Letter to Commonwealth Secretary General

London, 02/08/2010

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Mr. Kamalesh SHARMA,
Commonwealth Secretary-General,
Commonwealth Secretariat,
Marlborough House, Pall Mall,
London SW1Y 5HX, UK

Dear Mr. Sharma,


I am writing to you in my capacity as the leader of the RPP-IMVRA, a democratic political party that has not been allowed to register to participate in the presidential elections in Rwanda scheduled for 9th August 2010. I earlier copied to you an open letter I wrote to President Barack Obama of the USA and Prime Minister David Cameron of the UK. In this letter, I implored both governments not to continue with their uncritical support for the brutal dictatorship of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), led by Mr. Paul Kagame. I also warned that the scheduled elections in Rwanda is fake and is only just intended to cement and continue Mr Kagame’s totalitarian regime as he manoeuvres to present this brutal dictatorship as a democracy.

Sir, please have a thought to reflect. Please spare a thought for Rwandan people who have suffered so much ever since the end of colonial rule. There have been a series of genocides and massacres visited on Rwandan people, the last one of which was in 1994 when over 1 million innocent people were massacred. Mr Kagame is continuing with this same policy.

Sir, allow me to inform you with sadness and sorrow that infamous policy of genocide and massacres by previous regimes has now been replaced by another equally nefarious policy where Rwandans are mentally disabled through manipulation, propaganda and psychological torture. Rwandan society is a volcano waiting to erupt. My party has warned you and the international community that the endorsing of fake elections and of Mr Kagame will ignite this volcano in Rwanda to engulf the entire nation and even spill over into neighbouring countries. You have embraced the Kagame regime with open arms, instead of treating him as a pariah who commits terrorist crimes on his people every day.

Sir, you are aware of the assassination policy of Paul Kagame, which targets his opponents and critics inside and outside of Rwanda. This is a policy that is not going to abate anytime during his reign. The question is Mr. Secretary General, how many Rwandans have to be assassinated, beheaded and confined to the Island of the “Unwanted Rwandan Children” and or made to flee their country before the international community recognises their fate?

But even worse is Kagame’s cruel and sadistic treatment of Rwandan children who are corralled and deported to the IWAWA Island. The IWAWA is notoriously known as an Island of Unwanted Rwandan Children. These are the poorest and most deprived. Many are orphans of the genocide. Many are desperately poor and desolate. Many are orphans of HIV/AIDS. They are the wretched of the earth. They have been forced to scavenge on the streets of Kigali and other towns of Rwanda. They need compassion, care and love. Yet Kagame is putting them in a concentration camp, depriving them of education and social care, and destroying any chance at all they might have of even making minimal progress in life. Kagame is throwing a blanket of darkness over these children, to completely engulf them forever as they are seen as an eye-sore for the international corporate companies and foreign tourists that Kagame is in consort with and who litter the streets of Rwanda and that he now wants to project as the new Rwanda the oppressed Rwandan people should accept.

Sir, the RPP - IMVURA object very strongly to your decision to send a team of “observer mission” to the bogus presidential elections in Rwanda in which Mr Kagame is running with his mistress mates. By participating in this bogus exercise, you are surely putting the Commonwealth into disrepute and damaging its relations with the people of Rwanda. The Rwandan people will feel let down if the Commonwealth endorses a totally sham elections where all opposition parties have been banned and newspapers muzzled. Rwanda needs a democratic dispensation where the country is governed by the rule of law and not by the whims of a man. That is why our party has called for the boycott of these bogus elections.

Sir, I appeal to you, even at this late hour, to withdraw your observer mission to the Rwandan elections. We are particularly alarmed that your mission is led by Mr Salim Ahmed Salim, a person we respect and who has played an important public role in African politics as OAU Secretary-General, Tanzanian Ambassador to the United Nations and as Foreign Minister of Tanzania. I am afraid his reputation as an elder statesman of Africa is going to be completely torn to shreds if his so-called observer team endorses these totally bogus elections. Mr Salim should know better. He should not allow his personal friendship with Paul Kagame to cloud his judgement and to blight his exemplary public record. History will judge him very harshly if he continues with this misplaced and unfortunate mission. We would request Mr Salim to act on the spirit of African neighbourliness that has existed in African culture for centuries and not to pour petrol on a neighbour’s burning house rather than helping to put the fire down.

Sir, my party is very concerned that you have not condemned nor even expressed concern about the recent assassinations in Rwanda. Reputable organisations like the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Human Rights Watch as well as Amnesty International have condemned these killings, but you have chosen to keep silent. What message then do you convey to the Rwandan people? Are not Rwandan people then to draw the conclusion that they have been betrayed or abandoned by the Commonwealth? Do Rwandan lives no longer matter in your scheme of things? Is democracy a strange concept for Rwandan people? Don’t they have human rights that are enshrined in your own founding documents, especially the Harare Declarations? Mr Secretary General, I can assure you of my party’s active participation and co-operation with Commonwealth member states, valuing our economic, social, racial and political identity to which we pledge our undivided loyalty. We value the diversity of the Commonwealth. This is why we get alarmed when we Rwandans feel we are being abandoned by the Commonwealth, an organisation that we only recently joined and to which we feel we are full members and of which we are proud.

Sir, you may think it may be too late to withdraw your observer’s mission led by Mr Salim, but for the suffering people of Rwanda, even a small gesture like supporting them in only words will mean a lot to them. Nothing is too late for us to prevent a human volcanic explosion from erupting in our country again. Our people are always going to be there waiting for justice and for peace. With great humility, this is our plea to you on behalf of my party and Rwandan people. I appeal to you to withdraw your observer mission and join us in calling for new elections in Rwanda that are open, free and fair.

The people of Rwanda will owe you everlasting gratitude if you assist us in this endeavour. Your office has enormous clout and influence and we ask you to use it to stop the continuous abuse of the Rwandan people by brutal dictators. The Commonwealth should not allow Mr Paul Kagame to continue to mistreat Rwandan people nor to use the Rwandan nation as his personal toy. He may have played a role in stopping the genocide of 1994, but he has no understanding of governance or indeed the transformation of a society that has undergone a traumatic civil war that wants to erect civilian institutions. Mr Kagame looks at Rwanda through the lenses of a guerrilla fighter and does not realise societies that have undergone civil war have to transform very quickly to civilian rule and to build civilian institutions. These are the institutions that Mr Kagame is now attacking, and whose activities have been destroyed completely. This is the biggest failure of Mr Kagame and of the RPF and it portends danger for the future of Rwanda.

Sir, I am ready to come and meet you personally or any of your officials to discuss this matter further if you let me know, preferably before these sham elections take place.

Yours faithfully

John KARURANGA, President

Cc Nick Clegg MP, Deputy Prime Minister of the U.K
Ms Harriet Harman, Leader of Opposition (Labour) UK
William Hague MP, First Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, UK
Eric Joyce MP, Chair, APPG – Great Lakes Parliamentary Committee, UK
Andrew Mitchell MP, Secretary of State for International Development, UK
David Lidington MP, Minister of State, Commonwealth Appointments, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK
Ms Mavis Theassa Thompson, National Bar Association
Ms Maja Daruwala, Director CHRI, New Delhi, India,
Director, Africa Desk, Human Rights Watch
Director, Amnesty International
Director, Council of Europe/NGO
Director, African Rights, Alex de Waal


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