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

6.14.2010

speechless

This popped up on Twitter over the weekend: Paul Kagame has started his own social network to promote his re-election campaign. Which, come to think, might be an interesting indicator of his level of support if any other credible candidates were being allowed to run against him.

In actual news from Rwanda, the government has a new listening post on the DRC border and arrested the head of its football federation just as the World Cup kicked off. 'Cause that's a great idea when you're facing bad global PR. Speaking of, Rwanda is still holding ICTR lawyer Peter Erlinder under arrest despite his significant health problems. Erlinder certainly has some off-base views about the genocide, but Rwanda is wrong to detain him for expressing them, particularly since he apparently never said anything controversial while in Rwanda. The government is apparently primarily upset about things Erlinder said in the course of his work for the ICTR. And as this excellent piece from the NYT points out, the Erlinder situation is already having an effect on the tribunal's work. That's not good for Rwanda, for international transitional justice, or for the RPF's claims that their government is free and open.

17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are rules of professional privilege and anything Erlinder says in the course of putting forward his client's case at the ICTR should be covered by that.

But if Erlinder addresses conferences in Brussels and writes online to deny in each case that there was a Genocide and he then goes to Rwanda, surely there is no reason why he should not be prosecuted if he has broken the Law of Rwanda?

I see no reason why Rwandans cannot decide that carrying on a campaign to deny the Genocide, with known genocidaires on the same platform in Brussels, is a crime.

Just because the law in the US allows you to do such things does not mean that Rwanda, like some other countries, should not legislate against it.

If other lawyers decide to go on strike then that is between them and the ICTR. By arguing that Erlinder is just being prosecuted for his work at the ICTR, which is not true, they are also adopting Erlinder's apparent tendency for adding 2 and 2 and making 5.

Monday, June 14, 2010 6:10:00 AM

 
Blogger friends of congo said...

USAID sponsored research along with the Spanish and French court rulings calling for the arrest of RPF top officials suggest that Peter's views may not be so "off base" after all. The Rwanda narrative and the love affair with Paul Kagame in the west certainly is an intriguing case study for Thomas Khun's "Structures of Scientific Revolutions."

This lecture by Professor Alan Stam, University of Michigan is extraordinarily insightful, especially in regard to how he systematically deals with the data in a dispassionate manner: http://www.fordschool.umich.edu/video/?bcpid=28911012001&bclid=32920159001&bctid=44939157001

USAID sponsored Research by Professors Alan Stam of University of Michigan and Christian Davenport of Notre Dame:http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture_society/what-really-happened-in-rwanda-1504

Journalist and Author of A Continent for the Taking Howard French -- Kagame's Hidden War in the Congo, NY Review of Books: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23054

The truth about Rwanda and its role in the region is a vital step for establish peace in the region. Rene LeMarchand is on point when he observers that Rwanda is a central actor in any attempt to bring peace or war to the Great Lakes

Monday, June 14, 2010 6:48:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the French proceedings are no longer considered to have any real evidence. You may recall the idea that Rose Kabuye might be prosecuted and she was held in France but was subsequently allowed to return to Rwanda. Mr Ruzibiza for example has apparently retracted his evidence, given apparently in exchange for the promise of a passport.

The fact that Rwanda has a good relationship with the US does not of itself mean that Kagame is bad although I can appreciate that the idea does appeal to those with an anti-US agenda and who assume that Africans cannot develop their countries by themselves.

Monday, June 14, 2010 7:18:00 AM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

If Erlinder breaks Rwandan laws while in Rwanda, then, yes, the Rwandan government should be free to prosecute him. But it's far from clear that that happened in this case. Rwanda is FAR outside of international legal norms in this case. If I break a law that is a law in another country while not in that country (eg, I spit my chewing gum on the ground in the US, even though doing so is against the law in Singapore), then travel to Singapore, but don't ever spit my chewing gum on the ground there, I have not broken Singaporean law.

Monday, June 14, 2010 7:47:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TexasinAfrica-Im not quite convinced. Correct me if Im wrong but dont holocaust-denial laws in Europe have a similar concept? i.e you can get prosecuted for them even if you made the comments in another country.
And as for being 'speechless' about Kagame's website, dont see the big deal. Like any other presidential candiate, he is trying to sell himself to the people. Whats wrong with creating a website?

Monday, June 14, 2010 8:08:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can now be prosecuted in the UK for committing - genocide for example - in Rwanda and there have been convictions for this in Canada, Belgium and (very recently) in Finland.

One of the characteristics of Genocide is that afterwards people claim it never happened. Establishing the history is important to try to stop it happening again and that is why there are special laws to give universal jurisdiction in e.g. prosecuting genocidaires (and the in the UK the legislation even has retrospective effect) and it is just as justifiable to apply this to denial as well.

Since other countries can prosecute in respect of genocide and some other crimes committed elsewhere I do not agree that Rwanda is outside legal norms. Anyway the Genocide in Rwanda is arguably different in that unlike elsewhere killers and survivors now live next to each other.

Monday, June 14, 2010 8:29:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not think that the view expressed by Erlinder are "off base" as you claim.Getting truth about Rwanda requires scratching deeper beyond the surface. Rwanda with its draconian laws, tries to forbid any meaningful research into the issue. The assumption that we have absolute knowledge over what happened in 1994 is simply fallacious.

In case of the "Holocaust-laws in Europe", the first country to adopt them, Germany, did so 40 years after the Holocaust. Rwanda's attempt to change history with disregard to some major historical points is very suspect.

Monday, June 14, 2010 8:30:00 AM

 
Blogger friends of congo said...

Anonymous, it is good that you started your sentence with "I think..." You are entitled to your opinions. When you present data and facts, we can properly respond. Just curious do you have an opinion about the Spanish court ruling too?

Regarding US relations with Rwanda, President Obama would do well to heed his speech in Ghana when he declared "Africa doesn't need strongmen, it needs strong institutions." Yet the US continues to support the likes of Kagame, Museveni, Zenawi and other strongmen with the blood of millions of Africans on their hands. Men that former Sec. of State under the Clinton Administration, Madeline Albright dubbed the new visionary leaders of Africa -- all of whom have invaded another African country. Kagame stands out in the crowd with a laundry list of invasions:
1990 - invaded Rwanda
1994 - invaded Rwanda
1996 - invaded Congo
1998 - invaded Congo
2002 to present - sponsor proxy rebels inside the Congo

Au contraire anonym, it is pro-America to call for justice, democracy and human rights for our African brothers and sisters. Dr. King stated that the arc of history bends toward justice - the arc is bending quickly and will catch up with Mr. Kagame and his RPF colleagues sooner than one might think.

Monday, June 14, 2010 8:52:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a fact that France permitted Rose Kabuye to return to Rwanda. If there was any case against her, she would have been prosecuted. That is why she was extradited from Germany by France in the first place. And if there is no case against her there is also none presumably against anyone else.

If France has no case one wonders about Spain too.

It takes time to build strong institutions.

Kagame stopped the Genocide. No one else did that.

So who is responsible for all the deaths in the DRC? Shall we start with the US and Belgium installing Mobutu and the US propping him up all those years? Democratic? And the victims and survivors of the Genocide, are they not brothers and sisters who deserve justice too? And what about the schools, roads, health care, peace etc developed in Rwanda since 1994? And where were the US in April 1994? Pulling out troops (covertly) in the Security Council.

Monday, June 14, 2010 9:30:00 AM

 
Blogger friends of congo said...

Anon, you couch your suppositions well with words such as "presumably" or "one wonders." Actually we do not have to presume or wonder. In spite of Sarkozy's rapprochement with Kigali, the French courts have not dropped its charges against Ms. Kabuye or the other 8. If you have data to the contrary please post so we can all be educated, anything else is your "wonderings" and "suppositions," all of which you are entitled to but do not serve as substitute for facts.

The Spanish Court has certainly not dropped its case against the 40 top Rwandan officials against which it has international arrest warrants. The court recently asked South Africa to extradite General Nyamwasa to Spain for trial.

Regarding Kagame stopping the genocide lets deal with facts and data not suppositions. Please reference professor Alan Stam of the Univ of Michigan who has gone through President Clinton's National Intelligence Estimates from 1994. Dealing with the data instead of wondering and presuming will help clarify things: http://www.fordschool.umich.edu/video/?bcpid=28911012001&bclid=32920159001&bctid=44939157001

Our hearts go out to our Tutsi brothers and sisters who suffered through the genocide; by the same token our hearts go out to our Hutu brothers and sisters who suffered the invasions and massacres at the hands of Paul Kagame and his RPA inside Rwanda and Congo.

We totally agree regarding US policy. It is quite predictable, irrespective of party (Dems or Repubs) in power and has remained consistent for decades. US backing of Kagame is entirely in line with their backing of Mobutu and the role they played in the assassination of Lumumba. Kagame is merely their latest go to strongman. When he is no longer useful for US foreign policy interests, they will dump him as they did with Mobutu.

Our concern is the Fall out,it may sound cliche but there truly cannot be any peace if there is no justice and the injustices that exist in Rwanda as a result of the US unconditional backing of Kagame is propelling the region to even more blood bath. It is vital that people of conscience deal with the issue in a lucid manner and propose prescriptions based on data and the best possible research and analysis.

Monday, June 14, 2010 10:55:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your comparison of Kagame and Mobutu is flawed. Mobutu ran down the country and left it with no infrastructure while filling his own pockets. Kagame is developing the country and has a zero tolerance for corruption. While Rwanda is receiving Aid the development is being done by Rwandans and designed by them. Americans are going there to try to understand how it is being done. Rwanda shows the potential for Africa if you have the political will and do not tolerate corruption.

You also make the bizarre mistake of treating the killing of one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu as if it is equivalent to any revenge killings carried out by the RPF. Remember once again that the RPF stopped the Genocide. Were it not for them we would have a genocidal gov't in Kigali supported by France.

After 1994 Zaire permitted the killers to regroup (fed by the international community) and make attacks into Rwanda and kill civilians and (do what many people still want to do which is) to destabilise Rwanda. Did you expect Rwanda to sit back and do nothing? The international community did nothing.

Monday, June 14, 2010 1:12:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

The RPF only stopped the genocide after they'd secured control of Kigali, which was their primary objective all along. No serious scholar of the region disputes that.

The problem here is that Rwanda's definition of "genocide denial" is so broad. There's a HUGE difference between being being extradited from France or Germany because one is accused of genocide vs. being arrested for statements one made about the particulars of how the genocide unfolded.

And there's a HUGE difference between saying, "The genocide never happened" (which is how I would define "denial") vs. "The 800,000 deaths that did occur were less well-organized than we've been led to believe." The former is flat-out denying the genocide, which of course is wrong. THe latter is questioning the RPF's dominant narrative, as is anyone who points out that several thousand Hutus were killed by the RPF in the year or so following the genocide and the RPF takeover of the Rwandan state. But Rwanda's genocide law treats all of these statements as equivalent.

As for Erlinder's views, yes, they are off-base because many fly in the face of all available evidence. There's no evidence, for example, that the RPF shot down those planes (the only people who've ever come forward to talk about it were all Hutus in the national army who claimed to be involved in the plot.). There's very solid evidence that the genocide was in fact planned, down to names and locations. On these points, Erlinder is clearly incorrect.

But that Professor Erlinder's views are incorrect does not mean that he deserves incarceration. He is not inciting people to violence, pretending that the genocide never happened, or calling for upheaval. His role as a defender of those who are accused of genocide should have NOTHING to do with accusations Rwanda makes against him.

Monday, June 14, 2010 1:40:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Texas-in-africa,

There is evidence that the RPF shot down President Habyarimana's plane. In deed, this is the evidence behind the French, Spanish and Oklahoma suits. Of course, the evidence has not been proven as fact. And the political establishment has blocked any prosecution based on such evidence.

It is not factual that 800,000 people died during the Genocide. If I may ask, who came up with these figures?

As for the writing down of names, its very unlikely that all the people killed had their names written down. Initially people were killed because they belonged to the opposition...as the killings spread, the killers started to target anyone identified as Tutsi.

However, no serious scholar would say that illiterate people were moving around with names of people who had to be killed.

N.B the above discussion we are having is probably criminal in Rwanda. That is how vague the law is.

Monday, June 14, 2010 3:08:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Anon, I won't be engaging with you any further as long as you hide behind the veil of anonymity. This is my last comment.

I'm relying on the most reputable academic work by impartial, outside observers. Those accounts - including the detailed lists of victims compiled by the project at Yale University and the surveys conducted by forensic scientists who dug up the mass graves and counted skulls - are conclusive in the 800,000 figure.

Of course we'll never know exactly how many people were killed, and of course not all of the names were listed beforehand, but there were CLEARLY plans beforehand and those plans were expanded as the genocide unfolded. 800,000 is the most accurate approximation based on the available evidence, including pre-genocide population figures and accounting for the returned Tutsi refugees who arrived after the RPF took over.

As for the RPF, they did not have weapons systems capable of shooting down the plane positioned in such a space as to be able to make it happen.

Monday, June 14, 2010 8:47:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Texas-in-Africa,

You are a scholar on the Great Lakes region and, in that capacity, you should be able to understand why people "hide behind the veil of anonymity".

Thanks for being kind enough to engage me. Your blog is among the best.

Monday, June 14, 2010 9:11:00 PM

 
Blogger friends of congo said...

From the recent comments what is clear is that those holding to the conventional narrative of the genocide have not looked at the latest most comprehensive data provided by professors Stam and Davenport of the univ of Michigan and Notre Dame respectively. Therefore, it is difficult to have a genuine exchange - to make a statement that the 800,000 figure is conclusive either demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the latest research or a reluctance to inquire about the latest data available for study and analysis. Anyone familiar with the research knows that there is no such thing as a definitive conclusive number - there are best estimates each of which come with their own set of presuppositions. The best estimate to date is 1 million dead the majority of whom are Hutu (no this is not a typo or spelling mistake).

Also, to say that there were "CLEARLY plans beforehand" would be news to both the defense and the prosecution at the ICTR. Not even the often dubbed master mind of the genocide, Théoneste Bagosora was convicted for "plans beforehand." The prosecution was not able to marshal the evidence to prove this so he was bizarrely charged with committing genocide but NOT the planning of a genocide. For those who understand French, they can follow an intriguing debate on this matter on French TV by authors and historians on both sides of the issue who have written books on this matter: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7t4rg_1-rwanda-la-justice-enfin_news

Finally, to say that Kagame and the RPF could not have shot down the plane carrying Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira because they did not have the weapons systems capable of shooting down the plane sounds like it came straight out of the Mutsinzi Report -- well the Spanish and French courts better close-up shop, mystery solved. Prudence says let the investigations and the court cases unfold before arriving at premature conclusions.

Again, these issues are too critical for the region for them not to be fully fleshed out.We highly recommend these sources which represent the best good-faith effort to date of analyzing the data and getting at the truth.
http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture_society/what-really-happened-in-rwanda-1504
http://www.fordschool.umich.edu/video/?bcpid=28911012001&bclid=32920159001&bctid=44939157001

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 12:17:00 AM

 
Anonymous Champ said...

At this point in the debate, I am in total agreement with Friends of Congo

The Zeal with which the RPF operates against its opponents would have led them to investigate the shooting down of the plane. That the RPF has blocked every effort to investigate the shooting down of the plane, that the Kagame government along with many "scholars" have finally come to admit that the plane was indeed shot down instead of a "mysterious plane crash" is revealing.


It is a major development that the RPF and many who subscribed to the conventional narrative take the claims of the shooting down of the plane seriously. The Spanish, French and Oklahoma lawsuits are revealing. There is evidence showing Kagame and his troops carrying out the attack on the plane for those willing to find such. Congo Friend provides a start. A growing number of researchers are finding themselves to have been duped by the current narrative.

As for Kabuye, charges have not been dropped in France. Kouchner and Sarkozy have not been able to help drop these charges.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 7:03:00 AM

 

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