Many different sources have exposed the ongoing crimes of the Kagame government and military, both before and after Kagame seized power in Rwanda in July 1994.

Paul KagameLong a favorite of the Clinton and Bush administrations (U.S. diplomatic recognition was immediate, and U.S. military advisors were in Rwanda within days), Kagame’s crimes are reaching huge proportions that require him, and his U.S. admirers, to do something to divert attention from Kagame’s own responsibility for Nkunda’s crimes, as well as many, many others, committed over the past two-decades, including “genocide.”


By Prof. Peter Erlinder

On January 24, Rwandan President Paul Kagame sent 4,000 troops into the Congo to arrest rebel “tutsi”-warlord, Laurent Nkunda, and wipe-out the remaining “hutu-genocidaires” lurking in the eastern Congo . As the New York Times reported in early December 2008, Nkunda is a former Rwandan Army officer and many of his troops also came from Rwanda , including child-soldiers recruited with Rwandan assistance.

The arrest was a surprise because Rwanda ’s military and Kagame, himself, had been supporting Nkunda’s “terror” in the eastern Congo for years. The Times later reported that Nkunda is not actually imprisoned in Rwanda , and that the real reason for the “arrest” may have been that he had become a political liability for Kagame. He simply knows too much about Rwandan crimes in the Congo and during the 1994 Rwandan “genocide” for Kagame to permit him to remain “on the loose.”

And, with good reason.

Over the past two years, many different sources have exposed the ongoing crimes of the Kagame government and military, both before and after Kagame seized power in Rwanda in July 1994. Long a favorite of the Clinton and Bush administrations (U.S. diplomatic recognition was immediate, and U.S. military advisors were in Rwanda within days), Kagame’s crimes are reaching huge proportions that require him, and his U.S. admirers, to do something to divert attention from Kagame’s own responsiblity for Nkunda’s crimes, as well as many, many others, committed over the past two-decades, including “genocide.”

UN and Media Confirm: “Kagame is the Author of Massive Congo Crimes”

In addition to the Times article, in early December Kagame’s Congo crimes were further documented in a December 12, 2008 UN Security Council-commissioned report that describes Rwanda ’s 12-year occupation of a huge part of the Congo 5-times larger than Rwanda , itself. The UN report, which was also widely reported by the international media, makes clear that the Kagame’s Rwandan-elites, and well-connected Ugandans in the north, are getting rich on the resources of the Congo , while killing more than 6-million Africans in the process.

More people are being killed in the Congo every 4-6 months than the 250,000 that have been killed in Darfur in the past 10-years, allegedly by a Sudanese government the U.S. opposes.

A fact that raises disturbing questions about why the international “human rights” community has been relatively quiet about the massive crimes in the Congo , by surrogates the U.S. supports.

But this is not really new information for anyone paying close attention to the tragedy unfolding in the Congo . According to Security Council reports in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2008; reports by third-world “raw-materials watchdog” Global Witness; and, even President Clinton’s former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Herman J. Cohen, (IHT December 13, 2008), Rwandan and Ugandan invasions of the Congo since 1996 have been fueled by the grab for Congo’s raw materials, and that neither Nkunda nor “hutu-militias” are the real reasons for the decades-long war, that again threatens to explode, in a repeat of the1998-2002 “First “World War of Africa.”

Kagame’s “About Face” on Nkunda: A Strategy for His Own Survival

The four UN reports, make clear that Rwanda has used the presence of Rwandan refugees in the Congo as justification for Rwanda ’s “resource grab.” Of the 2-million Rwandans who fled Kagame’s regime, only a small number could possibly have been involved in 1994 crimes and it is their sons and grandsons who are in the camps in the Congo , today. The arrest of Nkunda is yet another fig-leaf to cover the naked plunder that preceded Nkunda’s Congo adventure, and will go on after his “arrest”, at least until Kagame of Rwanda and Museveni of Uganda, are compelled to withdraw from the Congo fields of “blood-diamonds,” “blood-casserite (tin)” and “blood-coltan (cellphones)” that have turned their respective capitals into international trading centers for mineral riches not found in either country….as UN reports over many years have described.

Kagame’s abrupt “about face” in supporting Nkunda does nothing to reduce Rwanda’s long-established resource grab-inspired military dominance of the eastern Congo, but does show that Kagame is being forced to change his tactics, to disguise Rwanda’s actual role in the creating and supporting violence wracking the African Great Lakes region. The most recent invasion to arrest Nkunda is a clever diversionary tactic. But, the UN report and Nkunda’s “bad press” are not Mr. Kagame’s only problems of late.

Kagame’s Problems Deepen as Proof of His Own Crimes Grows

Following the December 2008 UN report, the Netherlands and Sweden cut-off all foreign aid to Rwanda , and others are considering doing so too. Other EU countries are taking their own actions as the true nature of the Kagame regime is being revealed. In early 2008, Spain indicted 40-leading members of Kagame’s government which followed a late 2006 French indictment charging Kagame and his followers with assassinating former Rwandan and Burundian presidents, the crime that triggered 1994 civilian-on-civilian killings in Rwanda.

The Spanish indictment details genocidal-style killings of more than 300,000 civilians by Kagame’s troops during, and after, the 1994 war. Before this indictment, the defendants in the dock at the ICTR had been blamed for all the mass-killings in Rwanda . But, because only the losing-side in the Rwanda war are in the dock, it is clear that the story of the “Rwanda-genocide” will have to be re-examined.

Particularly after it was revealed last year that U.S. Ambassador Pierre Prosper ordered ICTR prosecutor Carla Del Ponte to be removed from office, when she insisted on prosecuting Kagame for the assasination of the former president, the crime that touched-off the “Rwanda genocide” because U.S. policy was to protect Kagame, despite the evidence of his guilt.

In November 2008, Germany also arrested one of Kagame’s retinue under INTERPOL warrants based on the Spanish and French indictment. But, perhaps the least noticed, but potentially most important exposure of the manipulation of the ” Rwanda genocide” story to “cover-up” the crimes of Kagame’s military and government occurred at the UN Tribunal for Rwanda in December 2008.

The UN Rwanda Tribunal December 2008:

“No Genocide Conspiracy or Planning”

On December 18, 2008, a three-judge panel in the Military-1 case at the UN tribunal acquitted the top four military officers of the former Rwandan government of charges of “conspiracy to commit genocide” and “genocide planning”…which completely rejects the whole “Rwanda-story” that has been told by the Kagame regime July 1994, as a way of explaining the massacres that occurred during the 100-assault to seize power that began with Kagame’s assassination of the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on April 6, 1994.

Not only were the four officers acquitted of conspiracy and planning genocide, including “architect of the genocide” Col. Theoneste Bagosora, the highest ranking officer, General Gratien Kabiligi, was acquitted of all charges and was released from more than 10-years of custody. The three-judge panel in the Military-1 case was the first to in the history of the Tribunal to have been presented with long-suppressed UN and US government files that make clear that Kagame and his RPF were the aggressors and Kagame’s military-strategy actually prevented both sides from using troops to stop the massacres the assassination of the two presidents touched off.[2]

The recently revealed documents, and testimony at the UN Tribunal ,confirm that massive civilian-on-civilian violence was predicted to erupt in Rwanda as a consequence of war, because of similar massacres that occurred in neighboring Burundi in late 1993, when the first popularly-elected Burundian president was assassinated by Kagame’s Burundi-military allies. In fact, in late 1993 the US ambassador to Rwanda personally warned Kagame that he would be responsible for the same kind of massive violence, if he resumed the war.

Now evidence ICTR evidence shows that Kagame not only resumed the war, but assassinated two presidents as the opening shot, triggering the same massive killings that had already happened in Burundi six months before.

Previously suppressed UN documents also show that two-weeks after he assassinated Rwandan President Habyarimana…along with a second Burundian president, Kagame told UN General Dallaire that he would not use his troops to stop the massacres because he was winning the war, and the civilian deaths were only “collateral damage for his their war-plan. The April 22, 1994 memo reporting this conversation is in the ICTR evidence.

Kagame also repeatedly refused a ceasefire, proposed by the former military to use troops to stop the massacres touched-off by Habyarimana’s assassination. Documents from the former government repeatedly asking for a ceasefire, and Kagame’s rejections, are also in the ICTR record that the 3-judge panel had before it.

The Unraveling of U.S./UK-Assisted “Cover-up” of Kagame’s Crimes

But, the formerly suppressed documents also reveal that U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher knew of Kagame’s mass-crimes no later than Sept 17, 1994. Other documents confirm a U.S.-engineered “cover-up” of Kagame’s crimes has been going on since that time. UN documents confirm that the UN knew about mass civilian-killings by Kagame’s forces by May 17, 1994, at the latest.

The documents also establish that the UN prosecutor and former Canadian Supreme Court Justice, Louise Arbour, knew that Kagame had assassinated the former President in 1997, but refused to act despite the recommendation a former FBI agent; an Australian Queen’s Prosecutor; and UN Gen. Dallaire’s own Chief of Military Intelligence. First she refused to prosecute, then shut down the investigation team completely. All of this was merely prelude to Bush administration Ambassador Pierre Prosper removing Ms. Del Ponte from office in 2003, because of his usefulness to the U.S.

Now we know that, because Kagame’s Rwanda crimes were covered-up by the U.S. in 1994, and because he was not prosecuted at the ICTR for the assassination of the previous president in 1997 (when Bagosora and other Military-1 defendants were arrested) he has been free to rape the Congo of its riches and to massacre millions. The thousands of pages of UN and U.S. government documents in ICTR evidence, and subsequent events in the Congo will require re-writing the entire story of the “ Rwanda genocide.”

IF Kagame was the “good-guy” in Rwanda (despite the ICTR evidence that the 100-days of hell that his assassination of Habyarimana triggered, and which he told Dallaire in April 1994 was all part of his war-plan), the 2001-08 UN-Security Council reports of Kagame’s crimes in the Congo show that he and his military must have done complete “about-face” of another kind, as soon as they took power in Rwanda in July 1994.

Kagame Has Found Nkunda Expendable – Will President Obama Continue U.S. It “Kagame Impunity” Policy?

Mr. Nkunda must now appreciate the well-known risks of relying on a patron for one’s own power…the patron may no-longer have need of the client’s services. Nkunda has merely found himself in a situation similar to Panama ’s U.S.-sponsored dictator Manuel Noriega, whose arrest was used to justify the invasion of Panama by the Bush-1 administration, when Noriega outlived his Cold War usefulness.

And, this is not even the first time that Rwanda has invaded the Congo remove a “no-longer-useful” leader. In 1996, Congo ’s president for 30-plus “Cold War” years, Mobutu Sese Seko, was removed in a joint Rwanda/Uganda U.S. and U.K.-supported invasion, and replaced by Ugandan-client Joseph Kabila, once Mobutu’s value as an anti-communist “bulwark” was outweighed by the public relations-downside of his well-known criminal rule.

At least Nkunda can be grateful that he didn’t meet the same fate as another leader who ran afoul of U.S. interests in the Congo in an earlier era. In 1961 Patrice Lumumba was assassinated, not arrested. Of course, if Nkunda begins to spill what he knows about Kagame’s crimes in Rwanda and the Congo ….”accidents” can happen.

The most recent Rwandan invasion to throw Nkunda “under the bus” in an effort to shore-up Kagame’s image is actually an admission of the deep trouble in which Kagame finds himself, and the deep embarrassment he is becoming to his U.S. and U.K. patrons, who have protected him for over a decade. The December 2008 UN report; the European indictments; and, the formerly suppressed documents in ICTR evidence, taken together, raise the real possibility that the Obama administration may find that Mr. Kagame has also outlived his usefulness. When that day arrives, Paul Kagame’s name will be added to the long list of former U.S. clients who outlived their usefulness and paid the price, like Noriega and Mobutu, but also, lest we forget….Saddam Hussein.

THE ONLY MORAL U.S.-AFRICA POLICY: END SUPPORT FOR KAGAME

Cutting off all western aid to Rwanda, like the Dutch and the Swedes; arresting Kagame and his henchmen under existing INTERPOL warrants, like the Germans; and prosecuting Kagame at the UN Rwanda Tribunal, or the International Criminal Court, will save far more African lives than any “foreign-aid for Africa” program than President Obama or Secretary of State Clinton could possibly conceive. One difficulty, of course, is that the “cover-up” of Kagame’s 1994 crimes in Rwanda was initiated under her predecessor Warren Christopher….Bill Clinton ‘s Secretary of State. Which, in turn, raises difficult questions about Clinton ’s foreign policy in central Africa , as well.

If Mr. Kagame ever does find himself in the dock, after having been “Saddamized” by his former patrons, it will be very interesting to learn what he will have to say about his own crimes in the Congo and in Rwanda…and his “special relationship” with several US administrations that has assisted the “cover-up” of those crimes.…which, may have something to do with why the “Kagame Impunity” policy as continued this long..

On January 24, Rwandan President Paul Kagame sent 4,000 troops into the Congo to arrest rebel “tutsi”-warlord, Laurent Nkunda, and wipe-out the remaining “hutu-genocidaires” lurking in the eastern Congo . As the New York Times reported in early December 2008, Nkunda is a former Rwandan Army officer and many of his troops also came from Rwanda , including child-soldiers recruited with Rwandan assistance.

The arrest was a surprise because Rwanda ’s military and Kagame, himself, had been supporting Nkunda’s “terror” in the eastern Congo for years. The Times later reported that Nkunda is not actually imprisoned in Rwanda , and that the real reason for the “arrest” may have been that he had become a political liability for Kagame. He simply knows too much about Rwandan crimes in the Congo and during the 1994 Rwandan “genocide” for Kagame to permit him to remain “on the loose.”

Prof. Peter Erlinder teaches at the Wm. Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul , MN

[1] Prof. of Law, Wm. Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, MN; past-President, National Lawyers Guild, NY; President, ICTR-ADAD (Association des Avocats de la Defence), Arusha, TZ; Lead-counsel, ICTR-Military-1 Trial, Ntabakuze Defence. 651-290-6384/ [email protected]

[2] In the interests of full disclosure: As Ntabakuze Lead Defence Counsel, these documents were unearthed and put into ICTR evidence for the first time by the author between 2005 and 2007.