Category Archives: USA

U.S. Statement at the Universal Periodic Review of Rwanda

U.S. Statement at the Universal Periodic Review of Rwanda

37th SessionGeneva, January 25, 2021

As Delivered by Charles Bentley, U.S. Mission to International Organizations in GenevaThe United States warmly welcomes the Rwandan delegation.We recommend that Rwanda:

  1. Promote the right to freedom of expression by ending detentions and harassment of members of the media and civil society for their reporting.
  2. Independently and transparently investigate credible allegations of unlawful or arbitrary arrests and detentions, killings, and enforced disappearances of human rights defenders, political opponents, and journalists, prosecuting alleged perpetrators under the law.
  3. Enforce the protection of all persons’ rights to life and liberty by strengthening the independence of the justice system and ensuring no one is convicted on the basis of information extracted under torture or duress.

We commend Rwanda’s progress increasing gender equality and access to education.  However, we are concerned about limited civic and political space, specifically unduly burdensome permitting requirements which inhibit the right of peaceful assembly.

By U.S. Embassy Rwanda | 26 January, 2021

Pourquoi Kagame serait-il intéressé à accueillir Hassoun, une personne que les États-Unis et Israël considèrent comme un terroriste international?


Le Rwanda a demandé aux États-Unis de considérer Adham Amin Hassoun comme apatride et de l’envoyer au Rwanda, en vertu de la Convention internationale de 1954 sur le statut des apatrides. Le Liban est le pays natal de Hassoun. Cependant, le Liban a refusé de recevoir Hassoun après sa peine de 15 ans de prison aux États-Unis. Un tribunal fédéral a condamné Hassoun pour terrorisme. Le Rwanda était impatient de recevoir Hassoun après avoir purgé sa peine de prison aux États-Unis.

a) Quelle est la stratégie de Kagame?

Un tribunal fédéral américain a déclaré Hassoun coupable d’avoir été membre d’une cellule de collecte de fonds dans le sud de la Floride qui a envoyé de l’argent et des recrues aux jihads à l’étranger. Le tribunal a appris que Hassoun avait recruté Jose Padilla, un membre d’un gang de rue de Chicago qui s’était converti à l’islam et avait ensuite été accusé d’avoir comploté un attentat radioactif à la «bombe sale» aux États-Unis. Jose Padilla a été retrouvé avec une bombe sale qui, selon l’accusation, faisait partie d’un complot terroriste en cours visant à attaquer les États-Unis.

(b) Pourquoi Kagame serait-il intéressé à accueillir Hassoun, une personne que les États-Unis et Israël considèrent comme un terroriste international?

Au cours des deux dernières années, Kigali a entretenu des relations cordiales avec Israël. Cependant, l’année dernière, Kagame n’a pas été invité pour le 75e anniversaire de l’Holocauste en Allemagne et en Israël, respectivement. La même année, Nyetanyahu s’est rendu en Ouganda, a rencontré le président du Soudan du Sud mais n’a pas visité Kigali.

c) Que signifie le fait d’accueillir Hassoun, une personne qu’Israël considère comme proche des militants palestiniens, pour les relations entre le Rwanda et Israël?

Adham Amin Hassoun

Le Rwanda est la cachette de Moustapha Ould Lima. Moustapha est accusé de parrainer des terroristes du Maghreb islamique (AQMI) Al-Qaïda / Sahel. Hassoun est accusé de travailler avec les terroristes du Sahel et est «l’invité» de Kagame.

L’Emir du Qatar serre la main de Moustapha, le financier du terrorisme au Sahel, une rencontre arrangée par Paul Kagame.

d) La présence de Moustapha et Hassoun au Rwanda signifie-t-elle que la sous-région des Grands Lacs pourrait devenir un foyer de terrorisme à l’avenir?

Le Qatar est accusé de financer l’Etat islamique, entre autres organisations terroristes. La récente «lune de miel» Rwanda-Qatar est bien documentée.

e) L’émir du Qatar et Moustapha auraient-ils pu utiliser leurs bonnes relations avec Kagame pour sauver Hassoun, sous prétexte de la Convention internationale de 1954 sur le statut des apatrides?

Dr Charles Kambanda, Ph D

Source : Facebook / TEXTE en anglais sur http://www.echosdafrique.com traduction libre par Chaste GAHUNDE.

America’s secret role in the rwandan genocide

never againBetween April and July 1994, hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were murdered in the most rapid genocide ever recorded. The killers used simple tools – machetes, clubs and other blunt objects, or herded people into buildings and set them aflame with kerosene. Most of the victims were of minority Tutsi ethnicity; most of the killers belonged to the majority Hutus.

The Rwanda genocide has been compared to the Nazi Holocaust in its surreal brutality. But there is a fundamental difference between these two atrocities. No Jewish army posed a threat to Germany. Hitler targeted the Jews and other weak groups solely because of his own demented beliefs and the prevailing prejudices of the time. The Rwandan Hutu génocidaires, as the people who killed during the genocide were known, were also motivated by irrational beliefs and prejudices, but the powder keg contained another important ingredient: terror. Three and a half years before the genocide, a rebel army of mainly Rwandan Tutsi exiles known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front, or RPF, had invaded Rwanda and set up camps in the northern mountains. They had been armed and trained by neighbouring Uganda, which continued to supply them throughout the ensuing civil war, in violation of the UN charter, Organisation of African Unity rules, various Rwandan ceasefire and peace agreements, and the repeated promises of the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni.

During this period, officials at the US embassy in Kampala knew that weapons were crossing the border, and the CIA knew that the rebels’ growing military strength was escalating ethnic tensions within Rwanda to such a degree that hundreds of thousands of Rwandans might die in widespread ethnic violence. However, Washington not only ignored Uganda’s assistance to the Rwandan rebels, it also ramped up military and development aid to Museveni and then hailed him as a peacemaker once the genocide was underway.

The hatred the Hutu génocidaires unleashed represents the worst that human beings are capable of, but in considering what led to this disaster, it is important to bear in mind that the violence was not spontaneous. It emerged from a century or more of injustice and brutality on both sides, and although the génocidaires struck back against innocents, they were provoked by heavily armed rebels supplied by Uganda, while the US looked on.

The RPF rebel army represented Tutsi refugees who had fled their country in the early 1960s. For centuries before that, they had formed an elite minority caste in Rwanda. In a system continued under Belgian colonialism, they treated the Hutu peasants like serfs, forcing them to work on their land and sometimes beating them like donkeys. Hutu anger simmered until shortly before independence in 1962, then exploded in brutal pogroms against the Tutsi, hundreds of thousands of whom fled to neighbouring countries.

In Uganda, a new generation of Tutsi refugees grew up, but they soon became embroiled in the lethal politics of their adoptive country. Some formed alliances with Ugandan Tutsis and the closely related Hima – Museveni’s tribe – many of whom were opposition supporters and therefore seen as enemies by then-president Milton Obote, who ruled Uganda in the 1960s and again in the early 1980s.

After Idi Amin overthrew Obote in 1971, many Rwandan Tutsis moved out of the border refugee camps. Some tended the cattle of wealthy Ugandans; others acquired property and began farming; some married into Ugandan families; and a small number joined the State Research Bureau, Amin’s dreaded security apparatus, which inflicted terror on Ugandans. When Obote returned to power in the 1980s, he stripped the Rwandan Tutsis of their civil rights and ordered them into the refugee camps or back over the border into Rwanda, where they were not welcomed by the Hutu-dominated government. Those who refused to go were assaulted, raped and killed and their houses were destroyed.

In response to Obote’s abuses, more and more Rwandan refugees joined the National Resistance Army, an anti-Obote rebel group founded by Museveni in 1981. When Museveni’s rebels took power in 1986, a quarter of them were Rwandan Tutsi refugees, and Museveni granted them high ranks in Uganda’s new army.

Museveni’s promotion of the Rwandan refugees within the army generated not only resentment within Uganda, but terror within Rwanda where the majority Hutus had long feared an onslaught from Tutsi refugees. In 1972, some 75,000 educated Hutus – just about anyone who could read – had been massacred in Tutsi-ruled Burundi, a small country neighbouring Rwanda with a similar ethnic makeup. During the 1960s, Uganda’s Tutsi refugees had launched occasional armed strikes across the border, but Rwanda’s army easily fought them off. Each attack sparked reprisals against those Tutsis who remained inside Rwanda – many of whom were rounded up, tortured and killed – on mere suspicion of being supporters of the refugee fighters. By the late 1980s, a new generation of refugees, with training and weapons supplied by Museveni’s Uganda, represented a potentially far greater threat. According to the historian André Guichaoua, anger and fear hung over every bar-room altercation, every office dispute and every church sermon.

By the time Museveni took power, the plight of the Tutsi refugees had come to the attention of the west, which began pressuring Rwanda’s government to allow them to return. At first, Rwanda’s president, Juvénal Habyarimana, refused, protesting that Rwanda was among the most densely populated countries in the world, and its people, dependent upon peasant agriculture, needed land to survive. The population had grown since the refugees left, and Rwanda was now full, Habyarimana claimed.

Although he did not say so publicly, overpopulation almost certainly was not Habyarimana’s major concern. He knew the refugees’ leaders were not just interested in a few plots of land and some hoes. The RPF’s professed aim was refugee rights, but its true aim was an open secret throughout the Great Lakes region of Africa: to overthrow Habyarimana’s government and take over Rwanda by force. Museveni had even informed the Rwandan president that the Tutsi exiles might invade, and Habyarimana had also told US state department officials that he feared an invasion from Uganda.

One afternoon in early 1988 when the news was slow, Kiwanuka Lawrence Nsereko, a journalist with the Citizen, an independent Ugandan newspaper, stopped by to see an old friend at the ministry of transport in downtown Kampala. Two senior army officers, whom Lawrence knew, happened to be in the waiting room when he arrived. Like many of Museveni’s officers, they were Rwandan Tutsi refugees. After some polite preliminaries, Lawrence asked the men what they were doing there.

“We want some of our people to be in Rwanda,” one of them replied. Lawrence shuddered. He had grown up among Hutus who had fled Tutsi oppression in Rwanda before independence in 1962, as well as Tutsis who had fled the Hutu-led pogroms that followed it. Lawrence’s childhood catechist had been a Tutsi; the Hutus who worked in his family’s gardens wouldn’t attend his lessons. Instead, they swapped fantastic tales about how Tutsis once used their Hutu slaves as spittoons, expectorating into their mouths, instead of on the ground.

The officers went in to speak to the transport official first, and when Lawrence’s turn came, he asked his friend what had transpired. The official was elated. The Rwandans had come to express their support for a new open borders programme, he said. Soon Rwandans living in Uganda would be allowed to cross over and visit their relatives without a visa. This would help solve the vexing refugee issue, he explained.

Lawrence was less sanguine. He suspected the Rwandans might use the open borders programme to conduct surveillance for an invasion, or even carry out attacks inside Rwanda. A few days later, he dropped in on a Rwandan Tutsi colonel in Uganda’s army, named Stephen Ndugute.

“We are going back to Rwanda,” the colonel said. (When the RPF eventually took over Rwanda in 1994, Ndugute would be second in command.)

Many Ugandans were eager to see Museveni’s Rwandan officers depart. They were not only occupying senior army positions many Ugandans felt should be held by Ugandans, but some were also notorious for their brutality. Paul Kagame, who went on to lead the RPF takeover of Rwanda and has ruled Rwanda since the genocide, was acting chief of military intelligence, in whose headquarters Lawrence himself had been tortured. In northern and eastern Uganda, where a harsh counterinsurgency campaign was underway, some of the army’s worst abuses had been committed by Rwandan Tutsi officers. In 1989, for example, soldiers under the command of Chris Bunyenyezi, also an RPF leader, herded scores of suspected rebels in the village of Mukura into an empty railway wagon with no ventilation, locked the doors and allowed them to die of suffocation.

Lawrence had little doubt that if war broke out in Rwanda, it was going to be “very, very bloody”, he told me. He decided to alert Rwanda’s president. Habyarimana agreed to meet him during a state visit to Tanzania. At a hotel in Dar es Salaam, the 20-year-old journalist warned the Rwandan leader about the dangers of the open border programme. “Don’t worry,” Lawrence says Habyarimana told him. “Museveni is my friend and would never allow the RPF to invade.”

Habyarimana was bluffing. The open border programme was actually part of his own ruthless counter-strategy. Every person inside Rwanda visited by a Tutsi refugee would be followed by state agents and automatically branded an RPF sympathiser; many were arrested, tortured, and killed by Rwandan government operatives. The Tutsis inside Rwanda thus became pawns in a power struggle between the RPF exiles and Habyarimana’s government. Five years later, they would be crushed altogether in one of the worst genocides ever recorded.

On the morning of 1 October 1990, thousands of RPF fighters gathered in a football stadium in western Uganda about 20 miles from the Rwandan border. Some were Rwandan Tutsi deserters from Uganda’s army; others were volunteers from the refugee camps. Two nearby hospitals were readied for casualties. When locals asked what was going on, Fred Rwigyema, who was both a Ugandan army commander and the leader of the RPF, said they were preparing for Uganda’s upcoming Independence Day celebrations, but some excited rebels let the true purpose of their mission leak out. They crossed into Rwanda that afternoon. The Rwandan army, with help from French and Zairean commandos, stopped their advance and the rebels retreated back into Uganda. A short time later, they invaded again and eventually established bases in northern Rwanda’s Virunga mountains.

Presidents Museveni and Habyarimana were attending a Unicef conference in New York at the time. They were staying in the same hotel and Museveni rang Habyarimana’s room at 5am to say he had just learned that 14 of his Rwandan Tutsi officers had deserted and crossed into Rwanda. “I would like to make it very clear,” the Ugandan president reportedly said, “that we did not know about the desertion of these boys” – meaning the Rwandans, not 14, but thousands of whom had just invaded Habyarimana’s country – “nor do we support it.”

In Washington a few days later, Museveni told the State Department’s Africa chief, Herman Cohen, that he would court martial the Rwandan deserters if they attempted to cross back into Uganda. But a few days after that, he quietly requested France and Belgium not to assist the Rwandan government in repelling the invasion. Cohen writes that he now believes that Museveni must have been feigning shock, when he knew what was going on all along.

When Museveni returned to Uganda, Robert Gribbin, then deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Kampala, had some “stiff talking points” for him. Stop the invasion at once, the American said, and ensure no support flowed to the RPF from Uganda.

Museveni had already issued a statement promising to seal all Uganda–Rwanda border crossings, provide no assistance to the RPF and arrest any rebels who tried to return to Uganda. But he proceeded to do none of those things and the Americans appear to have made no objection.

When the RPF launched its invasion, Kagame, then a senior officer in both the Ugandan army and the RPF, was in Kansas at the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, studying field tactics and psyops, propaganda techniques to win hearts and minds. But after four RPF commanders were killed, he told his American instructors that he was dropping out to join the Rwandan invasion. The Americans apparently supported this decision and Kagame flew into Entebbe airport, travelled to the Rwandan border by road, and crossed over to take command of the rebels.

For the next three and a half years, the Ugandan army continued to supply Kagame’s fighters with provisions and weapons, and allow his soldiers free passage back and forth across the border. In 1991, Habyarimana accused Museveni of allowing the RPF to attack Rwanda from protected bases on Ugandan territory. When a Ugandan journalist published an article in the government-owned New Vision newspaper revealing the existence of these bases, Museveni threatened to charge the journalist and his editor with sedition. The entire border area was cordoned off. Even a French and Italian military inspection team was denied access.

In October 1993, the UN security council authorised a peacekeeping force to ensure no weapons crossed the border. The peacekeepers’ commander, Canadian Lt-Gen Roméo Dallaire, spent most of his time inside Rwanda, but he also visited the Ugandan border town of Kabale, where an officer told him that his inspectors would have to provide the Ugandan army with 12 hours’ notice so that escorts could be arranged to accompany them on their border patrols. Dallaire protested: the element of surprise is crucial for such monitoring missions. But the Ugandans insisted and eventually, Dallaire, who was much more concerned about developments inside Rwanda, gave up.

The border was a sieve anyway, as Dallaire later wrote. There were five official crossing sites and countless unmapped mountain trails. It was impossible to monitor. Dallaire had also heard that an arsenal in Mbarara, a Ugandan town about 80 miles from the Rwanda border, was being used to supply the RPF. The Ugandans refused to allow Dallaire’s peacekeepers to inspect that. In 2004, Dallaire told a US congressional hearing that Museveni had laughed in his face when they met at a gathering to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the genocide. “I remember that UN mission on the border,” Museveni reportedly told him. “We manoeuvred ways to get around it, and of course we did support the [RPF].”

US officials knew that Museveni was not honouring his promise to court martial RPF leaders. The US was monitoring Ugandan weapons shipments to the RPF in 1992, but instead of punishing Museveni, western donors including the US doubled aid to his government and allowed his defence spending to balloon to 48% of Uganda’s budget, compared with 13% for education and 5% for health, even as Aids was ravaging the country. In 1991, Uganda purchased 10 times more US weapons than in the preceding 40 years combined.

The 1990 Rwanda invasion, and the US’s tacit support for it, is all the more disturbing because in the months before it occurred, Habyarimana had acceded to many of the international community’s demands, including for the return of refugees and a multiparty democratic system. So it wasn’t clear what the RPF was fighting for. Certainly, negotiations over refugee repatriation would have dragged on and might not have been resolved to the RPF’s satisfaction, or at all. But negotiations appear to have been abandoned abruptly in favour of war.

At least one American was concerned about this. The US ambassador to Rwanda, Robert Flaten, saw with his own eyes that the RPF invasion had caused terror in Rwanda. After the invasion, hundreds of thousands of mostly Hutu villagers fled RPF-held areas, saying they had seen abductions and killings. Flaten urged the George HW Bush’s administration to impose sanctions on Uganda, as it had on Iraq after the Kuwait invasion earlier that year. But unlike Saddam Hussein, who was routed from Kuwait, Museveni received only Gribbin’s “stiff questions” about the RPF’s invasion of Rwanda.

“In short,” Gribbin writes, “we said that the cat was out of the bag, and neither the United States nor Uganda was going to rebag it.” Sanctioning Museveni might have harmed US interests in Uganda, he explains. “We sought a stable nation after years of violence and uncertainty. We encouraged nascent democratic initiatives. We supported a full range of economic reforms.” But the US was not fostering nascent democratic initiatives inside Uganda. While pressuring other countries, including Rwanda, to open up political space, Uganda’s donors were allowing Museveni to ban political party activity, arrest journalists and editors, and conduct brutal counterinsurgency operations in which civilians were tortured and killed. And far from seeking stability, the US, by allowing Uganda to arm the RPF, was setting the stage for what would turn out to be the worst outbreak of violence ever recorded on the African continent. Years later, Cohen expressed regret for failing to pressure Uganda to stop supporting the RPF, but by then it was far too late.

For Habyarimana and his circle of Hutu elites, the RPF invasion seemed to have a silver lining, at least at first. At the time, Hutu/Tutsi relations inside Rwanda had improved. Habyarimana had sought reconciliation with the Tutsis still living in Rwanda by reserving civil service jobs and university places for them in proportion to their share of the population. This programme was modestly successful, and the greatest tensions in the country now lay along class, not ethnic, lines. A tiny educated Hutu clique linked to Habyarimana’s family who called themselves évolués –the evolved ones – was living off the labour of millions of impoverished rural Hutus, whom they exploited just as brutally as the Tutsi overlords of bygone days.

The évolués subjected the peasants to forced labour and fattened themselves on World Bank “anti-poverty” projects that provided jobs and other perks for their own group, but did little to alleviate poverty. International aid donors had pressured Habyarimana to allow opposition political parties to operate, and many new ones had sprung up. Hutus and Tutsis were increasingly united in criticising Habyarimana’s autocratic behaviour and nepotism, and the vast economic inequalities in the country.

When Rwanda’s ethnic bonfires roared back to life in the days after the RPF invasion, Habyarimana and his circle seem to have sensed a political opportunity: now they could distract the disaffected Hutu masses from their own abuses by reawakening fears of the “demon Tutsis”, who would soon become convenient scapegoats to divert attention from profound socioeconomic injustices.

Shortly after the invasion, all Tutsis – whether RPF supporters or not – became targets of a vicious propaganda campaign that would bear hideous fruit in April 1994. Chauvinist Hutu newspapers, magazines and radio programmes began reminding Hutu audiences that they were the original occupants of the Great Lakes region and that Tutsis were Nilotics – supposedly warlike pastoralists from Ethiopia who had conquered and enslaved them in the 17th century. The RPF invasion was nothing more than a plot by Museveni, Kagame and their Tutsi co-conspirators to re-establish this evil Nilotic empire. Cartoons of Tutsis killing Hutus began appearing in magazines, along with warnings that all Tutsis were RPF spies bent on dragging the country back to the days when the Tutsi queen supposedly rose from her seat supported by swords driven between the shoulders of Hutu children. In December 1993, a picture of a machete appeared on the front page of a Hutu publication under the headline “What to do about the Tutsis?”

Habyarimana knew that the RPF, thanks to Ugandan backing, was better armed, trained and disciplined than his own army. Under immense international pressure, he had agreed in August 1993 to grant the RPF seats in a transitional government and nearly half of all posts in the army. Even Tutsis inside Rwanda were against giving the RPF so much power because they knew it could provoke the angry, fearful Hutus even more, and they were right. As Habyarimana’s increasingly weak government reluctantly acceded to the RPF’s demands for power, Hutu extremist mayors and other local officials began stockpiling rifles, and government-linked anti-Tutsi militia groups began distributing machetes and kerosene to prospective génocidaires. In January 1994, four months before the genocide, the CIA predicted that if tensions were not somehow defused, hundreds of thousands of people would die in ethnic violence. The powder keg awaited a spark to set it off.

That spark arrived at about 8pm on 6 April 1994, when rockets fired from positions close to Kigali airport shot down Habyarimana’s plane as it was preparing to land. The next morning, frantic Hutu militia groups, convinced that the Nilotic apocalypse was at hand, launched a ferocious attack against their Tutsi neighbours.

Few subjects are more polarising than the modern history of Rwanda. Questions such as “Has the RPF committed human rights abuses?” or “Who shot down President Habyarimana’s plane?” have been known to trigger riots at academic conferences. The Rwandan government bans and expels critical scholars from the country, labelling them “enemies of Rwanda” and “genocide deniers”, and Kagame has stated that he doesn’t think that “anyone in the media, UN [or] human rights organisations has any moral right whatsoever to level any accusations against me or Rwanda”.

Be that as it may, several lines of evidence suggest that the RPF was responsible for the downing of Habyarimana’s plane. The missiles used were Russian-made SA-16s. The Rwandan army was not known to possess these weapons, but the RPF had them at least since May 1991. Two SA-16 single-use launchers were also found in a valley near Masaka Hill, an area within range of the airport that was accessible to the RPF. According to the Russian military prosecutor’s office, the launchers had been sold to Uganda by the USSR in 1987.

Since 1997, five additional investigations of the crash have been carried out, including one by a UN-appointed team, and one each by French and Spanish judges working independently. These three concluded that the RPF was probably responsible. Two Rwandan government investigations conversely concluded that Hutu elites and members of Habyarimana’s own army were responsible.

2012 report on the crash commissioned by two French judges supposedly exonerated the RPF. But this report, although widely publicised as definitive, actually was not. The authors used ballistic and acoustic evidence to argue that the missiles were probably fired by the Rwandan army from Kanombe military barracks. But they admit that their technical findings could not exclude the possibility that the missiles were fired from Masaka Hill, where the launchers were found. The report also fails to explain how the Rwandan army, which was not known to possess SA-16s, could have shot down the plane using them.

Soon after the plane crash, the génocidaires began their attack against the Tutsis, and the RPF began advancing. But the rebels’ troop movements suggested that their primary priority was conquering the country, not saving Tutsi civilians. Rather than heading south, where most of the killings were taking place, the RPF circled around Kigali. By the time it reached the capital weeks later, most of the Tutsis there were dead.

When the UN peacekeeper Dallaire met RPF commander Kagame during the genocide, he asked about the delay. “He knew full well that every day of fighting on the periphery meant certain death for Tutsis still behind [Rwanda government forces] lines,” Dallaire wrote in Shake Hands With the Devil. “[Kagame] ignored the implications of my question.”

In the years that followed, Bill Clinton apologised numerous times for the US’s inaction during the genocide. “If we’d gone in sooner, I believe we could have saved at least a third of the lives that were lost,” he told journalist Tania Bryer in 2013. Instead, Europeans and Americans extracted their own citizens and the UN peacekeepers quietly withdrew. But Dallaire indicates that Kagame would have rejected Clinton’s help in any case. “The international community is looking at sending an intervention force on humanitarian grounds,” Kagame told Dallaire. “But for what reason? If an intervention force is sent to Rwanda, we,” – meaning the RPF – “will fight it.”

 

As the RPF advanced, Hutu refugees fled into neighbouring countries. In late April, television stations around the world broadcast images of thousands upon thousands of them crossing the Rusumo Bridge from Rwanda into Tanzania, as the bloated corpses of Rwandans floated down the Kagera river beneath them. Most viewers assumed that all the corpses were Tutsis killed by Hutu génocidaires. But the river drains mainly from areas then held by the RPF, and Mark Prutsalis, a UN official working in the Tanzanian refugee camps, maintains that at least some of the bodies were probably Hutu victims of reprisal killings by the RPF. One refugee after another told him that RPF soldiers had gone house to house in Hutu areas, dragging people out, tying them up and throwing them in the river. The UN estimated later that the RPF killed some 10,000 civilians each month during the genocide.

Lawrence Nsereko was among the journalists on the Rusumo Bridge that day and as the bodies floated by, he noticed something strange. The upper arms of some of them had been tied with ropes behind their backs. In Uganda, this method of restraint is known as the “three-piece tie”; it puts extreme pressure on the breastbone, causing searing pain, and may result in gangrene. Amnesty International had recently highlighted it as a signature torture method of Museveni’s army, and Lawrence wondered whether the RPF had learned this technique from their Ugandan patrons.

In June 1994, while the slaughter in Rwanda was still underway, Museveni travelled to Minneapolis, where he received a Hubert H Humphrey public service medal and honorary doctorate from the University of Minnesota. The dean, a former World Bank official, praised Museveni for ending human rights abuses in Uganda and preparing his country for multiparty democracy. Western journalists and academics showered Museveni with praise. “Uganda [is] one of the few flickers of hope for the future of black Africa,” wrote one. The New York Times compared the Ugandan leader to Nelson Mandela, and Time magazine hailed him as a “herdsman and philosopher” and “central Africa’s intellectual compass.”

Museveni also visited Washington on that trip, where he met with Clinton and his national security adviser, Anthony Lake. I could find no record of what the men discussed, but I can imagine the Americans lamenting the tragedy in Rwanda, and the Ugandan explaining that this disaster only confirmed his long-held theory that Africans were too attached to clan loyalties for multiparty democracy. The continent’s ignorant peasants belonged under the control of autocrats like himself.

Helen C Epstein

This is an adapted extract from Another Fine Mess: America, Uganda and the War on Terror, published by Columbia Global Reports. To order a copy for £9.34, go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p&p of £1.99.

 

The United States will continue to urge Rwanda to respect the rights of all its citizens.

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Rwandan Human Rights and U.S. Relations With Rwanda

Testimony

Steven Feldstein
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations
Washington, DC
May 20, 2015

As Prepared

Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Bass and Members of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. Thank you for holding this important hearing on Rwanda and for the opportunity to speak today.

Rwanda holds a very personal connection for me. Fifteen years ago I first went to Rwanda as a fellow with the International Rescue Committee. I spent a year in the country supporting its efforts to recover from war and genocide – helping unaccompanied children and youth reintegrate back into their communities, working with villages to provide access to clean water, and traveling throughout the country to try to better understand what gives people the capacity to pick up their feet and move forward after such a shattering experience. Living in Rwanda had a profound impact on me and has been a key inspiration for my decision to pursue a career in foreign policy and human rights.

Indeed, Rwanda’s progress since the 1994 genocide has been remarkable. Rwanda’s GDP has grown at an estimated annual rate of 7 percent, youth literacy rates have improved from 65 percent in 2000 to 77 percent in 2010, and child and infant death rates have plummeted, going from an under-5 mortality rate of 152 children out of every 1,000 in 1990 to just 52 out of 1,000 in 2013. Rwanda also plays a crucial role in international peacekeeping operations, and has made great strides in its inclusion of women at all levels of government. Several years ago I paid a return visit to Kigali, and I found a city profoundly changed. Modern office towers have replaced dilapidated buildings. The streets were spotless – thanks in part to a widely acclaimed ban on plastic bags. New businesses seemed to be springing up daily, such as coffee ventures supplying top quality beans to U.S. brands like Starbucks and Peet’s.

But this is only part of the story. Alongside Rwanda’s remarkable development progress, there have been equally consistent efforts to reduce space for independent voices and to diminish the ability of the media, opposition groups, and civil society to operate. This space matters. It is essential not only for democratic progress, but for cementing Rwanda’s impressive economic and development gains.

When it comes to the human rights situation in Rwanda, we see three trends of note. First, political space in Rwanda and the overall human rights environment continues to shrink. There are reports of targeted killings, and an increasing number of reports of disappearances and harassment of civil society groups and opposition parties. Second, this trend is reinforcing the wrong lessons for Rwanda– particularly that a country can continue to experience robust economic growth and foreign investment even while repressing its citizens further and reducing democratic space. This is not a sustainable path. At some point – if unchecked – human rights violations will begin to affect Rwanda’s economic performance, stability and the willingness of foreign investors to pump in outside capital and do business. Third, Rwanda’s human rights records is setting a disturbing precedent for the region and continent. Other countries are carefully watching Rwanda’s model of economic liberalization and political repression. In my discussions, counterparts frequently point to Rwanda and question whether protecting the rights of their citizens matters if they can achieve substantial economic development.

The answer, of course, is that protecting the rights of all of Rwanda’s citizens and residents matters immensely to Rwanda’s long term stability and prosperity, to its continued positive economic trajectory, and to whether other countries recognize they can follow a similar path to greater prosperity. When governments repress fundamental freedoms and universal human rights, international investment can falter because this repression is a sign of societal fissures that can lead to instability and violence. This is also true when governments stifle civil society organizations that provide checks and balances on corruption and increase government accountability. Rwanda can be a model for the region, or it can slip backwards over time, never truly fulfilling its potential.

We have articulated our concerns about Rwanda’s human rights record for years directly to Rwanda’s senior leaders, including President Kagame, and we have highlighted the deteriorating situation in Rwanda, through the State Department’s annual human rights report. The Department’s 2013 human rights report for Rwanda noted that the government targeted political opponents and human rights advocates for harassment, arrest, and abuse. It reported that the government disregarded the rule of law and placed significant restrictions on the enjoyment of freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, as well as restrictions on press freedoms. It observed that the government harassed and placed substantial limitations on local and international NGOs, particularly organizations that monitored and reported on human rights. And it highlighted reports that arbitrary or unlawful killings took place both inside and outside Rwanda.

The credibility of elections provides an important indication of the level of space for independent voices and views. Unfortunately, Presidential elections in 2010 and parliamentary elections in 2013 were beset by irregularities both in the pre-electoral period and on Election Day. Part of this is due to the passing in 2008 of the “genocide ideology” law, which was intended to restrict any actions that could lead to genocide. In practice, the government has used this law to impede the activities of opposition parties, opposition candidates, and civil society organizations. In the 2010 elections, in which President Kagame was reelected with 93 percent of the vote, there was a lack of critical opposition voices in the pre-election period, opposition political parties were unable to register, and two opposition party leaders were arrested on what appear to be spurious charges. Two unregistered political parties were unable to field presidential candidates due to legal or administrative issues.

International observers reported that Rwanda’s 2013 parliamentary elections also failed to meet standards for free and fair elections. While the elections were calm and well organized, there were numerous irregularities, including the presence of security officials in polling rooms, multiple voting, and local election officials filling out ballots in the absence of voters. Rwandan electoral officials also denied U.S. Embassy observers access to polling stations and vote tabulation centers, thereby making it impossible to verify the accuracy of the final vote count and official participation rate. Rwanda’s next presidential election is in 2017, and we are cautiously hopeful that this election will mark an improvement upon previous contests.

Our concerns about restrictions on press freedom, freedom of assembly, expression, and association extend beyond electoral processes. Most Rwandan news outlets follow party lines. Rwandan journalists self-censor their work, and some have fled the country out of fear of government harassment. The Rwandan government has also stepped up its use of a law amended in 2012 that allows security officials to monitor online communications. During the period surrounding the 20-year genocide commemoration in spring 2014, the country’s few remaining independent journalists were increasingly targeted for harassment and arrest. This led the United States to issue a statement in June 2014 expressing deep concern about the arrest and disappearance of dozens of Rwandan citizens and credible reports that individual journalists were being threatened, and in some cases directly censored.

We are also deeply troubled by the succession of what appear to be politically motivated murders of prominent Rwandan exiles. This includes the December 2013 killing of former Rwandan government official Colonel Patrick Karegeya, who was found dead in a hotel room in South Africa. Months later, armed men raided the South African home of former Rwandan Army Chief of Staff Kayumba Nyamwasa, who had previously been targeted for assassination attempts. President Kagame’s 2014 statements about “consequences” for those who betray Rwanda has further heightened these concerns.

Also of deep concern are corpses that appeared in Lake Rweru, along the border between Rwanda and Burundi, between July and October in 2014. Fishermen reported seeing dozens of floating bodies, some bound and wrapped in sacks. Four bodies were recovered and buried near a village in Burundi’s Muyinga Province. Fishermen reported that on the nights of September 21 and 22, Rwandan marines attempted to exhume the bodies, allegedly to return them to Rwanda. Both Rwanda and Burundi called for a joint investigation into the identity and origin of the bodies. In December, Burundi’s minister of foreign affairs accepted an offer of forensic assistance funded by the United States and several other donor governments for an investigation led by the African Union. Rwandan officials stated that the government also supported a joint investigation, but no investigation has been conducted. The United States continues to press the African Union to move forward with an investigation into these killings and accountability for those responsible.

As a close partner with Rwanda on many global and regional issues, we have and will continue to maintain a close dialogue with the government on these concerns, while recognizing their strong policies and actions with respect to issues of concern, such as women’s rights, the rights of LGBTI persons, and access to health and education.

In closing, Rwanda is an important ally. It is a respected contributor to peacekeeping missions throughout the region, it has rebuilt itself from genocide, and it has achieved impressive development and economic gains. I have seen with my own eyes the remarkable progress that Rwanda has made. I believe there is a bright future ahead for its people, which is why Rwanda’s current human rights situation is so personally disappointing to me. Ensuring respect for freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and respect for the rule of law is essential for cementing, and building from these gains. The United States will continue to urge Rwanda to respect the rights of all its citizens.

Thank you very much and I welcome your questions.

The United States led all other donors according to preliminary 2014 estimates

Today the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) released preliminary 2014 net Official Development Assistance (ODA) estimates. The data again shows that the United States led all other donors according to preliminary 2014 estimates, with $32.73 billion in net assistance, another record level. The United States provided $27.02 billion in bilateral aid and $5.53 billion in core contributions to multilateral organizations supporting development, which is historically the highest level of any donor country. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Department of Treasury together delivered 94 percent of total U.S. development assistance disbursements in 2014.

2014 ODA levels are preliminary estimates for the DAC Advance Questionnaire. Assistance data will be reconciled with U.S. Government agencies in the coming weeks for incomplete, missing, questionable or to-be-revised data and for conformance with DAC reporting directives. Final ODA levels for 2014 and prior years will change by September after consultations with implementing U.S. Government agencies and the DAC Secretariat.

U.S. 2014 Calendar Year Assistance Highlights:

• The United States again provided more aid than any other donor country in the world in the 2014

• U.S. aid over this period increased $1.23 billion to $32.73 billion from 2013 levels, a historic high for all donors.

• U.S. bilateral assistance to other countries was $27.02 billion in 2014, an increase of $820 million over 2013.

• U.S. contributions to multilateral organizations supporting development totaled $5.53 billion in 2014, an increase of $420 million over 2013.

• USAID and the U.S. Departments of State; Health and Human Services; and Treasury distributed 94 percent or $30.6 billion of 2014 aid.

Source: OECD

Hillary Clinton under fire: Donations to family foundation by foreign governments and corporations subject of controversy.

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Hillary Clinton addressed the controversy about her email arrangement while secretary of state but some questions remain unanswered.
Hillary Clinton failed to quell mounting criticism over her controversial private email account on Tuesday evening after her office suggested she had erased more than half of her emails before turning them over for release to the American public.

In a statement released after a press conference intended to end a week-long controversy, Clinton’s office said that she did not preserve 31,830 of the 62,320 emails she sent and received while serving as Barack Obama’s secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

“After her work-related emails were identified and preserved, Secretary Clinton chose not to keep her private, personal emails that were not federal records,” her office said, in a defiant nine-page explanation for the unusual arrangement that has put her under political fire.

Republicans accused Clinton of blocking transparency. It could not be confirmed whether the deleted archives included messages sent and received by Clinton relating to her family’s philanthropic foundation. Donations to the foundation by foreign governments and corporations are the subject of a separate ongoing controversy.

Trey Gowdy, the Republican congressman leading a select committee inquiry into the deadly 2012 attack on a US diplomatic station in Benghazi, Libya, said Clinton had “created more questions than answers” with Tuesday’s intervention. Demanding that she appear before his committee “at least twice”, Gowdy said the former secretary should hand over her email server to a “neutral, detached third-party arbiter who can determine which documents should be public and which should remain private”.

The continuing saga threatened to complicate the plans for her expected second campaign for the US presidency, which were thought to be in their final stages in advance of an announcement in April.

Analysis Four things we still don’t know after Clinton’s email press conference
Did she delete half the emails or not? Why did she contradict Bill? The press conference meant to clarify the controversy ended up adding more questions
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Criticism has grown since it was revealed last week that Clinton did not use an official government email address during her four years at the State Department. She instead conducted all official business using a private address under the ClintonEmail.com domain.

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Clinton conceded at a press conference in New York on Tuesday afternoon that she had erred and “it would have been better” to have used separate email accounts for work and personal matters. However, she insisted she had used a single account on one mobile phone for “convenience”, adding: “I thought using one device would be simpler, and obviously, it hasn’t worked out that way.”

The former secretary’s office said she had turned over all 30,490 of her sent and received emails that related to her work to the State Department. They manually searched her archive, the statement said, first by finding all emails involving people with government email addresses, then searching for some people by name and for topics such as Libya.

All these are expected to be published. “You will see everything from the work of government, to emails with State and other administration colleagues, to LinkedIn invites, to talk about the weather – essentially what anyone would see in their own email account,” her office said.

In further defiant remarks on the emails that Clinton will not turn over, her office insisted that none contained material relevant to her work in four years leading Foggy Bottom.

“These were private, personal messages, including emails about her daughter’s wedding plans, her mother’s funeral services, and condolence notes, as well as emails on family vacations, yoga routines, and other items one would typically find in their own email account, such as offers from retailers, spam, etc,” it said.

But the Republican party, which accused Clinton of “putting our national security at risk for ‘convenience’” by operating the private email server, said there could be no independent verification that Clinton had preserved all messages related to her work.

“Because only Hillary Clinton controls her personal email account and admitted she deleted many of her emails, no one but Hillary Clinton knows if she handed over every relevant email,” Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement.

Clinton rejected suggestions that an independent monitor could review her email server to examine emails not turned over. “I believe that I have met all of my responsibilities and the server will remain private,” she said at the press conference.

Despite separately indicating all personal messages were erased, she said the server “contains personal communications from my husband and me”. Complicating matters further, a spokesman for her husband, former president Bill Clinton, told the Wall Street Journal that he had only ever sent two emails.

Clinton’s spokesman did not respond to emails seeking clarification on what precisely had been erased, and whether anyone else had kept a copy of Clinton’s personal email archive.

Other critics pointed to remarks made by Clinton at an onstage interview last month, in which she said she used both an iPhone and a Blackberry. Discussing devices later in the conversation, Clinton said, “I don’t throw anything away, I’m like two steps short of a hoarder.” It was not clear when Clinton began using two devices.

The statement from Clinton’s office addressed other questions raised by the news of her email server – several relating to security and her interaction with foreign governments. The statement said her team’s review of Clinton’s email archive “revealed only one email with a foreign (UK) official”. It clarified that “during her time at State, she communicated with foreign officials in person, through correspondence, and by telephone”.

Clinton said during her press conference that she had never used the email account to send classified material. She insisted that the server had been secure by being placed on property protected by the secret service and claimed to know that the system had never been breached.

Source: The Guardian

US Secretary Remarks on International women’s day

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Press Statement

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 8, 2015

On International Women’s Day we celebrate the courage and contributions of women and girls around the world.

The fundamental truth is that no society can reach its full potential if it leaves 50 percent of its people behind.

The State Department highlighted this fact last week when it honored 10 extraordinary leaders with our International Women of Courage Award.

They are peacemakers bringing together warring sides to work for reconciliation. They are nurses treating Ebola patients despite the risks. They are journalists exposing corruption and countering violent extremism. And they are activists taking a stand against violence and discrimination in the workforce, the home, and the city square.

Every day these leaders are out there advocating for universal rights and aspirations. They are standing up and fighting so that every woman and child can lead full, healthy, and productive lives. Unfortunately, this extraordinary work sometimes puts a target squarely on their backs. By fighting for others’ safety, they jeopardize their own.

So while we honor these women’s courage, we reaffirm our commitment to achieving gender equality. It’s a commitment we will, and we must, keep as the global community shapes the Sustainable Development Goals for the next 15 years.

Our path forward is clear. We must prevent and respond to gender-based violence. That’s not only essential for our collective humanity; it’s critical for our collective security.

We must open the doors for women to fully participate in society – as farmers, entrepreneurs, engineers, executives, and leaders of their countries.

And we must invest in the next generation of women by making sure girls can go to school in a safe environment. They should be able to graduate – empowered to be part of their community, diploma in hand.

I will never forget the story of a young woman named Haleta Giday, who I met last year at President Obama’s Summit of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. She had graduated from one of the best schools in Ethiopia. She could have had her pick of jobs. She chose to represent women and children who were the victims of violence. And when Haleta saw how many widows went bankrupt after they lost their husbands, she began a campaign to educate women about their legal and financial rights.

Women like Haleta, women like the ones we honored last week, they are pushing forward progress for gender equality.

Today of all days, the United States reaffirms our commitment to ensuring that this vital progress continues – that women and girls everywhere enjoy the same freedoms and rights as anyone else.

A Letter to the Rwandan People: Erica Barks-Ruggles, United States Ambassador

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Ambassador Erica Barks-Ruggles

Muraho? (How are you?). After just one week in Rwanda, my heart has been warmed by the welcome that I have received and the beauty of the Rwandan people.  Each person I have met has greeted me with sincere smiles and well wishes for the next three years serving my country as Ambassador to Rwanda.  I have already sensed the deep hope Rwandans have for their future, and their heartfelt desire that the United States and Rwanda will continue to strengthen our relationship for the good of all Rwandans.

After 23 years serving my country in the State Department, I am honored that President Obama and Secretary Kerry have entrusted me to carry on the leadership of our efforts together as U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda.  At the beginning of my time with you, I wanted to write this letter to introduce myself and answer the question I am asked most often.

Even before arriving in Kigali, people would frequently ask me what my goals are for my term as Ambassador. My primary goal is very simple: I want to strengthen and improve the work we do in partnership with all Rwandans to tackle the joint challenges we face in a globalized world and build a better future for both our countries.

As I told President Kagame and Foreign Minister Mushikiwabo this week, I am eager to travel widely throughout Rwanda and to hear from the all the people of Rwanda how best we can work together on the tough issues of our day. We have accomplished so much together, but there are still many challenges ahead. I want to meet people from all corners of Rwanda in order to learn how we can continue to strengthen our partnership.

From improving healthcare and literacy, to promoting economic growth and energy, from strengthening democratic institutions and good governance, to tackling climate change and improving regional security, we have much to work on together.

Twenty years after the 1994 genocide, the United States continues its long-standing commitment toward acknowledging all of the lives so tragically lost, and urges a spirit of tolerance and respect. For this reason, one of my first visits after presenting my credentials to the President was to the Kigali Memorial Center in Gisozi. There, I was inspired by the courage of ordinary Rwandans who survived – and of those who helped others – during that horrible chapter. And I am inspired each day by the hard work of every citizen to build a bright, secure and prosperous future in which all Rwandans have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.

The United States is proud to partner with Rwanda to support this growth. Our two nations have a deep relationship spanning issues that include economic growth, poverty reduction, public health, and peacekeeping. The United States is Rwanda’s largest bilateral donor, spending about $180 million in Rwanda each year on health, economic development, education, and democracy and governance programs. This assistance, coupled with the commitment of Rwanda to tackling important challenges like HIV/AIDS and education reform, have helped Rwanda make significant progress in its recovery.

My experience in Africa has taught me the value of these partnerships, and I look forward to continuing to strengthen our friendship with the government and people of Rwanda.

As we move forward, I urge everyone to join in the conversation and follow me on Twitter (my handle is @USAmbRwanda), visit the Embassy website and Facebook pages, or come and visit us at the U.S. Embassy’s Information Resource Center or one of our American Corners in Kigali and Rubavu.

I look forward to my time in Rwanda, and to talking with and working with as many of you as I can over the next three years.

The United States stands ready to support the DRC in democratic process

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Press Statement

Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 25, 2015

The United States welcomes the Parliament of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s approval of electoral legislation that sets the country on course towards timely elections in line with its Constitution. We applaud the efforts of the National Assembly and the Senate to reach consensus and ensure that presidential elections happen no later than December 2016. Parliament’s action today reflects the will of the Congolese people and upholds the DRC constitution. We urge President Kabila to expeditiously sign the electoral legislation as passed by the Parliament and reaffirm that Congo’s first peaceful transition of power will take place through presidential elections in 2016‎. We also call upon the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) to release a global electoral calendar promptly that is in line with Parliament’s action and the Constitution.

The actions the DRC Parliament has taken today, along with President Kabila’s expected signature, represent critical, albeit initial, steps towards national elections in 2016 and what could be the DRC’s first peaceful transfer in power in its almost 55 years since independence. We encourage all Congolese stakeholders, including the government, opposition, and civil society, to use this opportunity to undertake a peaceful, transparent, and inclusive dialogue about the electoral process moving forward. The United States stands ready to support the DRC in this process.

Source:US Department of State