"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


Rwanda tightens its grip

Using made-up charges and obvious ploys to block independent investigations of human rights issues in the country, the government of Rwanda has refused to grant Human Rights Watch country researcher Carina Tertsakian a work permit. Her 90-visa expires tomorrow.

Tertsakian has done excellent work in reporting the limitations on political and expressive freedoms in Rwanda since assuming her post in January. It is unfortunate for the people of Rwanda that she will likely be unable to continue in her post there. An independent voice dedicated to finding facts and standing up for human rights is needed in Rwanda now more than ever.

There may be some good to come out of this unfortunate situation in that perhaps it will make it impossible for Kagame's supporters in the international community to deny that he is running a regime that is more authoritarian than democratic (I'm looking at you, Mr. Blair.). Free speech, respect for human rights, and a fair and transparent system that doesn't make up charges against individuals who say unpopular things - these are the hallmarks of democracy.

It's well past time for the donors to make sure Kagame is aware of that fact.


Blogger Alex Engwete said...

I've to say, this isn't a Rwandan invention. And Kigali reaction is actually mild... About 2 years ago, the Angolan government decreed for a while that it could arrest and prosecute Transparency International researchers for espionage!

When Kagame finds out about this move by Angola, HRW will soon categorized as an espionage outfit too.

In the meanwhile, across the border in the DRC, the mercurial minister of communication, Lambert Mende Omalanga, blasted the other day International Crisis Group for its recent report on "stalled democracy" in the DRC.

Friday, April 23, 2010 8:16:00 PM

Blogger Alex Engwete said...


"... HRW will soon BE categorized..."

Friday, April 23, 2010 8:17:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh dear, you really think HRW is/has recently been objective in its reporting of Rwanda? There is much more objective stuff - this blog for a start allows comments unlike HRW - e.g. on Dispatches from Rwanda "Will the real Ingabire please stand up?" which gives one example of HRW swallowing the opposition line.

As HRW they are assumed [in the West] of course to be speaking the gospel truth - as are Amnesty - but the example is one where they clearly had no evidence for their suggestion that Ingabire's sidekick was innocent but alleged that his arrest was politically inspired. Have they apologised since Ingabire disowned him and he confessed? Of course not.

What you do not seem to realise is that Rwanda does not have the same number of people to run govt depts as other countries. If HRW and AI campaign against Aid to Rwanda eg in Belgium and Netherlands that takes people to counter. If HRW help block extraditions, [correctly perhaps but by applying double standards] by producing taylor made reports, that takes people away from fighting corruption. Less Aid affects poor people although the NGO community do not seem to care about them.

Rwandans are working hard to develop their country. Do the US and other western countries have perfect human rights records? The death penalty? Rendition? Torture? Death by drone? Trial without a jury? Evidence behind screens? Do they have donors that HRW can write to? Maybe Tertsakian could go to Texas to stick up for all the innocent people that get the death penalty? They do not seem to be worried about people being extradited there. All the double standards are very obvious.

Things in Rwanda are not perfect but they are improving. I sometimes think that HRW would be so much happier if it was like Somalia which, unlike Rwanda, has not changed much since 1994. If you want perfection check in your own back yard first.

As someone who is interested in Rwanda enough to read this blog I gave up reading anything from HRW or AI long ago.

Saturday, April 24, 2010 10:56:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@anonymous why don't u just admit that you work for or represent the rpf? You guys had your run (16 years) and now the world is catching on. Kagame is nothing but a dictator/murderer who fired at civilians on at least 3 occasions (byumba). Don't get mad because HRW is exposing your activities to the world! Just enjoy these few moments you have left in power, because soon you'll be back in fleeing to Uganda! Hahaha....

Saturday, April 24, 2010 10:42:00 PM

Anonymous MP said...

I find the above conversation terrifying. @anonymous (#2) your last comment is not remotely amusing. That you find it so is truly alarming.

Sunday, April 25, 2010 6:28:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes the post from Anonymous 2 is quite revealing. This is the sort of thing that must be printed and distributed in Umuseso and Umuvugizi, we are told, because it is "a fundamental human right" to do so. And of course the threat to Rwanda from other people with the same idea, some of the people that Ingabire attended her conference with, and the people at least some of the other attendees fund, is, according to HRW and AI, and maybe even Texas in Africa(?), "entirely imagined" apparently.

Sunday, April 25, 2010 12:40:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Anon #1, are you familiar with Occam's Razor? It"s a principle of logic that posits that the simplest explanation is usually correct. Your mental gymnastics are entertaining, but the simple explanation here is that HRW is on to Kagame's game with the west.

Anon #2, please don't use my blog as a place to wish ill on others.

Sunday, April 25, 2010 2:41:00 PM


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