Sunday, December 5, 2010

Belgium: General Kagame's Show in Brussels Clouds EU's Image

By Eugene Ndahayo
Chairman
Support Committee for FDU-Inkingi
December 3, 2010

Just a few weeks after the publication of a UN report accusing the regime of President Paul Kagame of war crimes, crimes against humanity and possible crimes of genocide against Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese citizens, the European Union (EU) is preparing to roll out the red carpet and give Kagame an image polishing platform so that he can continue to mock the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights which produced that report and the United Nations which cleared its publication despite the enormous pressures from the Rwandan government and its lobbyists.

During his recent tour in West Africa, President Paul Kagame has been openly soliciting support from his peers, to water down that report whose results are greatly awaited by not only Rwandans but also the Congolese people who paid a heavy price during the occupation of their country by troops from Rwandan Army led by President Paul Kagame.

The presence of General Paul Kagame for a conference devoted to issues of development with a topic relating to the emancipation of women, on which this dictator president is expected to intervene, seems ill-timed and shocking because the first woman who dared to claim the right to free political expression, Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, is languishing in jail under trumped-up charges of terrorism. The visit also comes at a time when the regime’s delegations are touring the EU to sow discord among the Rwandan Diaspora but also when the regime is intensifying its campaign of terror against Rwandan citizens and people of Rwandan origin who refuse to cooperate in falsifying the truth or people who simply dare to claim their rights to participate in the political life of their country.

The Support Committee for the United Democratic Forces, FDU-Inkingi, believes that Europe, the cradle of democracy and human rights, is sending a very wrong signal to the Rwandan regime, using this forum as an endorsement to its policy of political repression. The Support Committee for FDU-Inkingi reminds the public opinion that the High Commissioner for Foreign Policies, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs of the European Union, Ms. Catherine Ashton has recently called for an independent investigation following the double assassination of the journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage and Mr. André Kagwa Rwisereka, the Vice-President of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda. Such an investigation never took place and the EU never got worried.

The impunity granted by the international community to President Paul Kagame and his collaborators has led to successive crimes committed in the African Great Lakes region against innocent civilians. President Paul Kagame is responsible for the assassination of the Heads of State of Rwanda and Burundi during the terrorist attack against the plane of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, on April 6, 1994, an attack that sparked the Rwandan genocide. Two Judges, the French Jean-Louis Bruguière and the Spanish Fernando Andreu Merelles, have respectively issued arrest warrants against 9 and 40 high ranking Rwandan officials close to President Paul Kagame who himself was only spared because of his international immunity as an acting Head of State. Enormous pressure was exerted to prevent or slow down proceedings aimed at prosecuting the suspects.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania which is competent to prosecute all crimes committed in Rwanda in 1994 has complacently refused to prosecute RPA suspects. As a result, such a cover-up allowed its leadership to export large scale criminal activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is high time that a strong signal be handed to Kagame’s regime that there is no place for impunity with regard to such crimes. Unrolling EU red carpet to a gangster gives green light to all criminals who may think that once in power, they will enjoy impunity forever.

The Support Committee for FDU-Inkingi is also surprised that the regime of President Paul Kagame continues to benefit from the EU bilateral aid, when all economic indicators show a growing gap between the needs of the majority of the Rwandan population and the militarist ambitions of Kagame’s regime. It is challenging to notice that more than 70% of Rwandans still live below the poverty line despite several years of massive aid from the international community, including the EU. It is in everyone's interest that the EU instead of directing its aid to General Paul Kagame’s budget, the aid be directed straight to the people of Rwanda. They need more political space and a chance to have a say in the governance of their country.

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