attacks resulted in a very large number of victims, probably tens of thousands of members of the Hutu ethnic group, all nationalities combined. In the vast majority of cases reported, it was not a question of people killed unintentionally in the course of combat, but people targeted primarily by AFDL/APR/FAB forces and executed in their hundreds, often with edged weapons. The majority of the victims were children, women, elderly people and the sick, who posed no threat to the attacking forces. Numerous serious attacks on the physical or pyschological integrity of members of the group were also committed, with a very high number of Hutus shot, raped, burnt or beaten. Very large numbers of victims were forced to flee and travel long distances to escape their pursuers, who were trying to kill them. The hunt lasted for months, resulting in the deaths of an unknown number of people subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading living conditions, without access to food or medication. On several occasions, the humanitarian aid intended for them was deliberately blocked …

The report also details the mineral exploitation.

Question: Has there been any investigation into these findings?

There have been lots of investigations, and studies. Spanish and French courts have even ruled on various matters related to the Rwandan and Congo conflicts (more so for the Spanish court), and both found the RPF responsible for the assassination of President Habyarimana, and the genocide that followed. And issued warrants.

But not once has any RPF soldier been indicted at the ICTR or ICC. As noted, Carla del Ponte made an attempt to do so, but was systematically removed.

The ICTR has yet to find a plan to commit genocide in Rwanda. After nearly twenty years they have not uncovered a conspiracy to commit genocide. They have also refused to consider a RPF conspiracy, which there is significant evidence of.

And if you look at their biggest trial of top military personnel—Bagosora, et al—the ruling is revealing. For one, all were acquitted on conspiracy to commit genocide, the gravest charge.

The court acknowledged that “a cycle of ethnic violence against Tutsi civilians has often followed attacks by the RPF,” and that “[f]ollowing the October 1990 RPF invasion, there were mass arrests as well as localised killings at the time and in subsequent years in several northern communes,” and the court ruled that “the alternative explanations for the events have added relevant context to a few allegations against the Accused.”

The ICTR judges admit that the military preparations by the Rwandan government were “consistent with preparations for a political or military power struggle,” and that “in the context of the ongoing war with the RPF, this evidence does not invariably show that the purpose of arming and training these civilians or the preparation of lists was to kill Tutsi civilians,” and that “in the context of the immediate aftermath of the RPF’s violation of the cease fire agreement, it does not necessarily show an intention to use the forces to commit genocide.” What it shows is an intention to use the forces to stop the RPF’s efforts of overthrowing the government by military force—i.e. defend Rwanda against RPF aggression.

Question: Why do you think that the President of WP, Anne Fields, released a statement that said he “empowered” people?

I do not know. Though judging by who comprises the Board of Trustees I would suspect that many of the businesses associated with the school may profit off of their relationships with Kagame’s Rwanda. Again, this is a suspicion, but it is something worth looking into. Does Edward Jones, Nationwide Insurance, Musco Corporation, Cargill Inc., Drost Equipment Inc., The Glaco Companies, and People’s National Bank have any dealings in Rwanda? If so, that might explain why the school’s leadership wants to court and celebrate a dictator.

The school’s press release mentioned that women are a majority in Rwanda’s parliament, but this is misleading on two grounds. (1) Tutsi’s make up less than 15% of the population, yet the Tutsi-dominated RPF make up nearly the entire government, with something like 80% of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Furthermore, (2) Kagame does not tolerate any political opposition in the country. That women are a majority is largely symbolic.

We should look at women like Victoire Ingabire to see exactly how Kagame has empowered women. Amnesty International put out a thirty-minute video on Ingabire and the tyrannical situation going on in Rwanda. I strongly urge everyone to watch it.

We should also be paying close attention to Rwandan journalists who are being arrested and silenced for not toeing the party line. One of many examples is “Jean-Léonard Rugambage, a journalist working for Umuvugizi, [who] was shot dead on 24 June outside his home in Kigali.” We are told that Rugambage “had been investigating the shooting in South Africa of Kayumba Nyamwasa, and his newspaper published a story alleging that Rwandan intelligence was involved.”

This comes from Amnesty International in their 2011 report on Rwanda. Amnesty also reports that, “Freedom of expression was further restricted” in Rwanda, and that, “The RPF became increasingly sensitive to criticism in advance of the presidential elections.” Amnesty goes on to report how “authorities continued to misuse broad and ill-defined laws on ‘genocide ideology’ and ‘sectarianism’ ” and that, “The laws prohibit hate speech, but also criminalize legitimate criticism of the government.”

Question: Would you say that it is offensive that he speak at a college commencement?

It is offensive in the extreme. Before WW2 Time Magazine named Adolf Hitler as “Man of the Year.” In retrospect this is looked upon with outrage and embarassment. But what William Penn University is doing is worse. It is not as if Hitler was named “Man of the Year” after WW2. Following the Holocaust, that would have been most disturbing. But here, after two invasions and the deaths of millions of people, Kagame is being honored and celebrated as a humanitarian. I think any decent person would find this very offensive.

Question: What do you think his victims would say about the commencement?

They would probably be speechless.

Question: Who exactly do his victims consist of?

Kagame’s victims are anyone who gets in his way. Certainly the Hutu population in Rwanda, but as well as any dissident or critic (Twa or Tutsi)—not to mention the people of Democratic Republic of Congo.

This also happens to compliment what UNAMIR official Col. Luc Marchal told the ICTR: “From my experience, my conclusion is that the RPF had one goal, seizing power by force and keeping it to themselves.” Marchal also stated that, “Not once, never have I sensed the desire to make concessions, to smooth rough edges, to reach a consensus.” He told the court that, “It was almost a daily struggle, and I received remarks because of the violations of the agreement”, and that, “All these elements led me to the conclusion that their goal was certainly not to concretize the peace process.”

The Gersony Report also compliments this. Gersony found that “RPA actions were consistently reported to be conducted in areas where opposition forces of any kind—armed or unarmed—or resistance of any kind,” and that “Large-scale indiscriminate killings of men, women, children, including the sick and the elderly, were consistently reported.”

And, just like what the UN mapping report shows occured in Congo by Rwandan forces. In Kagame’s drive to overthrow Mobutu (the former President of DRC) and establish a pro-US ally, anyone who stood in his way was dispatched with lethal force—and some ethnic groups were singled out, leaving the UN report to note that genocide may have occured.

Paul Kagame is a ruthless military dictator. And like all dictators, his victims are anyone who gets in his way—and as documented above, this often includes unarmed women, children, the sick, and the elderly.

Question: How can students get involved to putting this to a stop?

The students at William Penn University could, and should, put pressure on their school to cancel Kagame’s doctorate and commencement speech. If you don’t succeed at that, then join those who will be protesting him, or organize your own action.

Rwanda’s Top Genocidaire, General Kagame, to give Commencement speech at William Penn Univeristy

May 1, 2012 4 comments
President Kagame and Steve Noah
Steve Noah and Paul Kagame

Update 5/2/12: Word has it that the letters and calls from the last couple of days has gotten the school’s attention, but we got 10 more days to stop this. Keep pointing out to them what human rights groups are noting. Kagame and the RPF are responsible for massive human rights abuses that they have not been held accountable for; that they are attacking political opponents; that they are clamping down on media. Point out how cynical and hypocritical it is to award a genocidal mass-murderring dictator with a doctorate for his so-called “contributions” to humanity.

• • •

On May 12, 2012, Rwanda’s dictator, General Paul Kagame, will be delivering a commencement speech at William Penn University. According to the school,

William Penn University President Dr. Ann Fields announced today that His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, will present the commencement address on Saturday, May 12, 2012 to a graduating class of 370 students and receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, for his contributions to the humanities or human welfare.

These “contributions” are explained as him supposedly being “recognized as a world leader for his role in human interest issues,” and being “known for empowering young people and women, as evident by the high percentage of women serving on the Rwandan Parliament (56%).”

This is grotesquely cynical.

Paul Kagame is a genocidal mass-murderer who makes Joseph Kony look like an angel. He has the blood of millions of Rwandans and Congolese on his hands. When he and his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) invaded Rwanda in 1990 he kicked off a bloody war that saw thousands killed, and hundreds of thousands ethnically cleansed from their land. Between October 1990 and April 1994 he continued to violate ceasefire agreements and carry out terrorist attacks. Finally in April of 1994 he assassinated Rwanda’s President Habyarimana and conducted a massive invasion which overthrew the government in a one hundred day-orgy of genocidal slaughter and mayhem. But it didn’t end there. As hundreds of thousands of Rwandans fled his terror campaign to neighboring countries he followed after them, hunted them down, and killed them—often by the thousands, and right in view of UN peace keepers. According to the Herald Sun:

By early 1995, the displaced persons’ camp at Kibeho was the biggest in Rwanda, sprawling for 9sq km and containing 80,000 to 100,000 people.

The 32 Australian soldiers and medical officers arrived there as part of the UN peacekeeping force on April 18, 1995.

There were daily random killings by the Rwandan soldiers, but the slaughter exploded out of control soon after 10am on April 22. The Australians had a grandstand view of the nightmare from the Zambian compound.

The RPA soldiers murdered women and children right up to the UN wire. Bodies were everywhere. For the Diggers behind the wire, the next few hours were agonising.

For the refugees, there was nowhere to run.

As the Australians collected the wounded from among the piles of dead, the crisis began to escalate as panic-stricken Hutus overran the Zambian compound, driven forward by machete-and rifle wielding militia.

Hundreds were killed in the crush and the Australians were forced to repel at bayonet point the terrified victims they were supposed to be protecting, pushing them back into the RPA killing zone.

The RPA went wild and cut loose with another hail of fire on the panicking crowd.

It is even being reported by allAfrica.com that, “Thousands of Rwandan refugees living in Uganda remain unwilling to return home, citing a fear of persecution.”

Human Rights Watch recently released a report that stated, “The Rwandan government, whose troops are accused of some of the most serious crimes” in the Congo wars. They also sent a letter to the ICTR requesting the RPF be prosecuted for their well-established crimes. The letter states, “We strongly believe that your mandate as Chief Prosecutor will not be fulfilled until you prosecute alleged RPF crimes.”

Paul Kagame squashes any and all dissent, and there is no better example of him not empowering women than his kangaroo trial of Victoire Ingabire, a brave mother who came out of exile to be a political opponent to Kagame only to be quickly imprisoned. Amnesty International put out a really informing video last summer on the plight of Ingabire, and the grim realities of Kagame’s Rwanda.

Even Human Rights Watch has requested that, “Rwandan authorities should immediately stop intimidating human rights defenders and allow them to work freely.”

HRW has also recently released a report which notes Rwanda’s “attacks on government opponents,” their “clampdown on independent media,” their “obstructions to the work of human rights organizations,” and more. And in the last week HRW noted that they have “documented other cases [other than Bernard Ntaganda, an opposition leader) in which laws and charges such as endangering state security and inciting public disobedience have been used to prosecute and intimidate government critics.”

Quite simply, Paul Kagame is the Hitler of Africa, and allowing him to give a commencement speech to college graduates under the bogus claim that he has made “contributions to the humanities or human welfare” is very disturbing.

Suggested Action: If you are here in the States and are close to the school please consider organizing some actions to stop this. A protest is already being planned in case the speech happens.

Otherwise please call and write to the school and request Kagame’s speech to be canceled. Be polite and be clear.

Steve Noah, the school’s Vice President of Advancement who is behind this, can be reached at: 641-673-1048

Or call Amber Lake, director of Marketing : 641-673-1078.

You can also send an email to her and others:

To: fieldsa@wmpenn.edu

CC: lakea@wmpenn.edu, noahs@wmpenn.edu, ottossonj@wmpenn.edu, stahlen@wmpenn.edu, taylors@wmpenn.edu, piercej@wmpenn.edu, collinsm@wmpenn.eduoskynews@oskyherald.com, news2@oskyherald.com, debve@oskyherald.com

Sample letter:

To Whom it May Concern,

I am calling on William Penn University to do the right thing, and cancel General Kagame’s “doctorate” and commencement speech scheduled for this month.

Per the school’s website we are told that General Kagame has contributed to “the humanities” and “human welfare,” but that is simply not true, and worse: it is very offensive, especially to his victims.

Human rights organizations have documented his crimes since 1990, but particularly during the 1994 genocide and his invasion and occupation of Democratic Republic of Congo—where millions have been killed, tortured and displaced. And they have called on the ICTR to prosecute these RPF crimes.

These same human rights groups—e.g. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International—have also documented the brutal realities of living in Rwanda today where political opposition is not tolerated, fraudulent elections occur, and the media is silenced.

Considering the well-established fact that General Paul Kagame is a genocidal, mass-murdering dictator who is oppressing his own people and destabilizing the region, I beg the school to please cancel Kagame’s “doctorate” and speech. It would be a disgrace to the school, and would be very offensive to truth and justice.

Thank you,
[Your Name]

NYT on Victoire Ingabire and Aung San Suu Kyi

April 18, 2012 Leave a comment
Victoire Ingabire and Aung San Suu Kyi
Two countries.
Two dictatorships.
Two women.
Both are political opponents to an oppressive government.
Both jailed and put through a kangaroo court trial.
Meet Aung San Suu Ky, a Burmese dissident and political opponent to the status quo.

Now meet Victoire Ingabire, a Rwandan dissident and political opponent to the status quo.

There is only one difference between them, and it makes all the difference in the world.

Burma is not an ally of the United States. For decades the U.S. government has singled out Burma for punishment over its human rights record (while conveniently ignoring that of itself and its allies).

Rwanda, however, is an important ally of the U.S. Their dictator, President Paul Kagame, received military training at Fort Leavenworth. Kagame was aided throughout his invasion of Rwanda in 1990, and that support continued all the way through the assassination of former President Habyarimana and the genocide in 1994, when Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) overthrew the government and established the current regime. The U.S. has even stood behind Kagame as he and Uganda’s President Museveni invaded and occupied Democratic Republic of Congo, extinguishing between 6-10 million lives.
Through the pressure of U.S. and its allies Aung San Suu Kyi was eventually released and elected to office, which she will assume next week.
Ms. Ingabire, on the other hand, has received no support from the U.S. She sits in jail under bogus charges and awaits the finale of her kangaroo trial.
This bias extends beyond the U.S. government and to the New York Times, the so-called “paper of record” which cynically provides “all the news fit to print.”
As I have shown repeatedly throughout my column for the NYTimes eXaminer, the NYT is by now so embedded with the Western establishment that it reads like George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth from his classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Consider the following.

If you put in Victoire Ingabire’s name in the search engine at the NYT you will receive no more than 14 articles. A similar search for Aung San Suu Kyi will yield you 591 articles. That’s a ratio of 42 to 1.
The only significant difference between them is that, for one, their oppressor is an ally, while the others is not. It would be beyond the stretch of the imagination to believe that it is not that difference that exlpains how two women can be treated so dramatically different—not just by the U.S. government, but by the New York Times as well.
•  •  •

For more information on the plight of Ms. Ingabire please watch this 35 minute video posted on YouTube.com: INGABIRE,THE RWANDAN AUNG SAN SUU KYI.

Don’t Fall for the Phony Kony Scare

March 8, 2012 3 comments
Founders of Invisible Children pose with weapons and fighters from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, an organization notorious for looting and rape.

It went viral and spread like wild fire. A 30 minute documentary about the nefarious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda pulled at the heart strings of scores of people all over the world.

It’s like Save Darfur all over again. Lots of white college liberals pretending to care for Africa, not realizing their own paternalism and colonialism, and simultaneously getting it wrong by being unwitting stooges to an imperial propaganda campaign.

In their book The Politics of Genocide, Edward Herman and David Peterson refer to Darfur as a “nefarious” bloodbath in that it was “carried out by U.S. target states.” When the U.S. carries out a bloodbath like it did in Libya and Iraq that is “constructive.” When an enemy does it it is “nefarious” and sometimes “mythical.” Herman and Peterson write about,

the obvious facts that have made Darfur a predictably well-qualified candidate for a focus on villainy: That its government is dominated by Muslim Arabs; that the Sudan possesses oil, but that it is China rather than the United States or the West which has developed a strong relationship with Khartoum; and that the United States and Israel need distractions from their own human rights atrocities and those of their allies plundering the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

On the rhetoric surrounding the conflict the writers state that,

As Mahmood Mamdani puts it, such rhetoric is also a “reduction of a complex political context to a morality tale unfolding in a world populated by villains and victims who never trade places and so can always and easily be told apart.” In this “simple moral world,” where “evil confronts good” and “atrocities mount geometrically,” a group of “perpetrators clearly identifiable as ‘Arabs’ confront victims clearly identifiable as ‘Africans’”—and the “victim [is] untainted and the perpetrator [is] simply evil.”

And that,

the distinction made by Kristof, Power, Reeves, and their many allies in the Save Darfur campaign between Sudan’s Arab rulers and their black African victims falsely racializes the conflict. As the 2005 Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur concluded, any rendering of the conflicts in the western Sudan as “African” versus “Arab” mistakes political identities, which are the consequences of these conflicts, as their causes. “The various tribes that have been the object of attacks and killings (chiefly the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa tribes) do not appear to make up ethnic groups distinct from the ethnic group to which persons or militias that attack them belong,” the Commission stated. “They speak the same language (Arabic) and embrace the same religion (Islam).” Contrary to Kristof et al., the government in Khartoum is comprised of black Africans no different than the black Africans in the western Sudan that oppose it. The relevant distinction in the Western Sudan is thus a political one that turns on supporting the government (“Arab”) versus opposing it (“African”). The alleged “Arab-African divide” is one that has been “fanned by the growing insistence on such a divide in some circles and in the media” (in particular the white European and U.S. media); it is a process that has “contributed to the consolidation of the contrast and gradually created a marked polarisation in the perception and self-perception of the groups concerned.” The “Crisis in Darfur” is thus a kind of blank slate upon which Western moralists have projected foreign categories that betray the nature of the interest they take in the conflict, but do not reflect the realities or genuine needs of the people involved.

Additionally, the UN Environment Program argued in an extensive 2007 survey that the “underlying causes” of the conflicts in Darfur were to be found in factors such as regional climate instability, drought, desertification, population growth, food insecurity, and over-exploitation of scarce resources; it concluded that “Darfur is degraded to the extent that it cannot sustainably support its rural population.” Referring to this report, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that “Almost invariably, we discuss Darfur in a convenient military and political shorthand—an ethnic conflict pitting Arab militias against black rebels and farmers. Look to its roots, though, and you discover a more complex dynamic. Amid the diverse social and political causes, the Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change. . . . It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought.” Another report issued in 2007 by a “blue-ribbon panel of retired admirals and generals” for the CNA Corporation noted similarly that “Struggles that appear to be tribal, sectarian, or nationalist in nature are often triggered by reduced water supplies or reductions in agricultural productivity.” This report added that the “situation in Darfur . . . had land resources at its root. . . . Probably more than any other recent conflict, Darfur provides a case study of how existing marginal situations can be exacerbated beyond the tipping point by climaterelated factors.”

The problem with the documentary on Kony is it is a propaganda campaign that gets so many things wrong that it isn’t funny, hence the Save Darfur comparison (and it doesn’t help that the people from Invisible Children were from that campaign as well).

(For an indepth analysis to the rise of the LRA see here.)

Like Darfur, there are some “obvious facts that have made [Kony] a predictably well-qualified candidate for a focus on villainy.”

Last year President Obama announced he was sending forces to aid Uganda in the civil war which has been going on since the 1980s, and is winding down (see here for an article I wrote on this last October). LRA forces are less than 500. So why now? One word: oil. Oil has been found in the country and foreign investors want the “stability” to hurry up and get here so they can drill, baby, drill.

Luckily, the film hasn’t gone without criticism, especially from Ugandans. The Ugandan writer Musa Okwonga criticized the film in a blog for the UK’s The Independent by saying that,

I understand the anger and resentment at Invisible Children’s approach, which with its paternalism has unpleasant echoes of colonialism. I will admit to being perturbed by its apparent top-down prescriptiveness, when so much diligent work is already being done at Northern Uganda’s grassroots.

Okwonga also noted that,

The thing is that Joseph Kony has been doing this for a very, very, very long time.  He emerged about a quarter of a century, which is about the same time that Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni came to power.  As a result the fates of these two leaders must, I think, be viewed together.  Yet, though President Museveni must be integral to any solution to this problem, I didn’t hear him mentioned once in the 30-minute video.  I thought that this was a crucial omission.

Like Okwonga noted, what the video doesn’t tell you is that the dictator of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, is a genocidal mass-murderer who makes Joseph Kony look like an angel. Estimates of deaths attributed to the LRA number no more than 40,000. While this is still a high figure it pales in comparison to the more than 7 million attributed to Museveni via the genocides in Rwanda and Congo—not to mention his butchery at home in Uganda.

While Invisible Children responded to criticism by saying that, “We do not defend any of the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Ugandan government or the Ugandan army,” it is odd that in their film they advocate further arming the Ugandan army to hunt down and capture Kony. Clearly they do defend the human rights abuses by the Ugandan government by ignoring it and calling on them to shut down another human rights abuser whose crimes are minor compared to Museveni’s.

Serious question to be asked: Why focus on Kony, and not the much bigger threat to human rights, President Museveni?

Another question: why not focus on the economic policies of the U.S. that have created the conditions for which all of Africa are suffering (see my interview with Senegalese economist Demba Moussa Dembélé for more information, or my article “The Times and the Congo: A Nightmare of Epic Proportions“)? These are much more pressing issues than the exaggerated threat of Kony.

This stinks of imperialism and another example of Western intervention packaged and presented as “humanitarianism.” Like Herman and Peterson wrote of the “Crisis in Darfur,” the “Kony 2012” slogan “is thus a kind of blank slate upon which Western moralists have projected foreign categories that betray the nature of the interest they take in the conflict, but do not reflect the realities or genuine needs of the people involved.”

Writing in Foreign Affairs last November, Mareike Schomerus, Tim Allen, and Koen Vlassenroot, noted that:

During the past decade, U.S.-based activists concerned about the LRA have successfully, if quietly, pressured the George W. Bush and Obama administrations to take a side in the fight between the LRA and the Ugandan government. Among the most influential of advocacy groups focusing specifically on the LRA are the Enough project, the Resolve campaign, the Canadian-based group GuluWalk, and the media-oriented group Invisible Children. Older agencies, from Human Rights Watch to World Vision, have also been involved. In their campaigns, such organizations have manipulated facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil. They rarely refer to the Ugandan atrocities or those of Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army, such as attacks against civilians or looting of civilian homes and businesses, or the complicated regional politics fueling the conflict.

And an Ugandan journalist, Rosebell Kagumire, responded to the documentary by saying,

I viewed it this morning and the first 5 minutes told me this was another effort by a good white American guy trying to save my people. In this story Ugandans are just mere watchers as Kony kills our children. In this story not much can an African do. It is the same old sensationalization of African stories and simplification of our problems to tell the western world using even his son that they should save Africa. How? by giving us money.

It’s a narrative that many of us of the continent who work in the media always look at in disbelief but such videos are easy to enter the hearts of an ignorant Western audience who do not question the narrative.

The film is void of any means like peace efforts that have gone on and it simplifies the war to Joseph Kony — a mad evil man. This war was bigger than Joseph Kony and those who will end it won’t be Americans. It’s a complex war that requires African governments of Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic to work together to pacify the region. And when I heard him say that Uganda is in central Africa despite [him] having visited here I almost stopped watching.

All in all it’s a very imperialistic film trying to touch sentiments of those who can ‘save’ Africa i.e. Hollywood and the West.

The Kony 2012 campaign is a propaganda stunt. It is hard to believe the film makers have good intentions, like many are claiming. In a continent ravaged by the World Bank and IMF, or U.S.-backed dictators like Museveni and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, it is hard to believe they don’t know this, and that they sincerely think Joseph Kony and his decrepit army are the boogeyman of Africa.

Do yourself a favor and don’t fall for the phony Kony scare. Like the Rage Against the Machine song “No Shelter” (which was written for the 1998 Godzilla movie) said: Kony 2012 is “pure motherfuckin’ filler” to “keep your eyes off tha real killer.”

UPDATE: Nearly everyone I’ve pointed this out to has gotten a bit defensive. And I get it. You realize you’ve been suckered, and that’s not a great feeling. But before you say, “I believe the film makers have good intentions,” or “this will at least get people to dig deeper,” let’s be honest. It is really difficult to think they have good intentions. They have been intentionally deceptive, and their omissions are very revealing.

<sarcasm>The film makers are such glorious humanitarians with good intentions that they ignore genocidal mass-murderers, and the Washington Consensus, while posing with fighters and weapons from a terrorist army in Sudan that rapes and pillages and loots.</sarcasm>

And, no, others won’t dig deeper. What this propaganda film is doing is setting the narrative. Only those exposed to critics will have a clue that there is more to dig, and there is no reason to believe there are that many critics to counter the confusion and deception the film is creating.