The term "post-conflict" implies that an armed struggle has ended, and that peace prevails over violence. Yet the word conflict takes on many meanings and may represent hatred, or deep divisions between people, even in the absence of physical violence. Rwanda, known notoriously for its 100 days of ethnic genocide in 1994, is a country regularly referred to as post-conflict. Seventeen years after the genocide, with a charismatic leader and impressive economic gains, the assumption that the country is without conflict is gravely misleading. Championed by Western nations, the false image of Rwanda as a beacon of freedom may ultimately do more harm than good. Though it may disrupt the status-quo, it is more important to examine the causes of conflict in deeply-divided societies and address growing tension. Promptly acknowledging the conflicts can lead to their amelioration and the prevention of further bloodshed.
In this paper I demonstrate that not all the causes of the Rwandan genocide have been fully addressed, and that the present-day situation has become strikingly similar to that of pre-genocide times. I clarify Rwanda's past and recent history and compare the social dynamics of the two periods. Finally, I offer recommendations for a more optimistic path to the future.
Section 1 maps Rwanda's conflict background, examining ethnic origins as well as precipitating factors to the genocide. Here, I show that the conflict was not a result of ancient hatreds. I explain how the manipulation of racial differences along social lines served as a point of contention, seen as an easy issue for leaders to manipulate and rally the population behind them for political gain. Furthermore, modeled on the colonial-backed monarchic system, there existed a zero-sum structure to power, in which the use of violence to obtain control produced a socially legitimate pattern. When the Habyarimana regime was faced with a declining grip on national power, the threat of invasion from regional militias, and external pressure to democratize, it used the historical motivator of ethnicity to terrorize the Hutu majority into providing support. Growing tensions caused by an intolerable population density, the unresolved issue of refugee resettlement, economic decline, and historical memories of inequality created a social atmosphere that was waiting to explode. When the President's plane was shot down on April 6, 1994, it served as the triggering event to a catastrophe.
Section 2 demonstrates how major factors that contributed to the conflict exist in present-day Rwanda. These factors, which serve as warning signs to the preconditions of violence, include: (1) a false commitment to democratic governance; (2) zero-sum access to power; (3) the use of predatory legislation; (4) elimination of political opposition: (5) suppression of the media and civil society, and; (6) ongoing impunity for grave crimes. Finally, Section 3 provides recommendations for pathways to change that address President Kagame's perceived immunity and emboldened approach toward those who oppose him. Recommendations will urge donor nations to address the growing threat with aid conditionality, as not to repeat a case of blind support to a despot. A suggestion for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is to take a firmer stance in punishing crimes against humanity that the current regime has tried to impede. Justification for such an international-focused approach is provided.
The desire to shine a light on the oppression of the Kagame regime is not to produce criticism for criticism's sake. Rwanda is a country with incredible potential for success, as evidenced in their societal and personal recovery from humanity's most horrific nightmare. The goal of this paper is to present an honest assessment of the ways in which Rwandans continue to suffer under an autocratic regime, and to spark discussion on what can be done to stop this needless suffering. It is intended to raise awareness so that donors, regional organizations, and international actors can alter their current political approach to the Kagame regime into one that addresses these warning signs and makes Rwanda a safer and freer place for its citizens and for the entire Great Lakes region of Africa.
Section 1: Mapping the Conflict
The land of a thousand hills is populated by three distinct ethnic groups who share the common language of Kinyarwanda. The majority of Rwandans are Hutu, people with a strong agricultural background encompassing nearly 84% of the population. The Tutsi contain only 15% of Rwandans yet play a dominant role in the country's history as cattle herders and figureheads of the early monarchy. A third group, the Twa, are a Pygmy people comprising less than 1% of the population and for this reason are often excluded from the modern Rwandan narrative as a politically insignificant group. The Abazungu, or Europeans, are a fourth actor in Rwanda's history. Beginning in 1885, the country was awarded to Germany as part of their empire, and in 1919 authority was officially transferred to Belgium in a League of Nations decision. Though it is often thought that animosity between Hutus and Tutsis is somehow primordial, the more salient disconnect is that between the indigenous people, the Banyarwanda and those who came later, the Abazungu.
Following the genocide, those in the Western 'hot seat' excused their impotence in stopping the violence by claiming that the conflict was a result of deep and ancient tribal hatred. This perception has been adopted by many American and European onlookers, resulting in a gross oversimplification of the causes of genocide. Those who care to look deeper understand that ethnic tensions did not spontaneously erupt, but had been increasingly strained over time. Still, speculation exists as to the origins of the ethnic divide; whether the Hutu-Tutsi distinction was a man-made creation of colonial powers, or if a more inherent separation dated back to pre-colonial times. In reality, while they can be blamed for exacerbating tensions, credit for the original distinction cannot go to the Belgians, or even the Germans. It is generally agreed by experts that despite inter-marriage over time, each of the Twa, Hutu, and Tutsi have a genetically distinct ancestry.
When white foreigners arrived, Hutu/Tutsi/Twa distinctions were already in place throughout what is now Rwanda and Burundi. Warfare was commonplace for the expanding kingdom of Banyarwanda, which was generally led by, but not exclusive to the Tutsi. Wars were waged against external enemies and any localized hostility that existed was "a centre versus periphery affair and not one of Tutsi versus Hutu." Pre-existing distinctions were exploited by colonial powers mainly as a result of their obsession with the Darwinian concept of superior race. White Europeans were enchanted by the tall, thin, apparently "non-Negro" Tutsis and understood their position in the ruling monarchy to be a sign of innate superiority. The peasant Hutu and Twa, meanwhile, were likened to descending levels of 'simple Negroids' and apes. Years of European favoritism and appointment to high-ranking political positions imposed Tutsi supremacy, and established all the necessary conditions for anger, resentment and self-perceived oppression of the Hutus that would come to play such a pivotal role in the future. A comprehensive look into Rwanda's past demonstrates how ethnic divides developed as a result of cultural manipulation carried out by colonizing governments.
Toward the end of the 1980s, Rwanda was facing a severe economic decline. With limited land resources and an unsolved refugee crisis, the country could no longer provide for its growing population. In some locations, population density reached 1,000 people per-square-mile, the highest in Africa. The bulging youth population was without land, jobs, or access to education — a position particularly difficult for young men, who could not be accepted as adults without having obtained these resources.
In 1989 the price of coffee, Rwanda's main export commodity, plummeted by 50% in the global market. The agricultural sector, upon which 90% of Rwandan livelihoods were dependent, was already over-saturated and could not buffer the economic hit. At the same time, pre-existing poverty in rural provinces was exacerbated by drought and resulting famine. When the country was forced to devaluate its currency due to demands from the IMF, rural dwellers could no longer afford gas and other transportation costs to bring their meager harvest to market. The gap between rich urbanites in Kigali (the center) and poor rural farmers (in the periphery) was widening, and although Hutu and Tutsi were affected alike, tensions and anger were mounting.
Since colonial times, political power in Rwanda has become an all-or-nothing prize. From the exclusive Bujumbura monarchy backed by the Belgians, to the 1959 'Hutu Revolution' that established national independence and appointed Hutu President Grégoire Kayibanda in 1962, to the subsequent coup d'état that installed Juvenal Habyarimana in 1973, power was attained by seizing absolute control. Leading the second Republic of Rwanda, President Habyarimana established a one-party system of government in which power was confined to the ruling Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le Développement (MRND). During this time, Rwanda had a strong presence in the global coffee market, donor aid supplemented much of the national GDP, and Tutsi citizens in particular faced comparatively less physical violence than under the previous Kayibanda administration.
Using façade of democratic elections, Habyarimana was able to repeatedly consolidate his power with over 95% of the vote. Nevertheless, after more than two decades of rule many Tutsi and moderate Hutu were dissatisfied with the authoritarian MRND regime and the impending economic collapse only made things worse. Realizing this threat, Habyarimana needed to act in order to avoid a total and possibly violent eviction from office. Lacking sound policy appeals, the President turned to ethnicity; an issue of passion that could rally citizens far better than political discontent by invoking a strong historical memory of oppression. As a Hutu, Habyarimana knew that by polarizing the country along pre-existing divisions, he could mobilize the large ethnic majority in his favor. Through political opportunism the regime hoped to strengthen ties to constituents that had grown distant, reinstate political support and maintain power.
The first event to precipitate Rwanda's downfall came when a militia group known as the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) launched an attack on October 1, 1990. The RPF was a group of Rwandans who were born and raised in Uganda. As Tutsis, their parents had been driven out of their homes during the massive pogroms of the Hutu Revolution from 1959-62. Led by two charismatic leaders, Fred Rwigema and Paul Kagame, the group had been militarily trained during its time with President Yoweri Museveni, fighting in the Ugandan revolutionary war. The well-organized, professional armed force also had a political agenda that included the vindication for Tutsi deaths, repatriation of refugees, and the downfall of Juvenal Habyarimana. The October invasion strategically coincided with Rwanda's economic decline in hopes that the RPF could gain popular support by bringing down an incompetent regime. However, the attack only served to further exploit the ethnic divide, as it gifted Habyarimana a tangible incident on which to base his enmity.
Violence continued between the French-supported Forces Armées Rwandaises (the Rwandan national army, or FAR) and the RPF until the Arusha Accords were mediated in 1993. The outcome was a power-sharing government between the MRND, RPF and a block of secondary parties comprised of the Mouvement Démocratique Républicain (MDR), Parti Social Démocrate (PSD), Parti Libéral (PL) and PDC (Democratic Christian Party). This arrangement would have significantly limited MRND control. Juvenal Habyarimana outwardly 'accepted' the provisions detailed in the 1993 Arusha Accords, but made it clear through his actions that the power-sharing agreement was not to be implemented. Democracy was not in President Habyarimana's interest. As with elections, the Arusha Accords were a false pretense under which donors were appeased and the status-quo was maintained; the presence of UN Peacekeeping troops neutralized the RPF threat while empty promises kept Arusha stakeholders at bay. To have expected Habyarimana to willingly submit to multiparty elections that would replace his presidency with a Parliamentary system, would be akin to demanding that the Security Council vote to dissolve itself.
From August 1993 to April 1994, tensions were electric. Media outlets began broadcasting messages of hate, claiming that all Tutsis were aligned with the RPF and posed a threat to the viability of the Hutu state. The MRND capitalized on the assassination of the first Hutu president in neighboring Burundi, a threat that literally hit too close to home, to promote an 'us-versus-them' terror tactic. UNAMIR, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda, had been on the ground as a component of Arusha, but was seen as largely ineffectual and somewhat of a joke. Since the 1990 attack, the size of the FAR had grown from 5,000 to more than 30,000 soldiers and incorporated a few thousand angry Burundian Hutu refugees. The extremist group, Coalition pour la Défense de la République (CDR), organized in reaction to what they considered weakness on the part of the too-moderate MRND. This was followed by branches of racist militant youth groups (likely formed by the vast numbers of jobless, idle young men) known infamously as the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi. These four groups were the main architects of the Rwandan genocide and by the time President Habyarimana's plane was shot down on April 6, 1994; they were more than ready to also serve as its executioners. No further planning was necessary to commence the war-in-waiting.
For the next three months, genocide unfolded. The majority of the 800,000 killed were Tutsi, but it is important to note than many Hutus who protected or were married to Tutsis were also targeted. In addition to elimination on ethnic grounds, the génocidaires killed anyone who did not subscribe to their political vision of an extremist Hutu society. In fact, some of the first people to be killed on the morning of April 7, 1994 were moderate Hutus within the government because of their support of the Arusha Accords. On July 4, the RPA, the military branch of the RPF, made its way into Kigali and essentially ended the genocide. Concurrently, the FAR followed the 1.5 million refugees and absconded with government equipment, money, transportation into Zaire, where they were protected by President Mobutu Sese Seko. Here, the FAR infiltrated refugee camps and exploited international humanitarian organizations to rebuild their strength. The group used camp residents to collect food from the aid organizations, and then redistribute it to the refugees through a tax-based system. Using this revenue along with their stolen government supplies, the FAR was able to purchase arms from China (over $5 million worth), South Africa, Bulgaria, Albania, Nigeria, Ghana, Russia and the Ukraine. Revitalized and rearmed, the FAR began attacks on Rwanda in October of 1994, operating from various refugee and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in the region. To this day, regional embroilment between Rwanda and armed militia groups continue, presenting a disconcerting threat of violence under the veneer of stability.
Section 2: Warning Signs
"In the absence of peace building efforts that successfully deal with the political and socioeconomic preconditions for the conflict, any cessation of violence can simply represent a temporary lull in rather than an end to the conflict itself"
For those who are under the impression that ethnicity was a cause of genocide, the comprehensive absence of ethnic antagonism today may lead to the assumption that deep divisions do not exist. However, knowing the general causes of conflict and historical background of Rwanda, it is evident that the present-day situation is eerily similar to that of the pre-genocide period. The zero-sum access to power has not been deconstructed, despite a commitment to power-sharing in the transitional stage and the façade of democratic elections. And while 'us-versus-them' is no longer along ethnic lines, its modern version is between pro-RPF allies and those who oppose the government. Seeking justice for grave crimes, the very impetus of the RPF organization, has been achieved disproportionately. Victims of crimes against humanity committed by the RPA since 1994 have been unable to seek redress. All of these factors occur within the setting of a 'bad neighborhood' of the Great Lakes region. Burundi, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have all experienced protracted civil war and in the case of DRC, the war is ongoing. The following warning signs within Rwanda may very well challenge the notion of 'post-conflict' states in the region. If these conflict indicators continue unabated, tensions may very well lead to widespread violence.
False Commitment to Democratic Governance
Kagame is not the champion of democracy he purports to be, though global fanfare tells a different story. After having rescued the country from living hell in the absence of international assistance, the RPF under Paul Kagame has brought measurable improvements to the nation. He has increased access to health services and education, introduced conditions conducive to international business, and implemented political reforms that have resulted in more women in parliament than any other country in the world. Author Stephen Kinzer has written on the strength of Kagame's leadership called A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It  and Fortune magazine recently published an article entitled "Why CEOs Love Rwanda." In 2009, Kagame received the Clinton Global Citizen Award for his commitment to leadership in civil service.
Literature in the human rights and democratization fields paint quite a different portrait of the rebel commander-cum-President. For Bert Ingelaere, Rwanda's outward appearance is merely part of what he terms a mise-en-scéne, or stage-setting, in which knowledge is actively constructed and controlled by the government in order to preserve a false aesthetic to outsiders. Filip Reyntjens, professor of African Law and Politics at the University of Antwerp, has criticized the regime for using 'genocide credit' to manipulate the guilt of donors to act in their favor. Maintaining just enough democratic presentability to appease the international community is precisely the tactic utilized by the MRND in the early 90s. Returning on the very trip that cost Juvenal Habyarimana his life, the former President had just met with Western stakeholders and made another empty promise to institute the Arusha Accords nearly a year after they had been signed.
In a similar vein today, President Paul Kagame has paid lip service to the construct of democracy without actually abiding by its tenets. This democratic house of cards is a result of path dependencies dating back to the transitional government and its constitution-building process of 2000. In July 1994, the world was filled with hope as it watched the RPF transform itself from guerrilla group to government. During what was originally agreed to be a 5-year transitional period, the new National Unity Government operated under a set of 'Fundamental Laws' which was based on the 1991 constitution, Rwandese Patriotic Front Declaration and the Agreement between political parties. The governance structure was modeled upon the 1993 Arusha Accords, instituting a power-sharing structure including all major political parties with the exception of MRND and the CDR, who were participants to the genocide. In 2000, a Constitutional Commission was erected, along with the Forum for Political Parties, a body created to oversee and eventually decide which political parties could participate as stakeholders in the constitution-making process. At this time, Kagame served as Vice President and Minister of Defense of the transition government.
Originally, the constitution-building process did well to allay the fears of traumatized Rwandans. A three-week seminar was held to set timelines and prepare stakeholders for the drafting process. In diametric opposition to the 1962 constitution that had been created by the outgoing colonial power without any input from the Rwandans, the Constitutional Commission developed education and discussion teams to collect the opinions of rural citizens. In an impressive display of inclusivity, surveys were conducted and a hotline was established to answer questions from the community. The input of women's groups, civil society, and the Diaspora community were welcome. Donor nations must have been thrilled. When the constitution was finally introduced on May 26, 2003, it was approved with 93% of popular support.
It is disheartening that what began as a democratic process quickly declined into the tightening of political control and eventual autocratic grip by the RPF. Critics contend that despite outward appearances, it soon became evident that the constitution-building process was not egalitarian. The Forum for Political Parties restricted access into the final Constitutional Commission to RPF allies. Amongst the screened and selected groups, consensus was ensured via use of "political intimidation, terror, and ethnic mobilization" as Hutu politicians were expressly harassed. The final constitutional draft largely ignored suggestions made by civil society groups to include reasonable executive terms and a transparent process of electing Supreme Court Judges. The final version was seen to be inherently restrictive of civil liberties and drew concern from a European Union observer mission that the construction of the new constitution may have "frozen the political game and reinforced the position of the RPF". Additionally, the high rate of popular approval for the document may have been due to the inability of opposition groups to promote an alternative model.
In July 1999, the RPF voted to extend the transition for an additional 4 years, resulting in an overall transition period of 9 years. During this time, the RPF was able to solidify its control of the political sphere by incrementally purging internal opposition. While maintaining the de-jure power-sharing structure, reality behind the scenes was becoming increasingly autocratic. The first indication of discord came in 1995 when, after the RPA slaughtered 5,000 Rwandan IDPs in Kibeho camp, a group of officials decided they could no longer remain silent while the military continued to grow out of control. A cabinet meeting was organized to address the brutality of the RPA, but it escalated into an intense argument and ended with Paul Kagame storming out. Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu, a Hutu RPF member, resigned from his position. The following day, Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga (also Hutu RPF), Justice Minister Alphonse-Marie Nkubito, Minister of Information Jean-Baptiste Nkuriyingoma and Minister of Transport and Communications Immaculée Kayumba were all fired for having sided with Twagiramungu, or more clearly, against the actions of the military. Twagiramungu and Sendashonga fled into exile, followed by various judges, diplomats, military and civil society leaders who, once safe, openly spoke of corruption within the regime.
The second indication of discord came in early 2000. Fearing for their lives, Prime Minister Pierre-Célestin Rwigema and Speaker of the Parliament Joseph Sebarenzi resigned and were driven into exile. Immediately after, Rwanda's very own transitional President Pasteur Bizimungu resigned and established a new political party, the Parti Démocratique pour le Renouveau-Ubuyanja (PDR). When Sebarenzi, a Tutsi Genocide survivor, was asked to comment on his departure he remarked: "The situation is becoming uncontrollable — there are deep divisions today particularly among Tutsi and these tendencies could lead to a catastrophe (...). There are many similarities with the period which preceded the 1994 genocide." Following Bizimungu's withdrawal, Paul Kagame acceded to Presidency in March 2000. It can be concluded that RPF did not uphold the power-sharing structure, but squeezed out genuine political opposition in an increasingly authoritarian manner. Even so, Kagame's rise to power has been accepted, if not praised by the international community.
Zero-Sum Access to Power
There has been a direct correlation between Kagame's rise to power and the decline of political freedom in Rwanda. Posed as a crusader for equality, Kagame has used the moral high ground of genocide as a political weapon to remove all real and perceived threats to his regime. The President is clever — his chosen method of state control is not by coup, but by a creeping encroachment on civil liberties and underhanded domination of political space that is far more difficult to pinpoint. By banning ethnic self-identification and replacing it with an overarching national identity, he has been able to create and exploit deep societal divisions while being careful to avoid labels that have been the cause of so much violence in the past.
From 1995-2007 more than 40 prominent political figures, both of Hutu and Tutsi descent, fled into exile. Today, instead of Hutu against Tutsi, the 'us-versus-them' is one of political loyalties. The logic is as follows: The RPF came in and "saved" Rwanda from the genocide. The RPF party is the very definition of anti-genocide heroism; therefore, opposing the RPF is equivalent not only to dismissing a political party, but to actually supporting the atrocities that occurred. This may sound like a wild exaggeration, but in reality, the disturbingly Orwellian oppression in present-day Rwanda supports this claim. The following section will demonstrate how the RPF has maintained zero-sum access to power in two ways: the creation of predatory laws to inflict an atmosphere of intimidation and the elimination of all effective political opposition.
One of the most insidious yet effective weapons against dissent has been the misuse of laws known as genocide ideology and divisionism. Understandably, a country emerging from the horror of genocide should take steps to protect the historical memory of what occurred, and ensure that the event be invoked for the purpose of education and not for the incitement of further divisions. Certain European countries, for example, have enacted legislation to make Holocaust denial illegal, but have used these laws as a means of protection, not persecution. This is not the case in Rwanda. What originally developed as reasonable legal safeguards have become tools of suppression to silence critics and harm innocent Rwandans. The constitution guarantees freedom of association, opinion, and the press, but grants the power to determine conditions for these freedoms to domestic law. As a result, restrictive legislation prevents judges from interpreting the constitution in favor of civil liberties.
The elimination of genocide ideology was described as a fundamental goal of the 2003 constitution, but did not become law until 2008. The main body of the law is sound; however Article 3 criminalizes relatively trivial behavior including attempts to "marginalize, laugh at one's misfortune, defame, mock, boast, despise, degrade, create confusion aiming at negating the genocide which occurred, [and] stirring up ill feelings". The argument could be made that severe measures are necessary to combat something as grave as a genocidal mindset. Yet the actual law has been utilized contrary to the seemingly benevolent reasons for which it was developed. Within the course of four investigatory commissions initiated by Parliament, the law was invoked to charge citizens for speaking of, or even alluding to the idea that the RPF had committed crimes equal to genocide (an issue that will be discussed later, for which there is substantial evidence). Human Rights Watch reports a kind of witch-hunt in which the government encourages citizens to identify people suspected of genocidal ideology. In a clear breach of international legal standards, the names of the accused may be written up in official reports or announced through national media before any proof or access to trial is afforded. Perhaps most unnerving of all is the commission's investigation into those who may be guilty of genocide ideology for merely "supporting political candidates who were not part of the RPF." If found guilty, offenders face a minimum of 20 years in prison. Children ages 12-18 receive half that sentence.
The use of divisionism is even more controversial. Despite having been adjudicated since 2002, it does not exist as an individual law, but resides as a grossly vague definition under law 47/2001, which states: "The crime of sectarianism occurs when the author makes use of any speech, written statement, or action that causes conflict that causes an uprising that may degenerate into strife among people."
Strife is never operationally defined. Interpretation depends on the individual judge presiding over each case. In a perturbing interview, Human Rights Watch asked a group of Rwandan judges to explain the meaning of divisionism. Though each had convicted citizens for the crime, not one of the Justices could define the law. Widely used to criminalize anti-government opinion, divisionism can be applied to those who openly oppose government programs pertaining to the genocide such as decentralization or the highly contentious Gacaca courts. While this law was intended to punish those who conspire to incite violence and renew provocation along ethnic lines, it has been implemented in a far more underhanded way. Even Rwandan jurists have admitted that both divisionism and genocide ideology are often used to achieve political and personal goals.
Elimination of Political Opposition
Political space is the freedom of political contestation provided to opposition parties and civil-society actors. This space is open to the extent that the state permits political debate, even if it is unfavorable to the regime. In this sense, Rwanda has experienced the closing of political space since 2000; the only "opposition" permitted is that which promotes shadow policies of the RPF. Rwanda's path to democratic governance showed promise in 2003 after multiparty elections but has since been marred by a complete shut-down of political space. Leading up to the election the RPF's only viable competition, the MDR party, was banned due to allegations of spreading divisionism. Pasteur Bizimungu, the former President of the National Unity Government and lead MDR candidate, was arrested for threatening national security, embezzling public funds, and fomenting ethnic divisions — charges that have been criticized as outrageous. This argument gains credibility when one discovers that Bizimungu was pardoned from his 15-year sentence in 2007, once Kagame had secured the office of President . Kagame's ascension to the Presidency was facilitated by the National Electoral Commission. Controlled by the RPF, it wielded veto power to prevent unfriendly parties from campaigning. The use of arrests, disappearances, and voter fraud also helped resulting in an impressive yet unsurprising 95% of the vote for Kagame.
Presidential elections in October 2010 involved much of the same terror tactics, yet with more overt violence than in 2003. All three of the new opposition parties were banned from participating in the election; though this was the most tolerable kind of resistance they would face. Bernard Ntaganda, president of PS-Imberakuri was arrested on charges of genocide ideology, endangering national security, inciting ethnic divisions, and organizing demonstrations without authorization. Victoire Ingabire, president of FDU-Inkingi was also arrested under allegations of genocide ideology, divisionism, and collaboration with the genocidal former armed forces, FDLR. Most tragic of all was the murder of André Kagwa Rwisereka, Vice-President of the Green Party. His mutilated body was found near a river in the town of Butare. As more evidence surfaces, it becomes increasingly difficult to dismiss the events as collateral election violence.
Suppression of Media and Civil Society
Civil society is a compilation of various organizations developed by citizens to represent their various interests and beliefs. In countries that permit an open political space, civil society serves as a counter-balance to state power; taking the form of special interest groups, religious organizations, and labor unions, to name a few. These groups tend to be thought of as beneficial to society, and they generally are — even though the ideals they promote can be controversial or bigoted. Yet when these groups serve as an accomplice to, rather than watchdog of, government; the results can be damaging. Under Habyarimana, both civil society and the media became an extension of a corrupt state and, I would argue, were a major facilitating factor in transforming peaceful citizens into cold-blooded killers. Today, though the RPF does not make use of media and civil society to disseminate messages of hatred, their complete control over these outlets is unmistakable. As Ingelaere has concluded from his extensive in-country research, "The fact that the state apparatus functions as a well-oiled machine results in the omnipresence of its eyes and ears and substantial control over what can and cannot be studied."
Rwanda's shaky past with the media developed from the use of hate radio as a major tool of propagating genocidal ideology from 1993–94. The infamous Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) aided in the killing by ticking off names and addresses of Tutsis and moderate Hutus, and broadcasting exuberant updates as the slaughter ensued. Print news also played its role with the Kangura newspaper advocating that "the machete was the only way to deal with Tutsi" As evidenced from April to July 1994, media can be a substantial engine to power violence. Kagame has good reason to patrol communications, as leaders must often strike a balance between security and civil rights during times of national emergency. Yet seventeen years after the genocide, how can the regime continue to suppress civil rights when it is no longer needed for security reasons, but to maintain power by way of silencing internal dissent?
Rwanda is often equated with countries such as Ghana and South Africa, which are reputed models of progress on the African continent. Nevertheless, an immense amount of evidence points to the conclusion that the country under Paul Kagame is neither free nor fair. According to the Press Freedom Index published by Reporters without Borders, Rwanda has gotten consistently less free since Kagame became President, despite the promise of a new constitution. When quantitatively compared to its supposed cohorts in the chart below, Rwanda is clearly not a beacon of liberty.
Accounts of media censorship are consistent with this downward trend. In the week leading up to the 2003 election, Rwanda's Media High Council banned more than 30 radio and newspaper outlets. Two of the country's biggest independent newspapers, Umuseso and Umuvigizi, received temporary 6-month bans, and some of their staff was jailed. Just in time for the 2010 elections, arrests began to work in dual favor of the regime; troublemakers in the Press were temporarily prevented from publishing stories on election-related crackdowns and simultaneously eliminated as a future threat. Thanks to the 2009 Media Law, editors and publishers are prohibited from professional work once a criminal record is established. Media censorship may have hit rock bottom when Jean-Léonard Rugambage, editor of Umuvigizi, was "gunned down" in front of his home on June 26, 2010 in what is likely a planned assassination. Rugambage had been marked by the government for criticizing state policy. In his last days, the young journalist reported receiving anonymous threats and being followed, and had considered fleeing the country.
Kagame's structural approach to silencing dissent is so effective that it renders the use physical violence unnecessary. For a people who survived Habyarimana's legacy, being constantly haunted by the fear of persecution may be worse than actual violence. As of late, researchers within Rwanda have observed the growing phenomenon of self-censorship among citizens. The government has made it understood that critics will pay dearly for their courage. As recent as February 2011, examples were made of Agnes Uwimana Nkusi, editor of the newspaper Umurabyo, and one of its reporters, Saidath Mukakibibi. The women were arrested and sentenced to 17 and 7 years respectively for publishing articles that criticized the government and stated that Rwandans were unhappy with their rulers. The prosecutor had originally pushed for terms of 33 and 12 years each. 
As in the period leading up to the genocide, civil society served as an extension of the regime, rather than a watchful counter-balance. Today, the use of repressive laws has not only been used to silence political opponents, but also to remove the threat of national and international organizations. The Rwandan League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LIPRODHOR), the country's most successful human rights organization, has fought for years to end impunity for perpetrators of gender-based violence, monitor national and international genocide trials, and identify rights violations where they occur. But it is getting increasingly harder for the group to operate. Government intimidation has sent half of its staff into exile. In 2004, there was a parliamentary request to dissolve LIPRODHOR and arrest its leaders. Fortunately, after substantial protest from African and other international human rights organizations, the proposal was not brought to fruition. Ibuka, a genocide survivor's organization, was placed under state control in 2000. Now that it is led by RPF policymakers, criticism is far less common.
As reported by Human Rights Watch, the list of international organizations accused of divisionism and genocidal ideas by the RPF include, but are not limited to: CARE International, Norwegian People's Aid, Pax Christi, Voice of America (VOA), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Human Rights Watch, the Catholic Church, the Association of Pentecostal Churches in Rwanda, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, the International United Methodist Church, and the Mennonites. Even the World Bank is not immune. After having conducted 6 months of research in Rwanda to analyze democratic institutions and the expression of basic human rights against numerous countries, Rwandan security forces halted the study. Finding that the structure of the study promoted 'genocide ideology' the results were confiscated and later destroyed.
If the international community does not heed the warnings reported by free press and whistle-blowers and fails to understand what is signified by the abolishment of these groups, one may wonder what the consequences will be once there is no more information from which we can learn.
As the process of Transitional Justice has unfolded in Rwanda, the Kagame administration has been accused of imposing one-sided "victor's justice." Crimes against humanity committed by the RPF have gone largely unpunished. In fact, the office of the prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has yet to produce a single indictment for RPF crimes, despite the availability of evidence. In November 1994, the Security Council introduced Resolution 935 to establish a commission of experts whose job was to investigate the scope of grave crimes committed during the genocide "particularly those perpetrated against the civilian population." The results of the commission found that while making its way from Uganda to Kigali, the RPF had "perpetrated serious breaches of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity" and "strongly recommended" that these crimes be prosecuted. The Gersony Report also presents documentation of systematic RPF attacks on refugee and IDP camps that were suspected of harboring FAR and Interahamwe members, although the official release of the document was obstructed so its findings would not threaten nascent peace. Supported by reports by Refugees International and Médecins Sans Frontières, the RPF is suspected of killing approximately 30,000 civilians, both Hutu and Tutsi. These are the crimes that had sparked debate between Twagiramungu and Kagame, resulting in the Prime Minister's resignation.
One need only mention the war crimes committed by the RPA to become a quick enemy of the state. This contentious issue has been actively suppressed by the government, even though evidence of the crimes abound. The RPF was created with the goal of attaining justice for Tutsis who had been massacred and forced to flee in the 1959 Hutu Revolution. For years, the targeted slaughter of Tutsis went unaddressed while exiled survivors were disregarded in neighboring Uganda. This level of impunity was what drove the RPF to attack in 1990. It is ironic that the RPF fails to understand the importance of seeking redress for such crimes. The counter-argument held by the regime is that the localized killing of relatively small groups during violent conflict cannot be compared to the targeted destruction of an entire ethnic population. While the acts do not constitute a double genocide, a relative comparison of atrocities does little to diminish a victim's suffering or eliminate his or her right to redress. Furthermore, the uneven pursuit of justice is not because ICTR prosecutors lack the will to investigate. What has been termed the RPF "impunity gap" is a direct result of the obstinacy of the regime.
Section 3: Theories of Change
Sections 1 and 2 have demonstrated that Rwanda faces significant challenges to the delivery of human rights and is not the model of good governance it is assumed to be. Nonetheless, the country's turnaround from the depths of destruction is admirable and should not be ignored. The praise heaped on Paul Kagame has its basis in the measurable gains that have been achieved since his administration came into office. This praise is problematic in that it ignores the widespread abuse and oppression that is also a product of his rule. Dissonance of Rwanda's two Janus faces causes confusion for the outsider. Should Kagame be commended or condemned? The short answer is that there should be a balance that acknowledges progress but tempers accolade. Rwanda's rise to the role of leadership needs to come with conditions so that the standard being set is one of legitimacy and respect for basic rights.
The common thread running through each of the warning signs is Kagame's ability to act without consequence. Having made his way to the top by muscling out internal critics, the President's sense of control is reinforced by his ability to exploit his "hero credit" of having brought the genocide to an end. While such a feat is not to be taken lightly, it also should not be used to justify oppressing the very people he claims to have saved. The most fundamental change that must occur in order to prevent future conflict is to curtail Kagame's emboldened grip on power while respecting the limits of sovereignty. Based on the assumption that the President will not agree to self-limit his power, avenues of external influence must be sought. Two areas that present the most significant means of leverage are conditionality of donor aid and enforcement of ICTR jurisdiction.
Before moving on to the actions of international actors, it is necessary to note that the recommendations set forth in this paper are more externally-based than endogenous. The reason for this is two-fold. First, to make recommendations concerning the government structure would be ineffective. The problem in Rwanda is not that the wrong type of political structure is in place — it has already been demonstrated that power-sharing has failed twice in Rwanda. On the contrary, the fact that a power-divided state is in place (de jure) may present just enough legitimacy to outsiders that its perversion by an autocratic regime (de facto) goes unnoticed. As summarized by a Rwandan judge "We have beautiful laws, among the best in the world. But they are not obeyed." The solution is not to change the system, but the procedures. A brief elaboration:
Turning to democracy theory, experts Bratton and Chang explain that democratic governance is comprised of two entities: the state and the regime. The state can be defined as the most basic structure of governance. It includes the security sector, courts, education system, health services and any other institutional service provided to citizens of a nation. A viable state, which Rwanda successfully maintains, is a key precondition to democracy. No governance can function without a basic structure, let alone good governance. Still, although it is necessary for democracy, an extant state is not sufficient by itself but must be coupled by a certain type of regime; represented by a set of procedures, or rules of the political game. In an empirical study on the relationship between state building and democracy in Africa, Bratton and Chang found that rule of law is the single most important capability of a democratizing nation. They conclude:
"The regression model attests that perceived violations of the rule of law are highly corrosive to democracy. (...) For example, the more frequently the president is seen to ignore the constitution, the less likely are citizens to think that state elites are supplying democracy... (.) The same result occurs if people feel wary about openly expressing their political views or if they suspect discriminatory treatment by public officials. To a degree not widely appreciated in the literature, Africans are gaining awareness of civil and political rights — especially freedom of speech and the right to vote — and they use these standards as benchmarks for understanding and assessing democracy."
If we take democracy to mean the full accountability of a government to its people (not just by the skeletal definition of elections) and believe that violent conflict is less likely to occur in a stable democracy, then the shift in regime type from de-facto single party dominant to one that respects civil rights and rule of law may decrease the likelihood of resurgent violence in Rwanda. Now that the regime (the procedural rules of the political game) has been identified as the locus of change, methods of pursuing this change can be explored.
The second reason for the external character of these recommendations is due to the immobilization of national actors. Usually, pathways to change in a conflict-laden society would require the involvement of civil society, the media and political parties. However, as Sections 1 and 2 have illustrated, these groups have clearly done all they can do. Taking further action may result in the provocation of violence. Although domestic actors have their hands tied, there is much that the global community can do.
Conditionality of Donor Aid
In Rwanda's long history of receiving Western aid, an unfortunate pattern has emerged. Donor states tend to provide funds for development initiatives without fully considering the indirect consequences of aid flow. As late as 1993, bilateral donors such as Germany, Belgium, France, the USA, Switzerland, Japan, Canada and the Netherlands (listed here in descending order) were bankrolling the Habyarimana regime. According to scholar Peter Uvin, this occurred because there was a "very positive, generally accepted image of Rwanda as a model developing country" that failed to account for the brutally authoritarian government or warning signs of ethnic and regional tensions. In particular, France has been criticized for dispensing capital to the MRND and CDR even after all other sources had withdrawn; a move that may have increased their capacity to carry out genocide. Today, donors are guilty of the very same practice — ignoring the consequences of providing aid and allowing the government to deceive them of its real intentions. As an overarching recommendation, donor countries must acknowledge the level of human rights violations on the ground and step up the use of conditionality to produce tangible results in the effort toward ending structural violence.
Article 34 of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) DAC Guidelines Linking Conflict Prevention, Peace Building, and Democracy states: A central focus of assistance should be to improve the general economic, political, and social climate in partner countries, by supporting measures to improve the legitimacy and effectiveness of the state as well as the emergence of a strong civil society... Assistance for the promotion of democracy, participatory mechanisms in the political system, and the rule of law can all be elements of a peace-building strategy helping to integrate individuals and groups into society, building their stake in the system and preventing their marginalisation and potential recourse to violence.
Besides the improvement of economic conditions, it is clear that the OECD is committed to improving governance as a way to maintain peace. In addition to the abovementioned goals, donors should consider the following six recommendations:
- Call on the government of Rwanda to institute constitutional reform and abide by the spirit of the OECD's Article 34 so that guarantees to freedom of speech, association, opinion, and press are not subject to domestic law, but are held as inviolable, internationally supported, standards.
- Promote true division of power by bolstering judicial independence. This can be done by modifying the process by which Supreme and lower-court judges are appointed. Instead of being nominated by the executive, judges should be appointed by popular election.
- Allocate funding to programs that support human rights and civil society groups within Rwanda. One such program could authorize a reputable organization like LIPRODHOR to monitor civil, political, and human rights conditions, and present the reports to the donor body on a regular basis. Reports of attacks on the media or other blatant rights abuse can have repercussions in proportion to the violation committed. Any attempt of the government to interfere with investigations will result in the immediate suspension of aid.
- In a similar fashion, privatize the National Election Commission (Rwanda's election monitoring body) and provide indirect support with conditions enforced for noncompliance.
- Work with regional organizations such as the African Union, The Southern African Development Community (SADC), and African Rights (the continental human rights organization whose advocacy helped prevent LIPRODHOR from being dissolved) to boost legitimacy and provide multiple sources of pressure.
- A meeting of lead donors should convene to discuss a cohesive aid strategy toward Rwanda. Without consistent, uniform pressure from all parties, Rwanda will have significant maneuver room to dodge donor demands and reinforce its emboldened disposition.
Currently, Kagame is not in a position where he needs to accommodate a genuine democratic dialogue. Since the regime is not facing a 'hurting stalemate" in which concessions are likely to be made, and it would be naïve to expect an autocrat of this level to self-regulate the system of checks and balances; efforts to incentivize good governance through donor conditionality is a more reasonable approach. It allows donors to recognize the achievements of the state, while improving the function of the regime. In furtherance of this goal, the second major recommendation is to end ongoing impunity by firmly enforcing ICTR jurisdiction.
Enforcement of ICTR Jurisdiction
The first step toward ending perceived impunity for the RPF regime is to end actual impunity for the crimes they've committed. The reason these crimes have gone unpunished are not for want of capacity. Since it commenced in 1994, the Rwandan Tribunal has completed 52 trials and convicted 36 of the most ruthless architects of the genocide. Furthermore, Rwanda's local-level Gacaca courts have prosecuted an astounding 1,595,061 individuals for their involvement in the genocide since 2005 alone. But when it comes to investigating RPA crimes, it is the obstinacy of the regime and the unwillingness of the ICTR to stand firmly in their position that prevents the families of over 30,000 people from achieving justice.
In February 1999, with only six months left of her tenure, former ICTR Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbor opened investigations into RPF crimes. When successor Carla Del Ponte took over in 2000, investigations continued with an initial promise of cooperation from the President. As trials approached and the threat of RPF convictions became acute, Kagame reneged on his agreement and initiated an attack campaign on both the Chief Prosecutor and the Tribunal. Travel bans imposed by Kagame prevented witnesses from testifying in Arusha, forcing the investigations to be suspended. The RPA succeeded in creating an ineffective and lopsided system of justice. As evidence of the RPA's impunity, Carla Del Ponte was removed from her post in September of 2003.
When former Gambian Supreme Court Justice Hassan Bubacar Jallow replaced Del Ponte in 2003, there was speculation as to whether he would intensify RPF investigations or allow impunity to prevail. A conflicting answer came five years later when Jallow took up the "Kabgayi killings," in which thirteen clergy and two civilians (including a nine-year-old boy) were massacred. In an eyebrow-raising move, the case was transferred to Rwandan courts (instead of being tried in the international ICTR court) even though there was concern over the clear conflict of interest. Jallow promised to follow the principle of complementarity whereby the trial would be monitored closely and overturned if deemed fraudulent. Yet overall, the proceedings were considered a sham.
Such behavior cannot stand. Since it was created by the United Nations Supreme Court through action taken under Chapter VII of its Charter, the ICTR is endowed with primacy, or primary jurisdiction, over these crimes. In order to fulfill its mandate to "put an end to such crimes and to take effective measures to bring to justice the persons who are responsible for them" the ICTR must send a clear message to Kagame that law will prevail over the self-serving interests of tyrants.
The Rwandan Tribunal also has a role to play in its ability to strengthen the capacity of domestic courts. It was demonstrated in Section 2 that Rwanda suffers from a lack of judicial independence, but it is also worth noting that as a result of the genocide, the country's judicial infrastructure was devastated. The degree of post-conflict devastation — only 12 national prosecutors survived — caused the ICTR to be located in Arusha, Tanzania. As a result, it can be argued that the experience strengthened Tanzanian domestic courts, while the Rwandan judiciary was denied that advantage. Regardless, the ICTR has shown its potential to effect positive change. National courts must abide by certain international fair-trial standards in order for the tribunal to relinquish primacy and refer cases. Therefore, Rwanda's desire to accept more high-level genocide cases has been used as a sort of incentive to improve human rights standards. Thus far, as a direct result of ICTR pressure, Rwanda has abolished the death penalty and improved the treatment of prisoners. Currently, 21 tribunal cases are in progress, 10 fugitives remain at large, and 1 of the accused is still awaiting trial. This presents a good number of cases through which Rwanda can strive for improvement.
The goal of this paper was to assess the status of deep divisions in Rwanda. After being torn apart by genocide, citizens found it within themselves to continue on, despite the horror and destruction they experienced. The world is hopeful for Rwanda. Achievements in the delivery of state services and development goals, economic stability, and a promise for global business partnerships have brought the country into the international spotlight. Rwanda has a strong potential to lead the African continent and President Paul Kagame is a willing candidate for such an endeavor. Nevertheless, the findings of this paper are important. It has been demonstrated that sense of security that has been crafted by donor nations is not only false, but highly dangerous. Rwandans have overcome incredibly dark times — undoubtedly, they have experienced worse than the likes of Paul Kagame. But this is no excuse. The warning signs for future conflict are present and cannot be ignored. While this is not to say that Rwanda currently teeters on the precipice of disaster, it should send a clear signal to donor countries and international actors that they must act now to prevent disaster later. Perhaps by taking proactive steps to combat its causes, we can correct the belief that conflict somehow erupts spontaneously and prevent the outbreak of violence before it claims so many lives.
Discrimination and Sectarianism. Official Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda found at http://www.grandslacs.net/doc/4040.pdf