Human Rights Advocates Denounce CMU’s Collaboration with President Kagame

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts: Rebecca Cech  (412) 736-9889 
Jeffrey Cech  (724) 880-4371

The Pittsburgh City Council advised caution in US support of Kagame’s government, but Carnegie Mellon University invites Rwandan president to begin a privileged relationship with the university, ignoring both local concerns and international charges against him.

Wednesday, September 13, 2011 (Pittsburgh, PA) — On Friday, September 16, 2011, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) plans to inaugurate a partnership with President Paul Kagame to develop Rwanda’s leading role as an ICT (Information and Communication Technology) nation. Human Rights Activists have expressed outrage at CMU’s extension of privilege and resources to President Kagame despite his human rights abuses in the DR Congo and serious curtailments of political freedoms in Rwanda.  As Kagame delivers his speech on Friday, advocates will gather beside University Center on Forbes Avenue to denounce CMU’s decision and counter the institution’s public act of support with one of disapproval.

CMU’s red carpet treatment of Kagame is a jarring contrast to the Pittsburgh city proclamation 2011-1897, adopted July 12, 2011 which urges caution in the US relations with the Rwandan government. The Council supports Public Law 109-456, which “gives the Secretary of State the power to withhold U.S. Aid dollars from countries acting to destabilize the Congo.” The Council understands that giving resources to Kagame means underwriting his human rights violations and many abuses of power in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region of Africa.

► In 2008, The Spanish National Court, The Audiencia National (same court that tried Chilean dictator Pinochet), indicted forty Rwandan military officers for terrorism, mass killings, and several counts of genocide against Rwandans, Congolese, and Spanish citizens, following the 1994 genocide. 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.

► In 2010 Human Rights Watch wrote that “if leaders continue to ignore the darker side of Kagame’s story, they will only compound the problem. Burying the truth about horrific crimes is a very effective way to sow the seeds for future grievances and more violence.”

► The United Nations Mapping Exercise Report of 1 October, 2010 identifies countries “that could be held responsible for serious violations of human rights committed by their national armies during the period under consideration in the DRC, and in particular Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Angola.” Crimes committed by the Rwandan army in the Congo have also qualified as acts of genocide by U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

CMU’s red carpet treatment of Kagame defies these warnings and protests. Advocates are urging CMU to revoke its partnership or to make its relationship with Kagame explicitly conditional on improvements in his human rights record and extensions of political freedoms in Rwanda.  Without these measures, they argue, CMU will earn an almost certain historical stain as one of the institutions that supported the despotic rule of another African strongman.

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