“As a key partner, we are very happy to be working with the Rwandan Defense Force as they seek to improve their capacity to do various peacekeeping missions as well as contribute in other ways to bringing peace to this region. And what we’re doing as a part of this visit is demonstrating to our Rwandan friends that we indeed are a committed partner… And by so doing, that stability is felt around the world…” —General William E. Ward, U.S. AFRICOM, press conference, Kigali, Rwanda, April 22, 2010
The U.S. “war on terror” destabilizes popular governments, communities, and indigenous societies all over the globe. This has occurred in the Great Lakes region of Africa, where people face the complete destruction of everything they know. The U.S. has for years intervened in the region—Union Carbide was in control of the SOMI- KIVU mines in the Congo’s Kivu provinces in the early 1960s. Through an expanding military partnership with key agents in Central Africa since 1980, U.S. interventions have produced an unprecedented loss of life, facilitated by U.S. government polices, covert military operations, and guerrilla warfare, all cloaked in euphemisms of “peacekeeping,” “humanitarianism,” and “development.”
Now Rwanda and Uganda (Ethiopia right behind them) have become the Pentagon’s primary bases of operations in Africa from which millions of dollars of military hardware and Pentagon-trained African proxy warriors are routed into Congo and Burundi, but also far beyond these to the Pentagon’s theaters of operation in Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia—even to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti.
The United States has a long history of supporting brutal regimes. The Western mass media system provides cover stories and blankets the truth with propaganda campaigns—formally named “perception management”—devised by corporate foundation think tanks like the Center for American Progress. The contemporary apocalypse in began with the guerrilla war led by Yoweri Museveni, with Paul Kagame as his director of military intelligence. The Kagame/Museveni guerrilla warfare in Uganda set a course that determined the fate of millions of innocent people in Central Africa where the death toll continues to mount.
In October 1990, the Ugandan Army and the Rwandan Patriotic Front/Army (RPF) led by Kagame invaded Rwanda. These guerrillas, who violated international laws and committed massive war crimes, were backed by Britain, the United States, and Israel. They were Ugandans. They were not “a stateless people.” They were Tutsi elites, extremists bent on recovering power, who had attacked Rwanda repeatedly over the decades.
On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying the presidents and top military staff of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down over Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. The assassinations of Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira sparked a massive escalation of war that is portrayed as meaningless tribal savagery rather than a response to criminal assassinations.
After more than 18 years of disinformation about Rwanda, the “Rwanda Genocide” is one of the most widely misunderstood events in contemporary history (see, e.g., Davenport and Stam, “What Really Happened in Rwanda?” October 6, 2009, miller-mccune.com). According to the official story, extremist Hutus in the government and military committed an orchestrated and pre-planned genocide of 800,000 to 1.2 million people from the Tutsi minority from April 6 to about July 16, 1994.
In reality, the invading RPF were the preponderant killers, most victims were Hutus, and the numbers of dead during those 100 days were far less than reported. The RPF typically killed everyone in its path. Kagame did not trust any Tutsis who stayed in Rwanda after pogroms that created the Tutsi exile community prior to the Habyarimana government (1973-1994) and so the RPF also targeted the Tutsis. But under the new power structure there were strong motivations to accuse the stigmatized Hutus of all the war crimes. The final insult to truth came with the assertion that the RPF “stopped the genocide by winning the war.”
On November 17, 2006, French anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguière issued international war crimes indictments after concluding that the RPF, under Kagame’s direct orders, carried out the surface-to air-missile attacks on the airplane carrying the two presidents. Likewise, on February 6, 2008, a Spanish court delivered international arrest warrants against 40 of the top military officials in the Rwandan regime. (President Kagame was not indicted only because heads of state have immunity.) The RPF officials are charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between 1990 and 2002. Rwandan General Karake Karenzi, also indicted, was nonetheless contracted as the deputy force commander for the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur, another “peacekeeping” euphemism for the Pentagon-NATO proxy war targeting Sudan’s Islamic government of Omar al Bashir. The UN urged the Rwandan government to replace Karenzi after the Spanish indictments, but the UN reversed itself after Kagame threatened the withdrawal of 3,000 RDF troops from Darfur.
In contrast to these scattered indictments against the RPF, international legal instruments like the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR) and now the International Criminal Court, backed by Western governments—the U.S., UK, Belgium, Canada, Britain, and Israel, in particular—actively assist the Kagame regime in hunting refugees and critics. These governments backed the Rwanda Patriotic Front’s guerrilla war (1990-1994) and the years of terrorism that have followed (1994-2010).
Neighboring Rwanda, eastern Congo’s North and South Kivu provinces are occupied and controlled by criminal networks from Rwanda and Uganda. In the DRC, there are countless sites of atrocities committed by the RPF and Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) as they marched across the country, calling themselves the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Zaire/Congo (ADFL). They slaughtered perhaps as many as 600,000 unarmed refugees (1996-1997), mostly women and children under 15 years of age.
Rwanda and Uganda are run by secretive criminal military organizations in parallel with formal government structures, responsible for the systematic and intentional deaths of far more than ten million people since 1980, just counting in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Congo to the present.
The label “Interahamwe” has come to stand for “extremist murderous Hutu militias” and is usually translated from Kinyarwanda to mean “those who attack together.” President Kagame and the RPF military-intelligence apparatus apply this terminology to mean anyone who is in opposition to the Rwandan Patriotic Army/Front movement, its government, or its elite clandestine networks, and in the case of Kagame, even to anyone “I don’t like.” The labels Intera- hamwe and genocidaire are used to dehumanize all Hutu people everywhere. Unfortunately, this dehumanization has been perpetuated through the international mass media, human rights institutions, think tanks, non-government organizations, “peace” organizations, and numerous foreign governments.
It cannot be denied that hundreds of thousands of Tutsis were killed in Rwanda during the 100 days of genocide from April 6 to July 1994. However, the RPF regime also killed many Tutsis and the current regime is responsible for massive bloodshed against all ethnic groups in Rwand. But they are supported internationally due to the economic, political, and military interests at stake.
People accused of “genocide” in Rwanda have been brought before the so-called “community-based” Gacaca tribunals repeatedly. Many innocent civilians have been tried and retried until they were found guilty. By contrast, in December 2008, the Trial Chamber-1 at the ICTR acquitted the four highest-ranking senior military officers of the former government army, the Forces Armee Rwandaise (ex-FAR) —the supposed “masterminds”—of conspiracy to commit genocide. More acquittals were delivered in November 2009, following seven years of trial at the ICTR, where the court found that the prosecutor’s evidence was explained by normal military planning in the course of the four-year Rwandan civil war (1990-1994).
Today, anyone who steps out of line inside Rwanda will immediately be targeted, accused of genocide revisionism or participation in “the genocide” itself. The latest high-profile victims of Kagame’s criminal regime include Victoire Ingabire, a Hutu woman who returned to Rwanda from exile in January to contest the upcoming presidential elections. Ingabire made a public speech on arrival addressing the suppressed debate about genocide in Rwanda and the mass killing of Hutus. She was immediately arrested and continues to be persecuted by the regime and charged with “genocide ideology.”
Also targeted is Professor Peter Erlinder, an International human rights and civil rights attorney and a professor of law at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota and the former lead defense counsel at the ICTR. Erlinder traveled to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, on May 23 to join the defense team of Rwandan presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and was arrested on charges of “genocide denial.” Erlinder was realeased on bail after international pressure, but still faces up to 25 years in prison.
When Victims Become Killers
In mid-November 2009, DRC president Joseph Kabila secretly airlifted a battalion of Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) to crush a new rebellion in Congo where they are perpetrating a scorched earth campaign today. The current death toll in the eastern provinces of Congo alone stands at some 1,500 people per day, with at least 10 million dead in Congo since the U.S.-backed invasion of 1996, and millions of refugees in the Great Lakes member states. Rwandan allied forces in DRC are perpetrating genocide at present in the Kivus, particularly in the lucrative mining areas, while Western media and “humanitarian” agencies are silent.
John Numbi, formerly the head of the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC )Air Force and now inspector general of the Police National Congolaise (CNP), is reported to be Kabila’s main link to Rwandan military officials Kagame and James Kabarebe. Numbi is a regular visitor to Kigali and described as “one of Congo’s most dangerous men.” Numbi is responsible for mass graves in eastern Congo that the United Nations will not investigate, though the most recent United Nations Group of Experts Report also cited direct Congolese National Police (under Numbi) involvement in contraband activities with Rwandan Defense Forces in eastern Congo. On June 2, 2010, Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, the Congo’s leading human rights defender, was assassinated after being summoned to meet with Numbi. Chebeya, founder of the Congolese human rights organization Voix des Sans Voix (Voice of the Voiceless), criticized the human rights abuses of the regimes of President Mobutu Sese Seko, Laurent Désirée Kabila, and Joseph Kabila.
AFRICOM and the U.S.
In mid-March, at an exclusive United States Institute for Peace meeting in Washington, DC, a spokesperson for the U.S. miltary’s African Command (AFRICOM) dismissed AFRICOM involvement in covert operations in Congo. The USIP has funded pro-Kagame disinformation campaigns since the early 1990s, shielding U.S. involvement in Central African war crimes and genocide. AFRICOM information campaigns exclusively project an image of U.S. troops being only involved in humanitarian and peacekeeping operations. Spokesperson Mark Swayne reportedly “apologized” for AFRICOM’s use of Ugandans in building the new AFRICOM base under construction in Kisangani, Congo. Uganda’s organized crime networks and the Ugandan military are hated for their plunder and terror in Congo. The Pentagon’s website identifies the elite U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) as “training” Congolese troops in Kisangani, DRC, and Swayne did not reveal that the Ugandans are mercenaries likely affiliated to Western oil companies (Heritage Oil & Gas, Hardmann Resources, H Oil Company), operating in the Lake Albert basin on the DRC-Uganda border.
One European expatriate who was a direct witness to RPF war crimes and the massacres of scores of thousands of Hutu civilians in Kisangani, Zaire (1996- 1997), under the eye of USAID, World Food Program, UNHCR, and other officials, won a major construction contract for the new AFRICOM base in Kisangani. Construction involves Ugandan, Rwandan, and Tanzanian mercenary forces, while U.S. military and intelligence personnel have overrun one local hotel.
Insiders from the Mission of the United Nations Organization in the Congo (MONUC) in Kinshasa confirm that U.S. military personnel are operating inside the “peacekeeping” mission in the G-2 division of military intelligence at MONUC headquarters in Kinshasa. There is also a Pentagon military intelligence “fusion cell,” tasked with overseeing strategic minerals (essential for U.S. military stockpiles) operating covertly in northeastern Congo (Kisangani) and run by an “ex” marine named “Tom,” two other U.S. military personnel, and Rwandan troops.
The MONUC “peacekeeping” enterprise in Congo is a $1 billion a year operation involving contracts with Pacific Architect & Engineers (PAE), a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin. AFRICOM, NATO, and private military companies Dyncorp and PAE have also been training and flying Ugandan and Rwandan troops to the wars in Somalia and Sudan (Darfur).
There are at least 300 Ugandans backing the U.S. in Afghanistan and more than 10,000 in Iraq, as well as 3,000 Rwandans in Darfure and 2,000 or more Ugandans in Somalia. An unknown number of Rwandan soldiers are also in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are allegations that some Rwandan forces serving in the Pentagon’s overseas war theaters have been forcibly conscripted under threat of “genocide” accusations, trials, and lenthy prison terms. Ugandan troops have been subject to slavery conditions and sezual assaults in Iraq. On June 20, 2010, Rwanda’s former general Kayumba Nyamwasa was shot in an assassination attempt in South Africa. Nyamwasa, also indicted by Spain’s National Court for war crimes, made Kagame’s “hit list” after his outspoken accusations earlier this year of corruption and war profiteering.
keith harmon snow is a war correspondent, photographer, and independent investigator. He is also the 2009 Regent’s Lecturer in Law and Society at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Photos in this article are by him.