President Paul Kagame visiting William Penn University

By: Jennifer Fierberg, MSW

President Paul Kagame will be addressing William Penn University for their commencement speech to the graduating class of 2012 on May 12th, 2012. It is apparent that this school has no idea of his record of human right abuses. At this even he will be receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters for his contributions to the humanities and human welfare. Please contact the university president and others using the information below in order to stop this atrocity. If enough of us act then maybe it can be stopped as it was in San Francisco.

A concerned friend of Rwanda stated the following; “While I applaud your University’s relationship with the Rwandan people and the celebration of the graduation of Rwandan students, I find your celebration of Kagame to be a grave insult to the millions of dead and those of us who crave justice and God’s mercy.  While I am not a Quaker, I am a Christian Pacifist, and I find it appalling that any university would celebrate the rule of any leader who came to power through such violent and oppressive means.  Am I to assume with using your logic that we classify Hitler as a successful leader since he did, after all, revitalize the German economy, and we sweep under the “rug” the fact that he was also responsible for millions of deaths?”

In a detailed letter requesting the President of William Penn University to reconsider having President Paul Kagame address the graduating class of 2012 he had the following to say:

Dean Gambell:

I am writing to you concerning your university’s decision to have President Paul Kagame of Rwanda to give the commencement address this year.  While it is true that no international leader is without controversy, President Kagame’s record on human rights abuses speaks volumes of this man’s character.  I strongly request that you rescind the invitation to have this man speak at the commencement ceremony.

*In August 2011, before the presidential election, there was a major halt of freedom of expression allowing President Kagame to win with 93% of the vote.

*Bernard Ntaganda, and Victor Ingabire, both leaders of opposition parties were arrested for criticizing government policy.

*Since 2009, journalist rights have been highly restricted forcing many journalists to flee Rwanda for their own safety.

*Between March and May 2011, at least four individuals have disappeared, presumably at the hand of Kagame’s government.

*Members of opposition political parties have been arrested and beaten. President Kagame controls the RPF Political Party, only functioning political party in Rwanda.

*In 2008, a Spanish judge indicted 40 Rwandan Military Officers for human rights abuses and genocide that took place in the 1990’s when several million Rwandans died or disappeared – this judge found criminal activity on the part of President Kagame, however he is immune from indictment due to being a head of state.

*In October 2011, Former Secretary General of the RPF, Dr. Theogene Rudasingua stated in an “open confession” that President Kagame personally ordered the assassination of Former President Habyarimana that set off the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.  This is backed by a French investigation completed in January 2012.

*In 1996, according to the United Nations Mapping Report, Rwanda (posing as militias) attacked Zaire (Now called the Democratic Republic of Congo) attacking Hutus in genocidal proportions.

*President Kagame’s role in both the First and Second Congo Wars cannot be overlooked where between 3.8-7.8 Million humans were killed.

All of this information can be found from a simple web-search, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, United Nations Documents, and major media reports.

Kagame’s violent rule continues to this day as he suppresses journalism, opposition parties, and orders assassinations of dissenters – even those in other countries.

The stain on the hands of William Penn University would be unfathomable if you allow President Kagame to continue as commencement speaker.

This travesty would also go against the namesake of your university, William Penn, who was a Quaker who championed the rights of those in politics, religious minorities, and was a man who believed that all humans were equal and sacred in the eyes of God.

I am strongly requesting that you rescind your invitation to President Kagame and do not award him an Honorary Doctorate because of his obvious neglect of human rights and ties to genocide.  This genocidal dictator is not an appropriate role model for any human being, much less for college graduates.

Please forward this communication to anyone who has a role in planning the commencement exercises at your university.

In the Name of God’s Peace:

A friend of Rwanda


There is a call script below.

Here the people to call at the university:

1. President of William Penn University; Dr. Ann Fields


2. Vice President of Advancement, Steve Noah


3. Marketing Media Director – William Penn University


4. Jared Pierce, Chairman of the Humanities Division


5. Michael Collins, Head of Social & Behavioral Sciences


Here is the call script

Calling The University Officials and Administrators:

Note: When you call the university, ask if the person you’re speaking to is the right person with whom you report grievances regarding university guests. If not, ask with whom you can speak to express your grievances, and call them right of way with the same script.

Hi [person picking up phone by name if applicable], my name is ____________ and

I’m calling because I have serious concerns about William Penn University’s partnership and collaboration with the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. President Kagame stand accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of genocide in the Great Lakes of Africa. [Give a personal story if you have one]. Please rescind his invitation as soon as possible, and support democracy and human rights in Rwanda and Congo.

[Your choice words, speaking of the plundering of minerals in the DRC, the millions of deaths caused by the invasions of Rwanda and Uganda into the Congo, the lack of democratic space in Rwanda, the fear of assassination faced by exiled Rwandans, and refugees, etc.] (Source:{jacomment on}

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