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Rwandan president’s visit to Sac State met with criticism

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Posted: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 4:40 pm, Thu Aug 23, 2012.

The proposed visit to Sacramento State from the Rwandan President Paul Kagame Thursday is in doubt after domestic and international criticism.

Kagame's visit is part of the "Genocide Conference," which is a three-day conference dedicated to the late Alexandre Kimenyi, who was a professor at Sac State in the Department of Ethnic Studies and Pan African Studies before his sudden death in June 2010.

The days have been split into different dates with myriad talks at the Third International Genocide Conference covering negationism, revisionism, survivors' testimonies, eyewitness accounts, justice and memory.

Kagame has been Rwandan president since the downing of former President Juvanal Habyarimana's airplane in 1994. This date is best known for the start of the genocide in Rwanda in which 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and "moderate" Hutus died.

There are three main groups of ethnicity in Rwanda. The Tutsi people, who make up approximately 13 percent of the Rwandan population, were given a higher social class as a result of the colonization by Belgium. "The Scientific Racism" used by Belgium established the social supremacy based on how white the group of people were. The Hutu people, the majority in Rwanda, make up another 85 percent.

Kagame shared a complicated relationship with Kimenyi, who criticized the Rwandan political system for not being transparent enough, said Patrick Cannon of the department of government.

Kimenyi was a native of Rwanda who moved the United States in 1971. In both 1973 and the genocide of 1994, his parents, paternal and maternal uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces were killed.

Kimenyi's political relationship with Kagame was formed by his involvement with the Rwandan Patriotic Front. Before his death, Kimenyi put forward papers for the conference to take place.

Ernest Uwazie, Kimenyi's close friend, said he believes the tribute is fitting of a man who was an intellectual giant, with a gentle and caring spirit and confident personality.

"President Kagame's visit to the campus in 2005 provided a rare opportunity for both men who conscientiously fought on same side of ending the Rwandan genocide, to talk and reconcile, after what I consider an honest political disagreement on the leadership and direction of Rwanda," Uwazie said.

Recent revelations criticize Kagame leading to the prediction of protest on the days of the conference.

In a statement dated Oct. 1, Theogene Rudasingwa, former chief of staff for Kagame's political party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, wrote: "The truth must now be told. Paul Kagame, then overall commander of the Rwandese Patriotic Front, was personally responsible for the shooting down of the plane. In July, 1994, Paul Kagame himself, with characteristic callousness and much glee, told me that he was responsible for shooting down the plane."

On the international front, criticism of the Rwandan Patriotic Front is considered on several areas of poor relations with surrounding states most recognizably the conflict with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"The primary causes of the conflict are Rwandan security considerations, the struggle among national and regional actors for control of mining operations, and the interactions of these actors with longstanding tensions over ethnicity, shrinking land availability, confused property rights, and access to state resources," Cannon said.

Kagame's visit was met by protest from a largely Congolese audience in 2005. Cannon believes such organizations such as Friends of the Congo will look to display similar protest this time around.

"It has been put into question whether Kagame will actually attend next week," Cannon said. "There are currently large questions to be answered. The United States has supported Rwanda during its conflict with the DRC, but the university should tread carefully on how it handles the situation."

It has been suggested by Cannon that the talk due to take place on Thursday could be conducted via satellite communication instead of in person.


Sac State's Third International Conference on Genocide: List of events

  • "Genocide and Other Extensive Evils: Enablers, Perpetrators, Resisters," by Elizabeth Minnich, Wednesday at the University Union from 4 to 5:50 p.m.
  • Keynote address by President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, in the Redwood Room of the University Union from 10:30 to 11:55 a.m.
  • "Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide," by James Walter, Thursday in the University Union from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m.
  • "Rwanda: Beyond the Deadly Pit," documentary screening by filmmaker Gilbert Ndahayo, Thursday at the Hinde Auditorium from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • "Indicting Pinochet for Mass Killings in Chile," by Juan Guzman Tapia, Friday in the Hinde Auditorium from 9 to 9:50 a.m.

Tim Barraud can be reached at


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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Tom Allen posted at 11:16 pm on Wed, Nov 2, 2011.

    Tom Allen Posts: 1

    The choice is quite clear: “Come and see,” investigate and do your research, or remain misinformed and ignorant. Just as Rwanda is a young, emerging economy, it is a young, emerging democracy. In many areas, it sets the progressive, enlightened standard for U.S. to emulate: The role of women, healthcare, education, environmental protection, death penalty, to name only a few. In other areas, Rwanda is still finding its own way, just as did the American people when you were a young democracy with many unsettled social questions: slavery, property rights, voter participation, etc. President Kagame is not a dictator, but he has provided the strong, visionary leadership that has raised Rwanda from ruins with spectacular achievements to the amazement of all observers. It seems that some among you deny your own values of freedom of expression and rigorous examination of the historical facts. (BTW: President Kagame did not become President in 1994, but rather 2000.) Allow the man to speak. Ask him difficult questions, with dignity and a calm voice of reason and an open mind. Hear what he has to say. Be prepared to learn and to teach by dialogue. President Kagame famously insists that “The truth passes through fire, but it will not burn.” May it be so.

  • jean pierre papin posted at 6:36 pm on Wed, Nov 2, 2011.

    jean pierre papin Posts: 1

    "The Tutsi people, who make up 13 percent of the Rwandan population, were given a higher social class as a result of the colonization by Belgium".

    Dear author Tim Barraud, the above quote misrepresents the Rwandan history. Your article here misleads the audience. Rather than copying and pasting other peoples' crap, you'd be wise to seek knowledge about the rwandan history before publishing these untruths. I personally don't suggest Tutsis are any better than other rwandans. However, based on historical facts, the governing system in the precolonial rwanda was unfairly in the hands of Tutsis. So, it's factual to suggest that the Tutsis were a "higher social class" before the advent of white people. All Mwamis (kings) were tutsis before European colonization, therefore Tutsis were not made "a higher class" in Rwanda with the advent of the Belgians. It's iimportant for you to know this. Always check your facts baby, check'em out. ALUTA CONTINUA!!

  • posted at 4:12 pm on Wed, Nov 2, 2011.


    Thank you for this characterization of the genocide: "the genocide in Rwanda in which 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and "moderate" Hutus died."

    A 2008 amendment to the Rwandan Constitution decreed that the genocide was to be identified only as the Tutsi Genocide, not the Rwanda Genocide. In Rwanda now, as Rwandan President Paul Kagame travels to Sacramento State University, or prepares for his satellite appearance, Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire is shuttled back and forth from a Kigali prison to a Kigali courtroom. Ingabire is on trial for saying that not only Rwandan Tutsis, but also Rwandan Hutus died in the Rwanda Genocide. I discussed this with Professor Charles Kambanda in this Pacifica WBAI News report "Who killed the Hutu?," For our mutual effort on this, Professor Charles Kambanda and I were written up in Rwanda's The New Times: Deniers of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi on Rampage, However, neither Victoire Ingabire, Charles Kambanda, nor I have ever denied the Tutsi Genocide. We have said only that Hutus also died, in the Rwanda Genocide.

  • truth addict posted at 12:35 pm on Wed, Nov 2, 2011.

    truth addict Posts: 1

    some historical context:

    kagame was trained at fort leavenworth.

    his rpf, acting through uganda, attacked rwanda starting october 1, 1990. it took more than two years for the UN to say anything about the aggression, while the UN responded the same day of Iraq's invasion of kuwait.

    so from late 1990 until 1993 when the arusha accords were signed and a multiparty government was created the RPF was forcing millions of hutus off their land while killing an untold amount more.

    in april of 1994 the US pushed for the removal of UN troops, despite the Rwanda government and UN asking for more.

    the RPF assassinated the president and carried out a planned invasion that overthrew the power-sharing government in 100 days.

    it has been shown that the majority of those killed were Hutu's and in struggles isolated to RPF attacks. in other words most deaths occured where RPF was attacking, where those attacks stopped the death counts decreased considerably.

    furthermore, of the 1 million killed the highest figure for Tutsis killed is 350,000, though expected to considerably less.

    also, after overthrow of the power-sharing government 10,000 Hutus were being killed a month by RPF

    then Uganda and Rwanda invaded Congo, causing the death of more than six million people.

    Kagame is the genocidaire. His motivation was that with the tutsi's only being 15% of the population and the arusha accords calling for elections in 1995, it was clear the hutu's would win. this article acknowledges that the tutsis were given power by a colonial regime. is it any wonder that the US is sponsoring a tutsi terrorist organization into power? this is neo-colonialism with the US government as the colonial power.

    And now the US is sending troops to Uganda to help a dictator with the blood of more than 7 million people on his hands to fight an army who numbers less than 500, whose size has dramatically decreased in the last few years and who is responsible for the deaths of "tens of thousands" since 1987. There is something very wrong with joining a civil war that is almost over and siding with a dictator who has killed millions against a waning religious fanatic who has killed thousands.

  • Uwera posted at 11:25 am on Wed, Nov 2, 2011.

    Uwera Posts: 1


    Massacre in Kagitumba on October 1, 1990
    Ngarama massacre in 1991
    Massacre in Kiyombe and Butaro in 1991
    Massacre in Kigombe and Kinigi on January 22,1991 in Ruhengeri
    Massacre in Bwisige-Kivuye-Kibali-Muvumba in 1992
    Massacre in Gatsibo-Neke-Muhura in 1993
    Massacre of Nyacyonga in 1994
    Kibeho Massacre in 1995
    Massacre in Kinigi,Mukingo
    Nkuli, Nyamutera, Ndusu-Burringa, Satinskyi, Gaseke-
    Nyakizu,Mutura,Jenda,Kabatwa,Kabumba, Gatovu in 1996-1998
    DRC Hutu massacre of Kibumba, Kahindo,Katale, Lac Vert,Mugunga,
    NRA,Kavumu, Nyangezi in 1996-97

  • posted at 7:02 am on Wed, Nov 2, 2011.


    " President Kagame’s honeymoon days as the man who stopped the 1994 Rwandan Genocide are quickly ending as the other side of the story gets more and more publicity. Only in the last four years, and more aggressively recently, is Kagame questioned wherever he goes about the dictatorial character of his regime and his crimes in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. " below is the link to the the full story and other evidence on Kagame's crimes

  • posted at 4:44 am on Wed, Nov 2, 2011.


    For too long, the image of President Kagame has been too rosy. It is time we learn more about his negatives.
    So here goes. The charge sheet against President Kagame therefore should be examined. It is extremely serious and long. Consider just 6 of the charges, with several left out: He has led three invasions that crossed international borders and started three devastating wars in the heart of Africa. He is the leading suspect in the deaths of more than 6 million Congolese. He and surrogates continue to de-stabilize and plunder the Congo. He has been Rwanda’s iron-fisted dictator for 17 years and counting. There is less freedom today in Rwanda than in Zimbabwe—according to The Economist of London. And outside Rwanda he pursues and attempts to kill critics as the recent in the UK and South Africa show.
    An even longer list consists of the credible sources who make these allegations against President Kagame—former US diplomats, human rights organizations and activists, journalists, professors, the UN, etc.
    More than a shame, it is tragic that the US government, our government, has been a close supporter of such an African dictator and given him more than $1 billion (yes, BILLION) of our tax money.
    And it is deeply saddening that CSUS, a great institution that I personally admire, would plan to invite and honor an African dictator with such baggage.

  • Hope posted at 3:11 am on Wed, Nov 2, 2011.

    Hope Posts: 1

    My greetings to the CSUS. I always feel concerned when President Kagame is out for a visit any where in the west that Congolese (not even Rwandan speaking congolese) stand in protest. Whether or not Kagame will be in Sac state, for which event, why should these congolese stand in protest? These are people who are in most cases living illigally where they are and just live to cause chaos. They do not how their country has gone in terms of relations with Rwanda, but just have full hatred of Kagame. This is just disgusting!
    Secondly, The article needs to be corrected. Where do you get the figures of Hutu and Tutsi since this is not recorded any where? The article seems to be mixed up and not focust on the event of Kagame's visit to Sac.