Open Letter To President Paul Kagame

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Arusha, Tanzania, 12 May 2009

OBJECT: The denunciation of the discriminatory actions and intentions of the Rwandan authorities.

Your Excellency, President of the Republic,

The detainees of the ICTR, signatories of the present document, have judged it necessary to react to your racist and discriminatory intentions announced by several Rwandan personalities on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Rwandan “genocide”, celebrated on Nyanza hill, at Kigali, 11 April 2009. The Rwandan government stated that 5,000 people were taken from the Official Technical School (ETO) at Kicukiro, 11 April 1994, and were then massacred at Nyanza hill. Those who stated this were Charles Muligande, M. Simburudi, president of the IBUKA Association which represents the Tutsi survivors of the “genocide” and the deputy mayor of Kigali, and Dr. Augustin Iyamuremye, senator and former chief of the civilian intelligence services in the Rwandan government of 1994.

We think that the things said do not take any account of the truth or the reality of the history of our country, but instead, have as a purpose the terrorizing, intimidating and humiliating of the Hutu people of Rwanda, who are globally accused of having planned and committed a “genocide” against the Tutsis. Our reaction is motivated by the fact that the RPF regime wants to wipe from the history of Rwanda the revolutionary period that liberated the people of Rwanda from the yoke of a feudal monarchy and ushered in national construction once the country had achieved its independence. The ultimate objective of the RPF is clearly to erase from the history of Rwanda the benefits of the republican period to better support their false thesis according to which the Hutus only marked the history of the country with barbarism and “genocide” of the Tutsis. It is a false and divisive vision, and clearly, by propagating it, you have abandoned the interests of the Rwandan people.

1. Pre-colonial and Colonial Rwanda cannot be a model
The deputy mayor of Kigali stated, “We want to change history in order to present another Rwanda that is not that of the period between 1959 and 1994, a Rwanda like it was before; the one we inherited from our ancestors; the Rwanda of children who live without division, without hate, without discrimination.” Thus the RPF regime pretends that in the pre-colonial and colonial periods the ethnicities composing the Rwandan nation lived harmoniously in peace, understanding and solidarity. It is a complete reversal of history.[1]

The feudal-monarchical regime of Rwanda is not a model to propose to Rwandans today. It was a period of social, political, economic and cultural inequality and led to the social revolution of 1959. Many writers, including eminent Tutsis in positions of high authority, have written about this.[2]

We think that in the search for durable solutions for our country, the RPF must stop the manipulation and falsification of Rwandan history. We believe that the remedy is to search for a democratic political compromise in a sincere dialogue between the power and its opponents. Such a step cannot be accommodated with obscurantism of the past. We condemn without reservation all attempts to rewrite the history of Rwanda for propaganda and ideological aims that seek the monopolization of power by the Tutsi ethnic group to the exclusion of the others that make up Rwandan society.

2. The Planning Of The Criminal War by the RPF Is The Essential Cause of the Rwandan Tragedy
Minister Muligande stated that “the ‘genocide’ of the Tutsis was planned by the government defeated in July 1994,” without furnishing the least proof of this alleged planning. Very simply, he stated that the ‘genocide’ was taught over a long time by the MDR/PARMEHUTU and later by the MRND. Such statements are nothing but propaganda. The MDR and MRND parties never practiced racism or discrimination against the Tutsis. It is well known that under the Habyarimana regime, between 5 July 1973 and the war in October 1990, the Hutus and Tutsis lived in symbiosis. The ethnic divisions of 1990-1994 were the consequence of the strategy of destabilization carried out by the RPF to rally the Tutsis of the interior of Rwanda to the cause of the RPF Tutsis from Uganda, who had invaded the country, as a means of attracting sympathy in world opinion.

Following the social Revolution of 1959, a number of Tutsi dignitaries could not accept the democratic changes proclaimed by the people, and fled the country, and, for many years, systematically rejected all offers by the government to return peacefully and participate in the construction of the country as Rwandans. They took the Tutsi refugees hostage and prevented them from returning to Rwanda as long as they were not sure of taking back their former power to exercise to their class advantages. The Tutsi Diaspora dominated by these extremists preferred to organize a movement of “liberation” called the INYENZI[3] and conducted several attacks against Rwanda in the 1960s with the aim of taking power by force of arms. It is for this reason that all the calls made by the Rwandan government to the refugees for their peaceful return to the country were made in vain.[4]

The MRND party practiced a policy of peace, national unity and progress that was enormously beneficial to the Tutsis of the country. [5] It is false and unjust to accuse the MRND of having persecuted Tutsis or having refused the right of return to those Tutsis wishing to come back to Rwanda. Everyone knows today that it was the RPF who torpedoed the Accords signed between Rwanda and Uganda under the auspices of the UNHCR on 31 July 1990. Instead of permitting the delegation of refugees expected in Kigali at the end of September 1990 to go to Rwanda and work under the auspices of that Accord to bring about the mass return of refugees, the RPF launched a surprise attack against Rwanda on 1 October 1990, beginning its war of aggression.

You must have the courage to recognize that this war, launched at the moment when a political solution had been found to the refugee problem, is the origin of the Rwandan tragedy. The RPF sowed desolation and created divisions, a climate of terror and distrust among a population subjected to four years of RPF violence. By these terrorist attacks and subversion, the RPF provoked the total destabilization of Rwanda.[6] The RPF planned and executed the attack of 6 April 1994 that took the lives of Presidents Juvénal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi, as well as those of their respective entourages and the French flight-crew, knowing full well that the attack would provoke violence in the country. Directly after shooting down the presidents’ plane, they attacked on all fronts, precipitating total chaos throughout the country. It was the RPF that planned the destruction of the country. This is attested to by the inability of the prosecutor at the ICTR to prove that any plan to commit genocide existed. Indeed, all the heavy condemnations of genocide pronounced against the Hutus before the ICTR are founded on the illegal judicial notice ordered by the Appeals Chamber on 16 June 2006.[7] In Rwanda, courts continue to condemn the Hutus, en masse and without evidence, for allegedly planning “genocide,” all the while refusing any debate on the question.[8]

Despite the judicial notice imposed by the Appeals Chamber of the ICTR on 16 June 2006, in order to condemn the accused at the Tribunal for political reasons, the controversy over this issue continues. Conscious of their enormous responsibilities in the Rwandan tragedy, the RPF has not missed a single opportunity to cry about the “genocide of the Tutsis.” So, it was not without some thought that Minister Muligande stated on 11 April at the Nyanza memorial at Kigali: ”We had the chance to win the war to get recognition of the genocide. If not, we would have become the Armenians whose genocide is still contested because they lost the war.” M. Muligande is very conscious of the responsibilities born by the RPF, even if he does not have the courage to admit them. The RPF abuses its current position by imposing the “genocide” of the Tutsis and practicing victors’ justice over the vanquished.[9] The leaders of the RPF must stop falsifying history with ideological propaganda and find the courage to recognize their heavy responsibility in the Rwandan drama.

3. The Reality of the Numbers of Dead in the Rwandan Tragedy
Loss of life is always regrettable. But the reality of the numbers of dead in the “Rwandan genocide” remains a great mystery fifteen years after the events. Even if public opinion agrees with the figures ‘800,000 to one million’ victims, so many other numbers have been advanced by experts, the UN, NGOs and the RPF, from 250,000 to 2 million, that total confusion reigns. Gerard Prunier recognizes that there is no systematic accounting and that the numbers depend on opinion more than empirical facts.[10] The Rwandan government of the RPF prefers to maintain this confusion. That is why it has refused to reveal the numbers of survivors of the “genocide,” from which it would be easy to evaluate the number of dead Tutsis and dead Hutus. It prefers to keep things blurred so the world does not know the extent of the massacres committed against the Hutus by the RPF, and, thereby, to inflate the number of Tutsi victims. It is necessary to note that the Census of the population organized under the supervision of the UN (UNDP, UNFAP, CEA), with the aid of countries like the USA and Canada, that concluded on 15 August 1991, fixed the total number of Tutsis in the country at 8.4% of the population of 7,099.844. Thus, those numbers that suggest that the entire Tutsi population was massacred between April and July 1994 are simply fantasies. It is no secret to anyone that many Tutsis survived even if the government in Kigali does not want to publish the figures. We contest these numbers that only create confusion that the regime exploits to manipulate national and international opinion for ideological reasons.

Concerning the dead interred at Nyanza hill in Kigali, Captain Lemaire, commander of the Belgian detachment at the ETO in Kicukiro in April 1994, testified before the ICTR that the refugees there numbered between 1,000 and 2,000[11], and not the 5,000 claimed by the RPF. Given the circumstances prevailing at the time, the extermination of 5,000 people in several minutes, in open terrain, is simply impossible. On the contrary, reliable witnesses state that the majority of those buried at Nyzana hill are Hutu refugees massacred by the RPF on 22 and 23 May 1994, while they attempted to flee the RPF troops who had just captured the garrison at Camp Kanombe.

The deputy mayor of Kigali City presented the Gisozi memorial as a sacred site for pilgrimage and a sad memorial to the “genocide.” According the official declarations of the government, this place holds 250,000 human skulls. However, they cannot be those of the residents of the prefecture of the city of Kigali as is claimed. Indeed, the total population of Kigali City was, according to the census of 15 August 1991, 221,806, of whom 81.4% were Hutu, and 17.9% Tutsi. Using a figure of 3.2% growth per year, the total population of Kigali City would have been no more than about 240,000 inhabitants in 1994, with the Tutsi population estimated at no more than 50,000. This figure does not accord with the 250,000 skulls exhibited at the Gisozi memorial, especially when one recalls that many of the Tutsis in Kigali survived the war.[12] The number of skulls is even more incomprehensible when one considers that the city of Kigali has other memorials, notably that at Nyanza and Rebero, where the remains of thousands of others are on display. This example shows how important the manipulation of numbers is at a national level.

Several witnesses have stated before the ICTR that Gisozi was occupied by the RPA (the army of the RPF) from 8 April 1994. Therefore, it was the RPF that ethnically cleansed the zones of Gisozi-Kagugu and Kabuye in the Rutongo commune, the prefecture of Kigali, and liquidated all the undesirables, including those displaced persons from the refugee camps at Nyacyonga and Rusine, who had fled to the city after their camps were bombarded by the RPF. Several former members of the RPF have denounced the massacres of thousands in these zones.[13] All these people were summarily executed by agents of the DMI (the Directorate of Military Intelligence of the RPF) in the military camp at Kami, which was captured by the RPF in mid-April 1994. These massacres were an essential part of the RPF plan to eliminate as many Hutu intellectuals as possible. Today, the same logic of annihilation of the Hutu elite followed by the RPF is behind their lists of alleged “Hutu genocidaires” that include those already tried and acquitted. This is the same logic followed by the famous law of forced confessions that lead to the denunciation of, and false statements against, the innocent. The “gacaca” trials are part of an extra-judicial system contained in every jurisdiction. They are used by the regime to eliminate all undesirables. We want to insist that you remember that you, yourself, Mr. President, who first suggested this strategy, when, in 1996, at Nyamirambo, in a large meeting organized by your party, you stated that it would be necessary to have the patience “to empty a barrel of water with a coffee spoon.”[14] The damage of your genocidal policies have exceeded all bounds, and we demand that you end them immediately.

4. The Responsibilities of the International Community in the Rwandan Drama
The highest authorities of Rwanda have spoken out critically on the role of the international community in the “genocide.” So, in your speech of 7 April 2009, you castigated the attitude of the UN as “cowardice,” saying: “We are not the ones who abandoned the people who needed protection; they left them to be killed; are they not guilty? I think that too is cowardice; they left before a single shot was fired!”

We are convinced that such stinging speeches vis-à-vis the international community cannot be allowed to pass indefinitely. However, we invite this same international community to react quickly, those who encouraged and supported your criminal project to take power by force of arms; through the disastrous actions of UNAMIR commanding General Roméo Dallaire, to whom you announced the imminent cataclysm on 2 April 1994[15], and who did nothing to stop it; and the no less criminal actions of the successive prosecutors at the ICTR in Arusha, whom you have succeeded in cowing with your reign of terror.

We regret that the UN did not help Rwandans peacefully resolve the conflict that you brought to the country in 1994, notably by effectively pressuring Uganda and the RPF and condemning the war of aggression of which Rwanda was the victim. The UN did not even condemn the various violations of ceasefires and peace agreements the RPF had signed. The international community complied with your ultimatum of 12 April 1994 that all foreign forces leave the country in 12 hours or be attacked, which accelerated the retreat of UNAMIR from Rwanda at a time when it was needed most.[16] The vote in the Security Council for a resolution to reduce the UNAMIR forces, an action weighted with consequences, aided your organization in its Machiavellian plans to take power in Kigali as quickly as possible.[17] The UN betrayed the Rwandan government after it had launched anguished appeals for help to stabilize the security situation in the country. The UN was paralyzed by the USA and the United Kingdom; it could not intervene in time to send the 5,500 men of UNAMIR II. The Security Council only decided to take this action after the RPF victory. Those forces arrived in Rwanda after you had seized and consolidate state power. They helped you by not reacting to your massacre of the innocents, including the 4,000 refugees you murdered at Kibeho in April 1995.

Not only do we accuse the RPF of having chased the international community from Rwanda at the moment when they were most needed, but we also believe that the decisions of the UN were gravely prejudicial to the people and government of Rwanda in permitting the bloodbath that brought the military victory of the RPF. These same decisions gave the RPF the legitimacy to continue its massacre of the Rwandan people, while crediting it with having stopped the “genocide” and conferring the authority to judge its real victims.

We note with great disappointment that the presence of UNAMIR II did not deter you from continuing the massacre of the defenseless Hutu population, throughout Rwanda in 1994-95, and we will not forget the silence of the UN in the face of the innumerable atrocities committed by your troops when they attacked the refugee camps in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire) and relentlessly pursued their Hutu prey into the forests of Congo. We want to remind you of the 200,000 Hutu refugees who were horribly massacred by your troops in 1996-97. We think that the complacency of the international community toward your inhuman actions does not exonerate you of your responsibilities in the Rwandan drama. We demand justice for all Rwandans, Tutsi, Hutu and Twa, who were killed or today live with severe trauma because of your criminal policy.

5. The Theory of a Double Genocide
Minister Muligande vilified “those who try to diminish the genocide, to deny it, by inventing the theory of a ‘double genocide,’ arguing that there were the deaths of Hutus during the genocide.” He clarified his thoughts by referring to the Second World War, where “there was a genocide of the Jews, but also of 20 million Russians. However, the genocide is recognized as having been against the Jews. It was the same thing with the high number of German soldier’s deaths which surpassed the number of Jews killed, arguing that the Germans were killed to stop the genocide.”

Your adviser’s words show that the leaders of the RPF admit having massacred hundreds of thousands of innocent Hutus. However, we think that this comparison is nonsense and that the events in Rwanda in 1990-1994 bear no comparison with the history of the Second World War. The launching of World War II in 1939 remains entirely the responsibility of the German government, just as the invasion of Rwanda from Uganda in October 1990 remains the responsibility of the state of Uganda and the RPF. Hitler launched his offensive to conquer countries and during that long conquest, the Jews were denounced, arrested, killed or deported to concentration camps, principally in Germany. The Jews did not take up arms against Germany. If it is necessary to make a comparison, it is rather the RPF and its allies that made war against Rwanda and who, in their mad conquest of power, massacred hundreds of thousands of Rwandans.

Your soldiers, Mr. President, conducted a war of extermination; they violated the cease-fire agreements and the Arusha Accords to take power by force of arms without any concern for the security of the population. How can you explain to Rwandans that you were concerned with the protection of the civilian population while you obstinately refused all cease-fire proposals between April and July 1994? And why did you literally depopulate all the regions you seized? What can you say when 4,000 Hutu refugees were massacred by your troops a Kibeho in April 1995? These are the sad realities of the RPF regime that you want to hide behind the abusive charge of “negationism,” and thereby stop the parents of victims from expressing their grief and denouncing the injustices committed against them?

6. Pardon and Reconciliation
It is clear from the present account that the RPF committed crimes and carried out massacres against a defenseless civilian population for the sole reason that they were Hutus.18 Minister Muligande wants to cover up this sad reality by stating the Hutus had to die because the RPF fought to stop the genocide. The coalition of the NRA (Ugandan army) and the RPF did not attack Rwanda in 1990 to stop a genocide. The manhunt conducted against the peasants of Rwanda, throughout the war, was not designed to stop a “genocide” against the Tutsis. It is delusional to try to deny the responsibility of the RPF in the deaths of hundreds of thousands in Rwanda and the DRC, or to minimize them, arrogating to yourself, alone, the right of inquiry, solely because of your military victory. We think that with such logic, national reconciliation is impossible. So you want to hide the truth of the tragic events that plunged Rwanda into mourning and implicate your closest collaborators, civil and military. Also, we consider that the time has come for your regime to see the reality in front of its face, instead of continuing your indecent ideological propaganda that has shamefully exploited the unhappiness you have inflicted on the Rwandan people.

The policies of your regime have irremediably alienated the Rwandan people from any hope of national reconciliation, even with the artifice with which you have tried to seduce various visitors to Rwanda, there is no remedy for this very profound evil. The persecution of the Hutus accused of an “ideology of genocide” is a way to criminalize the Hutus forever; not only those who were alive in 1994, but also those yet to be born. It is sufficient to accuse them of the ideology of genocide to oppress the Hutus and justify their oppression to the world. This policy, that has made the vast majority of Rwandans pariahs in their own society, is inescapable, because it has become a force of marginalization and exclusion of the Hutus in order to ensure the domination of the Tutsis. A dialogue between power and its opponents is the only way to get beyond of this impasse. But after having decreed that only the Tutsis were victims of the war that you launched, and that the Hutus do not even have the right to cry for their dead, or, even worse, to bury them with dignity, the prospect of political dialogue with your opponents is not on your agenda, unlike the desire for peace that occupies the other national leaders of the region: in Kenya, Burundi, RDC, Uganda, Central Africa. You installed the gacaca jurisdiction that has the mandate to criminalize all Hutus and to force them into self-denunciation and the denunciation of others. In order to allow your regime to eliminate all your political adversaries, present and future! Such a system bodes ill and bears all the characteristics of fascism; it is the purveyor of unhappiness for your and for the people of Rwanda. This is why we respectfully demand that you end it.

Rwanda must face up to a number of deficiencies. The RPF regime cannot make up for them with the humiliation, marginalization and exclusion of the majority of the Rwandan people, for whom you reserve only unjust and degrading treatment. This is why we encourage all the men and women of good will in Rwanda and around the world to join in a sincere and constructive dialogue between the power and its opponents in order to build a solid foundation of Truth and Justice for a real Rwandan national reconciliation. We invite the Rwandan government to consider that there can be no national reconciliation based on manipulation, lies and propaganda, on humiliation, inferiority and intimidation, on an ideology of genocide used to silence Hutus who claim their rights. No power, no foreign force can resolve the political problems of Rwanda. It is the Rwandans, themselves, who must resolve these difficult situations. As head of state it is entirely your responsibility to bring Rwandans to the path of true reconciliation by denouncing all actions and speeches that are as provocative and divisive as those spoken during the ceremonies of the 15th anniversary of the “genocide” by your close collaborators. In any event you must understand that such speeches do not serve your regime insofar as they are contrary to the vital interests of the Rwandan people and are not going to bring peace and national reconciliation. It is not possible to have national reconciliation as long as the RPF continues to refuse to recognize its clear responsibilities in the Rwandan tragedy, by making the Hutus responsible for a drama that the RPF, itself, planned and executed throughout the long war of 1990-1994.

Please accept, Excellency, Mr. President of the Republic, the expression of our high consideration.


Joseph Nzirorera
General Augustin Ndindiliyimana
Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho
Colonel Ephrem Setako
Callixte Kahmaanzira
Captain Innocent Sagahutu
Edouard Karamera


Copied to all UN agencies including the Security Council, all judges and prosecutor of the ICTR, news organizations, NGOs and other organizations

English translation by Christopher Black, Barrister, Toronto, Canada


1 Many historians, including Tutsis such as Alexis Kagame, wrote about the Rwanda of the colonial period. 

2 In the New review, Book XXVIII, no. 12 December 1958, pages 594-597, the Abbe Bushayijia, a Tutsi priest who sat on the supreme counsel of the country, denounced the injustices and inequalities of that epoch in these terms: “The feeling of injustice that is sensed at a given moment, the roman plebiens vis-à-vis the patricians, the serfs vis-à-vis the lords in the old regime, is such that today it distresses the Bahutu compared with the Batutsi. They seek their emancipation, their place in a world free and equal for all.” 

3 Journal Kanguka No 52 Anne 1992. In his interview in this journal, M.M. Aloys Ngurumbe, former Inyenzi chief, explained the origin of this term. He stated that it was a nom de guerre for those Tutsi terrorists of the period 1960-67. He explained that this acronym stood for Ingangurarugo Yiyemeje Kuba Ingenzi. 

4 Msg. Andre Perraudin, A Bishop In Rwanda, Editions Saint Augustin, 2003, pp 276-77. 

5 Valens Kajeguhakwa, From the Land of Peace to the Land of Blood and After, Editions Remi Perrin, 2001.

 6 Many credible witnesses, including members of the RPF, have confirmed that terrorist and subversive activities were carried out inside Rwanda by the RPF over the long course of the war.

 7 This decision, taken to accommodate the ICTR completion strategy, is against the Statute of the Tribunal since the matter of planning remains a contested issue.

 8 The acquittal, on December 18, 2008, of all the accused in the Military I trial, a judgment against which the prosecutor has not appealed, provoked protests in Rwanda. Certain authorities in the RPF are agitated and state that it’s as if someone wanted to place the responsibility for planning the genocide on them. That agitation is justified as they know very well that they are the ones responsible. 

9 Carla del Ponte, Confronting Humanity’s Worst Criminals and the Culture of Impunity, Other Press, New York, 2009, pp 177-192 , 223-241.

 10 Gerard Prunier, Rwanda, 1959-1996, History of a Genocide, 1997.

 11 Transcripts of September 30, 1997, pp 61, 110, 146-147. It must be noted that this includes Hutus and Tutsis both. 

12 Note by translator: General Dallaire states that he saw 14,000 Tutsis being led out of the city by RPF forces in mid-April. Bernard Kouchner on his visit to Kigali in late May stated there were then 20,000 Tutsis still in Kigali, and it is known that many fled the fighting in the city early on after the RPF began its siege of Kigali. The Tutsi prince Antoine Nyetera testified in the Military II trial that he saw thousands of Tutsis alive in the stadium when the RPF rounded up all inhabitants as Kigali fell to their forces and began executing Hutus. Therefore the number of dead Tutsis killed in Kigali cannot be more than 15,000, and must be lower than that, as many escaped the fighting. 

13 All this evidence is to be found in the archives of the ICTR, e.g., in the document listed as R0000230 of 9 February 2002. 

14 E Ndahayo, Rwanda. Les dessous des cartes, Ed. L’Harmattan, Paris, 2002, p.157. 

15 Roméo Dallaire, Shake Hands With the Devil, Random House, Canada, 2003, p 279 (French edition).

 16 See the Belgian intelligence report no. 940412/305 of 12 April 1994. 

17 See the Belgian intelligence report no. 940412/305, 12 April 1994. 18 See for example the file established by the Spanish judge Andreu Fernando Merelles and many statements and reports available in the files of the ICTR.

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