AFJN, in coalition with 8 other organizations, is protesting William Penn University’s decision to honor Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, by having him deliver their commencement address and continuing to partner with him and the Rwandan government. The President of the United States has long recognized that Rwanda is not a democracy, and many organizations have pushed for a more open, transparent government in Rwanda. As a university founded on the Quaker principles of peace, community, and equality, the coalition believes it is misguided to promote and partner with a former warlord and head of a repressive political regime.
Here are some facts about Rwanda and Paul Kagame’s regime, included in the letter:
- The June 3, 2011 report by Amnesty International says the following about the Kagame regime, “The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), in power since the 1994 genocide, tightly controls political space, civil society and the media, contending that this is necessary to prevent renewed violence. Human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents cannot openly and publicly criticize the authorities. People who do speak out risk prosecution and imprisonment.”
- Following the August 2010 election in which General Kagame claimed a 93% victory, many observers charged fraud and cited political violence, intimidation and repression of press freedom. Those concerned included The Obama White House, which issued a statement saying, “[n]o one should underestimate the enormous challenges born of the genocide in 1994. Rwanda’s progress in the face of these challenges has been remarkable, and is a testament to the people of Rwanda. Rwanda’s stability and growing prosperity, however, will be difficult to sustain in the absence of broad political debate and open political participation.”
- In 2008, The Spanish National Court, The Audiencia National (which charged disgraced Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet), indicted 40 Rwandan military officers for terrorism, mass killings, and several counts of genocide against Rwandans, Congolese and Spanish citizens, following the 1994 genocide.1 Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu has said he has evidence implicating Rwanda’s current President Paul Kagame, who has immunity from prosecution as a head of state
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