Open Letter to William Penn University on Rwanda’s Paul Kagame

President Kagame and Steve Noah
Steven Noah—William Penn University’s Vice President for Government Relations, Outreach & Special Projects—smiling as he stands with the “Darling Dictator of the Day,” the “isolated autocrat” with “links to ethnic killings,” and who is being accused of “war crimes.”

To: [email protected]

CC: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],


I, and many others, contacted you not even three months ago—see “Rwanda’s Top Genocidaire, General Kagame, to give Commencement speech at William Penn Univeristy“—to beg you not to host Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame due to his record as a war criminal and human rights abuses. You referred to him as “His Excellency,” and wanted to award him with an honorary doctorate “for his contributions to the humanities or human welfare.” And despite that a tremendous amount of evidence was presented to you exposing him as a genocidal mass-murderer, you crassly dismissed us and went ahead with your plans.

But history is quickly tarnishing your image now that the U.S. government and mainstream media have finally begun reporting more accurately on Kagame’s record.

In case you did not notice: Things began to change for President Kagame shortly after you hosted him.

It started when a “UN report on Rwanda fuelling Congo conflict” was reported by the The Guardian UK.

The UN report, said it had “gathered evidence of arms embargo and sanctions regime violations committed by the Rwandan Government,” which included:

• Direct assistance in the creation of M23 through the transport of weapons and soldiers through Rwandan territory
• Recruitment of Rwandan youth and demobilized ex-combatants as well as Congolese refugees for M23
• Provision of weapons and ammunition to M23
• Mobilization and lobbying of Congolese political and financial leaders for the benefit of M23
• Direct Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) interventions into Congolese territory to reinforce M23
• Support to several other armed groups as well as Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) mutinies in the eastern Congo
• Violation of the assets freeze and travel ban through supporting sanctioned individuals.

Perhaps the media blitz against Kagame began in late May, when in a rare move, the New York Times referred to President Kagame as America’s “Darling Dictator of the Day.”

I wrote on this article at the time by stating that it “is an extraordinary development at the ‘paper of record’ that Paul Kagame would be called the ‘Darling Dictator of the Day’ who is clamping down on dissent at home while committing serious crimes in Democratic Republic of Congo,” and that “it could be a sign of the Darling’s day having ended,” But I warned that “if this is indeed the case, it is important to not only hold Kagame to account, but also U.S. officials who have facilitated him, backed him, and quite possibly directed him.” The weight of this last statement increases with the various news coverage noted below.

Recently Yahoo News! carried an AFP article which claimed: “US in major policy shift in Rwanda.”

This “major policy shift in Rwanda” was rapid.

The Guardian UK has covered Kagame’s fall from grace with such headlines as:

Rwanda’s Paul Kagame warned he may be charged with aiding war crimes.”

The end of the west’s humiliating affair with Paul Kagame.”

UK blocks £16m aid to Rwanda.”

Financial Times has also published a number of articles on the matter:

Kagame and Congo.”

US warns Rwanda over alleged war crimes.”

Dutch suspend Rwanda budget support.”

Rwanda: An isolated autocrat.”

Foreign Policy Magazine recently asked in a headline “Has Rwanda’s Paul Kagame lost his American protector?

Canada’s The Globe and Mail published this article: “U.S. fires warning shot to Rwandan president over links to ethnic killings.”

The International Business Times used the headline “Rwanda Losing Western Favor On Suspicions Of Congo Rebel Aid.”

South Africa’s Mail & Guardian has reported that “Rwanda loses German aid over DRC unrest.”

UPI has joined the bandwagon with the headline “DRC blame focused on Rwanda.”

Even the Turkish Weekly has noted “Netherlands Suspends Rwanda Aid.”

Read between the lines and consider your embarassing behavior last spring:

“War crimes.”

“Isolated autocrat.”

“Links to ethnic killings.”

“Humilitating affair.”

It is not too late to correct your mistake.

So, I wonder if William Penn University has any intention on rescending the award, and making an official apology.

 Michael M’Gehee

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