Archive for the 'Mediation' Category

Annan’s hotel room ‘bugged’

Annan is said to be livid following the discovery that his hotel room has been bugged.

February 06 2008 at 12:29PM

By Fiona Forde

The Kenyan peace talks are in tatters after it was discovered that Kofi Annan’s hotel room in Nairobi has been bugged.

Independent Newspapers has learnt from multiple reliable, impartial sources – both in Kenya and abroad – that the former UN Secretary General’s business and personal conversations were being intercepted during the ongoing negotiations after a thorough search was carried out on his Serena Hotel room on Tuesday evening. For how long the room has been planted or by whom is unclear.

“Kofi’s security aides found the device yesterday,” one source explained, while the talks were in session. Annan is said to be “livid”, but it is not yet known how he intends to act on Tuesday night’s revelations or whether he will walk away from the already troubled negotiations.

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On Kagame and other “disinterested” observers of Kenya

A number of Kenyans in the blogosphere approvingly cite Rwandan Major General Paul Kagame’s opinion that a military intervention might be the best solution to Kenya’s crisis after Kagame expressed his concern about the killing taking place in Kenya in a recent interview. Kagame said,

“This is a case of emergency where certain things have to be done very quickly to stop the killings that are going on. There’s no time to go into niceties and debates when the killings are taking place.

“It starts with five deaths, then 10, then 50, shortly it grows to 100, then it goes to thousands … By the time you realise, it has a dimension that is wiping out life in villages and communities and is getting out of control and the whole political situation is in a mess.

Major General Paul Kagame
What Kagame doesn’t know about genocide is not worth mentioning. The rehabilitation of Paul Kagame from genocidaire to peace-maker and receiver of honorary doctorates from universities in the West has been achieved by the international media and G8 governments sweeping his crimes under the carpet. This has been easy to do because grasping what happened in Rwanda is a gargantuan task. Once you move beyond the Hotel Rwanda frame you begin to uncover an evil so unspeakable and so complex, it shatters all your media-fed illusions.

Some years ago I met a Congolese journalist who began to educate me on President Kagame’s role in the destabilisation of eastern Congo. What I heard was so disturbing and so opposite to the UK media’s representation of the situation in Rwanda that at first I refused to accept it. Today there is no doubt in my mind that Kagame and his cohort, Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni are war criminals who should be tried in the Hague for crimes against humanity. This is not likely to happen as they are instruments of the US.

And where the US goes, the UK will follow closely behind clinging tightly to the imperial master’s coat-tails. It has just been announced that another well known war criminal, Tony Blair, is offering his services to Rwanda as a consultant, impressed with the progress that Rwanda has made after years of civil war. No word has been uttered about Kagame’s bloody past nor is it likely to gnaw on the conscience of Blair who bolstered Rwanda with foreign aid even as he was killing, torturing and executing his internal enemies.

So I read with creeping alarm that the first person to congratulate Mwai Kibaki on his supposed re-election was Ugandan war criminal and dictator Yoweri Museveni. Kibaki then sent out a call for help to Museveni who duly turned up in Nairobi to discuss how to resolve the situation. An envoy was swiftly dispatched to Kingala, Rwanda with a message from Kibaki for Kagame explaining the Kenyan situation which begs the question, why does Kagame need an explanation from Kibaki? South Africa’s Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu’s offers of mediation were rejected as were the then head of the African Union and Ghanaian president, John Kufuor. Add to this Kibaki’s rejection of South African Cyril Ramaphosa, a man widely respected for the role he played in the South African democratic process and Irish peace negotiations. This speaks volumes.

As instruments of US policy in Africa, Museveni and Kagame’s utterances should be paid close attention to, as they give pointers to US intentions in the region. Museveni is “America’s darling” and strongman. Kagame was trained by the US Army at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA and served as head of Museveni’s Directorate of Military Intelligence. Kagame visits the US frequently, speaks at Harvard University and has the ear of the White House and the Pentagon. Both men recognise Kibaki’s government.

It must be remembered Kagame has been accused of ordering Rwandan President Habyarimana’s to be shot down. At the time Habyarimama was involved in talks that aimed at sharing power with Kagame’s Revolutionary Patriotic Front (RPF) but he was not pleased with the pace at which the talks were moving and decided to kill Habyarimana.

This event became the catalyst for the Rwanda’s civil war which led to a million people being killed. Kagame did this knowing full well what the consequences would be and to secure control of power for himself. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that from April to August in 1994, the rebel RPF headed by Paul Kagame systematically killed between 25,00 and 45,000 Hutus and others as it made its way to the capital city of Kigali. That was just the beginning.

When it was reported that the bodies of Hutu victims were being found washed up on the shores of Lake Victoria, Kagame, a consummate liar, scoffed that those were Tutsis and the killings continued with fury. (See the Taylor Report – COMPENDIUM OF RPF CRIMES – OCTOBER 1990 TO 1996 *pdf). There was no one to speak for the victims because the killings were sanctioned in the west as a necessary evil.

The RPF was made up of Tutsi exiles who had fled an earlier genocide instigated by Rwanda’s departing embittered Belgian colonial masters in the 1950’s. They had found refuge in Uganda and many had ended up in the military. Kagame headed the RPF who received financial and military backing from Washington while Habyarimana’s forces were supported by France.

Both Hutus and Tutsis engaged in atrocities but it was primarily a proxy war between the US and France for control of the Congo. The US wanted to establish itself as a neo-colonial power in the region and France desperately tried to hold on. Iraq ravaged by war became the center for illegal arms deals which supplied both sides of the conflict. Uganda became the conduit. Ethnic rivalries were stoked deliberately. The loss of a million lives did not matter to Kagame nor to Washington.

The RPF invasion of Rwanda led to 1.5 million Rwandan and Burundians fleeing into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Paul Kagame as newly installed head of Rwanda then led an invasion together with Uganda’s People’s Defense Force (UPDF) and Laurence Kabila’s Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) into eastern Congo ostensibly to capture Hutus.

Kagame’s reasons for invading eastern Congo quickly disappeared as the the army linked up with the Hutus and used them to gain control of the region, particularly the diamond city of Kisangani which is 1500 miles away from the border Rwanda shares with Congo. According to the UN, “With minor exceptions, the objective of [its] military activity is to secure access to mining sites or ensure a supply of captive labour.”

Eastern Congo is one of the most minerally rich places in the world, minerals which are highly sought after by US and EU corporations. Here he set up the ‘Congo desk‘ which was manned by his soldiers. Its purpose was to funnel out of DRC diamonds, gold, cobalt and coltan, an expensive mineral used in the manufacture of mobile phones.

Sixty to seventy per cent of the coltan exported from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations reported in 2002, has been mined “under the direct surveillance” of the Rwandan army. Most of the rest was produced by subcontractors and companies answerable to the army or to other departments of the Rwandan government.3 Kagame’s people, in other words, had a near-monopoly on global coltan production.

After fighting off the Ugandan army in June 2000, the Rwandan forces managed “to funnel all the diamonds in Kisangani [in eastern DRC] through the Congo Desk”. Local diamond traders were forced to sell to the contractor nominated by the Rwandan army, and at prices set by the desk. The Rwandans appear to have been stealing about $2 million worth of diamonds a month. (Monbiot C.)

The army also managed to capture most of eastern Congo’s public funds, seizing its revenues for water electricity, airports and roads. By 1999 the ‘Congo desk’ was generating 80% of the Rwandan army’s budget, some $320 million a year. The Rwandan elites new found wealth and prosperity is fruit borne from the Congo’s fields of blood. This is the reason why Rwanda has made progress since its civil war, the Congolese have been paying tribute to Kagame. And this is the dark underbelly of neo-liberalism which avaricious Blair admires.

Horrifyingly, the displacements caused by the people fleeing the army who burned and razed to the ground Congolese villages led to more people dying than were killed by the Interhamwe in Rwanda. From the invasion in 1999 to when the Rwandan army pulled out in 2002, the UN suggests that over 3.5 million deaths in excess of previous levels of mortality “occurred from the beginning of the war up to September 2002. These deaths are a direct result of the occupation by Rwanda and Uganda.” The figure today stands at 5 million. That’s 45,000 people a month since the troubles began in the region. This barely raises a flicker of interest in the international press.

The war in DRC might have officially ended but the plundering carries on. The Rwandan Patriotic Army soldiers at the ‘Congo Desk’ exchanged their uniforms for civilian clothing and the plunder continued under close management by the army in Kigali. Rwanda continues to use the excuse of rebel soldiers to invade and to arm rebel Tutsi forces that have been fighting to annex eastern Congo.

Kagame’s soothing comment, “I tend to believe that the Kenyan army is professional and has been stable,” should be viewed with extreme suspicion. It is widely known that Kenya’s army harbours the same ethnic rivalry tearing the country apart. Many of those in the army are sympathetic to Odinga who is aware that there is a danger the army could split along ethnic lines.

It is Odinga who has poured cold water on using Kenyan troops to contain the violence that is ripping Kenya apart while Kibaki will not dare involve the army. Which then leaves only outside military intervention by the AU or UN. If the AU or UN take this route what would that look like? Which countries would send troops and given the behaviour of Ugandan troops in Nyanza who killed Luos indiscriminately, would Kenyans welcome them? Would the army stay in their barracks if that happened? Proof of how destabilising this will be to Kenya can be seen in neighbouring Sudan and if you have the courage to look, Congo.

So-called humanitarian missions such as United Nations Observer Mission in Congo (MONUC) are merely cloaks for the theft at gun-point of DRC’s wealth. MONUC members sit on the boards of many of the corporations that have interests in DRC. This reflects the growing trend to privatise humanitarian missions.

I don’t think the solutions to the political crisis are going to come from Messrs Kagame, Museveni, Brown or Bush who will probably opt for military intervention if Kibaki and Odinga can not reach agreement. Further, Kenya’s upheaval is not being viewed in the west as a political crisis but as a ‘tribal war’ which is impeding the extraction and safe passage of central Africa’s wealth out of the region.

The Central Lakes region is land-locked and relies on Kenya’s transport links. Following the destruction of the section of Kenya’s railway line that passed through the slum of Kibera there are plans afoot to rebuild the railway along a new route to the tune of $12.8 million that will by-pass Kibera. This will take nine months.

In contrast there are no plans to resolve the abject poverty that 60% of Kenyans hoped desperately to overturn by voting for Raila Odinga, a million Kenyans living in Kibera alone. It is hoped that a power-sharing deal between the key players will defuse their anger and frustration.

Oil interests are also threatened by the instability. Presently a pipeline worth billions of dollars is being constructed to carry oil from Lake Albert to a refinery in Mombasa and there are plans to link this with pipelines which will carry oil from the other Great Lakes.

In Eastern DRC, petroleum under Lake Albert is being tapped on the Ugandan side by Canada’s Heritage Oil & Gas, Tullow Oil and Hardman Resources, supported by the organized crime syndicates involved with the Uganda “government,” which is itself another syndicated crime ring run by the Ugandan military, General James Kazini, and Museveni’s half-brother Salim Saleh. Further south near Goma and Bukavu, Lake Kivu is targeted by U.S. companies, working through the current dictatorship in Rwanda, for its massive methane reserves.

FURTHER READING:

  • The war that did not make the headlines
  • Hotel Rwanda: Hollywood and the holocaust in Africa
  • Operation Iron Fist
  • GenoDynamics: Understanding Rwandan Violence
  • Rwandan ex-minister who cooperated with UN Tribunal found dead in Brussels – 2005

    UPDATE: 07.02.08

    Spanish judge indicts Rwandan officers

    The charges stem from massacres in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. President Kagame is accused, but has immunity.

    By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
    February 7, 2008

    ROME — A Spanish judge Wednesday indicted 40 Rwandan army officers on charges of mass murder and crimes against humanity in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwanda genocide, asserting a concept of justice championed by his nation known as “universal jurisdiction.”

    Judge Fernando Andreu of Spain’s National Court said he also had sufficient evidence to implicate current Rwandan President Paul Kagame in a long string of reprisal massacres after he and his forces seized power, ending the genocide. But Andreu said he could not indict Kagame because as president he has immunity.

    Rwandan officials reacted angrily. An army spokesman, Maj. Jill Rutaremara, said the legal case was “nothing but an attempt to tarnish Rwanda’s image,” according to reports by Agence France-Presse from Kigali, the capital.

    The indicted men include a Rwandan military attache stationed in Washington and a Rwandan ambassador in Asia, as well as the army chief of staff, according to people familiar with the judicial order.

    The doctrine of universal jurisdiction holds that some crimes such as torture and genocide are so heinous that people accused of committing them can be tried anywhere, even in countries where the crimes did not take place.

    Spain has the broadest universal jurisdiction law in the world, human rights experts say. With it, the country’s judiciary has attempted to prosecute late Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Argentine and Guatemalan military officers accused of mass political killings of civilians, and even Osama bin Laden.

    And though Madrid wins praise in international-law circles for the effort, the cases have rarely resulted in convictions and have generated some controversy at home among Spanish officials who believe their courts are not equipped to take on such mammoth cases.

    Judge Andreu said he had gathered testimony from 22 people, most of them in exile and now in witness-protection programs. One witness had served on Kagame’s elite security team and testified to seeing Kagame machine-gun to death between 30 and 40 civilians “in a matter of seconds” and later order the killing of three bishops.

    The 182-page indictment, dated Wednesday and made public in Madrid, contains dozens of horrific accounts, including the dumping of bodies in 173 mass graves and the burning of other victims in national parks and safari game reserves. The witness from Kagame’s security detail was able to compile the names of 104,800 people he said Kagame’s forces killed in the space of one year, according to the indictment.

    The genocide in Rwanda began in April 1994, after an airplane carrying the presidents of Burundi and Rwanda, both Hutus, was shot down. An estimated 500,000 people, most of them Tutsis, were slaughtered over a period of 100 days. Tutsi-led rebels commanded by Kagame ended the genocide by defeating radical Hutus in July 1994 but unleashed more atrocities, the Spanish indictment says.

    By some counts, 800,000 people were slain before the violence ended.

    The Spanish case is potentially groundbreaking because it is focusing on crimes blamed on Kagame and his forces, something that a United Nations tribunal set up in 1994 to prosecute war crimes in Rwanda has not done.

    “This will increase pressure on the” U.N. court, said Alison Des Forges, senior advisor to the Africa division of New York-based Human Rights Watch.

    The Spanish case also goes beyond the work of the U.N. court because it includes crimes allegedly committed in refugee camps in neighboring countries where the Tanzania-based international tribunal does not have jurisdiction.

    Kagame has previously been accused of plotting the downing of the presidential aircraft, a charge he denied.

    The allegations first appeared in French media in 2004.

    Two years later, a French judge indicted nine senior Rwandan officials close to Kagame. But arrest warrants for those men have been routinely flouted in Africa, Des Forges said, and the case has languished.

    Andreu opened his investigation based on complaints from the families of six Spanish priests and three Spanish doctors slain in Rwanda. In 2005, several African groups petitioned the judge to include Rwandan victims, and, under the universal jurisdiction doctrine, Andreu agreed to expand the indictment.

    “This is the kind of thing that can and should happen when you have massive crimes that have essentially gone unpunished,” said Reed Brody, special counsel for Human Rights Watch.

    UPDATE: 10.04.08

    “You cannot understand the present unless you first understand the past.”

    The hero of the film Hotel Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina, released the following statement in response to a smear campaign instigated by President Paul Kagame. Rusesabagina claims that Kagame’s motivations for sullying his name are based on the fact that he filed a complaint against General Paul Kagame and members of the RPF high military command for crimes against humanity in 2006. Since then Kagame has engaged in a vicious and sophisticated attack on the good name of Rusesabagina. Read on…

    The Rwandan people are not fools–they just need accurate information about their history. They need to be free and live freely. And they need a future based not on justice of the winner, but on the rule of law, mutual respect and truth and equitable justice. This is the only hope for our future generations. Paul Rusesabagina

    Exposing the Pact Between President Paul Kagame, Some Genocide Suspects, Some Genocide Survivors, and Two Supposed Humanitarian Groups against Paul Rusesabagina, An Ordinary Man

    A Response to Hotel Rwanda or the Tutsi Genocide as Seen by Hollywood
    by Alfred Ndahiro and Privat Rutazibwa

    For the last 5 years, Rwandan President Paul Kagame has been waging a fierce smear campaign against me and my actions. All of this started in 2002 when for personal reasons I declined an invitation from the President’s office to attend genocide commemoration ceremonies in Kigali, during which the President intended to officially recognize me for having protected refugees at the Mille Collines Hotel at the height of genocide. Things got worse two years later when film producer Terry George painted me as a hero in the movie Hotel Rwanda. Inspired by my personal genocide experience, the film aimed to bring awareness to the world’s audience about the horrors of the biggest crime of all.

    The movie premiered with immediate success, prompting several high profile personalities and humanitarian organizations to express their profound admiration and cheer me on in my humanitarian line of work. That is how I started, in 2005, Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, with a view to assist victims of genocide, both Hutu and Tutsi, without discrimination. I also launched the idea of setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Rwanda. In April 2006, the Viking Penguin publishing house released my autobiography, An Ordinary Man: the true story that inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda. Also, after Hotel Rwanda came out, I have been frequently invited to give lectures, notably at colleges and universities in Western countries. At my lectures, I rail against genocide and other crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda, including those committed by President Kagame and his army, the RPF. On November 15, 2006, I wrote the prosecutor of the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania, to formally file a criminal complaint against General Paul Kagame and members of the RPF high military command.

    Eager to silence me over my inconvenient pronouncements and to sully my image, President Kagame has resolved to fight me head on, in the process vowing to trample evidence and falsify the history of genocide as it occurred at Mille Collines Hotel. In the throes of apparent jealousy and frustration for seeing an ordinary civilian man collecting honorary distinctions from many organizations and world leaders for his action during genocide, President Kagame has appeared ready to do anything, including predicating his own fate to that of prisoners held hostage in Rwandan jails. With the only goal of wiping out my reputation, he has not shied away from using the most reprehensible tactics, such as striking an alliance with some genocide suspects held at Kigali Central prison, commonly known as 1930. That’s how his closest associates have enlisted the services of a notorious hate peddler, former RTLM journalist Valerie Bemeriki, as well as Amri Karekezi and Gregoire Nyirimanzi, both of whom were Councilors of Kigali City’s Biryogo Sector and Nyakabanda Sector respectively during the genocide. There is also a certain Setiba, an infamous genocide suspect involved in several massacres at the Nyabarongo and Giticyinyoni roadblocks.

    Besides these genocide suspects held hostage in prisons, President Kagame’s most loyal servants have also hijacked scores of genocide survivors of Mille Collines Hotel, and have bought from them falsified testimonies accusing me of complicity in the genocide and ill-treatment against them while under my care. A handful of cowards among them have succumbed to this terrible tactic of institutionalized defamation. Odette Nyiramirimo, Tatien Miheto Ndorimana, Egide Karuranga, Bertin Makuza, Christophe Shamukiga, Yolande Mukagasana, and Jean de Dieu Mucyo are part of this select group. The President’s office believed that they had gathered key ingredients for the authoring of HOTEL RWANDA or the Tutsi Genocide as seen by Hollywood, a book recently published by L-Harmattan. The book is nothing but a compilation of egregious lies cooked up by two Rwandan academics, Alfred Ndahiro – an advisor to President Kagame in communication and international relations, a man who never lived in Rwanda until Kagame brought him to the president’s office – and Privat Rutazibwa, a defrocked priest who once headed the Rwandan Information Agency, and is a journalist, writer, and ideologue for President Kagame’s political party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). These false testimonies are recycled by such populist media as Radio ContactFM 89.7, the daily The New Times, and the Rwandan Information Agency, all of which were created and are fully funded by President Kagame and his inner circle for the only goal of smearing opponents.

    The overdrive to erase history facts has caused these puppet survivors to forget that they once freely volunteered their testimonies to credible western journalists in the immediate aftermath of the genocide long before they were sucked into this on-going retraction campaign. Their statements today lack any foundation and serve only to discredit the deponents. The twisting of their own testimonies about genocide goes as far as changing the context of their arrival and stay at Mille Collines Hotel. They even dare to claim that this Hotel, the best in Rwanda at the time, was in fact a Concentration Camp similar to the ones set up during the genocide of Jews in Europe. But such a comparison is nothing but an outright insult to the memory of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust who endured the atrocity of real concentration camps.

    Some civil society groups, which include certain shady local and foreign humanitarian organizations, have partaken in this grand conspiracy gambit by President Kagame. He has particularly targeted organizations involved with the fight against AIDS, which is a pet subject of his wife, as well as human rights groups working directly under the wings of the RPF. Among the most known leaders of these organizations are Francois Ngarambe and Theodore Simburudari, who head twin genocide survivor associations grouped under IBUKA, Allen Susan of the San Francisco Project in Kigali who is also a research fellow at Emory University (USA), and Rakiya Omaar, Director of African Rights who is a staunch ally of the RPF.

    The use of genocide victims’ suffering as a political tool

    In kicking off his smear campaign and leading the way for his hordes of informants, President Kagame has unabashedly used the 1994 genocide as a political instrument, manipulatively playing to the deeply hurt feelings and emotions of genocide survivors, with the only goal of winning their sympathy to his smear campaign. He has succeeded in holding their associations’ hostage and to use them as political pawns. The ones that attempted to resist – but not for a long time – have been completely infiltrated or bought out while holdouts have been systematically demonized. To wit, during the last 2 national genocide commemoration events in Nyamasheke (in former Cyangugu Prefecture) in 2006 and Murambi (in former Gikongoro Prefecture) in 2007, President Kagame on both occasions publicly engaged in smear rhetoric against me. In his speeches to the nation, he called me all kinds of names: a hero made in Europe and America, a liar, a swindler, a person with no history, etc. These insults were not simple temper tantrums; they were run and re-run on State radio and Television. Other media operating under the President’s control also reported extensively on the abusive language speeches inside and outside of the country. For some people, rallying behind the President in his defamation campaign afforded them an easy way to access special favors usually reserved for his most loyal followers. For others, it became a stepping stone to increased visibility and entrenched political positions. Yet others found a way to use this campaign to boost their souring image and get back in the President’s favor.

    In the days following these commemorative events, President Kagame designated Alfred Ndahiro, his personal advisor in communication and international relations, also the author of the afore-mentioned book, to coordinate this campaign. Mr. Ndahiro initially called on all Mille Collines Hotel genocide survivors to join in this smear offensive. Then he recruited some genocide suspects ready to bear false testimony against me. The on-going change of heart dynamic observed in many of Mille Collines Hotel genocide survivors is insincere and only shows how far the regime is willing to go to peddle lies, manipulate and trivialize genocide through repeated and varied use of false testimony.

    Corruption and infiltration of prisons and human rights organizations

    President Kagame’s smear campaign against me and my initiatives appears to be a long-term project, and a recurring theme in future annual genocide commemoration events. It appears to be solidly anchored around collaboration from suspected genocide criminals such as Valerie Bemeriki, a former RTLM journalist whose incendiary rhetoric during the genocide led to the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent Rwandans. Following the live radio and TV broadcast of her testimony at the closing ceremony of the National Memorial Week in Rebero, Kigali, in mid-April 2007, emissaries of the RPF and the president’s office paid rounds of courtesy visits to the hate-stoking journalist during genocide in her prison cell, the first time in her 10 years of incarceration that she enjoyed such courtship from the presidential staff. In the lead-up to her live radio and TV testimony against me, she had received close doctoring from prison Director Dativa Mukanyangezi. She also was coached by Tom Ndahiro, a former RPF army member, an improvised writer at the government’s weekly IMVAHO newspaper after the genocide, and a former member of the so-called National Human Rights Commission, and is now a talk show host at Radio Contact FM 89.7.

    Both instructors had convinced her to make up accusations against me in exchange for special favors, including possible presidential pardon. Initially, Ms. Bemeriki had resisted the offer, making it necessary to shake her a little bit. Her interlocutors had searched her prison cell with a fine tooth comb, taking away all of her secret documents, including those on genocide. The incident opened up her eyes, and she caved in to all of their subsequent demands. From then on she readily accepted to play the President’s game, and all she needed was a little time to get to know well her co-conspirators.

    During her testimony in April 2007, she questioned my role in saving the refugees at Mille Collines Hotel during the genocide, and concluded that I did not deserve any of the awards. Later, Alfred Ndahiro, the President’s advisor, came to see her in person in her prison cell. He delivered a personal message from President Kagame who had closely monitored her testimony against me while visiting the USA, and was prepared to reward her for her effort. But he wanted her to add a little bit more beef to the story. Mr. Ndahiro gave her a list of allegations to include in her testimony. Hoping to use her collaboration against the President’s “sworn enemy” to obtain an early release from prison and a return of her seized documents, Ms. Bemeriki did not even think twice. Within a few days, she produced dozens of pages of false testimony against me, which she sent to the President’s advisor through the prison’s Director. Later, the President’s advisor arranged for an audio-video recording of Ms. Bemeriki going through the litany of her false accusations against me, in stark contempt of the most basic moral and ethical etiquette.

    The book by Alfred Ndahiro and Privat Rutazibwa is nothing but a collection of lies mostly inspired by the specious account offered by this inmate as a bargain for prison release. The daily The New Times has found in her a steady source of its regular baseless allegations. As an example, under the title “Rusesagabina becomes notorious flag-bearer of genocide negationism”, Felix Muheto wrote in The New Times of Friday November 23, 2007: “Those who know his role during genocide have testified to us that he notoriously gave out names of Tutsis who were at the UNAMIR-protected Hotel des Mille Collines to RTLM journalists like renowned Valerie Bemeriki, a genocide convict in Rwanda.”

    Soon after the release of the book of lies and its signing at the Universite Libre de Belgique, in Brussels, on February 23, 2008, author Alfred Ndahiro went even further in an article entitled “Rusesabagina despairing as his delusion gets exposed in a book” and published in The New Times of March 5, 2008: “reliable sources close to the ‘1930’ prison revealed to us that not long ago, Paul Rusesabagina tried to bribe Valerie Bemeriki, the repentant RTLM journalist, so that she retrieves her all-revealing testimony on his real role in the 1994 Genocide … She also indicated as previously revealed in our articles that he used to inform the notorious RTLM on the whereabouts of some Tutsis, leading to subsequent death of some. He is also known according to various sources, including Valerie Bemeriki, to have been a valuable source of intelligence or the government security agencies during the Genocide”. These two articles as well as many others published about me in the same newspaper, often by the same author, are part of the all-out smear campaign of President Kagame, are trust-challenged, and truncate the history of genocide.

    Other genocide suspects locked away at the ‘1930’ prison, especially two former councilors of Barolo and Nyakabanda Sectors as well as the notorious Setiba, have also been courted by presidential staff members in order to join the team of informants. The President?s office, in collaboration with the military intelligence special services, have been pressuring them make up false testimony against me. A disinformation database has been set up and run by the same services while waiting to find a western sellout journalist willing to market these lies.

    Within civil society, the character assassination campaign against me and my action is run by the Ibuka Associations of genocide survivors in Rwanda. These associations use awareness and mobilization of Mille Collines Hotel survivors to fabricate false testimony against me and my initiatives, especially Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (HRRF). In tandem with the RPF, Ibuka has worked to impose the same exact tactic on its local representations in Europe, Canada and the USA, and its Belgium-based branch appears to be the most active, perhaps because of its strategic geopolitical location.

    With the presence in Brussels of many European institutions and a very strong political opposition to President Kagame’s, the Belgium-based Ibuka branch has been ordered to defend President Kagame’s general line of policy and to spread disinformation against me and my initiatives. Any Ibuka members staying clear of this plan or foiling it are equally smeared and accused of collaborating with me, the enemy.

    In that context, the RPF has created CRB, the so-called Communaute Rwandaise de Belgique asbl (or the Rwandan Community of Belgium), run by Rwandan Tutsi extremists most of whom grew up and lived in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This exclusive club acts as a powerful lobby that manipulates genocide survivors living in Belgium in order to enroll them in President Kagame’s smear operation. Genocide survivors who resist are intimidated and threatened, especially through RPF- remote-controlled internet discussion groups where they are branded as pro-genocide Hutus or as survivors by default. Urubuga rw’intore and Ibuka-l are two of the internet discussion forums dominated by informants working on behalf of President Kagame. Among the big names of this RPF mouthpiece organization in Belgium known as the CRB are Chantal Karara and her brother Gustave Karara, Digne Rwabuhungu, Jean Mukimbiri, Yolande Mukagasana and Tatien Miheto Ndorimana. The last 2 have been successful in splitting the organization in two factions, leading to a self-proclaimed provisional committee headed by a certain Melanie Uwamariya, a Rwandan-Belgian woman. The two architects at the top of this club who are responsible for this mess are none other than Manzi Bakuramutsa, a former Rwandan Ambassador to Belgium, and a Rwandan secret service agent named Olivier Kayumba, also serving as the First Secretary at the Rwandan Embassy in Brussels, who currently is heavily implicated in the assassination attempt of my brother-in-law. An on-going law suit pitting members of the Belgium-based Ibuka is at the heart of what?s terribly wrong with this whole smear operation.

    In France, supervisory authority over President Kagame’s effort to destroy me and my actions rests with Marcel Kabanda, a historian in charge of Ibuka-Europe, Esperance Brossard, president of Ibuka-France, and Jose Kagabo, a historian and an active member of the RPF. In the USA and Canada, the defamation movement against me is run by Sharangabo Rufagari [ a frequent contributor to Radio katwe readers comments about Rwanda -Ed], Alexis Bisangwa, Alexandre Kimenyi (the owner of Ibuka-l internet group), Egide Karuranga, Jean-Paul Nyirinkwaya from PAGE-Rwanda association in Canada, and Louise Mushikiwabo, the newly appointed Information Minister in President Kagame’s government. Coordination at the top is under the care of James Kimonyo, the Rwandan Ambassador in Washington, DC, who is notoriously known for having caused an uproar on September 8, 2007 at the launch of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Initiative (TRC) in Chicago, by alleging that two former American Ambassadors were arms dealers.

    The African Rights organization headed by Rakiya Omaar is another active partner in President Kagame’s demonization campaign. Strangely enough, the same Rakiya Omaar of the same organization wrote the following in 1995 in her book entitled African Rights: Rwanda, Death, Despair and Defiance under the heading “Hotel Mille Collines, Kigali” in the chapter titled Death Camps:

    Paul Rusesabagina was manager of the Hotel Diplomate before the genocide. The interim government requisitioned this hotel immediately after unleashing the genocide. When the expatriate manager of the hotel was evacuated, Paul was told by the new government to take over the management, which he did for a few days until the government evacuated to Gitarama on 12 April. The Belgian company that owns the Diplomate also owns the Mille Collines; at this point Paul was transferred to the Mille Collines. During his spell as manager of the Mille Collines, Paul Rusesabagina, who is a Hutu, earned the respect and gratitude of the many people who took refuge there. Many of the refugees evacuated from Mille Collines paid warm tribute to his efforts to protect and help them. Speaking the day after he himself was evacuated from his hotel, he described how running the hotel was somewhat different from his normal professional activities
    (Revised edition, pp. 719-729).

    The fear of contradicting her previous account has forced her to shun public visibility, and she has instead chosen the route of going silent while active in the underground. Her investigators are regular visitors of Kigali central prison to talk to select detainees identified by the president’s office, the military intelligence services, and the prison’s director.

    Among the selected detainees are Ms. Valerie Bemeriki and the afore-mentioned Councilors of Sectors. An intensive back and forth activity between this so-called British human rights organization, African Rights, and the intelligence services of the President’s office and the military, has been observed. Her investigators are very close to the military intelligence apparatus, and the modus operandi of both appears to be similar. It is reliably reported that soon after the onset of the genocide, this British naturalized woman of Somali origin lived in the Rwandan territory under RPF control, fully fed and housed by this rebel organization. After the war, she has continued to enjoy many favors from the RPF. Having thus found a comfortable lifeline, she dumped her career of jurist, and outright betrayed the ethical standards dear to human rights organizations by plunging head first into the regime’s mafia-like schemes that serve the RPF’s interests and her own. She has immediate access to the President and his entourage, especially high ranking military officers and senior officials, as well as businessmen. The RPF provides her with funding, arranges fund-raising for her, orders government ministries to do business with her, houses her and her employees, provides her with transport and identifies partners for her.

    With the help of the RPF, Rakiya Omaar has become a close friend of Dr. Allen Susan, an American researcher on AIDS who heads the Kigali San Francisco Project with funding from Emory University in the USA. Her project was part of Kigali Hospital before the war, but during the genocide she and her staff moved to Zambia. She was later expelled from Zambia for espionage according to accounts from some of her staff, and she returned to Rwanda where she has established strong ties with the RPF. Now the RPF has teamed her with Rakiya Omaar in exporting President Kagame’s demonization campaign against me. This on-going conspiracy against an ordinary individual whose courage during a moment of peril has won him international acclaim, is causing a growing number of observers to question these so-called human rights leaders? real understanding of humanity.

    Evidence cannot be denied

    In the meantime, there were massacres upon massacres throughout the entire country of Rwanda. Using the best estimate, 800 thousand people were killed in one hundred days. That’s 333 killings every hour, or 5 1/2 people murdered each minute. These astounding figures document the reality of the first three or four weeks from the beginning of the genocide. In many areas there were large numbers of uncounted people who survived injuries of all sorts, including many women who were systematically raped. While the rest of the country was in total chaos, the Mille Collines Hotel was the only refuge where more than a thousand people threatened by certain death were able to assemble and survive.

    Evidence cannot be denied. During the genocide, Mille Collines Hotel did not lose one single human life. A total of 1268 people found refuge in the hotel for about three months, and no one was killed or wounded. This is an undeniable fact in the history of Rwandan genocide. Soon after the genocide, while survivors’ and witnesses’ memory were still fresh, and long before any political manipulations had taken sway, many researchers and scholars of international reputation wrote and recorded facts about this exceptional event. A full chapter was devoted to the history of genocide at Mille Collines Hotel in the book by African Rights: Rwanda, Death, Despair and Defiance, (revised edition, August 1995, pp 719-724) in the section titled Death Camps, Hotel Mille Collines, Kigali. In June 1994, in Kigali?s suburb of Kabuga, which at the time was under RPF control, interviewed witnesses readily acknowledged my protection and paid tribute to my effort. A good example is on page 719, paragraph 3: Paul Rusesabagina, who is a Hutu, earned the respect and gratitude of the many people who took refuge there. Many of the refugees evacuated from Mille Collines paid warm tribute to his effort to protect and help them.

    Furthermore, Philip Gourevitch, a journalist at the New Yorker, also visited Rwanda after the genocide in order to conduct research. In 1998, his book We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux of New York, translated in French in 1999 and published by Denoel in Paris under the title Nous avons le plaisir de vous informer que, demain, nous serons tues avec nos familles. This book won the prize of the National Book Award in 1998. One of the lead characters of the book, whose testimony holds a vital role, is Odette Nyiramirimo who was asked by the journalist to tell her history since birth. On page 149, Odette recounts her ordeal during the genocide: Two weeks went by. Then Paul called from Mille Collines. He was an old friend and he wanted to check if anyone was still alive so he can save. When the genocide ended, both our families remained close and Odette even participated in the initial project of the film Hotel Rwanda, and we traveled together many times after the film was released.

    Today, Odette is a member of the Senate under the grip of President Kagame, and has made a complete about-face in her story line. She has decided to betray the truth and feed lies into President Kagame’s demonization campaign against me and my achievements. However, there is nothing surprising about Odette’s attitude, because as she testified herself on page 82 of Gourevitch’s book, she had danced in the streets under President Habyarimana: We danced in the streets when Habyarimana took power, she confessed. The question is whether she will always dance every time a dictatorship replaces another in Rwanda.

    Odette’s attitude brings to mind the attitude of Yolande Mukagasana, the author of the La mort ne veut pas de moi, loosely translated Death does not want me in English, published by Fixot in Paris in 1997. From pages 244 to 255, Yolande described how a high ranking military officer was sent by me to escort her to the Hotel. She wrote:

    The next day, I got news that the Director of Mille Collines Hotel had been repatriated back to Brussels or somewhere else, and had been replaced by a friend of mine. The French government reportedly had even secured an agreement from military leaders not to attack refugees at Mille Collines Hotel. I notified the doctor and requested him to inform the Hotel Director of my presence at Saint Paul: (). The doctor made three back and forth trips between Saint Paul parish and the Hotel, (). Each time, he came back with bad news that the Director cannot be found, but reassured me that an employee recorded his message. I started to despair.

    Among refugees, the atmosphere became gloomier as time went by. (). Suddenly, a big silence hit the chapel. Women started to tremble (). I turned back towards the entrance and I thought I saw death. A high ranking military officer, armed with a revolver and escorted by two armed soldiers, stood in the doorway and called out my name: “Muganga Mukagasana Yolande”. I felt like an electrical shock went through my body, and I froze. For the second time, only stronger, my name rang out through the walls of the chapel: “Muganga Mukagasana Yolande”. For the third time, the officer screamed out my name. (). I made the decision to stand up, yes, I was going to stand up and head towards the officer. I was in disbelief as my memory filled up with images my six weeks on the run. (). I tried to stand firm but my legs gave way under me. I heavily crumbled down to the floor. I stood up again and stumbled forward towards death. ().

    I planted myself a few meters away in front of the officer and said: “I am Yolande Mukagasana”, I was not shaking anymore, but rather altogether resigned. I expected to receive a full round of machinegun fire in my stomach any minute. “Is it you Muganga Mukagasana Yolande” – “Yes, it is me”. () “I came to look for you and escort you to Mille Collines Hotel on the Director’s orders. ” I beg your pardon”? “I am telling you I have received an order to take you to Mille Collines Hotel.” It seems unthinkable. Am I in Paradise already? (). – “I cannot leave behind the two children of my niece”. “That is not a problem, get them!” For a moment, I ask myself if this was not a trap to torture and assassinate us afterwards. But I quickly found an over-riding argument: a government army officer could not guess that I knew the Director of the Hotel. () The hall of the Hotel looked as if it had been hit by an earthquake. The floor was littered with clothes, bags of flour, and some boxes of potatoes. The eight black leather sofas had been pushed two by two against each other to make larger beds. The blinds had been lowered while all the light bulbs of the chandeliers were broken. Then I came face to face with Sperancie. (). “And my children? Do you, by any chance, have any news about my children”? (). At times, it seems as if my life had stopped on that day, right there in the hall of Mille Collines Hotel, in Kigali. () Because I have kept only a vague memory of what happened after that. I can just remember the tarpaulin-covered truck that took away about 50 of us

    Yolande Mukagasana spent only one night at the Hotel and the next day, she was evacuated by the contingent of the United Nations. Unfortunately today, she is one those genocide survivors who are puppets of the RPF, who holds conferences in different parts of Europe to tarnish my image.

    Two human rights organizations of international reputation, Human Rights Watch and Federation International des Ligues des Droits de lHomme have also published a book that touches on events at Mille Collines Hotel. The book’s title is Aucun temoin ne doit survivre, le genocide au Rwanda, published by Kathala in Paris, in 1999. In English, the book is called Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda, and is also available on line at http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/rwanda/. On page 739, it reads: An exceptional case: the Mille Collines Hotel. The authors explore the challenges that we faced on a daily basis and the multiple distress calls that we made.

    These books, as well as many others, published either during or immediately after the genocide, had a unique objective of informing about the genocide. They are exempted from all political manipulation of the RPF and will always occupy a position of highest authenticity in the history of the Rwandan genocide and all other crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda in 1994. They will keep a net advance distance from all other compilations of lies such as the book by Alfred Ndahiro and Privat Rutazibwa, evidently the work of President Kagame and his most loyal servants.

    For example, in Ndahiro’s book, he claims that I visit Rwanda regularly. He claims that I own land. He claims that I am investing in the country. The truth is that I am not allowed to visit Rwanda, as President Kagame has openly designated me as persona non grata in his speeches to the nation. The truth is I no longer own land as the land I had has been given as a bribe for false testimony against me, to a certain Alexander Nzizera, who never sought refuge at the Mille Collines Hotel. I even have evidence that the same Nzizera destroyed the building on my property where he is now developing condominiums for his own capital gain. And lastly, the truth is, I cannot, in sound judgment, invest in a country where government corruption took from me what I rightly owned before.

    It is absolutely stunning how President Kagame and his acolytes have launched an all-out war against me and have tried every trick possible to question my role in protecting refugees at Mille Collines Hotel, where no one was killed, kidnapped or beaten, all the while keeping quiet about thousands of Rwandans who were assassinated in the areas under the control of Kagame–an army general at the time, and under the control of the RPF army, also under his command. Their crimes before, during and after the genocide have been well documented, especially in the above-mentioned book Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda, from pages 818 to 838.

    The Rwandan people are not fools–they just need accurate information about their history. They need to be free and live freely. And they need a future based not on justice of the winner, but on the rule of law, mutual respect and truth and equitable justice. This is the only hope for our future generations.

    Caught between the anvil of international investigations reports on his own atrocities and those of his army, and the hammer of international political pressure as well as International Humanitarian Law, President Kagame desperately tries to run away from the truth and find an easy scapegoat for their crimes. He continues to use genocide as his best war horse, unabashedly exploiting politically and economically this humanitarian tragedy. I consider it a blessing and feel particularly honored that I have the opportunity to bring to the attention of Rwandans and the international community the sad reality of President Kagame’s demonization campaign against me and my achievements.

    The ultimate goal of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Rwanda as initiated by my foundation, The Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, is not to continue the war of words between two men, but to end Rwanda’s social injustices and to heal our shattered nation.

    Paul Rusesabagina

    Brussels, Belgium

    April 6, 2008

    UPDATE: 05.02.08

    The East African Community is considering sending a peace-keeping force to Kenya as one of the options in case the situation deteriorates, reports Anne Mugisa.

    “Currently, there are negotiations within the East African set-up. A decision has not yet been reached but negotiations are on,” Fred Opolot of the Uganda Media Centre told journalists yesterday.

    The East African Community, chaired by President Yoweri Museveni, is made up of Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya.

    UPDATE: Kagame answers his critics.

    RWANDAN President Paul Kagame has said a re-run of Kenya’s disputed December 27 presidential poll should be considered seriously among options to stem the tide of post-election violence in the country.

    “I want to make my position clear on this matter. There are three scenarios of ending this situation and one of them is a re-run,” Mr. Kagame told journalists in Kigali yesterday.

    He said a re-run would help the warring factions on both sides of the political divide to settle their disputes democratically.

    “The violence in Kenya is worsening and human rights violations are increasing. This must stop. Both PNU and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) should go back to elections all together,” Mr. Kagame said at a monthly press conference held in Kigali yesterday.

    Mr. Kagame is the first and so far only president from the East African region to repeatedly suggest bold solutions to the Kenyan post election conflict.

    Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan brokered a deal between Kenya’s rival parties on Friday to take immediate steps to end the post-election violence which has killed nearly 900 people and displaced more than a quarter of a million. But the ethnic tensions in Kenya have taken on a momentum of their own, going beyond a standoff over Mr. Kibaki’s disputed re-election.

    Mr. Kagame has a right to suggest solutions to Kenya’s problems because Kenya is the main entry and exit route for Rwanda’s imports and exports. The violence therefore has had a great bearing on Rwanda’s economy. Just like Rwanda, Uganda too has suffered the brunt of the anarchy in Kenya, with many of its imports getting stranded in Mombasa.

    Mr. Kagame also took a swipe at critics of his proposed military intervention. Defending his position yesterday, he said the intervention of Kenyan military forces is imperative since people are continuing to die, and many others displaced daily due to the political unrest while other institutions are looking on.

    “The army should step in as negotiations progress. When I gave this military proposal, I knew some people would get it differently but I am just reading the situation on the ground and I find military intervention a priority at this time,” Mr. Kagame, a Major General in the Rwandan Army said.

    Mr. Kagame, however, doubted whether the same institutions that conducted the previous elections would make a difference. Mr. Kagame also proposed a recount of votes and equal power sharing between the big two – Mr. Kibaki’s PNU and Mr. Odinga’s ODM.

    UPDATE: 09.03.2008

    Cause for cheer in war-torn Africa


    The Tribune’s Paul Salopek has waged his own chase of Victor Bout, the alleged arms dealer finally in custody

    By Paul Salopek Tribune correspondent

    JOHANNESBURG — Africans have an extraordinary reason to celebrate this week. True, for untold thousands of their war dead, the news comes too late. But this is a rare occasion, a bittersweet coda, to remember them by: Victor Bout is finally behind bars.

    Most people have never heard of Bout. That’s the way he has always liked it.

    Bout, Butt, Boutov, Budd or Bulakin—the paunchy and mustachioed Russian former intelligence officer accused by Interpol of assembling the world’s largest and most destructive arms-trafficking empire has used a host of aliases. When I first stumbled across his trail in Congo in 2000, he was going by “Commandant Victor.”

    Back then, Bout’s old Antonov cargo planes were slipping into the “Mad Max” jungles of that war-addled nation, busting UN weapons sanctions against homicidal warlords. I once watched Bout’s men unload a deadly cargo in the besieged Congolese city of Kisangani. The pilots were red-faced Ukrainians in dingy T-shirts. One, toting an Uzi submachine gun, appeared to be wearing pajama bottoms. Reeking of vodka, they blasted Santana’s cover of “Oye Como Va” from a boombox while scores of ammunition boxes hit the simmering tarmac.

    Later, while reporting in Africa’s conflict zones, I would hitch rides on Bout’s gunrunning aircraft — a murky fleet of some 50 propeller-driven crates that, from the early 1990s onward, stoked some of the ghastliest bloodbaths on the continent. On one trip, again in Congo, his crews delivered anti-aircraft guns for a rebel thug, then back-loaded coffins filled with dead Ugandan soldiers. On another hop, to the capital of the Central African Republic, his pilots holed up in a bar while their plane was stuffed with U.S.-made combat medical kits.

    Bout was far too shrewd to join such risky missions himself. In Sierra Leone, Sudan, Angola, Liberia and other human slaughterhouses, UN investigators say, he used ex-Soviet air force flunkies, bogus shipping papers and a maze of front companies to erase his fingerprints from millions worth of illicit weapons shipments: guns, bullets, rockets and even attack helicopters.

    In 2001, I tried dogging Bout’s trail across three continents for an investigative article. I failed.

    Supremely wary, secretive to the extremes of paranoia, he was always one step ahead. The closest I came was in Uganda. I arrived at one of his safe houses mere hours, neighbors said, after he padlocked the place and fled. Months later, in a bland suburb of Dallas, a man who claimed to be his American accountant explained in a tense and bizarre 2 a.m. interview what I was up against.

    “Victor is a genius—we’re talking an IQ of 170,” said Richard Chichakli, who has since had his assets frozen by the U.S. government over his alleged dealings with Bout. “He knows the African people. He knows the languages —French, Portuguese, Xhosa, Zulu.”

    According to just about every law-enforcement agency hunting him, Bout is a twisted genius of sorts. His mystique even inspired a Hollywood film, “Lord of War,” starring Nicolas Cage. But he finally let his guard slip Thursday, when he was nabbed in an American-led sting operation in Thailand.

    U.S. investigators say Bout was caught trying to peddle missiles to agents posing as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a South American rebel group. In recent years, Bout also has been accused in the news media of supplying weapons to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

    Readers often write asking why Africa seems forever to be embroiled in mayhem and violence.

    The reasons are complex. But the fact that the U.S. and the old Soviet Union dumped mountains of weaponry into the world’s poorest continent during the Cold War—a lethal trade allegedly taken up with gusto by Bout, for sheer profit, not ideology—is surely part of the answer.

    Seeing Bout handcuffed on TV, I am reminded how remarkably young he is—just 41—and how he will have his day in court, an accounting that the numberless victims of Africa’s vicious wars, long enabled by cynical outsiders, will never be afforded.

    Paul Salopek is the Tribune’s Africa correspondent.

    Rwandan ex-minister, Uwilingiyimana Juvénal, who cooperated with UN Tribunal found dead in Brussels – 2005

    Uwilingiyimana Juvénal 5 November 2005, Brussels
    Rue Moretus 4
    1070 Anderlecht, Brussels

    The Prosecutor of the ICTR
    PO Box 6016
    Arusha, Tanzania

    Mr. Prosecutor,

    I have been interviewed several times by your representatives from the ICTR: Richard Renaud, director of investigations, Stephan Rapp, chief of legal proceedings, Rejean Tremblay and André Delvaux, investigators; even you, yourself, met with me on 5 October 2005.

    I was asked from the beginning if I was willing to make a contribution to bringing out the truth about the Rwandan drama. I responded positively and enthusiastically. But later, when it became a question of getting to the heart of the matter, Mr. Tremblay first read me the indictment you had written up against me. I’ll spare you the details that led up to your making your demand: I must help you ‘destroy’ (the exact term used by the investigators) Mr. ZIGIRANYIRAZO Protais and all the member of the Akazu, including his sister Agathe, and destroy the leadership of the MRND, among whom NGIRUMPATSE Mathieu, KAREMARA Edouard and NZIRORERA Joseph had already been given up to your office by Mr. BAGARAGAZA Michel, a man about whose good qualities and honesty your investigators could not stop bragging.

    I do not want to lie to please these investigators and to give credit to your thesis according to which the Rwandan genocide was planned exclusively by the MRND and the Akuza. I am ready to face all the consequences that were described to me by investigators Tremblay and Delavaux: that I will be lynched, crushed, my corpse will be trampled in the streets and dogs will piss on it (these are the investigators own terms.).

    Mr. Prosecutor, those who planned and carried out the genocide of the Rwandan people, beginning the 1st of October 1990, are well know; those who assassinated President HABYARIMANA Juvenal and unleashed this horror on Rwanda are also well known and are the same ones who planned and executed the genocide of the people in Congo.

    Juvenal Uwiligiyimana


    Link to letter

    Kenya’s Tin Man

    Vigilante Journalist

    Photo: The Vigilante Journalist


    Observing Mwai Kibaki in Addis Ababa during the African Union Heads of State summit meeting I was reminded of the Wizard of Oz’s Tin Man. Every time Kibaki moves I hear the horrible sound of metal grinding on rusting metal, when he speaks he sounds corrosive.

    If you recall, the Tin Man explains to Dorothy that a wicked witch placed a curse on his axe. With every swing of the enchanted axe he managed to chop off a piece of his body. A tinsmith refashioned each part with artificial limbs of tin until at last his entire body had been replaced by tin but alas the tinsmith forgot to provide him with a heart. It is a fitting metaphor for Kibaki’s legacy which will always be associated with the images of youths taking machetes to one another, throughout which he has shown himself to be bereft of a heart and incapable of feeling the pain or connecting with the trauma that Kenyans are undergoing. But like the Straw Man he might also need a brain.

    Kibaki in need of a heart and a brain

    Kibaki needs fixing

    Attending the AU summit gave Kibaki an opportunity to stand before African leaders creaking as “the duly elected leader of Kenya” and to stubbornly claim that his re-election represents the “will of the majority” of Kenyans, a position rejected by ODM and the reason for Kofi Annan’s mediation efforts. How can he continue to insist on saying this when Electoral Commission of Kenya’s chairman, Samuel Kivuite, declared that he is not sure who won the election?

    He was quick to take a swipe at Raila Odinga, head of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement accusing him of genocide and blaming him for the violence that is sweeping through the country, saying “the ongoing crisis erupted after the opposition … went ahead to instigate a campaign of civil unrest and violence. There is overwhelming evidence to indicate that the violence was premeditated, and systematically directed at particular communities (ethnic groups).”

    Somebody ought to remind him that ODM did not start the fire. Kibaki lit a match and set fire to the ballot box on December 30th while subsequently extinguishing the hopes of many disenfranchised Kenyans. Is it clearer now what Kibaki’s game is?

    He has simply allowed the violence and bloodshed to reach fever pitch and blamed the ODM for it. Odinga is hostage to this strategy. As long as Kibaki refuses to meet Odinga and talk seriously about where the country goes from here and while he also continues to exhibit his characteristic lack of humility he will continue to fan the flames of the fires searing Kenya. Odinga can do little to put those flames out now. Kibaki is increasingly portrayed as the lesser of two evils in the eyes of the International Community.

    Kibaki has kept very quiet throughout The Terror nor has he dared to leave State House while people have been slaughtered and burnt. At the same time he has denied Raila the use of Kenya’s airwaves. He has also sent the Administrative Police into the slums of Nairobi and Kisumu where hundreds of Luos have been killed indiscriminately leading to further outrage. Now the Mungiki gang are said to be terrorising the Luos of Kibera. Some are saying that politicians are funding them.

    In Addis Kibaki also said, “Arrangements are also under way to resettle the displaced victims even as we search for a lasting solution to the current political crisis.” Those arrangements include government directives to close down IDP camps such as the A.S.K. show ground and Jamhuri Park where some 75,000 people, mainly women and children are sheltering.

    “I am not leaving this place if I don’t have a secure place to relocate to,” Catherine Simba, an IDP from the western Kenyan town of Kakamega, told IRIN on 22 January at Jamhuri Park, the temporary home for at least 3,000 people displaced by post-election violence in parts of the country.

    Simba was reacting to a government directive to have the camp closed. District Commissioner Evans Ogwankwa visited the camp on 21 January and said the government’s position was that the IDPs must leave.

    “I’m not happy staying here, but I would also not want to go back to my looted and destroyed home near Kakamega town; I want to be relocated to a secure area,” she said.

    “How can you take us back to the lion’s mouth, it will swallow us!” Simba exclaimed.

    Kibaki also informed the AU summit that “the security situation in the country is under control.”

    This statement following hot on the heels of the killing of two Orange Democratic legislators which have been described as political assassinations by the opposition. Three police stations have since been targeted by Kenyans and policemen have been lynched in response to the killing of the MPs. Kenyans continue to be attacked and killed. Vigilante gangs threaten to take the law into their hands and lynch robbers because the police are not doing anything to stop crime.

    I found this slideshow extremely harrowing. It’s posted on Paris Match and depicts a lynching that took place on 16th January, in Mathare, Nairobi. Photographer, Enrico Dangnino and his colleague saved a Kamba man from being killed by a crowd of Luos. Nod to Vigilante Journalist a.k.a Anne Holmes.

    Kenya’s slum residents are disillusioned with the police who have shot and killed people indiscriminately and refuse to patrol the slums at night when gangs are out in force. One gang member said

    “The head officer said, ‘Let them fight each other. We will come in the morning to pick up the bodies’.

    He said he called police to report the murder of a Luo friend in the Mathare slum by a group of Kikuyus. “When they didn’t come, we had to go out to protect ourselves.”

    The country is lawless and gangs of young emboldened by the breakdown of law and order set up road blocks to demand money and kill people for belonging to the wrong tribe.

    My sister, Rozi, called me yesterday trembling with fear. She lives in Western Kenya, on the Eldoret/Kakamega border. They had taken a patient to Moi Referral Hospital Eldoret. On their way back, the ambulance was stopped by youths bearing all forms of crude weapons. They demanded to know which tribes everyone in the ambulance belonged to. The driver was of the local tribe, so he was told to step aside. As the others showed their National Identity cards, my sister realized that all around them were corpses of human beings freshly chopped to death. Her turn came and she said she was Luhya. They told her to speak in Luhya, but my Sister doesn’t know Luhya. “I really can’t speak it because my mother is a Taita!” she pleaded. She had to desperately show a photocopy of my mother’s National Identity card which she had in her purse, a photocopy my mother had given to her the previous week to use as a referee for the bank account she was switching to. That photocopy saved my sister. The only language my sister can speak, apart from English and the National Swahili, is Gikuyu. The tribe the youths were targeting.

    In the meantime the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said women and children are being raped in displacement camps, where sexual violence was being used to threaten and intimidate, as reported here.

    Many law-abiding citizens are turning to gangs for protection because of the breakdown in law and order.

    800 people are dead, 300,000 have been displaced by violence and the security situation is under control! It might look that way on the short journey from State House to Embakasi that Kibaki made under security escort to catch his flight to Addis.

    Kofi Annan said that he had suggested to Kibaki on Tuesday that the military might need to be deployed to restore order. While British Foreign Office Minister Mark Malloch Brown agreed that deploying Kenya’s army might be a solution, saying police “at this stage seem to be seen as no longer neutral and behind some of the killings.”

    Kumekucha calls the military option “a poisoned chalice.” pointing out emphatically that Kenya’s military barracks are bristling with ethnic competition. He says:

    In addition to disenfranchising Kenyan voters forever, it will trash all our democratic credentials and history. And worst or it will be a perpetuation of the present day slavery to HELL-FOR-LEATHER rulership and absolutely no leadership. Two wrongs never made a right.

    Kenya is crying for politico-economic justice which the military CANNOT deliver. It is therefore not only suicidal but also reckless and STUPID to entrust such an audacious quest to gun wielders while still smarting from fractures and amputations from machetes. We cannot afford to engage is such an expensive and FATAL gamble.

    Kenyan anti-corruption campaigner Richard Leakey said

    “I think Kibaki is getting very poor advice. He’s showing no personal leadership in this crisis; I’m not quite sure who around him is making the decisions.

    “I think that’s a large part of the problem — the country feels at sea without a captain. But ODM has made some pretty outrageous statements too. Everybody is playing bad guy on this and nobody is trying to play good guy.”

    In Addis the 53 member nations of the AU appeared toothless and at first tried to steer clear of addressing the violence that erupted following Kibaki’s private inauguration on the lawns of State House.

    “There are divisions between one group who see themselves in Kibaki’s situation and another that has told him in no uncertain terms that this is not acceptable,” said one Western diplomat, adding that South Africa was in the latter group.

    In Nairobi the mediation team set up by Kofi Annan had made breakthroughs and come up with a Four Point Plan to resolve the political crisis. Back in Addis Kibaki was describing Annan’s efforts as a “facilitation” mission rather than mediation!

    Mr Annan said: “We believe within seven to 15 days, we should be able to tackle the first three agenda items. The first is to take immediate action to stop the violence.

    “The second is immediate measures to address the humanitarian crisis, the third is how to overcome the current political crisis.” The fourth point concerned long-term issues such as unemployment, poverty and land reforms.

    A document signed by both sides said an agreement might require “adjustments” to the constitution — suggesting a power-sharing arrangement that would give opposition leader Raila Odinga a new position of prime minister.

    Finally, Kibaki tells Odinga to allow Kenya’s High Court to arbitrate. Nobody takes this option seriously. Kibaki appointed new judges only a month before the elections were held, further proof if any were needed that the theft was planned in advance. Kenyan Jurist elucidates the problems with the court option clearly:

    As I have stated previously, this insistence on challenging the results in court is just a ruse and it ignores the fact that we are dealing with an issue not of legality but legitimacy and justice. How can anyone expect the court to be fair when in Kivuitu states, “I arrived at State House to take the certificate and I found the Chief Justice there, ready to swear-in Kibaki.” What can Kenyans expect from the court?

    Hon Martha Karua also repeats the legal redress meme. If the government was bold enough to interfere with the tallying of votes. Just consider what the following;

  • Do we know where the Returning Officers of the disputed polling areas are. Is their security guaranteed? Will they be able to testify without intimidation and inteference? Remember the case sad case of DAVID MUNYAKEI. Is any of these people willing to risk their lives for the greater good of Kenyans.
  • Has the official ECK tally of votes been published in the Kenya Gazette or other media? Will it be interfered with? The longer this takes the greater the risk.
  • Have all the election materials been secured. Remember, in law, the petitioner has the burden of proving that the election was rigged. If the election materials have not been secured or tampered with then this would render the case moot.
  • Now that the Commonwealth Observers, European Union Observers, the Electoral Commissioners and many other have cast doubt on the election result, can Kenyans accept a court verdict that say the Election was proper?
  • Would politicians please spare us the legal mumbo jumbo and go right to resolving the political dispute at hand.

    By now it must be obvious that Kibaki is resistant to any kind of negotiations and neither is he going to step down. It is time for the international community to censure him more forcefully. What can be done? Robert Calderisi writing in the Globe and Mail says that the military coup d’etat option that is gaining currency among some commentators might be too draconian. He suggests the international community can respond by

    “[seizing] the assets of senior officials who, until now, have salted away their loot in Western banks with total impunity.

    “The world can continue to provide direct support to community groups, human rights activists, democratic reformers, and those promoting a free press.

    “And, in a number of cases, the answer may be to make foreign assistance more openly political..

    “Making aid more political does not mean using it as a convenient instrument of foreign policy. But if the goal is to fight poverty, the way a government treats its citizens — including its journalists, entrepreneurs and small farmers — should be central to the level of aid it receives.”

    Eye-witness account of violence and displacement

    Here is a moving account of life at an IDP camp in Nakuru which is posted at Pambazuka.org.

    The heart of the Kenya Violence and peace

    Karambu Ringera (2008-01-30)

    Karambu Ringera, one of the few women to run for electoral office in the Kenya elections, gives a powerful vivid eye-witness account of the violence and the displacement.

    Issues

    When I left Nairobi for Nakuru to visit the internally displaced people’s (IDP) camp, my aim was to be there for 2 days only. I arrived there on Wednesday January 23, little knowing that the events of that night would lock me in Nakuru for five days! On the night of January 23, all hell broke loose in Nakuru town. It was sad, scary and out of this world. I hardly recognized my country anymore. For three days, Kikuyus living in the Rift Valley were being evicted from their homes. The Nakuru violence was a spill over from Eldoret where many Kikuyus amng other ethnic groups had been evicted from their homes and their homes and property burnt. The week before, there had been similar clashes in Kisumu, once again targeting people from the Mount Kenya Region. The violence spread to Kericho, Burnt Forest, Elburgon, and areas surrounding Nakuru town. It was believed that Kalejins were in the forefront of these latter (Rift Valley) evictions and so, when loadfuls of Kikuyus landed into the Nakuru Show Ground (NSG) where these IDP were settled and attended to by the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), Kikuyus in Nakuru felt they needed to do something about it. To see lorry after lorry of people being dropped at the NSG left many angry.

    What was more devastating were the stories of anarchy – burnt homes, slaughtered loved family members, raped mothers and daughters, as destroyed property. The Kikuyus organized themselves and on the night of 23rd they struck at Ponda Mali a few blocks from where I spent that first night. In the morning, a few dead bodies were found but more fundamentally, houses were burnt – this time mainly Luo and Kalejin houses. By Thursday, these attacks were spread to more residential areas around Nakuru town such as Ronda, Mwariki, Kaptembwa, Githima, Freearea, Lakeview, Lanet, Karatina, Kiti, pangani, Flamingo, and Mawanga) – a second IDP’s camp was opened at the Nakuru Stadium for Luos and Kalejins. A 7pm to 7am curfew was also set up – the speed with which this curfew was set up saved Nakuru from more blood shed than had already been spilt. On Friday, a friend and I walked to the areas surrounded Langalanga residential area to see what had transpired the night before because we heard was a lot of gunshot sounds. We hardly slept that night because we did not want to be attacked or for the block to be set a fire while we were asleep. The newspapers said that 5 people had been killed but that day we found at least 12 bodies lying uncollected – some had been eaten by dogs overnight. Most bodies had deep cuts – some on the head, some with throats slashed, others with cut off limbs – it was ghastly!! Later in the day, a police Landrover was loaded full of bodies of dead people.

    It came for a second round – we estimated over 40 people killed in just…… On Saturday, Nakuru town was a no go zone both day and night. Police and army personnel were all over the town. A helicopter was being use to comb the area and spot trouble points and dispatch soldiers there speedily. The roads were blocked and some people were attacking certain groups of people as early as 5pm. We all were advised to stay indoors. Sunday was more calm were I was although we kept hearing gunshots in the surrounding estates. I had to do what I had initially set out to do in Nakuru – visit the IDP’s camp at the Nakuru Show Ground. I went there on Wednesday to arrange to go and hold peace talks with the people at the camp. I intended to work with the counseling groups as my entry point. When the coordinator of the counseling program asked me to explain my approach, I explained that I used a participatory approach where people speak from their experiences. I planned on using the circle model and three statements guide the dialogue. The three statements are: Peace for me is; Peace for me would be; and In the name of peace I commit to… (participants state a concrete action they will undertake) .

    The women were asked to use these statements to guide their sharing. We used a talking piece (a piece of stick). Initially I had asked for about 20-25 people. I got 30 women. However about 15 of them had come the day before and had not been debriefed – so they had to leave the circle. Women who had not been debriefed were required to do so before doing any other form of talking to people about their experiences. We held the circle with the 15 or so women left. The main concerns for the women were their children’s education; lack of enough food; and where they would go since they did not want to go back to their old places.

    The camp

    While waiting for the women to gather, I heard a child crying outside. He was crying with a lot of emotion – a child of about 6 years old. I walked over to him and started coaxing him to stop crying while at the same time asking him why he was crying. He was standing alone and I thought he had lost his mother or whoever was with him. After some time, he stopped crying – almost – and then I was approached by a pregnant woman who had stood at a distance watching us. She told me that she had pinched the child for running away from school. The school was across the main road outside the camp. The mother was angry with the boy for crossing the dangerous road (cars were driving by all the time) alone. She also wanted him to stay in school because other kids were there. I told the mother to be patient with the child for after all he had seen, he may have been afraid that when he comes from school he might fond the mother gone. The kid never told us why he ran away for school, even though I tried to ask him. All he did was cry. We tried to get his older brother to take him to school and stay with him there the rest of the day. I do not know whether the mother was able to enforce this because soon after, a KRCS personnel came and took away the mother and the child to talk to them.

    The women we visited with started telling us what life was like at the camp. They said that they had a mug of porridge in the morning, no lunch, and very little dinner. The food at dinner was so little – “it is meant to keep the soul alive” – one old lady told me. The food is so little that even children do not get satisfied – so mothers normally shared out their own food to the children. Girls were known to exchange food for sex too. There was lots of sexual activity as evidenced by the number of used condoms found lying around the camp every morning – the KRCS medical team dishes out condoms at the camps. The disturbing part was the rapes that were happening at the camps. The women told us that at night men would scream to make people start running away in panic. Then they would time women and girls, catch them and rape them. So, women were being told to watch over their girls. Women were also being advised not to go to the toilets at night.

    On Friday we were sitting in circle sharing when we heard gunshots. The women panicked and one of them worriedly asked “have they come for us here?” This made me realize how scared these people really were. Their fear was deep. I was sad that I could not be of any help in trying to alleviate it. We ourselves from the outside were sitting on edge not knowing whether we would be safe or not going back home. All I could do was encourage them, hope with them that things would change, and assure them that they were safe in the camp because it was guarded. This sense of security was short lived. On Saturday afternoon there was a panic stampede that took place because a run-away prisoner jumped in to the camp in white underwear, the dress code of the attackers of the people in their farms. The IDP thought the attackers had come for them right in the camp. The person who was the man screamed that the attackers had followed them into the camp and there was a stampede that caused the breaking of the NSG periphery fence – fracturing the delicate sense of security they may have felt in this place.

    A lot of food and clothes had been donated to the KRCS for these IDP in the camps around Kenya. We saw many lorries loaded with stuff come to the camp. The KRCS also had an office in Nakuru town where they stored these things. The surprising thing was that the people told us they never received any good clothes. They got third rate stuff – the KRCS staff in the store selected clothes for themselves before letting the IDP get into the store to select – the women informed us.

    The people also said that the store people let about 30 people to get into the small store and they gave the people only few minutes to select clothes. This meant that one had no time to select good stuff – so they ended up with old t-shirts and skirts. One woman who had brought in a selection of very good clothes found someone selling one of her dresses in the local market! In view of this, when the women told me that they need underwear and pads, I decided not to hand these to the KRCS office as I had done on Wednesday when I first went to the camp. Counseling is being done in the camps by many people. However when I asked whether there were any people talking about peacebuilding I was told “no one had thought of that.”

    I found my niche. So, I set up to come on Thursday January 24 to start the peace dialogue. Lack of information on where women can get help for educational needs of their children or for material needs is alarmingly much in the camp. At Nakuru many women came to ask me for assistance – where to take their kids for schooling; how they can leave the camp and reach their relatives; how they could earn a living – several girls were looking for househelp jobs (to be employed in people’s homes) – and so on. One man approached me with a letter which had a female handwriting seeking assistance for relocation. Since I am from far (Meru – Nakuru is about 9 hours by car from Meru) and did not have the capacity to help, I told the women that they have to speak with the KRCS personnel in their camp so they can ask the questions they were putting to me. I know that the organization is meant to assist people the camps in various ways. So, I insisted that they talk to these people.

    The Peace Circle Dialogue

    We sat in a circle and I introduced myself, asked someone to open with prayers, after which I asked everyone to introduce themselves and say where they were from. We started off with 30 women, 15 eventually went for debriefing (they had arrived at the camp the night before), two of 15 were called to go to the hospital to check on one of them who had given birth to a baby (they said to me smiling: “we have been blessed with a new life even here”), and two others left for other business. In the end, we had about 10 women who stayed throughout the 2 and a half hour session. I introduced the peace dialogue idea and why we were doing it. I gave the three statements that were going to guide our dialogue, looked for a talking piece and then I began the process.

    What emerged was very interesting. Each woman gave her story – most spoke about their history. Some gave incidents before the clashes (current displacement) as what gave them no peace, incidents that were exacerbated by the violence. Most were painful family issues – including wives being told to go where they came from because they were from a different ethnic group – being forced to leave with ones children because the children had the blood of the unwanted ethnic group. On the second day, the women were less personal and our discussions were more on what others had suffered. I was told of an elderly lady who was gang raped and then ripped open because the gangsters wanted to “see where they had been.” The woman died. One woman came to me for assistance for her son who is beginning high school. She said to me, “one of the children has been taken to an orphanage. Now I need a place for my son who is attending a day school, but see where he is coming back every end of day. Please take him with you and help him get into a boarding school.” At that moment I wished the community home we are building for AIDS orphans and other children in crisis was complete.

    I would have taken this boy to stay there while we looked for a boarding school for him. I took the lady’s contact so that when I got a school for the boy, I would call them. I have already asked the IPI Program Director to check out a school for this child whose name is Isaac Geita. His mom’s name is Margaret Wambui. The women who followed the three statements guiding our peace dialogue had this to say about their view of peaceful being or otherwise and what they committed to do for peace. (i) I have peace when: Peaceful moments cited by these women included when they pray, read the Bible, and when they are able to provide food, shelter and health to their families, including being able to educate their children. (ii) Peace for me is: Some of the answers I got include: End of conflict and violence; all the children in this camp going back to school. Help for those infected by HIV/AIDS, widows, single mothers, and orphans. The women said that education is the only hope for their children considering all their property was gone and the parents were in no position to support them now that they had lost everything. (iii) In the name of peace I commit to: The women committed to praying for peace; supporting those who were in need like orphans; encourages each other to keep hope in God. The women felt that if they kept their hope in God, He would deliver them and prosper them wherever they are.

    Conclusion

    Before people massacre others, they dehumanize and demonize the enemy. While walking around Ponda Mali, area in Nakuru to see the results of the violence, we came across many bodies of dead people that lay all over the place. Two young people were walking past one body and they said “it is fat!!” They did not see this as a person – he had become an object, hence “IT.”. Down the path we found another body and this time, a woman sold her tomatoes unbothered by the presence of a dead body near where she was selling. I wondered at this lack of … fear, respect… what did I expect them to feel for these departed ones – perceived as ‘the enemy’ by them?

    It was sad to witness the disgrace we have come to as a nation – we have become so removed from our humanity – we have failed to see we were the ‘other’ we were butchering. To fail to ‘see’ that our humanity is inescapably intertwined with that of those whose lives we have cut short, is to fail to ‘recognize’ how inhuman we have become. I desire to participate in healing the broken cord that joins me to my sister and brother, no matter their ethnic origin; reconcile the severed human spirit broken by our fractured humanity.

    Way Forward

    Part of my reason for being in Kenya is to work for peace in Africa. Little did I know I would be doing this for my beloved country. I have already put in place a peace training program under Institute for Nonviolence and Peace (INPEACE) (INPEACE was launched in 2005 at the Women’s Congress held in Nairobi that year). I intend to continue the peace dialogues in the IDP’s camps that I started in Nakuru. I also intend to do a training for leaders, who will hopefully share what they learn with their constituents. Then I will start systematic trainings for civil society, with a focus to women and youth. I am already meeting with people and organizations willing to partner with IPI’s INPEACE to run the trainings. The plan is to begin with trainings for women and youth in the camps and leaders and follow up with longer term programs for civil society and learning institutions. I also hope to continue helping with material and informational assistance to women and young girls in camps.

    For those interested in supporting women and girls materially, IPI has been collecting clothes and food stuffs and taking to various collection points in Meru. However, from the experience of what the women in Nakuru told me, IPI will be distributing the stuff directly to women in their tents within the camps like we did the last time we donated underwear and pads to women and girls at Nakuru.

    Dr. Karambu Ringera is a human rights activist who ran for electoral office in the recent elections. She describes the experience of being the only woman to run against 15 men in this enlightening article here.

    Kibaki snubs AU head John Kufuor

    BBC Radio 4 is now reporting that hopes for a resolution to the Kenyan crisis are fading following remarks by Mwai Kibaki that Kenya’s problems are an internal matter for Kenyans to sort out. A snub to the head of the African Union, Ghanaian President John Kufuor who is expected in Nairobi today and who was planning to bring Kibaki and Odinga to the mediation table.

    Earlier in the day Odinga was reported on Deutche Welle news having somewhat moderated his earlier stance to Kibaki in which he said he would not talk to him until he reisigned to now saying that he would not talk to Kibaki without international mediators being present.

    Both Odinga and Kibaki earlier accused each other of stoking ethnic tensions in Kenya.

    UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon urged restraint while UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has called on Kibaki to respect his commitment to human rights in responding to the demonstrations. Kibaki was asked to ensure that the police be held accountable for their actions and she also urged that journalists be allowed to carry their work out freely.

    UPDATE: 21:07 GMT Kufuour’s press office has said the visit to Kenya has been cancelled. No explanation was given.

    AU Head to fly into Kenya today

    The Head of the African Union, Ghanian President John Kufour, is flying into Kenya to head the reconciliation effort between Odinga and Kibaki. But Odinga continues to insist that Kibaki and the PNU admit that they stole the election first, before any talks can take place between them, leaving little room for manouevre. The UK media are reporting that 300 people have been killed and 100,000 Kenyans displaced so far in the Mt Elgon Area. The Kenyan Red Cross is appealing for support, and pleads for the government to provide security for the people here. Some tens of thousands of Kenyans have gone over the Ugandan border for safety.

    There are reports that Ugandan GSU are in Kisumu invited into Kenya to police the situation after Kenyan police and military declined to follow Shoot to Kill orders. The EA Standard also reports that the Ugandan Army is deployed on the Kenyan border, not to back Kibaki but to stop any violence spilling over into Ugandan territory.

    The Media Owner’s Association has criticized the banning of live media broadcasts and the censoring of Odinga’s ODM while networks continued to broadcast the activities of Kibaki’s PNU. “I wish to express my disgust with how some of my members have handled the live ban,” Hannington Gaya, chairman of Media Owners’ Association, said yesterday. KBC and K24 were named. A journalist explained that coverage of the “skirmishes” going on around the country might incite further violence.

    “The news blackout could result in the streets being ruled by rumour and disinformation,” said media watchdog Reporters without Borders on Monday. “It imposes a climate intimidation and plunges the country into confusion.” This is exactly what has happened.

    Kenyan Pundit says that the rumours that Kivuite’s life was threatened have been confirmed by diplomatic sources.