“The Foreign Office should release the files,” Roger Boyes – The Times.
When western media turn against someone, they use their big guns. Last October 2014, on the day anniversary of the 1990 attack on Rwanda by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and the publication of the UN Mapping Report in 2010, it was the turn of BBC 2 with its Rwanda Untold Story.
From a fair account of the revelations of the BBC documentary, the focus was more on the culpability of the Rwandan president Paul Kagame in the tragedies that have engulfed Rwanda and the region in recent decades, than anything else. No western responsibility as such has been clearly pointed at in the film.
This time, the front is led by the widely read UK newspaper The Times. And culprits are hinted to be more than Paul Kagame. The written attack was published on Friday 30/01/2015 revealing fact-based official cover up about the relations between former British prime minister Tony Blair and the Rwandan president.
The attitude of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to a request of information triggered the contention between the sides. The front page of the newspaper, its editorial and analysis are part of the arsenal where the arguments of the battle are exhibited.
Maybe I missed some reading in recent months. I could be probably excused for that. But this is the first time that I note the Rwandan president being namely called ex-warlord by his former apologists. If I recall well, the newspaper usually referred to him as former rebel leader, which is in my view a term more sanctified than the new labelling.
It’s Monday 02/02/2015 I browse through my facebook notifications. I click on the link a friend has shared on her page which redirects me to an article in The Times titled Censored: Tony Blair’s links to Rwanda.
What is intriguing appears to be not the fact that the newspaper writes about the never-ending controversial relations between former British prime minister and president Kagame (the two were again together recently at Davos), but the accompanying material published in the same edition as pieces behind the main story.
In the different articles, journalists Dominic Kennedy and Roger Boyes reveal an apparent cover up of the British government through its FCO about Tony Blair’s activities in Rwanda. They seem puzzled by such attitude from a government department.
The Times report that FCO refused to disclose, under the Freedom of Information Act, the communications with Tony Blair, his Africa Governance Initiative and the Office of Tony Blair, with a particular focus on Rwanda.
FCO gave several reasons for not complying with the request of the newspaper explaining that refusing to release such information was justifiable, under the mentioned law, by the following exemptions: international relations, commercial interests, personal information and information provided in confidence. This is undoubtedly covering up.
Dominic Kennedy indicates in his piece – Blair and his ex-warlord friend, the many human rights abuses that Paul Kagame has been involved in along the years. “The Rwandan regime has been condemned by human rights groups for abuses at home and abroad but nothing, it seems, can shake Mr Blair’s faith in his old ally,” he writes.
The journalist further explains probably why Britain with its different changing political majorities has always been besides Paul Kagame. “Rwanda has been a vanity project for Labour and Conservatives. However, it is Mr Blair who has been the most royal friend to the Rwandan leader, a former warlord who became president in 2000,” he adds.
Given the facts presently available about the Rwandan regime, The Times pinpoints a logical path for the former British prime minister. “Where he (Tony Blair) hoped to champion reform, he risks covering up for tyranny. He should’ve cut links with PK long time ago. On the better-late-than-never principle, he should cut them now.”
For more than twenty years Britain has covered up the Rwandan dictatorship led by ex-warlord Paul Kagame. Millions of Rwandans and Congolese have died because of that complicity, let alone the resources that have been plundered during that period.
The Times investigation helps reveal officially the reasons that explain what happened did happen: commercial interests, international relations and personal interests. The journalists at the newspaper find that FCO is refusing to release information on Mr Blair’s involvement with Rwanda because details are “commercially sensitive.”
Survivors of the crimes perpetrated in the Great Lakes region during the period that the UK has been backing Kigali have known all along from the very beginning that they were victims of the greed of some western individuals and governments.
Mr Tony Blair has been and still is in that category. We know that “His moral blindness has no borders.” It is not only Rwanda which is victim of his actions. The list is long across continents and blood-millions made plenty.
Those who put Rwandans into the oppressive situation they experience today are still at it as the revelations of the newspaper show. Victims cannot and shouldn’t expect much from their murderers. To get out of their condition they depend totally and only on themselves. Nobody else.
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Organising for Africa, Coordinator
The Rising Continent, Blog editor