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article imageFree speech in Rwanda Special

By Ann Garrison     Mar 3, 2010 in Politics
Former New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer, writing in the London Guardian, on March 2, 2010, paraphrased "Rwandan leaders" when comparing free speech in the African Republic of Rwanda to yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.
Kinzer is the author of "A Thousand Hills, Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed it," the story of how former General, now incumbent President, Paul Kagame seized power in Rwanda during the Rwanda Genocide of 1994.
Critics characterize him as Kagame's biographer, apologist, and publicist.
After praising Kagame, but also noting Amnesty International's 02.18.2010 release "Intimidation of Rwandan Opposition Parties Must End," Kinzer wrote:
"Many people in developed countries look suspiciously, as they should, on leaders who impose restrictions on free speech. Even in the US, though, it is illegal to cry "fire!" in a crowded theatre. That is what Rwandan leaders accuse the foreign-based opposition of doing – fanning hatreds that could explode into another genocide. The opposition, in reply, insists it is merely speaking truths Kagame does not wish to hear."
The opposition has also stated that the ongoing suppression of human rights in Rwanda is far more likely to trigger another outbreak of violence than free speech and the inclusion of all Rwandans in the country's political and economic opportunities.
Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza  presidential candidate of the FDU-Inkingi Party
Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza, presidential candidate of the FDU-Inkingi Party
FDU-Inkingi Party
Though often identified with the politics of former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, leading candidate Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza, of the FDU-Inkingi Party, warns that Kagame is now repeating Habyarimana's mistakes. "What happened in 1994, the genocide and all the crimes, were possible because of the politics of exclusion," she says. "Today Paul Kagame is making the same mistake that Habyarmana made."
The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda s First Vice President Kagwa Rwisereka went missing in Butare  ...
The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda's First Vice President Kagwa Rwisereka went missing in Butare, near Rwanda's southern border with Burundi.
Wikimedia Commons
President Paul Kagame has called for the extradition of two of his own former top military officers and government officials, after accusing them of links to both the FDLR militia fighting in Eastern Congo, and even accusing one, former Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, of links to one of Rwanda's leading opposition parties, the Rwanda Greens.
It's unlikely that either is connected to the FDLR, however, since, as two of Kagame's top officers, they spent years fighting the Rwandan soldiers now said to have become the FDLR.
Former General Kayumba's connection to the Rwanda Greens is equally unlikely because, for one, the Rwanda Greens are committed, by their ten key values, to nonviolence, as are all parties affiliated with the Global Greens.
The Rwanda Greens have denied the alleged link to Kayumba.
Though Kinzer referred to Amnesty International's call for an end to attacks on Rwanda's opposition parties, he did not mention the earlier Human Rights Watch release, "End Attacks on Opposition Parties," or Paris-based Reporters without Borders release, "Rwanda sentences three journalists to imprisonment," regarding the arrest of two editors and a reporter from Rwanda's independent Kinyarwanda language newspaper, Umuseso.
Kinzer also seems to be at odds with President Barack Obama, or at least with Obama's own words, released in 2009, on the anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide:
"The United States is committed to its partnership with Rwanda and will continue to support efforts to promote sustainable development, respect for human rights, and lasting peace in Rwanda." --Barack Obama, release by the Office of the White House Press Secretary, 04.07.2009
Though Kinzer mentions neither Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Borders, nor President Obama, he does link to the PDF file, in French, of a December 2009 UN Report accusing FDU-Inkingi presidential candidate Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza of links to the FDLR militia in eastern Congo, as have the Rwandan authorities when interrogating Mrs. Ingabiré in Rwanda.
In this he joins the state run Rwanda New Times and its faithful republisher, allAfrica.com, in tying Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza, to the FDLR.
Ingabiré has denied links to the FDLR, both in public and during repeated interrogation by Rwandan authorities, and has insisted that her party, the FDU-Inkingi is, like the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and the Parti Social-Imberakuri, committed to nonviolence.
The three opposition parties have formed a Permanent Consultative Council now calling on the government to register their parties, and include them in a free and fair presidential election, but the government has since threatened them with arrest for forming a "coalition"---though they call it a "council"---before registering their parties, and even as the government has, thus far, prevented them from registering.
Frank Habineza  President of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR)  and President of the Afric...
Frank Habineza, President of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR), and President of the African Greens Federation, would have been the presidential candidate of the DGPR if they had been allowed to register their party and field a candidate.
Democratic Green Party of Rwanda
Frank Habineza, interim Leader of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, says, quoting some of U.S. President Barack Obama's most famous words, "We are all one people, and we are really not as divided as our politics would suggest."
Habineza has called on Obama, and, on Hillary Clinton, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and all those who, last November, supported Rwanda's acceptance into the Commonwealth, to speak out for democracy in Rwanda "before it's too late."
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