Interview with William Penn University's Statesmen Status on Rwanda's Paul Kagame
By Michael McGehee at May 09, 2012
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 then emailed her asking if she would like a written response to the questions.
Anyway, here are her questions and my answers—which I did email to her.
|Paul Kagame, Rwanda's genocidal, mass-murdering dictator|
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.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.
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.
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.
For more of my blogs please visit: www.truth_addict.blogspot.com/