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Rwanda: The Danger of a Sanitized Narrative

Foreign Policy Journal

October 4, 2016

by Judi Rever

Rwanda: The Danger of a Sanitized Narrative

How a British NGO changed the course of Rwandan history and helped fuel impunity in Africa’s Great Lakes region

The passion of war has long inspired propagandists. Some have sought to influence public opinion for pecuniary or career reasons. Others have claimed loftier motives, like promoting human rights or addressing humanitarian emergencies. One of the most notable crusaders to emerge in recent times is Rakiya Omaar, the co-founder of the London-based rights group African Rights. She is also author, with British scholar Alex de Waal, of the defining book Death, Despair and Defiance—a colossal compendium of Hutu-on-Tutsi violence published just weeks after the Rwandan genocide ended. Observers eager to understand this three-month killing spree relied on their astonishing 750-page creed published in September 1994; it offered in real time a list of perpetrators and a sweeping narrative of how Hutu ideologues conceived years in advance their genocidal project against the Tutsi. African Rights, a new NGO from London, appeared to have set history in motion, and quickly so. Its impact on legal proceedings was substantial, at least initially. Death, Despair and Defiance was considered the bible by the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

But just how did Omaar and de Waal—neither of whom spoke Kinyarwanda or were versed in Rwandan history—produce such an authoritative, insider-driven opus on the mechanics of killing? How did they get access in so little time to a massive archive of witness testimony? With the help of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), of course.

Luc Reydams specializes in international criminal law and justice and teaches politics at Notre Dame University in the United States. His groundbreaking research on African Rights, recently published, is both a feat in investigative journalism and academic scholarship. His article “NGO Justice: African Rights as Pseudo Prosecutor of the Rwandan Genocide” in Human Rights Quarterly deconstructs the NGO’s murky operations and methods. Reydams also provides compelling evidence that African Rights became a RPF front organization and its account of the genocide was produced with the “full and active support of the RPF.” The RPF, under Paul Kagame, won the war and has been in power since 1994.

Eventually African Rights ended up on the RPF payroll, working closely with intelligence operatives and even moving to a building that housed the Directorate of Military Intelligence, Reydams reveals. By that time, de Waal had left the organization. Yet even before de Waal and Omaar parted ways, African Rights had become enormously prescriptive and influential; it scolded the international community about who was morally right during the war, who should be arrested and why. It staunchly defended the RPF against reports that its troops had engaged in violence and shamed other human rights investigators and journalists for calling attention to RPF abuses: “Allegations that the RPF was massacring civilians were ‘hysteria’ and journalists who ran such ‘stories’ were not doing their work properly.” Reydams aptly points out that “human rights reports usually do not defend a warring party. Yet, Death, Despair and Defiance does exactly that. The RPF’s resumption of the war is presented as humanitarian intervention and, therefore, a ceasefire was out of the question.”

Not surprisingly, African Rights’ work, which provided a one-sided, sanitized version of the Rwandan genocide, did not stand the test of time.

A former ICTR investigator had this to say: “After a few months, we realized that Death, Despair and Defiance was not so accurate, some incidents (not the major ones though) were impossible to verify; the accounts in the book, very precise, were not confirmed by our witnesses. At that time, Death, Despair and Defiance was seen as not very reliable and clearly Rakiya Omaar was not considered an expert witness who could be used in court. To my recollection, she was met by ICTR investigators at the beginning of the work in 1995. The request to access her sources was never successful and the relation with her became difficult. She did not shy from criticisms against the ICTR. Her links to RPF became quite obvious in subsequent reports on protection of witnesses and other stuff, with no words at all on the RPF’s own crimes.”

The work of Omaar and de Waal should have been discredited publicly long ago, but it wasn’t. And the impact of their research has been nothing short of devastating. Their book primed public opinion on the conflict and shaped the way the world saw the RPF as moral victors and Hutus as perpetrators. Their research has been absorbed and regurgitated uncritically by experts and human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch’s seminal account of the genocide, Leave None to Tell the Story was published in 1999 and became the subsequent bible at the ICTR. That book cites Death, Despair and Defiance a record 42 times.

Most troubling is how the NGO has fueled RPF impunity over the years. African Rights categorically denied RPF crimes, helped shield Paul Kagame’s government from prosecution, and even defended its war of aggression in Congo.

In a separate interview I conducted, a Tutsi survivor who worked for African Rights on the NGO’s second edition of the book—published in 1995—told me he collected testimony from Hutu peasants on RPF killings. When he went to Omaar to discuss incorporating this research, he said she told him flatly: “now is not the time.” In later years when he was doing research for African Rights ahead of traditional Gacaca court proceedings, he emphasized the issue of Hutu accounts of RPF massacres. Again she told him to let it go. “Now is not the time,” she insisted. The Tutsi survivor was eventually threatened by the RPF’s chief intelligence enforcer Jack Nziza, and was forced to flee the country to escape death.

At a minimum, Omar could come clean about what she may have observed in RPF zones where she traveled with RPF cadres in places such as Rusumo in May 1994. Aid workers reported that Kagame’s Tutsi forces called Hutu refugees to a ‘peace meeting’ in Rusumo then proceeded to tie up men, women and children before stabbing and killing them. The bodies were placed on trucks and eventually dumped in the Kagera River, according to a UN protection report released by Refugees International in mid-May. I can imagine that Omaar could fill another book on the secrets she has kept.

De Waal, for his part, dutifully transcribed Omaar’s survivor accounts. He now teaches at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is considered an academic powerhouse for his extensive work on Rwanda, Sudan and the Horn of Africa, and has long held sway in British media, having published in The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement and being regularly cited by the BBC. In his interview with Reydams, de Waal brazenly takes credit for creating a narrative of the genocide. He admits he met with senior RPF officials such as Theogene Rudasingwa and Patrick Mazimpaka in the spring/summer of 1994:

“The dominant narratives in the media for the first part of April were tribal killing and chaos,” de Waal told Reydams. “Journalists and quite a number of aid workers were contributing to this. The point of the ‘Who is killing, who is dying’ report, and an article I wrote in the Times (‘Rwanda genocide took three [sic] years to plan’) was to remedy that. I also wrote a piece ‘The genocidal state’ for the Times Literary Supplement at the same time but they held on to it until July and only published it then (to my enormous frustration as it was the most serious piece.) It was quite an uphill struggle, and in order to do it, as you will see, I decided it was necessary to craft an alternative narrative.

“When I first discussed it with Rwandese in London (almost all Tutsis; some were RPF and some not) their focus was on the politics of the interim government and a different set of narratives. One of them was Mazimpaka: he was flailing. They provided me with documents such as the Hutu Ten Commandments but said they weren’t that important. When the genocide-as-conspiracy narrative took off, the RPF took it up, for obvious reasons.”

As Reydams points out, Theoneste Bagosora, the Hutu colonel who African Rights named as the architect of the Rwandan genocide, was acquitted of conspiracy and any direct role in the genocide by the ICTR, as were three other accused individuals who stood trial in the Military I case. “No one, for that matter, has been convicted of conspiracy before April 7, 1994. The genocide-as-conspiracy narrative, which African Rights helped to propagate, failed to convince the judges,” Reydams writes.

As though this wasn’t shocking enough, de Waal used his formidable intellectual skills to critically shape the way the West viewed Rwandan Hutus and the menace they posed to the Tutsi-led government in Rwanda. In one of his more rabid essays in November 1996—a few weeks after Rwandan troops had invaded Zaire—de Waal openly advocated war. In an op-ed in The Guardian titled “No Bloodless Miracle”, de Waal said there could be “no bloodless political solution” to the conflict in Central Africa. He launched a passionate plea for an armed attack against refugee camps that housed more than a million Hutus in eastern Zaire. He claimed that the inhabitants of Mugunga refugee camp—where some 175,000 Rwandan men, women and children were living—did not have a well-founded fear of persecution in Rwanda, were not bona fide refugees, and should not qualify for protection under the Refugee Convention. The Hutus there, he said, were “fugitives from justice or migrants.”

He argued that peaceful negotiations would be a chimera and that Hutu extremists in the camps could not be disarmed. “War cannot be stopped,” he warned. “If we are not prepared to go and destroy the Hutu militias, we should not stand in the way of the people who are prepared to do so.”

De Waal’s dualist approach to conflict in the Great Lakes—one side was good and the other was evil—shamefully served to fuel the violence.

We know how it ended of course. Kagame’s troops attacked the camps, sending hundreds of thousands of refugees further west into the Zairean jungle, where Tutsi soldiers eventually hunted them down, hacked and shot them, and buried them in mass graves. In 2010, the United Nations said the Rwandan Patriotic Front may have committed genocide against Hutus in Congo.

In June 2016, likely pre-empting the release of Reydams’ investigation, de Waal wrote a lengthy essay in the Boston Review titled “Writing Human Rights and Getting It Wrong”. He admitted he was wrong about the genocide being planned years in advance, but said he did not regret his “role in helping to write the genocide narrative for Rwanda in 1994 or transcribing and publishing survivors’ testimonies. They are uncooked and authentic.”

What he does regret, he admitted, is his silence in 1997 as the RPF “spun the singular genocide narrative to justify its emergent dictatorship and its escalating military operations in Zaire/Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

De Waal’s mea culpa drew immediate praise from his legion of academic followers. However his words rang hollow to many. His confession was too little, too late for Kagame’s victims in Rwanda and Congo, whose suffering over the course of 22 years has been incalculable.

 

[Judi Rever is a Montreal-based freelance journalist.]

Canada in the Congo

Counterpunch

Canadian officials have long done as they pleased in Africa, loudly proclaimed this country’s altruism and only faced push back from hard rightists who bemoan sending troops to the  “Dark Continent” or “dens of hell”.

With many Canadians normally opposed to war supporting anything called “peacekeeping”, unless troops deployed with an African UN mission are caught using the N-word and torturing a teenager to death (the 1993 Somalia mission) they will be portrayed as an expression of this country’s benevolence. So, what should those of us who want Canada to be a force for good in the world think about the Trudeau government’s plan to join a UN stabilization mission in Mali, Congo, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic or South Sudan?

First, we have good reason to be cynical.

On his recent five country African “reconnaissance” tour defence minister Harjit Sajjan included an individual whose standing is intimately tied to a military leader who has destabilized large swaths of the continent. Accompanying Sajjan was General Romeo Dallaire, who backed Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front in 1993/94 and continues to publicly support the “Butcher of the Great Lakes”.

In his 2005 book Le Patron de Dallaire Parle (The Boss of Dallaire Speaks), Jacques-Roger Booh Booh, a former Cameroon foreign minister and overall head of the mid-90s UN mission in Rwanda, claims Dallaire ignored RPF violence, turned a blind eye to the weapons they received from Uganda and possibility shared UN intelligence with the Ugandan sponsored rebels. Dallaire doesn’t deny his admiration for Kagame. In Shake Hands with the Devil, published several years after Kagame unleashed unprecedented terror in the Congo, Dallaire wrote: “My guys and the RPF soldiers had a good time together” at a small cantina. Dallaire then explained: “It had been amazing to see Kagame with his guard down for a couple of hours, to glimpse the passion that drove this extraordinary man.” Dallaire’s interaction with the RPF was not in the spirit of UN guidelines that called on staff to avoid close ties to individuals, organizations, parties or factions of a conflict.

Included on the trip because he symbolizes Canadian benevolence, Dallaire hasn’t moved away from his aggressive backing for Kagame despite the Globe and Mail reporting on Kagame’s internal repression, global assassination program and proxies occupying the mineral rich Eastern Congo. The recently retired Senator has aligned his depiction of the 1994 Rwandan tragedy to fit the RPF’s simplistic, self-serving, portrayal and Dallaire even lent his name to a public attack against the 2014 BBC documentary Rwanda’s Untold Story. In February the former senator met with the Rwandan dictator in Toronto.

Three weeks ago the ruling party in Burundi released a statement criticizing the Canadian general’s role in Rwanda and his inclusion on Sajjan’s trip. Still, I’ve yet to see any mention of Dallaire’s backing of Kagame or the fact his ally in Kigali has significant interest in the UN mission in Eastern Congo.

Another piece of history that should be part of any debate about a UN deployment to the continent is Canada’s link to the UN force in the Congo, which is an outgrowth of the mid-1990s foreign invasion. In 1996 Rwandan forces marched 1,500 km to topple the regime in Kinshasa and then re-invaded after the Congolese government it installed expelled Rwandan troops. This led to an eight-country war between 1998 and 2003, which left millions dead. Since then Rwanda and its proxies have repeatedly invaded the Eastern Congo.

Kigali justified its 1996 intervention into the Congo as an effort to protect the Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsi) living in Eastern Congo from the Hutus who fled the country when the RPF took power. As many as two million, mostly Hutu, refugees fled the summer 1994 RPF takeover of Rwanda.

The US military increased its assistance to Rwanda in the months leading up to its fall 1996 invasion of Zaire. In The Great African War: Congo and Regional Geopolitics, 1996-2006 Filip Reyntjens explains: “The United States was aware of the intentions of Kagame to attack the refugee camps and probably assisted him in doing so. In addition, they deliberately lied about the number and fate of the refugees remaining in Zaire, in order to avoid the deployment of an international humanitarian force, which could have saved tens of thousands of human lives, but which was resented by Kigali and AFDL [L’Alliance des forces démocratiques pour la libération du Congo, a Rwandan backed rebel force led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila].”

Ottawa played an important part in this sordid affair. In late 1996, Canada led a short-lived UN force into eastern Zaire, meant to bring food and protection to Hutu refugees. The official story is that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien organized a humanitarian mission into eastern Zaire after his wife saw images of exiled Rwandan refugees on CNN. In fact, Washington proposed that Ottawa, with many French speakers at its disposal, lead the UN mission. The US didn’t want pro- Joseph Mobutu Sese Seko France to gain control of the UN force.

On November 9, 1996, the UN Security Council backed a French resolution to establish a multinational force in Eastern Congo. Four days later, French Defence Minister Charles Millon, urged Washington to stop stalling on the force. ‘‘Intervention is urgent and procrastination by some countries is intolerable,’’ Millon said in a radio interview. ‘‘The United States must not drag its feet any longer.’’

Canada’s mission to the Congo was designed to dissipate French pressure and ensure it didn’t take command of a force that could impede Rwanda’s invasion of the Eastern Congo. “The United States and Canada did not really intend to support an international force,” writes Belgian academic Filip Reyntjens. “Operation Restore Silence” was how Oxfam’s emergencies director Nick Stockton sarcastically described the mission. He says the Anglosphere countries “managed the magical disappearance” of half a million refugees in eastern Zaire. In a bid to justify the non-deployment of the UN force, Canadian Defence Minister Doug Young claimed over 700,000 refugees had returned to Rwanda. A December 8 article in Québec City’s Le Soleil pointed out that this was “the highest estimated number of returnees since the October insurrection in Zaire.”

The RPF dismantled infrastructure and massacred thousands of civilians in the Hutu refugee camps, prompting some 300,000 to flee westward on foot from refugee camp to refugee camp. Dying to Live by Pierre-Claver Ndacyayisenga describes a harrowing personal ordeal of being chased across the Congo by the RPF and its allies.

Ultimately, most of the Canadian-led UN force was not deployed since peacekeepers would have slowed down or prevented Rwanda, Uganda and its allies from triumphing. But, the initial batch of Canadian soldiers deployed to the staging ground in Uganda left much of the equipment they brought along. In Le Canada dans les guerres en Afrique centrale: génocides et pillages des ressources minières du Congo par le Rwanda interposé (Canada in the wars in Central Africa: genocide and looting of the mineral resources of the Congo by Rwanda interposed) Patrick Mbeko suggests the Ugandan Army put the equipment to use in the Congo.

Prior to deploying the Canadian-led multinational force, Commander General Maurice Baril met with officials in Kigali as well as the Director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. Hinting at who was in the driver’s seat, the New York Times reported that Baril “cancelled a meeting with United Nations officials and flew instead to Washington for talks.” In deference to the Rwandan-backed forces, Baril said he would only deploy UN troops with the rebels’ permission. ‘‘Anything that I do I will coordinate with the one who is tactically holding the ground,’’ Baril noted.

Much to Joseph Mobutu’s dismay, Baril met rebel leader Laurent Kabila who was at that time shunned by most of the international community. The meeting took place in a ransacked mansion that had belonged to Zaire’s president and as part of the visit Kabila took Baril on a tour of the area surrounding Goma city. Baril justified the meeting, asserting: “I had to reassure the government of Canada that the situation had changed and we could go home.”

The book Nous étions invincibles, the personal account of Canadian special forces commando Denis Morrisset, provides a harrowing account of the Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) operation to bring Baril to meet Kabila. The convoy came under attack and was only bailed out when US Apache and Blackhawk helicopters retaliated. Some thirty Congolese were killed by a combination of helicopter and JTF2 fire.

Despite the bizarre, unsavory, history outlined above, Canada’s short-lived 1996 UN force to the Congo is little known. The same can largely be said about Dallaire (and Ottawa’s) support for the RPF during the mid-90s UN mission in Rwanda or Canada’s role in the UN force that helped kill Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba.

Widespread ignorance of Canada’s chequered UN history in Africa reflects a political culture that gives politicians immense latitude to pursue self-serving policies, present them as altruistic and face few questions. Unless progressives upend this culture the loud expressions of Canadian benevolence are unlikely to align with reality.

[Yves Engler’s latest book is ?Canada in Africa: 300 years of Aid and Exploitation.]

Uganda: A Brilliant Genocide

Counterpunch

by Ann Garrison

abg-poster-september-fest-deets

One hundred million people around the world watched the viral video “Kony 2012.” Its evangelical Christian producers’ mission was to proselytize for the use of U.S. Special Forces to help Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni hunt down warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).  Despite huge support from the U.S. political establishment and various celebrities, the producers were finally guffawed off the world stage after the video’s release. One of the best parodies was the Artist Taxi Driver’s “You say get Kony I say get Tony #kony2012 #tonyblair2012.”

Nevertheless, more U.S. troops went to Uganda in 2012, reportedly as advisors to the Ugandan army, a longstanding U.S. proxy force. More have gone since, and U.S. and Ugandan troops have set up outposts in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all in the name of fighting the infamous Kony, whom “Kony 2012” likened to Osama bin Laden. Despite all that, Kony’s still free – if he’s still alive. The idea that a modern army, with the most advanced weaponry, intelligence, and surveillance tech, has not been able to find him and his spent force of jungle fighters is preposterous. As Dr. Vincent Magombe said in Ebony Butler’s new documentary film, “A Brilliant Genocide”:  “America is part of the problem of Africa right now. The Americans know very well that Kony is not the problem. Where the oil wells are, the American troops are there and the government in power. It doesn’t matter whether that government is Museveni killing his own people. It’s not democratic, but he is a friend.”

A Brilliant Genocide” tells the story of the Acholi Genocide that President Yoweri Museveni and his army committed against the Acholi people during their 20 year war and occupation of the Acholi homeland in northern Uganda, from 1986 to 2006.  Museveni waged that war in the name of fighting Kony and claimed to be protecting the Acholi, not destroying them. The U.S. turned a blind eye and continued to build up its Ugandan proxy force. “Despite this appalling and shocking human rights abuse,” Ugandan American publisher Milton Allimadi says in the film, “the Ugandan military machine continued to be financed without any interruption from the United States.”

Museveni’s troops eventually drove nearly two million Acholi people, 90% of the population, into concentration camps to, he said, protect them from Kony and the LRA. The camp living quarters were traditional mud huts with thatched roofs, but they were tightly clustered together in a way that was not traditional at all. The Museveni government then failed to provide food, water, sanitation, or health care. In 2005, the World Health Organization reported that 1000 Acholi were dying every week of violence and disease – above all malaria and AIDS. That was, they reported, 1000 beyond normal mortality rates.

This huge and lengthy displacement caused more death and destruction than the war itself. All the elements of Acholi society – farming, education, gender relations, and family life – were broken. In the camps, the previously self-sufficient Acholi became completely dependent on the UN World Food Program.

Ugandan soldiers raped both men and women, spreading HIV in the camps, but President George Bush lauded President Yoweri Museveni for his success at HIV prevention.  Anyone who has been concerned by all the Western press about Uganda’s homophobia and its Anti-Homosexuality Act should see both “A Brilliant Genocide” and “Gender Against Men” to understand how much more complex the country’s attitudes towards same gender sexual relations – including rape – really are.

The camps were finally disbanded in 2012 and the surviving Acholi returned to their land, but now they are facing land grabs, including those by Museveni and his partner in mechanized agriculture.

What did the U.S. gain by ignoring the Acholi Genocide as it built the Ugandan army into a proxy force? 

In 1990, as the genocide continued in Northern Uganda, a battalion of the Ugandan army led by General Paul Kagame invaded Rwanda. After a four-year war and the assassination of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents, Kagame’s army overthrew the Rwandan government and established a de facto Tutsi dictatorship, which falsely claims to have ended competition between the Hutu and Tutsi populations. The last 100 days of that war included the massacres that came to be known as the Rwandan Genocide, which most of the world knows as the oversimplified, decontextualized story told in the movie “Hotel Rwanda.”

This radically mis-told story of the Rwandan Genocide has since become a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. We’re forever told that we have to start another war to stop genocide and mass atrocities or – in shorthand – to stop “the next Rwanda,” as in Libya, Syria, and more recently, Burundi, and whatever unlucky nation may be next. Few have heard of the Acholi Genocide because it exposes the shameless U.S. foreign policy of supporting and enabling dictator Yoweri Museveni ever since he came to power in 1986. We’re never told that we have to stop “the next Acholi Genocide” or “the next Uganda.”

Beginning in 1996, Rwanda and Uganda invaded the hugely resource rich Democratic Republic of the Congo, enabled by U.S. weapons, logistics and intelligence. They expelled Congolese President Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 and replaced him with Laurent Kabila. When Laurent Kabila raised an independent head and expelled Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers, Rwanda and Uganda invaded Congo again and replaced him with his more compliant adopted son Joseph Kabila. Today, after the death of millions in the First and Second Congo Wars, Rwanda and Uganda continue to commit atrocities and plunder eastern Congolese resources. Right now 60 people a month are being massacred in Beni Territory, but the world isn’t much more likely to hear about that than about the Acholi Genocide.

Most Westerners are far more likely to have noticed the Western press – and Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – shrieking that there’s another Tutsi genocide pending in Burundi, even though the violence in Burundi is nowhere near as horrific as that in Beni, and many of those assassinated in Burundi have been top officials in the Hutu-led government. The U.S. and its allies want to take down the government of Burundi, so they keep sounding alarms that it’s plotting genocide, that we have to stop another genocide or “the next Rwanda.” They’re not sounding the same alarms about Beni because the elimination of its population would facilitate their longstanding agenda of breaking up the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as they broke up Yugoslavia and South Sudan.

The U.S. has used Ugandan troops to serve its agenda not only in nations bordering Uganda but also in Somalia and elsewhere on the African continent, as coordinated by AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command. It has even used Ugandan troops in its own assaults on Iraq and Afghanistan.

When anyone, including Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, says that we have to invade another sovereign nation to stop genocide and mass atrocities, they should be reminded of the horrendous Acholi Genocide that the U.S. enabled, or of the massacres going on in Beni Territory, Democratic Republic of the Congo, right now. These are only two examples of mass atrocities that the U.S. has committed or facilitated because they or their perpetrators, like Museveni, serve U.S. interests.

RT will air “A Brilliant Genocide” on October 1st.

 

[Ann Garrison is an independent journalist who also contributes to the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, the Black Agenda Report and the Black Star News, and produces radio for KPFA-Berkeley and WBAI-New York City.  In 2014, she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize by the Womens International Network for Democracy and Peace.  She can be reached at ann@afrobeatradio.com.]

Unworthy Victims: Houthis in Yemen and Hutus in Burundi

Black Agenda Report

August 30, 2016

by Ann Garrison

 

Garrison_HutuHouthis

The U.S. reserves for itself the right to decide which nations and peoples are worthy to exist. Washington gives thumbs down to Hutus, who make up the vast majority in Burundi and Rwanda, and condemns the Houthis, a significant part of Yemen’s population. “The U.S. and its allies have deemed the Tutsis to be ‘worthy victims,’ the Hutus ‘unworthy victims.’” The same goes for Houthis targeted for death by the Saudis.

***

avaaz burundi

Above: Burundi is the latest target in the many “Avaaz” destabilization campaigns: “Burundi: before it’s too late

“If there is an outbreak of violence between Hutus and Tutsis in Burundi, the U.S. will bear huge responsibility.”

Last week the U.S. helped its Saudi pals bomb another hospital and school in Yemen, killing 25, including at least 10 children. Don’t imagine that its intentions are any more humanitarian in? Burundi? just because they’re not selling fighter bomber jets, MK-84 laser guided bombs or GBU-31 satellite-guided bombs to their pal Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president for life. Kagame is intent on bringing down President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government in Burundi, as Saudi sheikhs are intent on bringing down the Houthi government in Yemen.

There are no multibillion dollar weapons sales motivating the U.S. to support a coup in Burundi, but access to the strategic mineral wealth required to manufacture weapons is among the stakes. Burundi has nickel, gold, copper, uranium, tungsten, tin, peat, platinum, limestone, vanadium, tantalum, niobium, kaolin and cobalt. Though its output has not yet been globally significant, its government has contracted with a Russian firm to mine its nickel reserves, and Bloomberg today quotes a Chinese source predicting a bull market in nickel just beginning. Nickel is used to make stainless steal, and nickel alloys are used in electronics, specialist engineering, space vehicles, submarines and the tubing used in desalination plants for converting sea water into fresh water. I haven’t seen Burundi’s mining contract with the Russian firm, but I’ve been told that the Russians valued the country’s nickel reserves far higher than Western firms and offered a much better deal.

More importantly, Burundi shares a western border with the scandalously mineral rich eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and an eastern border with Tanzania, an East African nation with an Indian Ocean port that is also leaning towards the East in the heightening competition between Eastern and Western axes of power.

If the U.S. and Rwanda succeed in taking down the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza, we won’t see video of hair-raising Pentagon special effects. Instead we’ll hear more preposterous rhetoric about the world’s obligation to “intervene,” ignoring Burundi’s’ sovereignty, to “stop genocide” or “stop the next Rwanda.” This argument has also been used to justify war in Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria and even Iraq, where genetic damage caused by toxic U.S. munitions is the most literal genocide the world has yet seen.

I’ve been told that the Russians valued the country’s nickel reserves far higher than Western firms and offered a much better deal.”

The “stop the next Rwanda” argument is more easily made in Burundi because Rwandans and Burundians are close to being the same people. They share both a border and a Hutu majority, Tutsi minority demographic. Their languages, Burundi’s Kirundi and Rwanda’s Kinyarwanda, vary only slightly.

This recently shrill warning from the UN and the Voice of America — UN: Violence, Hatred Against Burundi Tutsis Could Presage Genocide — is one more in a steady stream published in the U.S. and European press since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s re-election in July 2015. In a nation in which these two groups, Hutus and Tutsis, have been historically polarized and have massacred one another in competitions for power, this is akin to shouting fire in a crowded theatre. If there is an outbreak of violence between Hutus and Tutsis in Burundi, the U.S. will bear huge responsibility as it did for the Rwandan war of 1990 to 1994, which ended in horrific massacres of both groups as U.S. ally Paul Kagame seized power.

Here’s some context that you won’t find in the Western propaganda about Burundi during the past year:

1)  Some, most notably Rwandan scholar Léopold Munyakazi, have argued that Hutus and Tutsis are best understood as social classes, not ethnic groups, and the Rwandan war of the 1990s as a class war, not a genocide. Hutus and Tutsis share the same language and culture, eat the same food, and marry each other, and the vast majority are Christian. The Tutsis were a pre-colonial ruling class, the Hutus their peasant subjects, until the Hutus rose up in 1959, in what is sometime called the Rwandan Revolution, sometimes the Hutu Revolution. By 1961 Rwanda had transitioned from a Belgian colony led by a Tutsi monarchy to an independent nation led by elected Hutu politicians and intellectuals.

2) In 1990, U.S.-backed Tutsi general Paul Kagame led a refugee army that invaded Rwanda from Uganda to seize power, re-establish a de facto Tutsi dictatorship, and establish the U.S. as the dominant power in Rwanda, displacing France. The U.S., Europe and Israel have long found it convenient to favor the Tutsis and depict them as the endangered minority without acknowledging that Hutus suffered for centuries under the Tutsi ruling class or that Hutus as well as Tutsis were massacred by extremists in what came to be known as the Rwandan Genocide. In Rwanda and Burundi, the U.S. and its allies have deemed the Tutsis to be “worthy victims,” the Hutus “unworthy victims,” in the parlance of Professor Edward S. Herman, co-author with David Peterson of The Politics of Genocide and Enduring Lies: Rwanda in the Propaganda System 20 Years On.

“The Tutsis were a pre-colonial ruling class, the Hutus their peasant subjects, until the Hutus rose up in 1959, in what is sometime called the Rwandan Revolution, sometimes the Hutu Revolution.”

3) On October 21, 1993, violence and massacres broke out in Burundi after elites in the Tutsi army assassinated the first Hutu president, political intellectual Melchior Ndadaye. Hundreds of thousands of Burundians, mostly Hutus, were slain, largely because the Tutsi elite still controlled the army. A civil war began and didn’t end until 2005. President Pierre Nkurunziza is a Hutu, but Hutus and Tutsis have been integrated in both the government and the army, with the Tutsis enjoying larger percentages because they are perceived, as the minority, to be in greater need of representation.

4) On April 6, 1994, the 100 days of violence known as the “Rwandan Genocide” or, in Rwanda, “genocide against the Tutsi,” began immediately after the assassination of two more Hutu presidents, Rwanda’s Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi’s Cyprien Ntaryamira. Their plane was shot out of the sky over Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, as they returned from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, but this assassination of two African presidents was never investigated by the highly politicized International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, which prosecuted only Hutus. Susan Thomson, a scholar of Rwandan history and politics and persona non grata in Rwanda, has described what followed in a video interview for a documentary film in progress: “There were pogroms, there were massacres on both sides, disinformation on all sides. At the elite level, as you go down the food chain, people are scared. Regardless of ethnicity, regardless of region, religion, whatever cleavage you want to choose, Rwandans were caught up in the violence. So it’s absurd to say that only Tutsis are victims.”

Now, to repeat two points about the assassination of three presidents: On October 3, 1993, massacres and then civil war broke out in Burundi after the assassination of the country’s first Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye. On April 6, 1994, Rwanda’s famous hundred days of massacres broke out after the assassination of two more Hutu presidents, Rwanda’s Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi’s Cyprien Ntaryamira. Therefore, if the U.S. were really trying to prevent genocide in Burundi, wouldn’t they be trying to prevent the assassination of another Hutu president, Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza?  Rwandans and Burundians who understand this history know that Nkurunziza’s assassination would be a catastrophe and know that U.S.-backed insurgents would like to assassinate him, whether the U.S. approved such a plan or not. The months since Nkurunziza’s re-election in July 2015 have been punctuated by the assassination of upper-level army commanders and government officials close to him.

In the third week of November 2015, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported that “Burundian insurgents” had fired mortar rounds at the presidential palace in Burundi’s capital city, Bujumbura. Near the same time, I spoke to former UN official Jeff Drumtra about his documentation of Rwanda’s recruitment of Burundian refugees to form a new rebel army to destabilize Burundi. I also asked him about the mortar rounds fired at the presidential palace, to which he responded, “I can say, having worked on issues of Rwanda and Burundi on and off for more than 20 years, that we know, historically, that the violence gets worse and the risk of mass atrocities becomes much more serious when both sides feel that they have been victimized. And so, a mortar attack on the presidential palace . . . if it were to hit its mark and actually create a large number of deaths, or even the death of a president . . . would certainly create a situation where the ruling party and everyone who voted for the ruling party in Burundi would feel victimized at a whole new level. And if something like that were to happen, that’s when, historically, violence in Burundi becomes much worse, and that’s what everybody fears here.”

I then contacted the U.S. State Department and asked whether they were not alarmed by AFP’s report of mortar fire aimed at the presidential palace, considering that the massacres of the 1990s in both Rwanda and Burundi had broken out after the assassination of Hutu presidents.

“In Rwanda and Burundi, the dominant narrative has long been that Tutsis are the victims or potential victims to be protected from the Hutus.”

State took the question quite casually and responded that they had submitted a query on my behalf to their Ambassador in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, and they’d get back to me when he responded. They never did, and that should be the end of any fantasies that the U.S. is trying to stop genocide in Burundi. The State Department is usually helpful when a question doesn’t threaten their dominant narrative. In Rwanda and Burundi, that dominant narrative has long been that Tutsis are the victims or potential victims to be protected from the Hutus. Hutus are the perpetrators to be tried at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, imprisoned, hunted down in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and demonized as subhuman killers driven by innate bloodlust and singular determination to kill Tutsis. That narrative is repeated endlessly by Western media, as in this 02.19.2002 Guardian report, “Pastor who led Tutsis to slaughter is jailed.” Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark represented the pastor, Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda and called his conviction “a travesty of justice.”

Like the Houthis in Yemen, the Hutus have been deemed unworthy victims by the U.S. State Department, though for centuries they were the oppressed class in what is now Rwanda and Burundi, and though hundreds of thousands of them, perhaps as many as a million, have been massacred in the horrific violence of the last 50 years in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Like most Burundians and Rwandans that I know — Hutus and Tutsis — I would love to see this virulent bigotry land in the dustbin of history along with the “Hutu” and “Tutsi” distinctions that have alienated people in this part of the world from one another, but that will not happen so long as the West gives singular victim status to the Tutsis and demonizes the Hutus in its humanitarian interventionist ideology.

[Ann Garrison is a writer living in Oakland, California. John Bannister is a writer living in Alameda, California.]

 

Western Aggression: The Highest Form of Terrorism

Image: Mark Gould

Aggression is arguably the highest form of terrorism as it invariably includes the frightening of the target populations and their leaders as well as killing and destruction on a large scale.. The U.S. invaders of Iraq in 2003 proudly announced a “shock and awe” purpose in their opening assault, clearly designed to instill fear; that is, to terrorize the victim population along with the target security forces. And millions of Iraqis suffered in this massive enterprise. Benjamin Netanyahu himself defined terrorism as “the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends.” This would seem to make both the Iraq war (2003 onward) and the serial Israeli wars on Gaza (2008-2009; 2012; 2014) cases of serious terrorism.

How do the responsible U.S. and Israeli leaders escape this designation? One trick is the disclaiming of any “deliberateness” in the killing of civilians. It is “collateral damage” in the pursuit of proper targets (Iraqi soldiers, Hamas, etc.). This is a factual lie, as there is overwhelming evidence that in both the Iraq and Gaza wars the killing of civilians was on a large scale and often not comprehensible in terms of genuine military objectives. (I give many illustrations in “They kill reporters, don’t they?” Yes–as Part of a System of Information Control That Will Allow the Mass Killing of Civilians, Z Magazine, December 2004. That this goes back a long way is well documented in Nick Turse’s Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, Metropolitan, 2014).

But even if the killings were only collateral damage, the regular failure to avoid killing civilians, including a built-in carelessness and/or reliance on undependable sources of information, is both a war crime and terrorism. Recall that the Geneva Conventions state that combatants “shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and, accordingly, shall direct their operations only against military objectives” (Part IV, Chap. 1, Article 48). Also, if civilian casualties are extremely likely in bombing attacks against purported military targets, even if the specific civilians killed were not intended victims, their deaths—some deaths—were predictable, hence in an important sense deliberate. Michael Mandel, while dismantling the claim of non-deliberateness in the usual collateral damage killing of civilians, points out that even in Texas a man who shoots someone dead while aiming at somebody else is guilty of murder.1

A second line of defense of U.S. and Israeli killing of civilians, only occasionally made explicit, is that the civilians killed are helping out the enemy armed forces–they are the sea in which the terrorist fish swim—so this makes them legitimate targets. This opens up vast possibilities for ruthless attacks and the mass killing of civilians, notorious in the Vietnam war, but also applicable in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza. Civilian killings are sometimes admitted to be an objective by official sources, but not often, and the subject is not focused on by the mainstream media. This rationale may placate the home population but it does not satisfy international law or widely held moral rules.

The same is true of the retaliation defense. The United States and Israel are always allegedly retaliating for prior aggressive acts of their targets. Deadly actions by the target military or their supporters, even if they clearly follow some deadly action by the United States or Israel, are never deemed retaliatory and thus justifiable. It has long been a claimed feature of the Israeli ethnic cleansing project that Israel only retaliates, the Palestinians provoke and virtually compel an Israeli response. In fact, the Israelis have long taken advantage of this bias in Western reporting at strategic moments by attacking just enough to induce a Palestinian response, that justifies a larger scale “retaliatory” action by Israel.

Of course, all of these tricks work only because an array of Western institutions, including but not confined to the media, follow the demands of Western (and mainly U.S.) interests. For example, although the Nuremberg judgment against the Nazis features aggression as “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole,” because the United States is virtually in the full-time business of committing aggression (attacking across borders without Security Council approval), the UN and “international community” (i.e., Western and even many non-Western leaders, not publics) do nothing when the United States engages in aggression. The brazen 2003 invasion of Iraq called forth no UN condemnation or sanctions against the U.S.aggression, and the UN quickly began to cooperate with the invader-occupiers. The word aggression is rarely applied to that massive and hugely destructive attack either in the media or learned discourse, but it is applied with regularity to the Russian occupation of Crimea which entailed no casualties and could be regarded as a defensive response to the U.S.-sponsored February 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine. The U.S. invasion of Iraq was surely not defensive, and was rationalized at the time on the basis of what were eventually acknowledged to be plain lies. (For an exception to the establishment’s villainization of Russia in the Ukraine conflict.2 )

Perhaps the most murderous aggression and ultra-terrorism of the last 40 years, involving millions of civilian deaths, has been the Rwanda-Uganda invasion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), beginning in 1996 and still ongoing. But the invasion’s leaders, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni, were (and still are) U.S. clients, hence they have been subject to no international tribunal nor threat from the Security Council or International Criminal Court, and there has been no media featuring of the vast crimes carried out in this area. You have to be a U.S. target to get that kind of attention, as with Iran, Syria and Russia.

These rules also apply to the major human rights groups. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have a rule that they will not focus on the origins of a conflict but will attend only to how the conflict is carried out. This is wonderfully convenient to a country that commits aggression on a regular basis, but it flies in the face of logic or the UN Charter’s foundational idea that aggression is the supreme international crime that the world must prevent and punish. Thus, neither HRW nor AI condemned the United States for invading Iraq or bombing Serbia but confined their attention to the war crimes of both the aggressor and target — mainly the target. HRW is especially notorious for its huge bias in featuring the war crimes of U.S. targets, underplaying the criminality of the aggressor, and calling for international action against the victim (see Herman, Peterson and Szamuely, “Human Rights Watch in the Service of the War Party,” Electric Politics, February 26, 2007.). During the period leading up to the U.S.-UK attack on Iraq, HRW head Kenneth Roth had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Indict Saddam” (March 22, 2002). Thus beyond failing to oppose the imminent war of aggression, this human rights group leader was providing a public relations cover for the “supreme international crime.” His organization also failed to report on and condemn the “sanctions of mass destruction” against Iraq that had devastating health effects on Iraqi civilians, accounting for hundreds of thousands of deaths. For HRW these were “unworthy victims.”

In the case of the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s invasion and massacres of 1990-1994, HRW and its associates (notably Alison Des Forges) played an important role in focusing on and condemning the defensive responses of the Rwanda government to the military and subversive advances of the U.S.-supported invading army of Tutsi from Uganda, thereby making a positive contribution to the mass killings in Rwanda and later in the DRC.3

Similarly the ad hoc international tribunals established in the last several decades have always been designed to exclude aggression and to focus on war crimes and “genocide.” And they are directed at U.S. targets (Serbia, the Hutu of Rwanda) who are actually the victims of aggression, who are then subjected to a quasi-judicial process that is fraudulent and a perversion of justice.4  The International Criminal Court (ICC) was also organized with “aggression” excluded from its remit, in deference to the demands of the Great Aggressor, who still refused to join because there remained the theoretical possibility that a U.S. citizen might be brought before the court! The ICC still made itself useful to the Great Aggressor by indicting Gaddafi in preparation for the U.S.-NATO war of aggression against Libya.

In short, terrorism thrives. That is, state terrorism, as in the serial U.S. wars—direct, joint and proxy–against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Syria and the still more wide-ranging drone assassination attacks. In the devastating wars in the DRC by Kagame and Museveni. And in Israel’s wars on Gaza and Lebanon and ordinary pacification efforts in Gaza and the West Bank. And in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen and Turkey’s proxy war in Syria and war against the Kurds.

All of these wars have evoked mainly retail terrorist responses to the invading, bombing, and occupying forces of the United States and its allies, responses that have been shocking and deadly, but on a much smaller scale than the state terrorism that has evoked them. But in the Western propaganda systems it is only the responsive terrorism that surprises and angers politicians, pundits and the public and is called “terrorism.” There is no recognition of the true flow of initiating violence and response, no recognition of the fact that the “global war on terrorism” is really a “global war OF terrorism.” The propaganda system is, in fact, a constituent of the permanent war system, hence a reliable supporter of wholesale terrorism.

 

• First published in Z Magazine, February 2016

 

  1. How America Gets Away With Murder, Pluto, 2004, 46-56 [?]
  2. John Mearsheimer, “The Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault,” Foreign Affairs, September-October, 2014 [?]
  3. Herman and Peterson, Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System, 20 Years Later, Real News Books, 2014, 66-70. [?]
  4. On the Yugoslavia tribunal, see John Laughland, Travesty, Pluto, 2007; on Rwanda, Sebastien Chartrand and John Philpot, Justice Belied: The Unbalanced Scale of International Criminal Justice, Baraka Books, 2014. [?]

 

[Edward S. Herman is an economist and media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy and the media.]

Rwanda, the Enduring Lies: A Project Censored Interview with Professor Ed Herman

Project Censored | Global Research

January 1, 2016

By Ann Garrison and Prof. Ed Herman

This is the transcript of an interview broadcast on the Pacifica Radio Network’s Project Censored Show on KPFA Jan. 1, 2016, and on other Pacifica stations during the following week, with guest host Ann Garrison.

PODCAST

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Project Censored/Ann Garrison: Happy New Year, and welcome to the Project Censored show. Thanks to Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff for inviting me, Ann Garrison, to guest host.

Today we’re going to talk about regime change engineered by the U.S. government and its allies in East and Central Africa. We’re going to talk about Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the 1990s and Burundi today, where we’re still hoping for a better outcome.

‘Enduring Lies’ coverAerial bombing campaigns make U.S. wars for regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria highly visible and absolutely undeniable, but the corporate and state press don’t describe U.S. sponsored wars in Africa as such if they talk about them at all. Millions of African people have nevertheless lost their lives or seen their lives destroyed in U.S. sponsored wars for regime change and natural resources in Africa.

For more than a year now, Western policymakers and press have warned of a genocide in Burundi like that in Rwanda in 1994, and called for a so-called humanitarian intervention to override Burundi’s national sovereignty and replace President Pierre Nkurunziza with a president more to their liking. They tell us that they’re campaigning to stop genocide and mass atrocities, or often, for short, “to stop the next Rwanda,” which is what they told us when they took us to war in Libya and Syria.

One of the founding documents of humanitarian interventionist ideology is our U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power’s “Bystanders to Genocide,” an essay decrying America’s failure to stop the Rwandan Genocide, which she expanded into her book, “The Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide.”

Here with me to talk about this is University of Pennsylvania Emeritus Professor of Finance Edward S. Herman, co-author, with Noam Chomsky, of the classic “Manufacturing Consent.” Herman is also the co-author of “The Politics of Genocide” and “Enduring Lies: Rwanda in the Propaganda System 20 Years Later,” with researcher and writer David Peterson.

We’re going to talk about the enduring lies about Rwanda, which “humanitarian” interventionists now repeat as they pursue regime change in Burundi.

Welcome, Professor Ed Herman.

Ed Herman: I’m happy to be with you.

AG: Professor Herman, could you start by telling us why you and David Peterson describe the enduring lies about what really happened in Rwanda as the greatest success of the propaganda system in the past two decades?

EH: In this book, Ann, we describe the fact that Paul Kagame, the leader of Rwanda, has killed more than five times as many people as Idi Amin. He invaded Rwanda in 1990 and carried out a war of conquest there that ended sometime in 1994. He invaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1996 and went in and out of that country for years, killing what the U.N. itself admitted was probably more than 4 million people.

He runs a dictatorship in Rwanda, where he gets 93 percent of the vote in a country where 90 percent of the people are Hutu who consider him to be a conqueror, a terrorist leader. And yet he’s considered, in the West, to be a hero, a savior.

In The New Yorker, he was described as the Abraham Lincoln of Africa. For a man who has outdone Idi Amin, I think this is miraculous.

The only way we can explain it is that he serves the ends of the United States, but it’s still a miracle that a man with that record can, in the free press of the United States, be considered a noble spirit.

A Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) soldier walks by the the site in the capital city Kigali of the April 6, 1994, plane crash that killed Rwanda's President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi's President Cyprien Ntaryamirain in this May 23, 1994, photo. - Photo: Jean Marc Boujou, AP

In the capital city Kigali, a Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) soldier walks by the site of the April 6, 1994, plane crash that killed Rwanda’s President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi’s President Cyprien Ntaryamirain in this May 23, 1994, photo. – Photo: Jean Marc Boujou, AP

AG: In other words, everything we’ve been told is wrong. And I can add that the enduring lies are so successful that that includes much of what’s been broadcast here on Pacifica Radio and published in any number of left liberal outlets. Any attempt to edit the Wikipedia entry on the Rwandan Genocide triggers so many edit alerts that it starts a Wiki editing war until the Wikipedia authorities declare a ceasefire with no changes made. That Wikipedia entry is all but written in stone.

Now, can we just go through the chapter headings in your book, each of which addresses one of the enduring lies?

EH: Yes, let’s do that.

AG: Since you’ve already given us some background and context, let’s start with Chapter Two: “The RPF invasion and low-level aggressive war that never was a ‘civil war.” People who know the story of the Rwandan Genocide only through the movie “Hotel Rwanda” are likely to think that it was an explosion of tribal bloodletting that began and ended in 100 days’ time in 1994.

Those who know that it was actually the final 100 days of a four-year war are likely to believe that it was the end of the Rwandan Civil War. There is an entry in the Wikipedia on the Rwandan Civil War. Why is this an enduring lie?

EH: Well, there was no major ethnic conflict in Rwanda back in late 1990. What happened in October 1990 was an invasion of armed forces from Uganda. This was a group of Tutsi, several thousand Tutsi soldiers, who were part of the Ugandan army.

They entered, they pushed several hundred thousand Hutu farmers out of their homes in northern Rwanda, and they were pushed back, but they kept coming. And the United States and its allies gave them assistance.

They pressed the Rwandan government to sign an Arusha agreement in 1993, which gave Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and its army a lot of power in Rwanda. But it also provided for an election to be held about 22 months after the agreement was signed, and the RPF could not have won that election. So they made sure they didn’t have to win that election, Instead, they resumed the war on April 6, 1994, and by July 1994, they had conquered Rwanda.

So the whole period from October 1990 to, say, July 1994 was a period in which the RPF was engaged in subversion and readying itself for a final war of conquest. So it was a war. I would say this was a war.

AG: OK, now let’s consider Chapter Three: “‘Hutu Power extremists’ did not shoot down Habyarimana’s Falcon 50 jet.” Juvenal Habyarimana was the president of Rwanda from 1973 until he was assassinated in 1994, a little more than a year before these elections were supposed to happen.

He was a Hutu, a member of Rwanda’s Hutu majority who had overcome centuries of Tutsi subjugation with independence in 1960. He died while returning home, along with Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, also a Hutu, when his plane was shot out of the sky above Rwanda’s capital Kigali.

After four years of war and massacres, which had driven a million Rwandans to the outskirts of Kigali, where they were camped as internal refugees, this convinced the Hutu population that the Tutsi army was coming to kill or subjugate them all again, and some Hutu began to kill Tutsi. Now, the Rwandan government narrative is that Hutu extremists assassinated Habyarimana because he might have blocked their genocidal plans. What’s the truth?

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania

Image: The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania

EH: There’s no evidence of these genocidal plans, and the Hutu would have won the upcoming election.  The election was foreclosed by the assassination and conquest by Kagame.

But we don’t have to speculate about this. The Rwanda tribunal actually carried out an investigation of who shot the plane down back in 1996 and 1997.  They appointed a 20-man group to carry out this study. These investigators hired by the tribunal  came up with a report in 1996, based on what they thought to be credible witness testimony by members of the RPF, that Kagame had planned the assassinwhen the tribunal found that theation and carried it out.

When this report was presented to the prosecutor of the tribunal, she consulted the United States and then canceled the investigation. And, from 1996 to the present, although the shoot-down of this plane is widely thought to be the event that triggered the genocide, the tribunal hasn’t looked into it and the U.N. hasn’t looked into it beyond that.

These investigators hired by the Rwanda tribunal produced a report, in 1996, based on what they thought was credible witness testimony by members of the RPF, that Kagame had planned the assassination and carried it out. When this report was presented to the prosecutor of the tribunal, she consulted the United States and then canceled the investigation.

There’s lots of other evidence that the shoot down was carried out by Kagame, and it was logical too because he couldn’t win an election. So, to attain power by conquest, he shot the plane down.

And another point that shows that he was the villain in the case is that when the plane was shot down on April 6, 1994, his forces were ready and were in action within two hours of the shoot down, whereas the alleged plotters were completely bamboozled and confused and put up almost no resistance. So anyway, the evidence is compelling that the shoot-down was carried out by Kagame, and it’s logical. But most critically, it’s a proven fact.

AG: And even, whether you believe the evidence or not, Paul Kagame and his forces were the only ones who stood to gain by Habyarimana’s assassination and what happened afterwards, right? Otherwise they would have lost to Habyarimana and his party in the next year’s election.

EH: Yes, he’s the only gainer from it.

AG: OK, let’s move on to Chapter Four: “Rwandan genocide by the numbers.” When Professor Allan Stam wrote to a U.N. official to ask how he estimated that the dead in Rwanda were 500,000, the U.N. official responded that he couldn’t quite remember, but they knew they needed a really big number.

The numbers that eventually came to be most widely accepted were that 800,000 to 1,000,000 Tutsi and a few Hutu moderates who tried to protect them died at the hands of Hutu extremists. Why is this impossible?

When Kagame arrived to speak at Oklahoma Christian University on April 30, 2010, he was met by protesters, including Rwandan American Claude Gatebuke. – Photo: Kendall Brown

When Kagame arrived to speak at Oklahoma Christian University on April 30, 2010, he was met by protesters, including Rwandan American Claude Gatebuke. – Photo: Kendall Brown

EH: It’s impossible because the number of Tutsi in Rwanda, back in 1994, was way under 800,000. In fact, the best figure one could come up with in those early years was based on the census, the Rwandan census of 1991, which gave the Tutsi numbers at about 590,000.

So if all of them were wiped out, it wouldn’t come anywhere near 800,000. But all of them weren’t wiped out. After the war, the best estimate, which was by a Tutsi survivors’ group, was that there were 400,000 Tutsi still there.

So let’s say there were 600,000 beforehand and afterwards there were 400,000, that means 200,000 dead Tutsi. If there were 800,000 killed and 200,000 of them were Tutsi, 600,000 of them must have been Hutu.

If it was a million, 800,000 of them must have been Hutu. And it’s completely logical that the Hutu were the greatest victims by number, because this was an invasion by a Tutsi army.

If a million Rwandans were killed in 1994, 800,000 of them must have been Hutu. And it’s completely logical that the Hutu were the greatest victims by number, because this was an invasion by a Tutsi army.

I conclude, as do Christian Davenport and Allan Stam, who did a very careful study of the killings in 1994, that many more Hutu were killed than Tutsi. And my estimate would be that it was between a 2 to 1 and 5 to 1 ratio, probably more like 4 to 1. That’s my best point estimate.

AG: OK, and because this is a very sensitive subject, I want to add that this was a tragedy for everyone in Rwanda. Hutus and Tutsis died.

Now let’s move on to Chapter Five, “The West’s alleged ‘failure to intervene.’” The story of the West’s failure to intervene to stop the Rwandan genocide has become the starting point of all the campaigns to go to war to “stop the next Rwanda.” What’s wrong with this story?

EH: What’s wrong with it is that the West was intervening from the very beginning. The West supported Kagame’s invasion in 1990. He was trained at Fort Leavenworth. And the United States and Britain pressed the Rwandan government to allow the RPF to penetrate and bring armed forces into Rwanda.

Just before the shoot down of the plane on April 6, 1994, the United States caused the U.N. to withdraw some of its troops. That was an intervention.

After the shoot down and the mass killings really started, the government of Rwanda called repeatedly for a ceasefire repeatedly, but Kagame did not want it because he knew he could win. And therefore the United States did not support any ceasefire and it recognized Kagame’s government after three more months of war.

It’s absolutely untrue that the West failed to intervene. They did intervene, but they intervened to support the man who was engaging in this war of conquest in Rwanda.

AG: I think that really needs emphasis. People have been led to believe that the massacres began and Paul Kagame and his army moved to stop them. What actually happened was that the massacres began and Paul Kagame resumed the war to win, at all costs.

EH: Yes, that’s true. In fact one could say that all the dead people were collateral damage. The aim of the United States was to support Kagame’s takeover, and if vast numbers of people were killed, it was a cost that we were prepared to accept.

But it doesn’t look good, so we have to say that we failed to intervene; we failed to stop it. Well, in fact, we not only failed to stop it, we actually supported the mass killing.

AG: Yes, Professor Allan Stam has reported that the Pentagon estimated collateral damage of 250,000 people, a quarter of a million. It turned out to be closer to a million.

EH: I can believe it.

AG: Those are some pretty grim numbers. The Pentagon, according to Professor Allan Stam, estimated that the collateral damage for putting our guy Kagame in power in Rwanda would be 250,000 Rwandan lives and it turned out to be closer to a million. Let’s take a breath and a musical break and we’ll be back shortly.

Musical interlude: Rwandan gospel music

Kizito Mihigo

Image: Rwandan gospel singer Kizito Mihigo is now serving a 10-year prison sentence in Rwanda.

AG: And that was Rwandan gospel singer Kizito Muhigo, a Rwandan Tutsi who is now serving 10 years in a Rwandan prison for singing those lyrics for both Hutu and Tutsi who died in the Rwandan massacres. The lyrics are:

Even though genocide orphaned me

Let it not make me lose empathy for others

Their lives too were brutally taken

But not qualified as genocide

Those brothers and sisters

They too are humans, I pray for them

They too are humans, I comfort them

They too are humans, I remember them

AG: Now we return to our conversation with Professor Ed Herman, co-author, with David Peterson, of “Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System 20 Years Later.” Chapter Six: “The ICTR delivers victor’s justice.” The International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda is hailed as a great triumph of international justice, mostly in the corporate and state press. What was it in fact?

Rwandan refugee children plead for permission to cross the bridge to Congo, then Zaire, during the 1994 Rwandan massacres. – Photo: AP

Image: Rwandan refugee children plead for permission to cross the bridge to Congo, then Zaire, during the 1994 Rwandan massacres. – Photo: AP

EH: It did deliver victor’s justice. The first part of that statement is therefore correct. That it was a great triumph of international justice is a complete fallacy because victor’s justice is not international justice. Victor’s justice is a kind of revenge and, in fact, the ICTR served as a virtual arm of Kagame and the Rwandan state.

It went after only Hutu, although, as I pointed out a while ago, the majority of killings were killings of Hutu in Rwanda. But of course the RPF could not be brought to trial.

And of course the shoot-down of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane. When the tribunal found that Kagame’s forces were the ones who had shot down Habyarimana’s plane, it canceled any further investigation. That’s victor’s justice and a triumph of international injustice.

AG: They actually fired the prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, who had said that she was going to indict President Kagame for assassinating President Habyarimana.

EH: The prosecutor who dropped the case was Louise Arbour, but Carla Del Ponte actually did try, as you say, to go after some RPF people. She was not allowed to do it. She was fired shortly thereafter. Again, this is true victor’s justice.

AG: OK, Chapter Seven: “The alleged Hutu conspiracy to commit genocide that never was.” The idea that Rwanda’s majority Hutu conspired to wipe out the Tutsi minority is central to the Rwandan government’s official narrative. What’s the truth?

EH: Actually, the belief that there was a conspiracy to commit genocide is swallowed by the ICTR, by Human Rights Watch and many, many commentators. But the tribunal itself, when it had to come to grips with this, couldn’t find any such conspiracy.

They did believe that there was a genocide, and certainly there was mass killing, but a conspiracy to commit genocide would have had to take place before the shoot-down of the plane on April 6, 1994.

And so when high level people in the Hutu government were brought to trial and there was an attempt to find that they actually had a plan, the tribunal couldn’t find it. In this book, we studied 15 top trials where the prosecution attempted to prove a conspiracy to commit genocide, and in all 15 the tribunal found that there was no evidence for a conspiracy.

A Rwandan refugee father and his baby barely cling to life in Kibumba refugee camp, Goma, Zaire, in July 1994. – Photo: Debbie Morello, USN&R

Image: A Rwandan refugee father and his baby barely cling to life in Kibumba refugee camp, Goma, Zaire, in July 1994. – Photo: Debbie Morello, USN&R

There was killing, which they called genocide, but they could not find any pre-April 6, 1994, plan to commit genocide. So they rejected this argument, but the defenders and apologists for Kagame continue to talk about this conspiracy to commit genocide.

AG: Yes, I have noticed this, that the press doesn’t hesitate to repeat this, that there was a conspiracy before April 6, even though no court at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda convicted anyone of that crime.

EH: Yes, it’s a remarkable fact that wipes out many of the claims about what happened in Rwanda.

AG: OK, let’s move on to Chapter Eight, “Did Paul Kagame’s RPF really ‘stop the genocide’?” This is the story that’s made him a celebrity in Western capitals. What’s the truth?

EH: Well, as I’ve been saying, Kagame actually started the genocide. He carried out the war. He refused to accept any ceasefires during the killing period. And I have made the case that more people were killed by Kagame’s RPF than were killed by any Hutus.

I think this idea that he stopped the genocide is the inverse of the truth. He started the genocide and in fact it never ended, because after he conquered the country, he didn’t stop killing Hutu. And within a short time, he went in to start killing Hutu and do other things in the Congo, where vast numbers of Hutu were killed.

I would argue that, insofar as there was a genocide in Rwanda in 1994, it can be credited to Paul Kagame. And there was a second, bigger genocide in the Congo that was also Paul Kagame’s doing.

So he’s a double genocidist, and one could argue too that Bill Clinton was a partner in this. Bill Clinton is arguably a genocidist.

AG: Yes, and one would hope that people might consider that in this upcoming election year. I know that people from this part of the world are very concerned about the likelihood of Hillary Clinton’s election.

 

Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea are led by Paul Kagame on a tour of Rwanda health clinics in July 2012. – Photo: Cyril Ndegeya, AP

Image: Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea are led by Paul Kagame on a tour of Rwanda health clinics in July 2012. – Photo: Cyril Ndegeya, AP

Now, Chapter Nine: “Africa’s World War: Kagame’s alleged pursuit of ‘genocidaires’ in Zaire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the death of millions.” What’s wrong with Kagame’s claim that his troops and proxy militias were in DR Congo for nearly 20 years to hunt down the Hutu genocidaires guilty of killing Rwanda’s Tutsi in 1994?

EH: Well, one problem is there were no “genocidaires.” There were members of the Rwandan army that had been beaten and dispersed, but they were not genocidaires. That’s baloney.

And he knows who did the killing, that he himself with his forces did most of the killing. But also, the army that was in the Congo, the old Hutu army, was no longer a real force. It had been defeated and these people had been dispersed in the Congo. They did not constitute a real threat to Rwanda.

So this claim was really, essentially, a big lie that Kagame was using with the support of the United States to continue attacking in the Congo. I mean you couldn’t say, “I’m going into the Congo to exploit their rich resources.”

No, you had to have a better excuse, and so the excuse was that there were these people who had committed planned genocide in Rwanda out there in the Congo and he was going in after them.  For 20 years. This is baloney but it’s been very effective.

It’s one reason why the ICTR, the tribunal, and the continuous prosecution of Hutu in Rwanda played into Kagame’s hands. He could argue, look, these people are being tried and convicted.

These are people who’ve committed genocide and there are some of them out there in the Congo, so I must hunt down these evil criminals. It’s a wonderful propaganda gambit. And it was swallowed in the West and he was not stopped.

So we’re dealing here with really mass killing. And yet there’s no tribunal that’s ever been established to try anybody for these crimes that tower over even what happened in Rwanda. Why is that? It’s because he’s a U.S. client and he’s serving U.S. and British interests in this resource rich Democratic Republic of the Congo.

AG: OK, now finally Chapter 12: “The role of the U.N., human rights groups, media, and intellectuals in promulgating the standard model, otherwise known as the official narrative of the Rwandan Genocide.”

'Enduring Lies' Table 2 Rwandan Genocide pro-con articles 2004-2014 by Ed Herman

EH: Well, the United States has been the superpower that has dominated what has happened in this area in the Congo and in Rwanda. The American people know almost nothing about the area, and since the United States has had a strong position of support for Kagame and for the invasion of the Congo, that dominated all the institutions that were associated with it.

The U.N. – most of its reports – were really supportive of the invasion. They swallowed the conspiracy to commit genocide line. They provided the tribunal.

It’s true that they did have some reports, like these reports I mentioned, that talked about mass killing in the Congo, but they couldn’t avoid that because this was such an enormous volume of killing, and there were millions of refugees. So the U.N. had to confront it, and they had to speak a certain amount of truth.

But essentially, the U.N. supported the U.S. position. And even during the Rwanda crisis in 1994, the U.N. did nothing when Kagame put a lot of military people right in Kigali. They let him get away with it.

The human rights groups also did poorly. Human Rights Watch was an outrage from the beginning, following the standard line.

And the media, moving forward to April 2014, and the 20th anniversary of the 1994 massacres, have supported the Western propaganda line.  When that anniversary made headlines, the bias of the mainstream media was dramatic. Thus 20 advocates for the standard model were given ten times as many bylined articles ad distinguished dissenters from that model; most of the dissenting experts couldn’t get into the mainstream media at all. And particularly terrible were the U.S. and British media.

Of the 20 dissenters from the standard model, there were a grand total of 17 articles, and most of them were in France. And most of these experts that were dissenters could never get into the mainstream media at all. And particularly terrible were the U.S. and British media.

The photo of this distraught child has become emblematic of the 1994 Rwandan massacres.

Image: The photo of this distraught child has become emblematic of the 1994 Rwandan massacres.

AG: OK, now that we’ve gone through most of the enduring lies, what similarities do you see between Rwanda 1990 to 1994 and what’s happening in Burundi now?

EH: Well, one very important similarity is that the United States and its allies are trying for regime change in Burundi, just as they did in Rwanda. They wanted to get rid of the Habyarimana government, a social democratic government in Rwanda. They don’t like the social democratic government in Burundi and they’re trying to get rid of it.

Another thing is that they’re talking of intervention here based on the fact that the head of state of Burundi has taken a third term, which is contested on a constitutional basis. And it’s ridiculous that the great powers should be upset about a third term, when they’re supporting Kagame, who is a dictator and who has his chief contestant, Victoire Ingabire, in jail and claims to get 93 percent of the vote.

They swallow that and don’t bother him at all, but here they’re going after the Burundian state, which is by comparison with Rwanda a wonderful democracy, and it is a social democracy.

AG: They have objected to Kagame’s plan to run for another term, but that’s their only objection.

EH: Yes, after all these years of atrocities.

And there’s also intervention more directly in Burundi now. There’s strong evidence that the Kagame government has been intervening in Burundi and that it’s trying to stir up agitation and killings that will cause more tension and upheaval in Burundi. This is all in preparation for further intervention to “save the people from genocide.” It has a familiar ring to it.

AG: Yes, it does. On page 20 in your book, you write, “At the time, meaning in the 1990s, and in contrast to the crises in Syria, Ukraine and Iraq today, Boris Yeltsin’s Russia was a non-factor in the U.N. Security Council and a rubber stamp for the United States.” Since you wrote that, Russia and China have used their veto power to keep the Security Council’s Western powers from passing resolutions to censure Burundi’s President Nkurunziza for seeking a third term in office or to approve humanitarian intervention “to stop genocide.”

‘Justice Belied’ coverNothing has yet come to a formal vote and veto, but the U.S. and E.U. keep failing to get the language they want into resolutions that are passed. Most recently, they asked the Security Council to approve an intervention by 5,000 African Union troops. It responded instead that it welcomed contingency planning in case an intervention was needed, but without giving its approval. How do you think this might play out?

EH: That’s a tough one. I’m just hoping that the Russians and the Chinese will stand firm and that the situation in Burundi will not deteriorate. If it does, if the destabilization efforts of Kagame and probably the United States are successful and it becomes increasingly violent, then it’s going to be tougher to stop the approval of that intervention from the African Union troops.

I just hope that doesn’t happen, but it’s very hard to predict. It’s an ominous situation.

AG: Is there anything else you’d like to say in closing?

EH: Well, what I’d like to say is that this issue on Rwanda and the struggles there and the work of the ICTR, it’s a very complicated issue, so I would urge people to get this book that we put out, which has a lot of detail.

But there are also some other really excellent books on the work of the ICTR and other international courts. There’s a very good book called “Justice Belied: The Unbalanced Scales of International Criminal Justice,” and it’s an anthology edited by Sébastien Chartrand and John Philpot. “Justice Belied” – it’s a critical work on the workings of the international justice system.

‘Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa’ coverAnd many of the writers are very familiar with Rwanda and the issues in Africa and it’s even argued by some of the writers that the international justice system, as it’s now working, is really an arm of U.S. foreign policy.

AG: And here I think we have to mention Robin Philpot’s book as well, “Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa, from Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction,” and the CIUT-Toronto Taylor Report, which has kept the truth about this story alive for nearly two decades. The Taylor Report airs at 5 pm Eastern time every Monday on CIUT-89.5fm-Toronto.

Professor Ed Herman, thank you for speaking to the Project Censored show.

EH: It was a pleasure, Ann.

The transcript of this interview previously appeared in the San Francisco Bay View.

 

 

[Edward Herman is an economist and media analyst. He is professor emeritus at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of many books, including The Myth of the Liberal Media. He is author with Noam Chomsky of “Manufacturing Consent.”]

[Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News,Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening NewsKPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.]

 

The Dallaire Fairy Tale

Rabble

January 1, 2016

by Yves Engler

Dallaire-PKa

(L) Romeo Dallaire, (R) Paul Kagame, 2013

Like children’s fairy tales, foreign policy myths are created, told and retold for a purpose. The Boy Who Cried Wolf imparts a life lesson while entertaining your five-year-old niece. Unfortunately foreign policy myths are seldom so benign. The tale told about Romeo Dallaire illustrates the problem. While the former Canadian General rose to prominence after participating in a failed (assuming the purpose was as stated) international military mission, he’s widely considered a great humanitarian. But, the former Senator’s public persona is based on an extremely one-sided media account of his role in the complex tragedy that engulfed Rwanda and Burundi two decades ago.

In a particularly egregious example of media bias, criticism of Dallaire’s actions in Rwanda have been almost entirely ignored even though his commander published a book criticizing the Canadian general’s bias. According to numerous accounts, including his civilian commander on the UN mission, Dallaire aided the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which invaded Rwanda with decisive Ugandan support and quiet US backing. Gilbert Ngijo, political assistant to the civilian commander of United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), summarizes the criticism: “He [Dallaire] let the RPF get arms. He allowed UNAMIR troops to train RPF soldiers. United Nations troops provided the logistics for the RPF. They even fed them.”

In his 2005 book Le Patron de Dallaire Parle (The Boss of Dallaire Speaks), Jacques-Roger Booh Booh, a former Cameroon foreign minister and overall head of UNAMIR, claims Dallaire had little interest in the violence unleashed by the RPF despite reports of summary executions in areas controlled by them. RPF soldiers were regularly seen in Dallaire’s office, with the Canadian commander describing the Rwandan army’s position in Kigali. This prompted Booh Booh to wonder if Dallaire “also shared UNAMIR military secrets with the RPF when he invited them to work in his offices.” Finally, Booh Booh says Dallaire turned a blind eye to RPF weapons coming across the border from Uganda and he believes the UN forces may have even transported weapons directly to the RPF. Dallaire, Booh Booh concludes, “abandoned his role as head of the military to play a political role. He violated the neutrality principle of UNAMIR by becoming an objective ally of one of the parties in the conflict.”

Dallaire doesn’t deny his admiration for RPF leader Paul Kagame who was likely responsible for shooting down the plane carrying both Rwandan Hutu President Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira on April 6, 1994. (That event triggered mass killing and an environment of deep instability that facilitated the RPF’s rise to power in Kigali.) In Shake Hands with the Devil, published several years after Kagame unleashed terror in the Congo that’s left millions dead, Dallaire wrote: “My guys and the RPF soldiers had a good time together” at a small cantina. Dallaire then explained: “It had been amazing to see Kagame with his guard down for a couple of hours, to glimpse the passion that drove this extraordinary man.”

Dallaire’s interaction with the RPF was certainly not in the spirit of UN guidelines that called on staff to avoid close ties to individuals, organizations, parties or factions of a conflict. A witness at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) actually accused Dallaire of complicity in a massacre. A Rwandan national testifying under the pseudonym T04, reported Tanzania’s Arusha Times, “alleged that in April 1994, Gen. Dallaire allowed members of the rebel Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF, now in power in Kigali), to enter the national stadium and organize massacres of Hutus. Several people, including the witness, took refuge there following the assassination of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana.”

But, criticisms of Dallaire’s actions in Rwanda have been almost entirely ignored by the Canadian media. Le Patron de Dallaire Parle went largely unnoticed, or at least not commented upon. A Canadian newswire search found three mentions of the book (a National Post review headlined “Allegations called ‘ridiculous’: UN boss attacks general,” an Ottawa Citizen piece headlined “There are many sides to the Rwanda saga” and a letter by an associate of Dallaire). Other critical assessments of Dallaire’s actions in Rwanda have fared no better including Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa and Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System, 20 Years Later in which Edward Herman and David Peterson “suggest that Dallaire should be regarded as a war criminal for positively facilitating the actual mass killings of April-July, rather than taken as a hero for giving allegedly disregarded warnings that might have stopped them.”

On the other hand, a Canadian newswire search of “Romeo Dallaire Rwanda” elicited over 6,000 articles that generally provide a positive portrayal of Dallaire. Similarly, a search for mention of Dallaire’s 2003 book Shake Hands with the Devil elicited 1,700 articles. The complex interplay of ethnic, class and regional politics, as well as international pressures, which spurred the “Rwandan Genocide” has been decontextualized. Instead of discussing Uganda’s aggression against its much smaller neighbour, the flight of Hutus into Rwanda after the violent 1993 Tutsi coup in Burundi and economic reforms imposed on the country from abroad, the media focuses on a simplistic narrative of vengeful Hutus killing Tutsis. In this media fairy tale, Dallaire plays the great Canadian who attempted to save Africans.

While two decades old, the distortion of the Rwandan tragedy continues to have political impacts today. It has given ideological cover to dictator Paul Kagame’s repeated invasions of the Congo and domestic repression. In addition, this foreign policy myth has been used to justify foreign military intervention as is the case with the current political crisis in Burundi. The myth of Dallaire in Rwanda is also cited to rationalize the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, when in fact the true story illustrates the inevitable duplicitousness of foreign interventions.

Unlike in bedtime stories, in foreign policy making things up is usually harmful.

 
[Yves Engler has been described as “Canada’s version of Noam Chomsky” (Georgia Straight), “one of the most important voices on the Canadian Left today” (Briarpatch), “in the mould of I. F. Stone” (Globe and Mail), “ever-insightful” (rabble.ca) and a “Leftist gadfly” (Ottawa Citizen). His latest book is The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s foreign policy.]

Creating Failed States | Next up: Burundi

Public Good Project

November 24, 2015

by Jay Taber

 

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

November 23, 2015

+++

 

“President Obama today issued a new Executive Order (E.O.) declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Burundi.”

Power and Kagame

Left: U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power. Right: “Butcher of the Great Lakes”, Paul Kagame | “The US based Kagame lobbyists, including the US Ambassador to the UN – Samantha Power – are responsible for the crisis we see in Burundi.” – Dr. Charles Kambanda, Great Lakes Post

The African Great Lakes region (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) is rich in mineral wealth. East/West superpower competition for these minerals — used in consumer electronics — has prompted the United States military to arm rebels and dictators alike, as well as to increase the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) presence in the region.

Burundi tweet 3

On July 6, 2015, the U.S. State Department announced that Tom Perriello will serve as President Obama’s special envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa. On November 6, 2015, the State Department announced that Perriello was alarmed by Burundi government violence.  On November 8, 2015, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, in response to the Burundi government offer of amnesty to insurrectionists, warned of Rwanda-like government massacres.

Samantha-Power-John-Kerry-68th-Session-UN-0OZG7CMnM5Ol

Above: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks with United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power during the United Nations Security Council meeting (photo: (Sept. 18, 2014 – Source: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images North America)

As noted by Charles Kambanda, a former professor at the University of Rwanda, what really is happening in Burundi is that multinational corporations are seeking to create a failed state — as they did previously in the Congo — in order to plunder the resources of the region. Avaaz*, an NGO co-founded by Perriello, has called on the UN, US and EU to send in the troops–much like it did in Libya and Syria.

*Avaaz was initially funded in 2006 by George Soros (a currency speculator convicted of insider-trading) through his Open Society Institute.

 

Further reading: Avaaz Hones In On Burundi as Next U.S. Fait Accompli:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2015/11/18/avaaz-hones-in-on-burundi-as-next-u-s-fait-accompli/

avaazkilllhashtag

Avaaz Hones In On Burundi as Next U.S. Fait Accompli

Wrong Kind of Green

November 18, 2015

By Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer

Beautifu Burundi

Beautiful Burundi, “the Beating Heart of Africa” is situated almost in the centre of Africa with a shape like a heart. It’s located between Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda. Burundi is home to the Lake Tanganyika which is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest, after Lake Baikal in Siberia.

United Nations Development Program Press Release, October 30, 2012: “The normalization of political life has been a remarkable achievement in Burundi, said Rosine Sori-Coulibaly, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General in Burundi. Burundi’s remarkable development achievements are coming just seven years after the civil war ended… free, fair and peaceful elections took place in 2005 and 2010 and safety and security has been reinforced across the entire national territory.”

“Burundi holds 6 percent of the world’s nickel reserves, with Musongati ranked as one of the 10 largest known deposits of the metal that have yet to be developed… The East African nation produces small amounts of tantalum, gold, limestone, niobium, tin and tungsten and also has deposits of copper, the U.S. Geological Survey says on its website.” [Bloomberg Business, June 23, 2014]

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avaaz burundi

Above: Avaaz Burundi campaign echos the organizations previous campaigns calling for immediate sanctions and interventions in both Libya and Syria while simultaneously demonizing the leaders of the targeted countries for destabilization. From the petition: “But there’s time to stop another tragedy, if we intervene right now.” [emphasis in original] [Source]

Avaaz Co-Founder Tom Perriello

On July 6, 2015 it was announced by the U.S. State Department that Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello would be fulfilling his role for the expansion of U.S. imperialism as special envoy for the African Great Lakes region and the Congo-Kinshasa:

“Secretary of State John Kerry announced Monday that former Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) will serve as the Obama administration’s special envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa, an appointment that covers Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.”

November 6, 2015:

“He will communicate the U.S. government’s alarm at violence by government and non-government actors inside of Burundi, and the recent dangerous rhetoric by the Burundian government…” [U.S. Department of State Press Release: Special Envoy Thomas Perriello’s Travel to Burundi and the Great Lakes Region, Source]

 

obomberandtom

U.S. President Barack Obama with Avaaz co-founder and (former) U.S. Representative Tom Perriello. “Perriello is a former U.S. Representative (represented the 5th District of Virginia from 2008 to 2010) and a founding member of the House Majority Leader’s National Security Working Group.” [Further reading: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I, Sept, 24, 2012]

Tom P and Kagame

Above: “Butcher of the Great Lakes” President of Rwanda Paul Kagame with Tom Perriello, US Special Envoy for Great Lakes Region – Kigali, August 19, 2015 [Photo Source]

Mineral Wealth and Political Leverage

Power 1

Intimate relations: President Obama with his National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, June 5, 2013. From 2005-2006 Power worked in the office of U.S. Senator Barack Obama as a foreign policy fellow, where she was credited with sparking and directing Obama’s interest in the Darfur conflict. [Source: Rolling Stone]

Nov 8, 2015: Will the West Create its Next Failed State in Burundi?

‘After Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s ultimatum to insurrectionists to lay down their arms, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, and the International Crisis Group, a think tank headed by Western military, government and corporate officials, warned of massacres like those in Rwanda in 1994. In contrast, Charles Kambanda, Rwandan American attorney and former professor at the National University of Rwanda, describes the conflict as political and its larger context as an East/West power struggle for resources.

 

Charles Kambanda: What is really happening in Burundi is no different than what happened in DRC, in Congo. We have these multinational corporations, Western corporations, fighting for natural resources in that region. The best way for these companies to conquer these natural resources is to create a situation where no government is in control. Burundi is now known for a type of natural resource called nickel and they say six percent of the world’s nickel is in Burundi. And if we want to remember the geography of that region, Burundi borders with Congo, and Congo, the other side, is so rich in minerals. So we have these corporations fighting to control Burundi, to create a failed state in Burundi, so that they can get involved in illegal business in that region.” [Source]

The role of Avaaz, Purpose Inc. (the for-profit PR arm of Avaaz), and Avaaz co-founders in U.S./E.U. led destabilizations/invasions across the globe is now extensively documented. Burundi serves as a rinse, rather, repeat performance, only with far less notoriety/interest.

 

Video: April 11, 2015: Démonstration de force en faveur du 3ème mandat de Nkurunziza. Massive and entirely peaceful demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of government supporters have been completely ignored. [Source]

May 16, 2015, Are the US and the EU Sponsoring Terrorism in Burundi?

“The US-funded media disinformation campaign is part of the prelude to the mobilization of street protests against the government that can be presented to the world as a ‘popular uprising’against a ‘dictator’ who is ‘killing his own people’ It is a techinique that has been perfected by US ‘democracy’and ‘civil society’ NGOS….

 

In the case of Burundi, the African Union should have denounced the diabolical terrorist and media disinformation campaign against a young democratic country which has just emerged from a civil war. The fact that they did not shows that they have sided with the enemies of Africa. It is hardly surprising that truly independent, post-colonial countries such as Eritrea will have nothing to do with the sham called the African Union.”[Source]

October 3, 2015, Burundi Accuses Rwanda of Training Rebels for Cross Border Attacks

Kagame and his team want to provoke a genocide in Burundi: “Kagame and his team want to provoke a genocide in Burundi in order to put in power in Burundi the same group as the group which is in Rwanda. Everybody can see that. It is not complicated to see…. this would be the fourth Hutu president assassinated in this region since 1993.”  [Source]

Feb 21, 2014: U.S. State Department announces Perriello’s departure from the Center for American Progress:

“Former Rep. Tom Perriello is leaving the Center for American Progress to head the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and development Review, which analyzes U.S. diplomatic and development efforts abroad.”

 

Turns out Perriello,  and Secretary of State John F. Kerry go back a long way. Perriello, then a 22-year-old, worked on Kerry’s 1996 Senate campaign, working on getting out the environmental vote. Seems they began private talks nearly a year ago about Perriello’s coming over to the State Department. [Source]

While Avaaz stokes the fear of “another Rwanda” it is critical to note the role of the Center for American Progress to which Perriello recently served as both president and CEO, in the Rwandan Genocide. ” The simple tale of good and evil was told to the world by Samantha Power” [Source: The Deluge Film Press Release]

 

 

Human rights investigator and award-winning journalist Keith Harmon Snow, describing the U.S. Center for American Progress and its use of propaganda in portraying Africa in order to protect and further U.S. interests/ foreign policy objectives. Within the lecture, Snow discusses the psyops/propaganda strategically orchestrated behind the “Save Darfur” campaigns/movements which, in 2004, began to saturate the populace. At the helm of this “movement” was “The Center for American Progress”.

The Center for American Progress, is closely connected with the same players that founded and financed Avaaz. Today, with Avaaz at the forefront, the non-profit industrial complex has been appointed trusted messenger of a grotesque and disturbing ideology; nothing less than a complete reflection and validation of the U.S. administration’s rhetoric intended to justify the annihilation and occupation of sovereign states under the false pretense of “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect”.


 

December 29, 2004: “Over two days in early December approximately three-dozen religious activists met at the Washington office of the Center for American Progress, a recently formed think tank headed by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta. The Res Publica-driven agenda for the closed-door gathering included sessions on “building the movement infrastructure” and “objectives, strategies and core issues.”

Res Publica was founded by Tom Perriello, Ricken Patel and Tom Pravda.

Avaaz was founded by Res Publica, MoveOn.org, Executive Director Ricken Patel, Tom Perriello, Tom Pravda, Eli Pariser (MoveOn Executive Director), Andrea Woodhouse (consultant to the World Bank) Jeremy Heimans (co-founder of GetUp! and Purpose), and Australian entrepreneur David Madden (co-founder of GetUp and Purpose) who is the spouse of Woodhouse. Both Madden and Woodhouse took up residence in Burma [Myanmar] [March 23, 2013: Western Media Celebrates Faux Progress in Myanmar] Madden has co-founded a marketing firm, Parami Road in Myanmar: “Our clients are mostly international companies entering Myanmar and they demand an international standard of work.”

Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello served as president and CEO of Center for American Progress from December 2011 to  to February 2014.

Perriello and Patel also co-founded and co-directed DarfurGenocide.org which officially launched in 2004.

“DarfurGenocide.org is a project of Res Publica, a group of public sector professionals dedicated to promoting good governance and virtuous civic cultures.” Today, this organization is now known as “Darfurian Voices”: “Darfurian Voices is a project of 24 Hours for Darfur.” The U.S. Department of State and the Open Society Institute were just two of the organizations funders and collaborating partners. Other Darfurian Voices partners include Avaaz, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Centre for Transitional Justice, Darfur Rehabilitation Project, Humanity United, Darfur People’s Association of New York, Genocide Intervention, Witness, Yale Law School, The Sigrid Rausing Trust and the Bridgeway Foundation.

Despite the carefully crafted language and images that tug at your emotions, such NGOs were created for and exist for one primary purpose — to protect and further American policy and interests, under the guise of philanthropy and humanitarianism. Of all the listed partners of DarfurGenocide.org, with exception of one located in London England, all of the entities involved are American and based on US soil. [Source]

Empire is Closing on on Burundi

Today the Obama administration is frothing at the mouth over the imperial capture of Burundi.

November 15, 2015:

Samantha Power Tweet

To view video, click above screenshot.

The Deluge is a film in progress, undertaken to reveal the truth about invasions, insurgencies, and civil wars that have engulfed the Great Lakes Region of Africa, most of all Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during the past 20 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are the US and the EU Sponsoring Terrorism in Burundi?

Libya 360

May 16, 2015

By Gearoid O Colmain

 

“The US-funded media disinformation campaign is part of the prelude to the mobilization of street protests against the government that can be presented to the world as a ‘popular uprising’against a ‘dictator’ who is ‘killing his own people’ It is a techinique that has been perfected by US ‘democracy’and ‘civil society’ NGOS.”

Policemen walk along a street in Bujumbura, Burundi May 15, 2015

Since protests broke out in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura in April 25th  2015 against the decision of the  ruling party to nominate the country’s leader Pierre Nkurunziza for a third term as president, the international press has published reports suggesting that the country is on the verge of civil war, as president Nkurunziza, portrayed as a dictator attempting to hold on to power, is confronted with  an ever increasing movement of ‘peaceful protesters’, ‘human rights’ and ‘civil society’ activists who have an almost absolute monopoly on reportage concerning Burundi’s electoral controversy.

While the mainstream media continue to report on the activities of the ‘peaceful protesters’ who have lynched and murdered suspected members of the  imbonerakure, the youth wing of the National Council for the Defense of Democracy, the country’s ruling party,  the massive and entirely peaceful demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of government supporters have been completely ignored.  [1]

It seems a consensus has rapidly been reached concerning who the good and bad guys are in this conflict. But all is not what is seems. In fact, the East African nation is currently experiencing the culmination of a US/EU backed regime change programme which has been conducted as a low-intensity media and covert operations war since 2005. The objective of this war is to redraw the map of the resource-rich Great Lake’s region of Central Africa in accordance with Western corporate and geostrategic interests.

Who is Pierre Nkurunziza?

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza speaks to the media after he registered to run for a third five-year term in office, in the capital Bujumbura

The current incumbent Pierre Nkurunziza joined the National Council for the Defense of Democracy, Forces for the Defense for Democracy (CNDD-FDD) after the brutal murder of left-wing president Melchior Ndadaye in 1993, the country’s first democratically elected leader who stemmed from the Hutu, ethnic majority in the former German and Belgian colony. Burundi was traditionally ruled by the Tutsi minority ethnic group, whose elites ruled the country in the interests of European colonialism.

Nkurunziza lost many members of his own family during the genocide of the Hutus by the Tutsi military regime which plunged the country into a decade long civil war causing the death of over 300,000 people.

Nkurunziza’s rebel movement signed an agreement with the Tutsi-dominated government of Burundi in Arusha, Tanzania in  August 2000, according to which a transition government of power-sharing between Hutus, Tutsis and Twa would be put in place.

Although in power since 2005, sensu strictu, the country only became a democracy during the election of 2010, where Nkurunziza’s CNDD  won a landslide victory.  It is on this basis that Burundi’s constitutional council, the supreme legal authority in the country, judged correctly that the incumbent has the right to be nominated for another electoral term.

Western backed opposition activists have admitted that the government has not violated the constitution, but insist instead that the constitutional council is corrupt as its members were nominated by the president. No one would claim, for example, that the French constitutional council is corrupt because its members are nominated by the President of the French Republic. But in the case of Africa, constitutional councils are regularly scoffed at by Western powers when their decisions do not conform to neo-colonial interests and neo-colonial interests, not disputes over interpretations of the country’s constitution, are the key issue in the current Burundian crisis.

Since coming to power in 2005, Pierre Nkurunziza has done a remarkable job in re-uniting and re-building a country ruined by internecine war. A fanatical supporter of football, the former physical sports teacher has been rewarded by many peace organizations throughout the world for his use of football as a means of bringing Hutu and Tutsi communities together.

Education has also been a key focus of the Nkurunziza administration.

Burundi has built more schools since 2007 than any previous government since independence almost 50 years ago. Nkurunziza wants to transform Burundi’s economy into a major exporter of fruit and has implemented an ambitious fruit tree plantation programme to this effect.

The Burundian president spends much of his time doing manual work with the peasants of Burundi. After coming to power, the Burundian government passed a law according to which citizens are required to preform community labour on Saturdays in order to expedite the construction of vital public infrastructure. A key role in this endeavour is played by the Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the ruling CNDD party.

The Burundian government has made modest progress in reducing poverty, and has promised to increase economic growth from 4.5 percent to 8.5 percent from 2015 from investments made in nickel mining, fruit production and tourism.

Since 2005 gross domestic product levels have increased significantly. In 2012 Nkurunziza won the Pan-African prize for the fight against Malaria. [2]

Burundi’s success in the fight against malaria has been due to the construction of health centres throughout the country, the provision of free health care for children under five years old and pregnant mothers.

Deeply patriotic and highly popular, having fought a long battle for his country’s liberation, Nkurunziza has succeeded in creating a modest form of national voluntarism, nascent self-reliance and a sense of optimism about the country’s future.

He has increased ties with China, India and Brazil, while adroitly taking advantage of inter-imperialist rivalry for access to African markets by signing several important trade deals with Japan.

Indeed, due to the implacable hostility of the neocolonial powers and their press agencies, Burundi will now most likely have no choice but to increase its links with the BRICS powers.

Nkurunziza’s decision in 2010 to sign an agreement with Beijing that provides for closer Sino-Burundian military cooperation is of tremendous significance. Closer relations with China will enable Burundi to strengthen its defense forces from what Burundian patriots refer to as the BHBFC, the Burundi-Hima-Belgian-French Connection, that is to say, the incessant hostility of the neo-colonial powers and their local collaborators.

Who are the Burundian opposition?

The opposition party Movement for Solidary and Democracy (MSD), part of the umbrella organization, the Alliance for Democratic Change Ikibiri (ADC Ikibiri) is led by Alexis Sinduhije. He is a protégé of US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. In the general election of 2010 the The MSD withdrew from the electoral process after gaining a mer 4 percent of the popular vote.  They claimed the elections were unfair, in spite of the fact that international observers did not report any irregularities.

According to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada’s 2013 report, Sinduhije does not fear violence from the Burundian government but, on the contrary, the Burundian government does fear violence from Sinduhije and his armed bandits. [3]

Sinduhije has been accused of terrorism by the Burundi government after it was revealed that he was forcibly recruiting youths in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Eastern Kivu region for the formation of a rebel group with a view to seizing power in Bujumbura.

The MSD leader was arrested in Tanzania in January 2012 where he was accused of forming a terrorist group for the invasion of Burundi. He was subsequently released by the Tanzanian authorities and escaped to Europe,where human rights groups closely linked to the US State Department and Western intelligence agencies such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have hailed him as a champion of ‘human rights.’

Sinduhije has little popular support inside Burundi but he does have the support of the European Union and the United States, who never wanted the Hutu majority to rule Burundi, as imperial divide and rule policy dictates that post-colonial countries should remain internally divided on ethnic lines with a militarized minority constituting a neo-colonial comprador bourgeoisie eternally dependent on their foreign masters.

Francois Nyamoya is the secretary general of the Movement for Solidary and Democracy. He is also the son of Albin Nyamoya, one of the generals involved in the 1972 genocide of the Hutus under the Micombero regime.

A 2011 UN report on the situation in Eastern Congo identifies many of the so-called Burundian oppositionists as involved in smuggling of gold and terrorizing the inhabitants of Southern Kivu.

Notwithstanding the official criminal evidence against the Burundian ‘opposition’, however, the ‘international community’ chooses to present them as heroes attempting to free their country from ‘corruption’. [4]

None of these fake opposition parties should be confused with the 17 democratically elected deputies of the opposition party Uprona. As in the case of Syria, one must distinguish between the legally constituted opposition and the US and European sponsored gangster networks posing as oppositionists.

Ethnic Conflict in the Service of Neo-Colonialism

During the 1980s the Pentagon trained Rwandan Major General Paul Kagame at the US Army Command and Staff College (CGSC) Fortleavenworth, Kansas.

Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Forces invaded Rwanda from Uganda between 1990 and 1994, assassinating two Hutu leaders, President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi and President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda.

An impressive US  led propaganda campaign has  presented Paul Kagame as the man who put an end to the genocide in Rwanda, whereas in fact it was Kagame’ forces with full US and Israeli backing who perpetrated most of the mass killings Hutus, Tutsi and Twa blaming all of their crimes on the majority Hutu government.

In October 1996 Kagame’s forces invaded the Congo on the pretext of fighting Hutu rebels. The real objective, however, was to gain control over the mineral rich province of Eastern Congo in close collaboration with Western corporate mining interests. [5]

Kagame’s regime is one of the proxy-forces being used by the United States and the European Union to destabilize and overthrow the democratically elected government of Burundi.  Many researchers in Burundi suspect that the CIA may have been behind the assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye in 1993, given the fact that they directed Kagame who ordered the murder of Ndadaye’s successor Cyprien Ntaramira a year later.

The US government is acutely aware that if the people of Burundi are to know the truth about the US-backed genocide of the Hutus in Rwanda and Burundi, it could jeopardize their foreign policy objectives in the region. Managing people’s perspectives and memory of their own suffering due to US imperialism is a key component of the Pentagon’s strategy in parts of the world it controls. That is why a suitable criminal to replace president Nkurunziza must be found and the CIA database of military intelligence assets is filling up with warlords and war criminals from the Congolese Armageddon, where several million people have been murdered since the US proxy invasion of 1996.

Imperialist geo-strategy: Terrorism and Colour Revolutions

Burundian democracy is currently threatened by two main instruments of Western imperial policy: terrorism and colour revolutions. One of the world’s poorest countries, Burundi could not possibly hope to compete with the barrage of media disinformation waged against it since the Nkurunziza’s election victory in 2010.

Almost every report about the country has been based on the statements of oppositionists and so-called ‘civil society’ activists. These activists are been generously funded by the US State Department think tank, the National Endowment For Democracy,(NED) which on the admission of its founder, functions as a front organization for the CIA. [6]

And as William Blum  has shown in his book ‘ Killing Hope: US military and CIA interventions since 1945’ the Boys from Langley’s job is not promote democracy but,  rather as he puts it ‘make the world safe for democracy by getting rid of democracy.’

Many activists and pseudo-journalists funded by the NED have been arrested by the Burundian authorities on charges of fomenting ethnic tension and promoting terrorist groups in collaboration with the enemies of the country, a crime prohibited by all internationally recognized nation-states.

Terrorist groups who have attacked Burundi in recent years have received extensive and positive coverage from the Francophone media.

For example, in a report entitled ‘Retour de la Rebellion’ French journalist Pauline Simonet reported on a ‘rebel’ group in Eastern Congo, who are hoping to invade and seize power in Burundi. The terrorist group was presented in a positive light, while the point of view of the Burundian government was dismissed. The message was clear: the ‘rebels’ have a just cause and are worthy of our sympathy.

The report also mentioned the massacre of Gatumba of the 18 and 19th of September 2013 where several civilians were murdered outside the Burundian capital. The Burundian National Intelligence Service (SNR) blamed the attack on the Forces for National Liberation (FLN), a terrorist group based in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and headed by warlord Agathon Rwasa, whom UN investigators have accused of gold smuggling. The France 24 team seems to be unaware of official UN investigations.

Instead the French TV station suggested that the Gatumba Massacre might have been a false flag operation carried out by the Burundian Government to discredit the ‘opposition’, in spite of having no evidence to support this conspiracy theory. [7]

Rwasa is a former opposition candidate from the ACD-Ikibiri coalition and a full time criminal who ran against Nkununziza in 2010, lost miserably, declared the election to be false, fled to the Congo and returned to his specialization: terrorism.

Lucien Rukevya, a journalist with Radio France Internationale’s Swahili section was arrested on June 16th 2013 while embedded with a Burundian terrorist group. He was charged with complicity in the promotion of terrorism against the Burundian state.  The French media and associated ‘human rights’ groups, did their best to justify this young man’s flagrant and criminal violation of journalistic professionalism, in order to accuse the Burundian government of cracking down on ‘free speech’.

In September 9th 2013 ‘journalist’ Hassan Rovakuki was also arrested for complicity in terrorism. The charge of the Burundian government against these journalists is that they are spreading propaganda in favour of criminals who are attempting to declare war on the people of Burundi. This is in the context of a poor country whose existence is being constantly threatened by militia on its borders in the service of neo-colonial powers, who have not disguised their wish to implement ‘regime change’ in Bujumbura.

Any serious researcher who reads these press dispatches on the so-called Burundian ‘rebels’ operating from the DRC would have to agree that the reports are incontrovertibly biased against the government of Burundi.

All of the reports emphasize the arguments of the rebels while attempting to dismiss those of the government. This is in violation of the most basic rule in journalism: objectivity. Furthermore, such biased, mendacious and aggressive reporting by the agencies of the most powerful countries in the world against a defenseless developing nation constitutes nothing less than acts of psychological terrorism.

On March 8th 2014 an armed insurrection was organized by the opposition in Bujumbura. Police were attacked and kidnapped in what was a clear attempt to seize power. The contrast between citizens throughout the country engaged in community labour in an attempt to rebuild a broken country and a group of fascist thugs attempting to plunge the country into chaos could not have been more poignant. Needless to say, the United States expressed ‘concern’ about the ‘brutal’ crackdown on their putschists.

On December 30th 2014, Burundi’s Northern Province of Cibitoke, on the border with Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo was invaded by a terrorist gang. It took the Burundian National Defense Forces four days to defeat the invasion. Many of the terrorists were captured and a spokesman for the army in a press conference after the incident assured reporters that they would be treated according to international humanitarian law.

Meanwhile the NED funded media outlets in the country were zealously spreading pro-rebel propaganda, even publishing photos of dead Shebaab rebels in Kenya, claiming they were  Burundian prisoners of war ‘massacred’ by the Burundian  military.

The European Union and the United States have shamelessly expressed ‘human rights’ concerns about the Burundian government’s defeat of the foreign-backed invasion, while showing no concern for their victims.

The international Francophone press was also vociferous in it condemnation of the arrest in January 2015 of Rob Rugurika, the director of Radio Publique Afrique, a privately-funded ‘opposition’ radio station, after he accused the government of ordering the massacre of three Italian nuns in Kamenge in 2014.

Rugurika, who has links with terrorist groups outside the country, has been accused by the Burundian judiciary of being part of a conspiracy to commit crimes and blame them on the government in a destabilization campaign backed by foreign powers.

In September 2014, 40 bodies were found floating on Lake Rweru between Rwanda and Burundi. Villagers upriver in Rwanda fled from French journalists when they attempted to investigate the crime. They told RFI that they had been warned by the Rwandan authorities not to speak to journalists about what they had seen. In spite of the fact that Burundian authorities could not have been behind the crime, US-funded opposition media inside Burundi continue to peddle all sorts of lies suggesting that the corpses might have been oppositionists murdered by the Burundian government.

The US-funded media disinformation campaign is part of the prelude to the mobilization of street protests against the government that can be presented to the world as a ‘popular uprising’against a ‘dictator’ who is ‘killing his own people’ It is a techinique that has been perfected by US ‘democracy’and ‘civil society’ NGOS.

The director of France’s Lazard Bank and proprietor of the French daily Le Monde, Mathieu Pigasse is on record expressing his adoration for the Arab Spring. He has also pointed out that Western policy makers are now focusing on spreading the techniques of the Arab Spring throughout Africa. The millionaire ‘revolutionist’ has made it clear that Western investors prefer to deal with ‘civil society’ organizations in Africa rather than governments. [8]

This phenomenon is what Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci referred to as the ‘takeover of politics by civil society’, that is to say, the destruction of the political sphere and the agora of human agency and social progress by the absolutism of corporate exploitation.

Since the US-backed people-power coups in North Africa in 2011, the US ‘youth industry’, this anti-politics of destruction, has spread its tentacles throughout the African continent, where, paradoxically, ‘anti-corruption’ and ‘down-with-the-dictator’ activism further entrenches imperialism by contriving a discourse on social discontent that obfuscates its material basis, thereby dis-empowering and corrupting the youth. We could call this phenomenon the stultification of dissent.

The aim of terrorism and people-power coups or colour revolutions is to render nations of the Global South powerless in the face of globalization.

It is a deeply cynical but nevertheless ingenious US foreign policy programme, which, due to the fact that so many critics of US foreign policy continue to believe that the Arab Spring was a genuinely ‘spontaneous uprising’ of the masses against US-backed dictators, attests to the sophistication and prescience of the US foreign-policy establishment.

A Neo-Colonial War on a free African nation

The United States and the European Union are at war against the people of Burundi. Situated at the heart of the mineral rich Great Lakes region of Africa, the democratic government of Burundi is an obstacle to the depopulation programme currently being carried out  by US client dictator Paul Kagame of Rwanda and his partner Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who are attempting to carve up Eastern Congo in order to create an independent  Republic of Kivu, bringing that region’s vast wealth into the possession of European and American corporate interests.

In October 2014 the Burundian military were forced to withdraw by the United Nations ‘peace-keeping’ force MONUSCO from Kiliba in Eastern Congo where they had been cracking down on terrorist groups.  Shortyly thereafter, the Burundian authorities arrested several NED funded activists ,who were busy spreading absurd lies about the Burundian military training pro-government Burundian youth( the imbonerakure) in the Congo for the purposes of terrorizing the Burundian population at home.

These lies were meant to incite fear and ethnic hatred among the population, in order to weaken the credibility of the government.

This withdrawal from the DRC will make it more difficult for the Burundian government to protect its borders from terrorism. Meanwhile, ‘peaceful protesters’ are attacking police and lynching pro-government civilians with the full backing of the international military-industrial-media-intelligence complex.

The protesters  in the streets are chanting ‘’down with the dictator’’ and an ‘’end to corruption’’ but in reality, Nkurunziza is being targeted for not serving the interests of the infinitely corrupt scoundrels currently running the United Nations, the potentates of the soi-disant ‘international community’.

The African Union has called on the Burundian government to postpone the elections. This is the same African Union which stood by and watched French forces bomb and invade the Ivory Coast in 2010, Libya in 2011, Mali in 2012, and the Central African Republic in 2013.

If the African Union is to gain a modicum of respect, it must stand up for the sovereignty of African nations and threaten to lead a coalition of military forces to defend any country attacked by US/European imperialism.

In the case of Burundi, the African Union should have denounced the diabolical terrorist and media disinformation campaign against a young democratic country which has just emerged from a civil war. The fact that they did not shows that they have sided with the enemies of Africa. It is hardly surprising that truly independent, post-colonial countries such as Eritrea will have nothing to do with the sham called the African Union.

If the Burundian authorities do not succeed in crushing the violent insurgency, the country could be facing more years of civil war and permanent foreign occupation by UN ‘peace-keepers’ after a ‘humanitarian intervention’ to ‘stop the massacres’. The script has been tried and tested in Haiti, the  Ivory Coast, Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic.

So, the key question  now is this: Can Burundi defy the Empire and protect its people from carpet bombing called ‘humanitarian intervention’, a terrorist invasion called ‘liberation’, a military coup called ‘transitional government’ and  a possible genocide where once again the victims will be blamed?

Notes:

[4] un.org
[6] ned.org

 

[Gearóid Ó Colmáin is an independent political analyst from Cork, Ireland based in Paris.]