By Theogene Rudasingwa
Paul Kagame: My country is still haunted by memories of the international community looking away. No country knows better than my own the costs of the international community failing to intervene to prevent a state killing its own people.
Theogene Rudasingwa: Correct. All Rwandans are haunted, you inclusive. The same international community that looked the other way when the Rwandan state was involved in killing its own people in 1994 is the same international community that is again failing to respond when you are busy killing your own people. Your human rights abuses in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo far surpass Gaddafi’s!
Paul Kagame: So it is encouraging that members of the international community appear to have learnt the lessons of that failure.
Theogene Rudasingwa: It is indeed encouraging but the lessons are incomplete. If they were not, and Rwanda had the same oil as Libya, you would be in the same predicament as Gaddafi’, whose resources you have enjoyed through under the table arrangements via Rwandatel!
Paul Kagame: Given the overriding mandate of Operation Odyssey Dawn to protect Libyan civilians from state-sponsored attacks, Rwanda can only stand in support of it.
Theogene Rudasingwa: Operation Odyssey Dawn has a valid and legitimate basis that should be supported by those who value freedom and cherish democracy. But you, Mr. President, you have absolutely no credentials to position yourself as the man concerned about loss of life of innocent citizens . You have no moral authority to talk about state-sponsored attacks, because it is precisely these same attacks that you have leveled against political opponents, journalists, human rights activists, refugees, civil society, etc. By the way, did you consult your Parliament and the rest of Government before you made such a commitment? Probably you did it as last time when Rwanda invaded DRC, or when Rwanda became part of U.S.’s “coalition of the willing”, always personal decisions that become policy after the fact!
Paul Kagame: Our responsibility to protect is unquestionable – this is the right thing to do, and this view is backed with the authority of having witnessed and suffered the terrible consequences of international inaction.
Theogene Rudasingwa: The fact that you have failed in your responsibility to protect Rwandan citizens is unquestionable. While it is true that you witnessed international inaction, most Rwandans and non-Rwandans stand in awe and amazement at the pernicious effects of your selective learning disabilities. Can you learn that history has a bad habit of repeating itself, and that evil begets evil? Almost all Rwandans have suffered the consequences of international inaction and your deliberate action of usurping power for selfish ends.
Paul Kagame: My main concern however, is whether this necessary action will not be compromised by ambivalence and wavering arguments.
Theogene Rudasingwa: Really? You are not renowned for being concerned about your own people leave alone Africans in general, or Libyans in particular. Ambivalence, wavering arguments, denials, and deceptions are official policy in the country that you have turned into a virtual and fearful prison. You are motivated by purely opportunistic considerations. You want to appease the west, just in case your gesture may prompt some of them to shield you from issues of accountability due to crimes you have committed, and continue to commit, against the Rwandan people.
Paul Kagame: Now that the UN Security Council has taken a strong stand and sent the message that our global community will be relentless in protecting civilians under threat, particularly from their own leaders, we cannot be seen to be indecisive about moving forward in completion of this aim.
Theogene Rudasingwa: Rwandans and democratic forces the world over congratulate the UN Security Council for taking a strong stand against a brutal dictator like you. Like Gaddafi, you are relentless in harming civilians you should be protecting. Rwandan civilians are under your threat. The big question is whether the same UN Security council will be relentless and decisive in completing the Libyan operation, and taking you on to make military action unnecessary when peaceful and democratic uprising becomes inevitable in Rwanda.
Paul Kagame: The issue is not so much about regime change as it is about saving lives, but we cannot ignore the link between what is happening in Libya and the acts of the current administration.
Theogene Rudasingwa: Have you finally seen the connection between regime change and saving lives? I doubt that you have witnessed an AHA! moment with regard to Rwanda. You should not cry “wolf!” when Rwandans suggest to you that it is time for regime change. Rwandans are groaning under the yoke of ethnic polarization, conflict, gross human rights abuses, endless refugee problems, lack of fundamental freedoms, closure of political space and severe limits to the rule of law. That is the basis for changing your regime, and the tide of time is against you. Gaddafi waited for 40 years. Unfortunately you do not have that much time.
Paul Kagame: From the African perspective there are important lessons to learn, the main one being that we as the African Union need to respond faster and more effectively to situations such as these.
Theogene Rudasingwa: Correct. But how could the African Union be truly effective and take a stand against Gaddafi when in fact a good number of African leaders were recipients of his petrodollars? You know this as much as I do. And what moral authority would you have, Mr. President, to call Gaddafi into account when you have plenty of skeletons in your own closet?
Paul Kagame: This is not sufficient for our Continent: we should be doing, and seen to be doing, the right thing at the right time – not from the sidelines of operations such as this, but right at the heart of solutions to the problems that are facing our people.
Theogene Rudasingwa: Yes, Africans should be doing the right things, most of the time, and at the center of solutions for problems that face African people. This should not wait until Africa’s house is on fire for then the harm is already done. When Africa’s dictators like you burn their own house, and compete to kill your own people, do you expect foreigners to respect and consult you? No! Respect your own people and others will respect you. Have morals and the world will listen and seek to harness your moral authority. Do the first things (freedom, human rights, equal political and economic opportunity, etc.) and others will value you as responsible equal partners, and not backward enclaves destined for perpetual poverty and deadly conflict.
Paul Kagame: The truth is that African countries, including Rwanda, have made concerted efforts at political and economic reform in recent years, and should now be highly attractive to foreign investors. I am convinced that Africa presents the next frontier for business.
Theogene Rudasingwa: Stop this endless litany of making absurd claims of political and economic reforms. The truth is that Rwanda stands naked before Rwandans, who bear the effects of your absolute rule, and sham of economic growth. You cannot even support young Rwandan boys and girls in your universities. The companies you personally control continue to siphon off Rwanda’s resources for your private use and in illicit operations against Rwandans. The majority of Rwandans live in crushing poverty. Political opposition leaders are languishing in jail. Refugees are crying out from far and near. And you talk of attracting foreign investors? If you had told me Africa is the next frontier of freedom and democracy as the central underpinnings of good business and sustainable prosperity, I would have believed you. How much money did Gaddafi have? How much foreign investment? Now all in flames!
Paul Kagame: Second, African Union support for Operation Odyssey Dawn would have acted as a further deterrent to other African leaders who might be tempted to target their own people with violence. The uprising in Libya has already sent a message to leaders in Africa and beyond. It is that if we lose touch with our people, if we do not serve them as they deserve and address their needs, there will be consequences.
Theogene Rudasingwa: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Mr. President! Are Rwandans listening? Is the international community listening? You have not just been “tempted,” you have targeted and continue to target your own people with violence. You have lost touch with your own people. You do not serve them as they deserve. Will there be consequences for you, Rwandans and Rwanda’s neighbors? Absolutely!
Paul Kagame: Their grievances will accumulate – and no matter how much time passes, they can turn against you.
Theogene Rudasingwa: Oh, my God! Remember Nathan’s rebuke? How much accumulated grievance from Rwandans (Hutu, Tutsi and Twa) do you need to see in order to recognize that your time is up? How much time must elapse to register people’s cries for freedom? And, is the emperor in you so blind that he cannot see that Rwandans have already turned against you? When you have time listen to Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”. Perhaps it might inspire you to do a dramatic U-turn. Only such a road-to-Damascus change of heart from a persecutor to a receiver of grace would save you and Rwandans from a Gaddafi-like end. It is never too late!
Submitted By: Jennifer Fierberg, MSW
Source: The Africa Global Village