Salvator Cusimano and Barbara Harrell-Bond demystify some of Kagame’s and Rwanda’s myths

While the visit of the Rwandan president Paul Kagame is nearing May 18th, Salvator Cusimano, a M. Sc. Candidate working with the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, comes to the forefront of public view questioning the invitation by the Said Business School of that controversial leader that some equate to a modern Adolf Hitler.

Barbara Harrell-Bond, Founder Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, joined those unhappy with such visit. She is not anybody. She has an OBE. She is an Emeritus Professor at the mentioned learning institution and because of her area of interest she is well aware of the significant responsibilities that Paul Kagame bears in the humanitarian tragedies that Rwanda and particularly the Democratic Republic of Congo experience for the last twenty years.Barbara Harrell-Bond, OBE, Honorary Associate, Emerita Professor, Founding Director, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, Honorary Fellow, Lady Margaret Hall - Photo/Ayman Ibrahim

In a letter dated May 6th written to the Dean of the Said Business School,

Professor Peter Tufano questioning the reception of the Rwandan president at that institution, the two personalities explain and demystify certain myths about Rwanda and its president.

The two advocates for truth about Rwanda write:

“The Oxford Business Network for Africa should cancel their engagement with Mr Kagame immediately, based on his well-documented record of serious and ongoing human rights abuses within Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

They deconstruct certain false truths saying for example that it is widely believed that

“Kagame won the first ever democratic elections held in Rwanda in August 2003 and was re-elected to a second seven-year mandate in August 2010.”

M.Sc. Candidate, Refugee Studies Centre, University of OxfordBut the reality is that

“to suggest that Rwanda is a democracy ignores well-established, widely-supported accounts of Kagame’s brutality against opposition figures and severe restrictions on basic freedoms.”

Testimonies and factual evidence are available and accessible from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, or Freedom House.

Another myth on Rwanda is that,

“led by Kagame, the Rwandan Patriotic Army defeated the genocidal government in July 1994 and the RPF subsequently sent Rwanda on its current course towards reconciliation, nation building and socioeconomic development.”

The true picture is that,

“Mr. Kagame’s Rwanda bears several disturbing similarities to Rwanda under the genocidal government. Reconciliation appears superficial.” Moreover, “tens of thousands of refugees remain exiled from Rwanda and more continue to flee, believing that they will face serious harm at the hands of the government if they return to Rwanda.”

Another false narrative about Rwanda is that,

“President Kagame is widely sought after to address regional and international audiences on a range of issues including African development, leadership, and the potential of ICT as an enabler for Africa’s socioeconomic transformation.”

Those in the know as informed observers of the Rwandan scene understand well that these different platforms are used for deceit.

What the true facts tell us is that,

“far from being a well-respected enabler for Africa’s socioeconomic transformation, the growing international consensus is that Mr Kagame has actively enabled war and human rights abuses in the DRC that are causing one of the world’s worst-ever humanitarian crisis.”

Cusimano and Harrell-Bond in their campaign to get the reception of Paul Kagame at the Oxford Business School cancelled, they have sent out apetition asking people to sign it in a big number. The more people can show to that school’s authorities that his visit does not honor their reputation the better.