Canada: Stop training Militia members for Rwanda
We, the members of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), hereby petition the Government of Canada and the Council of Gatineau City to cancel a program of the Government of Rwanda to recruit Canadian citizens and Rwandans living in Canada into a Rwandan militia group and provide indoctrination and military training to the group in Gatineau city. The training of the ‘Intore’ militia is scheduled to take place from August 4th to August 8th, 2011.
In the early 1990s, elements of the Government and party that were in power at the time established, trained and armed militia groups, known as Interahamwe and Impuzamigambi, to help them resist and frustrate popular demand for democratic reform. Members of these militia groups, comprising mainly the youth, were indoctrinated to violently defend the agenda of the dictatorial regime that was in power at that time, by harassing, hunting down and killing government critics, especially members of opposition political parties.
The Interahamwe and Impuzamigambi militia degenerated into murderous gangs that became very instrumental in carrying out the genocide against the Tutsi and crimes against humanity and other gross human rights violations against opponents of the regime. Political leaders who were opposed to democratic reform used these militia groups to carry out atrocities in which hundreds of thousands of innocent Rwandan men, women and children perished.
The Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), the rebel group that took over government after the genocide, has failed to lead the country to democracy. Instead, the organization has re-established a one-party, authoritarian system of government that is even more repressive than the government that was in power prior to the genocide. The Government that rules Rwanda today has no legitimacy in reality and in the perception of the people of Rwanda.
The RPF Government of Rwanda maintains its hold onto power through acts of repression, including arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings of critics and opponents of the regimes. Persons who have been targeted by these acts of persecution include political leaders, journalists, human rights defenders, and civil society activists. These acts of politically motivated persecution and violence have been committed in and outside Rwanda, and especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and have been documented throughout the years by all major international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, and the United Nations Human Rights Commission, to name but a few.
Over the past several years, the current Government of Rwanda and President Kagame have established, indoctrinated, provided military training to, and created and armed two new militia groups, known as the Local Defence Forces and Intore. Members of the Intore militia in particular include recruits living in foreign countries, including Canada. The modus operandi of these new militia groups is similar to that of the Interahamwe and Impuzamigambi militia of the early 1990s. The Local Defence Forces and Intore receive both ideological and military training to prepare them for the tasks of suppressing legitimate exercise of civil and political rights by Rwandans who are not members of the RPF. The objective of Local Defence Forces and Intore is to harass and, if necessary, liquidate all political opposition to the regime, including critics of the government living in foreign countries such as Canada.
President Paul Kagame regularly and personally attends part of the training and the passing out parade for the Local Defence Forces and Intore.
The Intore militia training in Canada is scheduled to be conducted in Gatineau, Quebec from 4th-8th August, 2011. The objective for the establishment of a Canada branch of the Intore militia is to persecute Rwandans living in Canada and the United States of America who are critical of President Paul Kagame. It is also likely that some of the members of the Intore militia trained at the Canadian camp may in future be deployed in Rwanda where they are likely to be involved in torture and extra-judicial killings of political opponents of the Government of Rwanda and to commit war crimes, war against humanity and other offences against innocent civilians in Rwanda.
We are apprehensive that some of the militia members who participate in the training in question will be used to intimidate and possibly harm the lives of critics of the Rwandan government living in Canada and the United States. We consider it extremely regrettable that the Government of Rwanda should be permitted to organize indoctrination and military programs of militia groups which are instruments of repression and the suppression of the fundamental and inalienable human rights of the people of Rwanda. We are appalled in particular that youth who are Canadian citizens should be exposed to indoctrination that preaches intolerance of the political views of other citizens and incitement to participate in criminal activities against opponents of the Rwandan government of the day.
In view of these worrying developments, we wish to draw to your urgent attention, and to the attention of the Canadian government and public, the following facts:
1. President Paul Kagame is a notorious war criminal who has caused horrendous loss of innocent lives in both Rwanda and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
2. President Kagame is a dictator who has suppressed the Rwandan people’s aspirations for freedom by outlawing opposition political parties, closing independent media outlets, restricting the freedom of civil society organizations to hold government accountable and torturing, imprisoning and sometimes killing government critics.
3. It is against the values of Canada that a dictatorial regime which denies its people of fundamental freedoms should be allowed to indoctrinate hatred and intolerance among Canadian youth.
4. It is a flagrant and intolerable violation of the laws of Canada for the Government of Rwanda to recruit and train, on Canadian territory, Canadian and Rwandan youth into a criminal militia entity that is an instrument of political repression and is likely to be used to commit grave human rights abuse inside Rwanda and in foreign countries, including Canada.
5. The Canadian government will in future be held accountable for the violations of international human rights laws and international humanitarian laws that may be committed by such unofficial militia of the Government of Rwanda whose development the government of Canada is facilitating indirectly by allowing such training to take place on Canadian territory. Members of the opposition movement, especially its leaders who now languish in prison in Rwanda on account of their political views and many Rwandans who aspire for political freedom do not countenance how the Canadian Government would condone and allow such actions of the dictatorial regime of President Paul Kagame.
6. It is most regrettable that the city of Gatineau will host the activities to support a murderous leader who has committed heinous acts of human rights violations at home and in neighboring countries.
In view of the foregoing, we call upon the city of Gatineau, the province of Quebec and the Canadian Government to:
(1) Cancel the training of Intore militia that is scheduled to be conducted at Gatineau, Quebec,from 4th to 8th August, 2011;
(2) Monitor the criminal activities of Rwandan diplomatic and under-cover personnel in charge of organizing the training of the above-mentioned militia;
(3) Prosecute agents of the Rwandan Government known or found to be planning criminal or terrorist activities against Rwandan and Canadian citizens on Canadian territory;
(4) Warn the Government of Rwanda to stop all criminal activities which endanger the lives of Rwandans and Canadian citizens of Rwandese ancestry living in Canada whom the Government of Rwanda is persecuting because they are critical of the Rwanda’s government;
(5) Demand an end to persecution (including arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, involuntary disappearances and extra-judicial killings) of government opponents and critics and their relatives;
(6) Condition the provision of the development assistance that Canada extends to the Rwandan government on political reforms, including opening up political space for political participation and allowing opposition parties and civil society to function freely;
(7) Ensure that the financial aid that Canada provides to Rwanda does not fund operations of entities and individuals serving the Government of the Rwandan state that are involved in terrorist or criminal activities or activities that violate fundamental human rights; and,
(8) Advise the Government of Rwanda to agree to a comprehensive dialogue with the opposition on ways for resolving the political impasse engulfing Rwanda.
Rwanda’s tragedy of 1994 left so many in the international community, including Canada, with a sense of guilt that they wish they had known and done better to prevent or stop the carnage that engulfed Rwanda, leaving more than a million of its citizens dead. Unfortunately, Rwanda’s tragedy continues unabated. It is the expectation of the majority of Rwandans that Canada will support all Rwandans to build a free, united, democratic, stable and prosperous Rwanda that will begin to reconcile and heal at last. If Canada is unable to provide help to respond to the plight of ordinary Rwandans, at least it should do no harm. As the English sayings go: “a stitch in time saves nine”, and “forewarned is forearmed”.
Please accept, the Right Honorable Prime Minister, the assurances of our highest consideration.
Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa
Rwanda National Congress (RNC)
1. Hon. Mayor Marc Bureau, City of Gatineau
2. Hon. William J.S.Elliot, Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
3. Hon. John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs