US Congress writes to John Kerry about Kagame’s persistent criminal actions against his dissidents

US Congress On 11 March 2014, Edward R. Royce, chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs in the US Congress wrote to the Secretary of State John Kerry highlighting the Congress concerns about Kagame’s criminal actions against Rwandan politicians opposed to his government.

Twenty years have passed that US have been an unconditional sponsor of the Rwandan government because Kigali plays an important role in the defence of American interests in the Great Lakes region even beyond, particularly through UN peacekeeping missions where involvement of Rwandan soldiers benefit more Kagame and US than ordinary citizens. The US backing of RPF has been costly in terms of millions of lives that have been wasted since 1990 in Rwanda and 1996 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The question that could be asked is this: Is US now realizing that time has come for regime change in Rwanda? The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs is in his letter saying to the Secretary of State that,

“President Kagame’s actions are louder than our words.”

Does the Congress want that Obama government do more than condemning? Time will tell if this is not another political game of saying one thing but doing the opposite.

From the Media Contact at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs:

Calls for reassessment of relations with Kigali

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to express his concern for the safety of those speaking out against the Kagame regime in Rwanda.  Specifically, the Chairman urged Secretary Kerry to reevaluate U.S. engagement with Rwanda, including future assistance.

In the letter to Secretary Kerry, Chairman Royce wrote: “I appreciate the State Department condemnation of President Kagame’s remarks and expressions of concern about the “succession” of politically motivated murders of prominent Rwandan exiles. Yet, President Kagame’s actions are louder than our words.  Legitimate opposition figures rightly fear for their lives. Allowing President Kagame’s violent rhetoric and the slaying of dissidents abroad to go unchecked will only embolden the regime. Toward that end, I encourage you to closely reevaluate U.S. engagements with Rwanda and take into account these troubling actions when considering future assistance.”

The signed letter to Secretary Kerry is available HERE.

The text of the letter follows:

March 11, 2014

The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am writing to express my deep concern over the numerous attempted attacks and killings of Rwandan dissidents living outside that country. Any functioning and responsible democracy allows the voices of opposition to be heard. Yet in Rwanda there is a systematic effort to silence – by any means necessary – the voices of those who question the regime in Kigali.

As you know, Patrick Karegeya, a prominent Rwandan opposition figure and former high ranking government official, was killed in South Africa earlier this year. Last week, armed gunmen attacked the home of another popular Rwandan opposition figure in South Africa, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.  This latest attack marks the third assassination attempt against Kayumba in recent years, and has led to the expulsion of Rwandan diplomats from South Africa.  Paul Rusesabagina, the well-known Rwandan humanitarian and anti-genocide activist, has told me of attempts to intimidate and threaten him. Karegya’s murder and the numerous assassination attempts on Kayumba are just the most recent examples of the many Rwandan dissidents who have been killed, exiled, tortured, and unjustly imprisoned over the years.

Rather than condemning targeted attacks against popular opposition figures, President Paul Kagame publicly celebrates them, many times falling just short of taking personal credit. Even while denying accusations of official involvement in the Karegeya assassination, President Kagame told the press, “I actually wish Rwanda did it. I really wish it.” Consistently in public remarks, President Kagame indicates that there will be “consequences” for those who question his authority. During an official visit to Rwanda by Maina Kiai, a U.N. Special Rapporteur tasked with examining a country’s freedom of peaceful assembly, found that “peaceful public disagreement with the [Rwandan] government is equivalent to criminality.”

I appreciate the State Department condemnation of President Kagame’s remarks and expressions of concern about the “succession” of politically motivated murders of prominent Rwandan exiles. Yet, President Kagame’s actions are louder than our words.  Legitimate opposition figures rightly fear for their lives. Allowing President Kagame’s violent rhetoric and the slaying of dissidents abroad to go unchecked will only embolden the regime. Toward that end, I encourage you to closely reevaluate U.S. engagements with Rwanda and take into account these troubling actions when considering future assistance.

While I am cognizant of the strategic role Rwanda’s security forces play in peacekeeping missions throughout the continent, this should not blind us to the regime’s attempts to violently close the political space for opposition voices. As we prepare to mark the twenty year anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda – which claimed the lives of over 800,000 people in just three months and sparked a regional conflict that has yet to be resolved – the friends of Rwanda must ensure that we do not, once again, miss the warning signs of political dysfunction and repression. I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to working with you to ensure that Rwandan dissidents can speak freely without fear for their lives.

Sincerely,

EDWARD R. ROYCE
Chairman

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