Tuesday July 22nd 2014

Is the US government funding a silent genocide in Rwanda ?

Article 2 of the Convention on Genocide stipulates that « genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. »

Much attention is generally accorded to acts involving killing members of the group. Rwanda experienced this at least two times, once in Rwanda herself in 1994 and later in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1996 and 1997. But in peace time, this is rarely the case. What’s taking place since 2006 is actually a silent genocide targeting the Hutu community.

For the first time in Rwanda’s history, a general census has shown great geographical disparities in annual average population growth rates between 2002 and 2012 with the Eastern Province registering an increase of 4,3% while the Northern and Western Provinces registered respectively 1% and 1,9%. In certain districts like Nyagatare, the figure is even higher since that particular place reportedly registered an increase of 6,2% annually between 2002 and 2012.

The current RPF autocratic regime hastened to justify the shocking differences between the Eastern and Northern provinces invoking « movements of population and not differences in birth rates », a statement not supported by any evidence. Reality is that there’s a deliberate policy of limitation of births by all possible methods of reproduction in those areas.

One of these methods targeting men is « non-scalpel vasectomy (NSV) » primarily conducted in Nyabihu district (Western Province) and Gicumbi district (Northern Province) whose ambition was to reach at least 700,000 males in the country with the support and funding from USAID’s Office of Population which the main partner of the regime for its « national family planning policy » since 2006. Clearly, in this 21st century, the question of whether the US government is funding a silent genocide of Hutus in Rwanda is posed and needs a clear answer.

Men and women in those areas are submitted to unbearable pressures by community health workers (CHWs) who are also stressed by their own hierarchy, namely the ministry of health who has set goals to be achieved by 2010.

US aid in Rwanda

With more than 170 million USD per year, the US government is Rwanda’s biggest bilateral official development aid (ODA) provider if one excludes direct budget support. This financial aid is given to targeted projects by country and in this case in diverse sectors including « family planning and reproductive health ».

It is interesting to note that despite the mountain of evidence demonstrating the involvement of the current regime in destabilizing the neigboring Democratic Republic of Congo in view of creating a satellite State in the East of that country, the US governement is still reluctant to withhold flows of dollars to the present Rwandan criminal government.

Slowing births in specific communities at any cost

All methods are being used to stop births in specific communities especially in rural areas. The used methods range from pills (7%), injectable (26%) to implants (6%) in married women while others target males. The regime pretends that enrollment for any method is volontary. This is practically impossible. In a country like Rwanda where basic freedoms are denied, independent civil society organizations banned, level of education very low especially in women and in rural areas and both central and local leaders including CHWs tempted to use coercion to meet imposed targets « imihigo », there’s no room for volontary participation

Another problem is that members of the Hutu community are globally seen as potential hostile citizens to « government programs » which makes them vulnerable to agents of enforcement of public policies, in this case CHWs. In present Rwanda, « frustrating government programs » is a criminal offence.

It wasn’t a coincidence that Nyabihu and Gicumbi districts, respectively situated in the Western and Northern Provinces were selected as first candidates for NSV program. Consistant with its usual policy of denial, the RPF regime dismissed its stated objectives later. The ministry of health realized the criminal character of such a program and embarked on an exercise of public image damage control. It’s for that reason that it affirmed that there were no targets for vasectomies adding that « the 700,000 target which has been erroneously announced in press reports is actually in regard to the government’s goal to protect males from HIV infection through volontary circumcision ».

What the minister forgot to recall is that the mentioned reports added that those families were identified as poor families with no means of raising children. In fact, even for this new so-called anti-HIV program supported by GAVI funds and certain jewish NGOs, the target was revised and put at 2,5 million males for circumcision. Moreover, a survey conducted in neighboring Uganda showed that circumcision has no protective effect at all.

The Western and Northern provinces include former Ruhengeri, Byumba and Gisenyi prefectures which were seen by many as strongholds of the former regime. Tutsis in those areas were and are still very few. To the contrary, the Eastern province is populated with former refugees from Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi most of whom are Tutsis and are seen as the social base of the current regime.

The other factor taken into account to bring women and men to cooperate in these programs is poverty. Everybody knows that in a country where national solidarity is not organized by the State leaving bread earners of every family with the burden of providing social assistance to their poor, there’s a very stong interaction between ethnicity and poverty in present Rwanda.

High mortality rates and broken families

The provisional census results didn’t give any details yet about mortality rates. Those two provinces were heavily affected by the insurgency of 1998-2000 which left almost every family affected by loss of male members.

Moreover, more than 1,9 million Hutus all categories confounded were tried by Gacaca courts at first level and that at least 1,5 million were convicted, some of them (75,000) in absentia. Of these, only 45,000 were acquitted at the level of appeal.

227,000 suspects from all categories pleaded guilty with the result that at least 200,000 were sentenced to spend some time in labor camps as « alternative sentence ». That’s why even in the Southern Province, the annual population growth average rate was only 2,9. In fact, Hutu women could hardly see their husbands which makes producing practically impossible.

In additionnally, tens of thousands are still refugees in neighboring countries while thousands of others serve their sentences in prison. Many Hutu women live alone and are not in any way able to produce as far as reproductive health is concerned. This has very seriously affected their fertility rate hence the highly applauded decrease of annual population growth average. It’s no surprise though that the official narrative doesn’t even mention these factors.

We couldn’t expect less from Diane Karusisi, Mrs Janet Kagame’s closest aides, who heads the « National Institute of Statistics » that conducted and doctored these statistics . In fact, all started with false premises of population growth combined with the aim of hiding the victims of the regime which put put produced false results during the 2002 census and exaggerated projections of population growth at 10,718,378 by 2011, an number deliberately exaggerated to justify targeted natality controls measure and attract external funding, since their own census indicates that in 2012, the total population of Rwanda is 10,537,222 people.

Time to stop support to the RPF criminal policy

In a country like Rwanda where ethnicity is so crucial in politics and issues of reproductive health so sensitive considered the levels of violence reached in our society, it’s high time that all stakeholders scrutinize very seriously their involvement in such policies.

In apartheid South Africa, the racist government didn’t hesitate to resort to birth control to keep in check the numbers of Blacks which was perceived as a threat to the stability of the social order under which they wrongly thought they could rule for ever and suppress by force any demand of democratic participation from the Black majority. Very few would even imagine that the government didn’t hesitate to envisage poisoning of potable water or other means of limiting procreation in Black communities as official programs until this was confirmed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In Rwanda, where the current regime is both dictatorial and ethnically based, there’s little chance that they resists to such fascist methods as limitation of births for a perceived hostile community. The US government should stop its involvement in the current program aiming at controlling births as long as there are no sufficient evidence and no conducive conditions that such an exercise can be conducted ethically and fairly and be based on the will of the people under the scrutiny of an independent press, free civil society organizations and independent judiciary, all of which are lacking under the reigning autocratic regime of Paul Kagame.

Attitudes of flat denial both unethical and aggressive like the one exhibited by former Under-Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer during her interview with Aljazeera TV this Sunday December 2, 2012 or an unconditional cover-up in all circumstances from the current US representative to the UN Susan Rice should be reversed and a proactive attitude be the order of the day as far as Rwanda is concerned, whether it’s about the current total absence of rule of law and political space at home or else in external issues like Rwanda’s military aggression against the DRC. Failure to realize this will make the US an active accomplice in a silent genocide against the Hutu community in Rwanda.

Dr Jean-Baptiste Mberabahizi
UDF-Inkingi Secretary General and Spokesperson

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