By the time of writing this note the petition referred to has already gathered 4,335 signatures. It was launched on Tuesday 07/05/13 by Salvator Cusamano, M. Sc Candidate at the University of Oxford and intern at Fahamu Refugee Legal Aid in Oxford.
On the same day he and the founding director of the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University, Barbara Harrell-Bond, wrote to the Dean of the institution requesting the cancellation of Kagame’s invitation.
On April 30th I had put online a petition in the same line of intentions as the one written by Cusamano. On May 2nd, having certainly come across it he emailed me asking about the objective. I replied back. Some days later he had his running.
As the momentum for the cancellation of the visit kept going, Joyce Lewell of the pro-Kagame camp who was certainly watching the growing number of people supporting the appeal launched their own petition.
However after a fast start, the latter reached a ceiling point of 2186 which it has been moving away from very slowly. The petition calling for the cancellation is worth double the one trying to sideline the request to the organizers of the event.
It emerged that those signing the petition pleading for cancellation are from all over the world. Understandably the majority are Congolese people whose country has been devastated by Paul Kagame’s persistent wars.
What the diversity of signatures tells us is that the humanitarian tragedy that the Rwandan president is responsible of both in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo is getting more and more attention from the general public.
8 millions of Congolese and Rwandans have lost their lives, and the suffering of survivors is ongoing because of one single man though backed by the support of a conglomerate of interests.
For more than two decades, the UN has been only counting the number of victims in the Great Lakes region. As in the case of other recent social revolutions, change in DRC and Rwanda is getting closer and closer to its tipping point. And it might come from unexpected constituencies as this was in Northern Africa in recent years.