by JMV Minani
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all human beings are entitled to an inherent right to live in peace and freedom. However, this is not the case in Rwanda and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) nowadays due to the military dictatorship in place in Rwanda. Millions of Rwandan, Congolese and Burundian civilians have died because of conflicts in Rwanda since the 1990 and in the DRC since 1996.
In July 1994, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi) led by Gen. Paul KAGAME grabbed power in Rwanda by shooting down the plane carrying two HUTU presidents: the Rwandan president Juvénal HABYARIMANA, the president of Burundi, Cyprien NTARYAMIRA, and other Rwandan and Burundian high officials over Kigali International Airport. Hours after the plane crash, the mass killings of Tutsi and Hutu took place in Rwanda culminating into what has been known as the genocide against the TUTSI ethnic group perpetrated by the INTERAHAMWE militia and some members of the then Government army in a three months period. On the other side however, since 1990, the RPF /INKOTANYI rebels led by Gen P. Kagame ravaged Rwanda and killed over a million of innocent Hutu women, children, men and old people.
Beyond Rwanda borders, in August 1996 Gen P. Kagame sent his troops (RPA /INKOTANYI) in the then Zaïre (now DRC) in violation of international laws. The RPA/INKORANYI troops helped by the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces, Burundian Armed Forces and a number of soldiers from Ethiopia and Eritrea started the war to overthrow the Mobutu regime. However, the hidden agenda of the RPA/INKOTANYI was to exterminate all the Hutu refugees who were residing in the refugee camps in the Southern and Northern KIVU. Those troops committed war crimes, crimes against humanities and although the UN has been reluctant to recognize them as such, the reality is that another genocide against the HUTU ethnic group has been committed in the DRC. No one ignores that hundreds of thousands of innocent HUTU mostly women, children, and old people civilians have been killed on the DRC soil.
Within Rwanda, it is now an undeniable fact that the three ethnic groups of the country are disproportionately represented in key institutions of the country. Hutus and Twa’s communities are currently totally excluded from the Rwandan Military high Command and other strategic institutions of the country. It has been argued by many researchers that in the Rwandan Army the Tutsi represent 99% of army officers, 90% of who are Tutsis from a tiny clique (Agatsiko) composed mainly of former Rwandan refugees who grew up in Uganda who are especially in charge of protecting the interests of P. Kagame. That the Tutsi minority now detains all the powers in Rwanda is known by everybody.
On the socio-economic progress point of view, it has been said that Rwanda has achieved impressive development since the 1994 genocide and civil war. However, since P. Kagame and his RPF took power in Rwanda the level of poverty has been incessantly increasing especially among the Hutu and Twa communities.
Most of the Rwandan families are very poor (more than 60% living under the poverty line). In rural as well as in some urban areas, people are suffering. Social inequality and inequity has reached its highest level in the Rwandan society. Nepotism (Ikimenyane n’icyenewabo) at a high level and all forms of corruption (including sex-based corruption) are now very common in Rwanda. In many key government institutions, there is no transparent competition for jobs advertised in newspapers.
Almost all beautiful assets and business opportunities are accessible to only a few people who are connected to P. Kagame and his clique of RPF. From a business perspective, the ruling party (RPF-Inkotanyi) is omnipresent and dominant in all the major economic sectors of the country. RPF-Inkotanyi has the monopoly and full control of major business sectors including construction, telecommunication, tourism, industries, agro-processing, transport, etc. While over 90% of the Rwandan economy and important assets are detained in the hands of the tiny clique of P. Kagame, the majority of civil servants including teachers from the primary school level to the tertiary education level, ordinary soldiers, and medical personnel receive insignificant salaries (Ikinya). Although the number of high schools has increased in recent years, the quality of education has alarmingly declined.
Rwandan citizens are being forced to pay exorbitant taxes in different forms. The very recent examples are contributions to the so-called Kwihesha Agaciro initiative. As a number of Western countries have suspended their aids to the Rwandan Government after a UN report accused Rwandan leaders of supporting the M23 rebels in the DRC, Rwanda’s Leaders have reacted by creating the so-called Agaciro Development Fund (AgDF). However, since Rwanda remains highly dependent on donations from its Development Partners , there is no doubt that the decision to cut aids intended for Rwanda in the form of sanctions will have a negative impact on many sectors including civil servants’ salaries, business investment sectors, tax revenues, banks and insurance companies. However, the interests of Kagame and his clique (Agatsiko) remains untouched, indeed the big part of those contributions to the AgDF will be used to fill their pockets. Since its creation, the AgDF does not have clear management and its objectives are still ambiguous. It is worth mentioning that Rwandan nationals are being obliged to pay those contributions to the AgDF in addition to other already existing compulsory contributions to the so-called Umwarimu-SACCO (Teachers’ Saving and Credit Cooperatives), the Saving and Credits Cooperatives known as “Umurenge SACCO”, monthly contributions for security (amafaranga y’umutekano), among others.
The RPF/INKOTANYI-led Government has suppressed fundamental human rights of the Rwandan citizens. The political space has been closed to the opposition leaders. The Kagame’s clique has installed a military dictatorship that has established a climate of fear. Threats, intimidations, tortures, and persecutions of all forms have been used by secret security services to eliminate journalists and opponents on the political scene in Rwanda.
Civil society organizations operate under very dramatic restrictions. The RPF-Inkotanyi exercises intense control over them. Non-governmental and human rights groups which have different views with those of the RPF have been intimidated, harassed, persecuted, etc.
The Rwandan judicial system is no doubt a “victor’s justice” and is known to be very selective. It is characterized by the lack of independence, manipulation by Kagame’s military and secret agents, and corruption of kinds among others. The malfunctioning of the justice system has been well documented especially in connection with Gacaca courts which blamed more than 2 000 000 Hutu people to participate in the 1994 genocide. Kagame’s clique exercises an absolute control over the judicial system especially in trials of political opponents, journalists and influential business people.
Impunity as far as RPF crimes are concerned has taken place in Rwanda as well as in the Great Lakes Region of Africa since the International Community remains indifferent or seems to turn its back on the sufferings endured by the Rwandan population due to Kagame’s dictatorship. The well-documented gross human rights violations including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide crimes committed by Kagame and his clique of RPF-Inkotanyi in Rwanda and the DRC remain unpunished.
Victims and survivors of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis are the only people allowed to remember their families. On the other side, Hutu victims and survivors are not allowed to organize memorial ceremonies or give decent burials to their family members who have been killed in different situations of war crimes, and genocide against Hutu refugees in the DRC. Holding memorial services for the Tutsi who perished in the 1994 genocide is not a mistake, but the mistake is to do so while ignoring the HUTUs who perished in the other genocide perpetrated by the RPF/INKOTANYI in power in Rwanda.
Nowadays, the genocide ideology law has become a powerful tool, a common accusation to silence political opponents and independent civil society voices. Many people continue to flee the country. Killings, disappearances, and assassination attempts against opposition politicians and journalists who dare to criticize the government in different circumstances inside and outside Rwanda have become as the right of the RPF’s clique to kill the ones they don’t like (Elément génant).
From the agriculture point of view in rural areas, many Rwandans are suffering from hunger. The agricultural system in Rwanda has been characterized by unpopular policies such as the so-called Land consolidation programme (guhuriza ubutaka), single-crop farming programme (Igihingwa kimwe muri buri Karere), performance contract (imihigo) among others. Marshlands have been transformed into grazing land for the Kagame’s clique, although all the marshlands are protected under the Environmental law. The lack of harmonization of Environmental and agriculture policies has also contributed to the reduced agricultural production.
To conclude, I wish to bring to your attention the following questions. For how long the situation prevailing in Rwanda should remain as such? Should we stay indifferent and leave Rwanda in this crisis? What strategies should we use in order to peacefully settle the problems of the Rwandan society while avoiding violent conflicts?
Aware of the above-mentioned and many other non-mentioned problems of Rwanda, do you want to be part of the solution? Do you wish to contribute to the future of Rwanda send your message to [email protected], facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/new.rwanda, Twiter: https://twitter.com/NewRwanda or sent it to my personal email ([email protected]), facebook (jmvminani), or twitter (https://twitter.com/jmv_minani).
Edited by VI