Sunday, November 29, 2009

Why did the Commonwealth accept Rwanda?


Commonwealth leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government 
meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 11.28.2009.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government, meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on 11. 28.2009, admitted Rwanda to the Commonwealth, despite the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative's objections to Rwanda's miserable human rights record, compromised courts, compromised elections, and repeated invasions to loot the mineral wealth of neighboring D.R. Congo, objections reported in the London Guardian and many other sources.


On 11.26.2009, on the BBC's Have Your Say, Interim Rwandan Democratic Green Party President Frank Habineza and Sam Okudetsu of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)  argued that the Commonwealth should not consider Rwanda's application unless and until Rwanda's upcoming election, in August 2010, is free and fair.


Professor Yash Pai Ghai, a Kenyan legal expert, wrote, in a report for the CHRI:

"We believe that overwhelming evidence, conveniently ignored by leading Commonwealth states, demonstrates that the government of Rwanda is not sufficiently committed to the protection of human rights and to democracy." 

But, that wasn't enough to block acceptance of Rwanda's application this year. 

Nor did Commonwealth leaders question Rwanda's pending gay imprisonment legislation, which makes the sincerity of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and British Prime Minister Gordon' Brown's reported "fury" over neighboring Uganda's pending gay death penalty highly doubtful.

This makes it even less likely that Uganda will be expelled from the Commonwealth, despite international outcry, if its gay death penalty bill passes, as expected.

Indeed, as reported on Slap Upside the Head, a gay blog in the U.S., Prime Ministers Harper and Brown expressed their "fury" over Uganda's gay death penalty by reproducing a U.S. government press release, much of it word for word:


Slap Upside the Head

So why did the Commonwealth, and, most of all, Britain and Canada, ignore everything they claim to stand for---human rights, democracy, secure borders, and the rule of law---to champion Rwanda, the African darling of English speaking politicians and CEOS?

Because Rwanda has served the interests of the U.S., Britain, and Canada, and their allies, since the mass slaughter known as the Rwanda Genocide of 1994, during which Rwandan exile Paul Kagame led the Rwandan Patriotic Front into Rwanda, from neighboring, English-speaking, Uganda, to seize power.   Rwanda is now re-establishing diplomatic ties with France, and the Commonwealth's French equivalent, La Francophonie, but English is now the official language of Rwanda, even though most Rwandans speak only Kinyarwanda and French.  The U.S. and its allies use Rwanda and its proxy army to secure their interests in the region, which include:


--natural gas reserves,  an estimated $20 billion worth, in Lake Kivu, on the border of Rwanda and D.R. Congo,

--the unparalleled mineral wealth of Eastern D.R. Congo, including fossil fuels, uranium, coltan, cassiterite, diamonds, and, the world's cobalt reserves, in the Katanga Copper Belt.



Cynthia McKinney announces EndUsWars.org and a demonstration against escalation in Afghanistan



Former Georgia Congresswoman and 2008 U.S. Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney has  called for a demonstration against escalation of the Afghanistan War outside the White House in Washington D.C. on 12.12.2009.

On 10.29.2009, the Washington Post reported that President Barack Obama already has 68,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan, twice the number when Bush left office.

On November 29, 2009, Cynthia McKinney, former Georgia Congresswoman and the Green Party U.S.'s 2008 presidential candidate, announced a new website, EndUSWars.org, and, an emergency rally to "Stop the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Escalation of the Afghanistan War," on Saturday, December 12, 2009,  11:00 am - 4:00 pm, at Lafayette Square, the White House, Washington D.C.   The announcement featured Jordan Page's music video, "Listen":


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Would someone please tell Paul Kagame that Greens are nonviolent?

 
Rwandan President Paul Kagame can't seem to understand that peace/nonviolence is one of the 10 key values of the Democratic Green Party, as it is of Green Parties all over the world.


The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda's fourth attempt to convene, so as to participate in Rwanda's 2010 elections, ended in violence, chaos, and arrests.  Rwandan authorities now insist that the Rwanda Greens acknowledge that they sabotaged their own convention, and, promise not to do anything so violent to themselves again, before granting them a police permit for their fifth attempt to convene?


Would somebody please remind Paul Kagame and his government that the Global Green Party is nonviolent?  That nonviolence is one of the Rwanda Greens 10 key values, that it's one of the Global Green Parties 10 key values all over the world?    

And that this makes his argument that he can't let the Rwanda Greens convene in Kigali, for fear that they might do violence to one another, even sillier?   

It's such a silly argument that it might be funny, if most Rwandans didn't evidence signs of malnourishment, while surviving on one meal a day, despite living on some of the richest agricultural land on earth.  And, if participating in Rwanda's 2010 election weren't for many Rwandans, an issue of survival as much as self determination.  




 Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Green Party Woes Continue, As Police Halt Conference Again
BY GODWIN AGABA
   
Thursday, 26 November 2009    

President Kagame Rwanda National Police on Monday, directed Rwanda Green party officials not to proceed with next scheduled conference that was to take place this week, citing divisionism within the party.

According to correspondences obtained by 256news.com, the party has failed to convince police that they will be no chaos again, sates the police latter of 23, November 2009, no 2527/NP/EKG/SGP/BK/09,and signed by commissioner general of police, Brig. General Emanuel K.Gasana. 

However Frank Habineza the interim party president said outsiders who are not party members sparked the chaos.

The Green Party said those who are behind the chaos and who started it as Kimenyi Claude who resides in Nyamirambo suburb and is the president of Rwanda money changers and he is former RDF officer and another one called Kayisire Emmanuel a broker operating in Gasabo district also former police operative, according to green party’s letter to police dated 23, November 2009.

Green party officials said that, Kimenyi threw a chair at the seated crowd hitting a woman as he shouted repeatedly “FPR oyee” – in support of the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front.

Rwanda Police escalate harassment of Rwanda Greens


Frank Habineza, interim President of the Rwanda Green Party, forwarded this Rwanda News Agency (RNA) report, from Kigali, Rwanda's capitol, on 11.24.2009.   The Rwanda Greens fourth attempt to convene in Kigali ended in violence and arrests, and, now Rwanda Police will not grant them the certificate they need for a fifth attempt to convene in Gasabo District, Kigali.  

I fear for the Rwanda Greens, the other political parties attempting to register and participate in Rwanda's 2010 elections, and the Rwandan people. 






  Police chief Brig Emmanuel Gasana (left) and Green Party leader Mr. Frank Habineza (right): The Police boss wants names of the trouble-causers from the Green Party


Police refuses to give Green Party crucial document        
By RNA Reporter      
Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Police chief Brig Emmanuel Gasana (right) and Green Party leader Mr. Frank Habineza: The Police boss wants names of the trouble-causers from the Green Party
Kigali: 

Gasabo district cannot allow the controversial Green Party space on its territory unless it has a Police Certificate indicating they will “not cause trouble again," but now the Police also says it cannot avail that document at the moment, RNA reports.

Police Commissioner-General, Brig Emmanuel Gasana instead informed the Green Party yesterday that he does not intend to grant them the clearance “because investigations are still ongoing” on the chaos that erupted on October 30, as the party conference got underway.

“I take this opportunity to request that if you have any information on the people who caused the chaos, indicating that they were not your members, then you should avail that to the National Police, because those arrested at St. Paul turned out to be innocent saying they had instead been hit with chairs in the meeting you were presiding,” the new police chief writes.

The chaos erupted in the founding conference on the morning of that October day at the Diocesan hall St. Paul in Nyarugenge district. The trouble ridden party then decided to ask neighbouring Gasabo district for space to hold another conference, at which they hope to finalise their registration dossier.

The Green Party leaders had planned to hold the conference in Gasabo on November 20, just a week before the Heads of State Commonwealth summit due this weekend in Trinidad and Tobago. President Kagame is expected to lead a high-level government delegation to the event where Rwanda could be allowed into the 53-nation block.

However, the embattled Mayor of Gasabo district, Ms. Nyinawagaga Claudine, who has also resigned over other issues, declined to offer the space demanding for the police clearance. She said the document would give her assurances that the same trouble would not be repeated in her administrative area.

This means that the Green Party has been put to task to prove that the chaos in which several people were seriously injured was not caused by them. In a response letter to the Police chief, Green Party officials have sent him two names of people it alleges where behind the troubles.

The individuals whose names have been submitted to the Police Commissioner-General are Mr. Kimenyi Claude, from Nyamurambo in Nyarugenge district; and Mr. Kayisire Emmanuel, from Kimironko in Gasabo district. 

Mr. Kimenyi, according to the Green Party is a money-changer in Kigali, and Mr. Kayisire is a Blocker, also here in Kigali.

The Green Party also seems to be desperately trying to move fast so it can have the founding conference which has been postponed for five times. In the correspondence to the Police Chief, party leaders say the situation which happened at St. Paul hall has been “resolved” because those who caused it are out free, and those who were injured have been treated.

“… that is why I am requesting you that you accept to give us the clearance, such that in the next congress we will collaborate with you especially on security,” they write in the letter sent Tuesday. 

It was not clear by press time, when the Police Commissioner-General will respond.



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Open letter to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, on the City's commitment to the U.S.A.'s perpetual war on people and the planet



San Francisco Board of Supervisors

 
On October 9th, 2009, the  Blue Angels FA-18 jet fighter bombers flew past my window, in San Francisco, in diamond point formation, at close to the speed of sound, with about 3,000 gallons of kerosene based jet fuel on board.  

The FA-18s are wired to drop B-61 nuclear warheads, from their wingtips, though, so far as I know there were none attached this year. I nevertheless remembered 2007, when nuclear warheads were “accidentally” attached to the wingtips of a B-52, at the Minot, North Dakota, Air Force Base, unbeknownst to the pilot, who then flew the B-52 across the heartland to the Barksdale, Louisiana Air Force Base without knowing that he could have dropped nuclear warheads on Iowa, or other parts between. 


Flying with nuclear warheads attached to the wing tips is a practice called “airborne alert” which ended after one of our B-52s flying in airborne alert crashed in Greenland in 1968, but, it was accidentally revived in 2007.  Greenland, which was a colony of Denmark at the time, later sued Denmark for not protecting them---from us, the U.S.A.                                           


I now seem to be San Francisco's lay expert on the history, culture, technology, and official procedure that brings the annual Blue Angels military recruitment fest to San Francisco.  This year I finally learned that there was a Blue Angels TV drama series, starring Dennis Cross and Don Gordon, filmed with the cooperation of the Navy, and aired in syndication from September 26, 1960 to July 3, 1961.  

So, shortly after four Angels roared past my window, KPFA Radio News called me and Laura Magnani of the American Friends Service Committee's Bay Area office, after which I made this little video, posted it to the Youtube, and sent it to all of you, San Francisco Supervisors, and to Mayor Newsom, though I have yet to receive any indication that any of you watched it:







After I talked to KPFA News, I called Mayor Newsom's office, for the fifth time this year, to ask who had requested this year's Blue Angels Air Show, and he said---through his press office-- that you had: the government of the City and County of San Francisco, which includes you. 

In 2007, Mayor Newsom was proud to say that he had requested them; in 2008, he claimed that the Port Commission had, and that he therefore had nothing to do with it; and, in 2009, this year, he—through his press office--claimed that the government of the City and County of San Francisco, including you, requested it.


The Blue Angels recruitment drive doesn't come unless you request it. That's official procedure. Dianne Feinstein requested it in 1981, eight years after the end of the draft, six years after the end of the Vietnam War, and three years after the assassination of Harvey Milk.

So, officially, you, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, joined the mayor in requesting the 2009 military recruitment drive, tacitly or no. 

If, for any reason, you'd like to cancel the 2010 request already submitted at the end of September, all you have to do is write a letter to Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter. , preferably before the end of December, but anytime between now and next October.  Blue Angels Air Shows are often canceled, for many reasons.  The mayor can request the Blue Angels, but you can tell the Secretary of the Navy that you, the Board of Supervisors, would rather not host them in 2010.


Even if the Mayor requested it in your name, you could write a letter to the Secretary of the Navy saying that you'd like to cancel the request. There is nothing in the San Francisco City Charter that says who has the power to request or cancel a Blue Angels recruitment drive. So, the Mayor can request it, and you can write a letter saying that you'd like to cancel it.


It's not a legal issue; it's a cultural issue; it's about the culture of militarism, or peace.  Three entities---the Mayor, the Board, and the voters are legally constituted to express San Francisco's culture, by requesting or canceling the 2010 recruitment drive.   


But, all three have requested it, even if only tacitly, by allowing the mayor to request it, since 1981.


 


Monday, November 23, 2009

Gay death penalty and other harsh anti-gay laws proposed in Africa


International LGBT and human rights organizations are protesting proposed harsh new anti-gay legislation in Rwanda and Uganda, the U.S.A.'s closest allies in Africa.




Rwanda is considering a new anti-gay law, which, though not as cruel as Uganda's proposed death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," states that:

“Any person who practices, encourages, or sensitizes people of the same sex to sexual relations or any sexual practice, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment ranging from five to ten years and a fine ranging from 200,000 to 1,000,000 Rwanda Francs.” 


Interim Rwanda Green Party leader Frank Habineza forwarded this report, from the state run Rwanda News Agency (RNA):


Rwanda’s Civil Society Protests Anti-Gay Law
BY GODWIN AGABA
 Monday, 23 November 2009    


The Civil Society Coalition in Rwanda has submitted a concept paper to the Rwanda National Parliament with their position on the rights of lesbian, gay, bi- sexual, trans-gender and inter-sexual ( LGBTTI ) rights and protection of sexual minorities.

According to their press release, the safety and freedoms of LGBTTI as well as sex workers in Rwanda are seriously undermined. The Civil Society Coalition demands that the penal code be promulgated in its current draft form.

The newly proposed article 217 provides that, “Any person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex to sexual relations or any sexual practice, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment ranging from five to ten years and a fine ranging from 200,000 to 1,000,000 Rwanda Francs.”

Article 221 on sex workers stipulates, “Any person who practices the profession of prostitution shall be liable for a term of imprisonment ranging from six months to three years and a fine ranging from fifty thousand to five hundred thousand Rwanda Francs.”

”In Rwanda, sex workers are a direct consequence of the social-economic dynamics of our country.  They deserve protection and special care, not to be criminalized,” Aimable Mwananawe, the chairman of Rwanda NGO forum and a member of the coalition told 256news.com on the sidelines of the press conference.

According to the press release from the coalition, a pragmatic way of dealing with the sex worker issue has been and will continue to be “to identify them, gather them into cooperatives and other organized groupings for targeted treatment, vocational training and income generating activities but criminalizing them will be counterproductive to achieving these outcomes and would be contrary to human rights as articulated in the Rwanda Constitution and in the international human rights instruments to which Rwanda is signatory.” 

The coalition requested the support of all stakeholders including the media to ensure that the Rwandan government upholds its Constitutional commitment to ensure equality before the law of all citizens.

At the press conference, two girls and a boy shocked journalists when they confessed that they promote and they are lesbians and homos.

The press conference was organized by the Rwanda NGO forum with the aim of supporting the decriminalization of LBGTs and sex work in the draft penal code.

In Uganda, a tougher anti-gay bill is now in Parliament which stipulates harsh penalties like death and life imprisonment for certain offenses related to homosexuality."



On the African Pambazuka News website, Sexual Minorities Uganda leaders Solome Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe and Frank Mugisha write that:

"The bill is clearly a diversion from the serious issues facing Uganda’s policy-makers today in the lead-up to the 2011 elections especially around livelihoods; poverty and the lack of jobs; electoral reforms; lasting solutions to the northern Uganda peace process; political conflict; ethnic tensions and the unresolved land question; high rates of violence against children and against women (perpetrated largely by heterosexual men); and the ongoing impact of HIV/AIDS.



And, on NPR's Fresh Air, 11.23.2009, Jeff Sharlett, author of "The Family," recounted the role of the U.S.A.'s "elite fundamentalist" group "The Family," including Sen. John Ensign, Rep. Bart Stupak, and Rep. Joe Pitts in promoting Uganda's proposed gay death penalty.



Sunday, November 22, 2009

Uganda's gay "death penalty" bill a distraction


The City of San Francisco, CA, is united behind the right to love whom you love, how you love, if by nothing else.  This is international gay rights hero Harvey Milk's town; Harvey's bust graces the entrance to the City's legislative chambers and the Harvey Milk Democratic Club is one of the most influential here.

So, some San Franciscans have now turned their attention to Uganda, to protest its gay nightmare legislative proposal, which includes the death penalty for a list of offenses labeled "aggravated homosexuality."  Like other human rights activists around the world, they're responding to action alerts from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, even though Central Africa is rarely on the radar screen out here on the Western edge of the Pacific, in a city now only 3.5% African American, with immigrant populations largely from Asia and Latin America.

I was glad to be able to share "Bahati's Bill, a convenient distraction for Uganda's government," a  Pambazuka News article, which gives Uganda's nightmarish legislative proposal a Ugandan and African context.    I hope that some will read it and understand that we need to protest not only the proposed law, in Uganda, but also the role of U.S. foreign policy, U.S.-based corporations, oil, and AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command, in "creating the conditions keeping so many Ugandans in poverty. . .," and thus, creating a need to scapegoat same sex lovers.

Bahati’s bill: A convenient distraction for Uganda's government


  
"As Ugandan MP David Bahati spearheads a campaign around the adoption of the homophobic 'Bahati's bill', Solome Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe and Frank Mugisha call for an unwavering rejection of a piece of legislation entirely against the interests of wider Ugandan society.  With strong suspicions of Bahati's financial backing by extreme-right Christian groups in the US, the bill seeks not only to establish draconian punishments for homosexual acts but also to actively encourage Ugandans to snoop on one another indefinitely for the supposed good of the nation. If homophobes like Bahati were really worried about 'protecting the traditional family', Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe and Mugisha argue, they'd concern themselves with tackling the conditions keeping so many Ugandans in poverty, rather than making scapegoats of homosexual people. The authors conclude that with an election approaching in 2011, the momentum behind the bill smacks of a none-too-subtle attempt to divert attention away from Uganda's true issues."


See also GayUganda, an exquisitely written blog, Sexual Minorities of Uganda SMUG, and,  Resist AFRICOM:


Friday, November 20, 2009

Rwanda Green Party activists claim illegal detention



Rwanda Green Party members waited outside a meeting hall in Kigali, on 10.30.2009, to join the party's founding convention.  Saboteurs disrupted the gathering, which was then shut down by police.  Today's Rwandan News Agency reports that eight Rwanda Greens charge that they were illegally arrested and detained during the next week.


The Rwandan News Agency (RNA) published this report, "Green Party activists claim illegal detention, petition President," on the RNA website, on 11.20.2009.  To read it there, one must register on the RNA website.  

Some RNA reporters and editors are clearly determined to cover the story of the Rwanda Green Party's struggle to emerge, though some of their reports have become unavailable after publication.  This story appeared on the RNA site's "most popular" list, on its publication date, 11.20.2009:









Green Party activists claim illegal detention, petition President        
By RNA Reporters      
Friday, 20 November 2009
Kigali: The scheduled founding conference of the troubled Green Party did not take place Friday as the group wait for a Police certificate from the new Commissioner-General, Brig. Emmanuel Gasana. But not without new allegations, RNA reports.

A man by the names Gaston Bihibindi is claiming that he was detained for three days without food at the magnificent multi-million dollar Ministry of Defense building known locally as “Pentagon”. Mr. Bihibindi is not the only one accusing unknown individuals driving tinted double cabin Toyota pickup trucks of snatching them from their homes or as they walked.

The local weekly UMUSESO details ordeals of eight people identifying themselves as Green Party activists, who were apparently arrested on October 30 after the failed conference which police halted citing insecurity. The men were apparently detained at an infamous but not gazetted facility in Kimironko, an outskirt of Kigali.

The seemingly traumatized Mr. Bihibindi claims that on Sunday November 15 at around 18hours, he was lured into a blue and tinted double-cabin track by two men who asked him to direct them to a place where somebody was selling a house and land. The two men found him walking in Kanombe, an area where the International airport is situated, and where he lives.

“I told them that I have no idea about whoever is selling land or house but they insisted I should just get into the car to help them get around the place since I knew it very well,” narrates Bihibindi.

“But when I got into the back seat of the double-cabin, I started feeling insecure and scared after I saw a pistol (gun) placed in front of the other passenger.”

The car drove without stopping to the building which housed the former Rwanda Export and Investment Promotion Agency (RIEPA) in Kimihurura. “Along the way, I asked where we were going, but they told me there is no problem as they needed me to help them with something,” narrates Bihibindi. There was no more conversation.

At this building known here as ‘Kabindi’, the men handed him to another man who invited Bihibindi inside and told to sit in a room. Several men came into the room asking him questions. “One of the men kicked me as he talked to me like he knew very who I was,” claims Bihibindi.

All the people who interrogated him were apparently accusing the seemingly youthful former soldier of mobilizing demobilized soldiers to join the Green Party, which he admits to have done in the interview. “The one who kicked me accused me of joining the party for money because of my stomach,” he said.

During the October 30 failed conference, Bihibindi says he was in charge of protocol and is said to be one of the few strong activists of the controversial group. Green Party Frank Habineza is now in the spotlight for allegedly aiding a former minister to flee the country – which he denies.

After several hours at the Kabindi building, the same car with the same occupants returned and moved Bihibindi to the Pentagon building which is just in sight of Kabindi. He was taken to the basement of the Pentagon building where he spent the night with other detained people, who he describes as “looking like soldiers”.

On the Morning of Monday November 16, all the detainees were given bread and milk. This would be the end of the meals until Wednesday afternoon on November 19. “We never had anything else to eat for all that time,” he affirms.

However, what he also affirmed to RNA is that he was not tortured. “All my interrogators treated me well even when they were asking me questions,” he says. “The only problem I have with the whole situation is how could I be kept for all this time without being taken to court or even informed of what I was held for?”

On Wednesday, in the afternoon, a man Bihibindi indentifies as a “Major” came in to speak to him about his ordeal. “He ordered that I be released immediately but also ordered me not to tell anybody about what had happened,” he tells RNA in a soft tone, as he sat back.

Bihibindi says he walked out of the Pentagon building and headed straight home. The next stop was informing Green Party leaders of what happened to him because they had also been looking for him without any trace.

“I don’t know what will happen next. If I can be picked and taken away without anyone noticing, how sure can I be for my security anymore? I am defying the order to keep quiet because I am scared anything could happen,” he says.

“All I am requesting is protection from President Kagame as the leader of this country because people might be doing this without his knowledge.”

Meanwhile, the conference planned for November 20, a date which was communicated to Gasabo district and not Nyarugenge this time for permission, is not taking place today.  

The embattled former Mayor of Gasabo district Ms. Nyinawagaga Claudine requested that the party provides a police certificate that they will not cause more trouble in her locality like it had been earlier in Nyarugenge.

However, the new police Commissioner-General, Brig. Emmanuel Gasana has not responded to a letter wrote last week for the requested certificate. And the Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama also wrote to the party that they should solicit for a district Notaire because the Ministry’s Notaire would not be available today.

This will be the fifth time the group has not been able to hold the conference, at which they hoped to have nomination signatures of hundreds of their members verified – as part of the dossier the party plans to submit to the Ministry of Local Government for registration.

Party officials say they had deliberately planned to hold the conference today, a few days to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit due at the end of next week, where Rwanda’s application to join the block will be assessed.

President Kagame is expected to head a strong delegation to Trinidad and Tobago for the summit, at which, from all available indications, will unanimously accept Rwanda as the 54th member.


I reported on the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative group's objections to admitting Rwanda to the Commonwealth, here, on the Netherlands-based blog Colored Opinions, and, on the U.S.-based website, the OpEdNews.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Planting bio-fuels in Rwanda, while Rwandans go hungry



Rwanda's greatest natural resource is its fertile agricultural land, but most is centralized in the hands of government elites and planted in export crops, coffee, tea, flowers, and soon, bio-fuels----while Rwandans go hungry. 

On November 9, 2009, Benoit Ndagijimana, Deputy Secretary General of the United Democratic Forces of Rwanda, a.k.a., the UDF-IINKINGI, a dissident Rwandan political party, protested the Rwandan government's dedication of 10,000 hectares of land, in Eastern Rwanda, to produce bio-fuels, in a consortium with U.S.-based Eco-Fuel Global and UK-based Eco Positive:

"This unique decision is made when prices of food commodities are increasing every day, but many Rwandans barely have one meal a day and display obvious undernourishment, and, when at least 60% of households in the rural areas of Rwanda suffer from different degrees of food insecurity.  This decision poses additional harms to the Rwandan peasants already afflicted not only by current land expropriation underway since July 1994 but also by forced villagization and technocratic regionalization of crops. . .http://hungryoftruth.blogspot.com/2009/11/udf-inkingi-condemn-decision-to-sell.html

Rwanda's greatest natural resource is its fertile agricultural land, but most of it is centralized in the hands of government elites and planted in coffee, tea, and flowers for export.   This Global Eco-Fuels investment, like Costco and Starbuck's investment in Rwandan coffee plantations, obviously undermines most Rwandans struggle to secure life's most basic necessity---food.


The best hope of redistributing Rwandan land to Rwandan people, for sustainable agriculture that might feed them, is a fair and honest election in Rwanda in August 2010, which the government of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the U.S.A.'s greatest ally in Africa, is doing all it can to prevent----as evidenced by its repression of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda's four attempts to convene, and, its refusal to grant a passport to the United Democratic Forces of Rwanda's  First Vice Chairman Eugène Ndahayo.

If allowed to participate, the Rwandan Greens, the United Democratic Forces of Rwanda, and other parties would probably be able to form a coalition capable of winning the election:



For a critique of bio-fuels planting on the entire African continent, see the Pambazuka News, "Bio-fuels and neo-colonialism," which describes it as "a new and massive land-grabbing scramble in Africa, unprecedented since the fall of colonialism."

Eco-Fuel Global is based in Walnut Creek, California, U.S.A., in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Eco Positive is based in London, UK. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

DU weapons use in Iraq; drastic birth defects in Fallujah


U.S. artillery fire, Fallujah, 11.14.2004, Wikimedia Commons

On Friday, 11.13.2009, the London Guardian reported a "Huge rise in birth defects in Fallujah," Iraq.  I sent the news to KPFA Radio 94.1FM Weekend News Anchor Anthony Fest, along with contact info for Bob Nichols, San Francisco Bay View Newspaper correspondent and winner of a 2004 Project Censored Award for his reporting on U.S. military's use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq, and consequent radiation poisoining. I then edited and animated the resulting KPFA Evening News segment, 11.15.2009:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, and, oil and natural gas
























On January 22, 2008, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) reported that the "Democratic Republic of Congo's 1998-2003 war and its aftermath had caused more deaths than any other conflict since World War Two," and that "war, disease and malnutrition are killing 45,000 Congolese every month in a conflict-driven humanitarian crisis."  And, they said that there had been no change in the war-driven casualty rate since 2004.

The IRC's statement is both bleak and oblique.  Oblique, as in the second definition in Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary:\

"2 a : not straightforward : indirect; also : obscure b : devious, underhanded"
The IRC declined to identify the aggressors in the Congo War, making only vague reference first to "rebel groups, local militia, and Congo's own army," and then, to "Tutsi rebels and Mai Mai militias."
Like all the big multinational corporations in the relief-in-the-Global-South industries, the IRC would jeopardize its contracts with Western governments, and, corporate contributions, by identifying the real, foreign powers arming African proxy armies to fight for Congo's vast natural resources, including:

1)  An estimated $30 billion worth of oil reserves in Lake Albert, which forms much of the border of Western Uganda and Northeastern Congo.


Fishermen near an oil rig on the edge of Lake Albert, which forms part of the Western Ugandan and Eastern Congolese border. 

2)  And, $20 billion worth of methane gas, a.k.a., natural gas, in Lake Kivu, which forms much of the  Western Rwanda and Southeastern Congo border.


An off-duty soldier washes his clothes next to Lake Kivu, which forms part of the Western Rwandan and Eastern Congolese border.

Although these oil and gas reserves exist beneath and around lakes that form the borders of Uganda/ Congo and Rwanda/Congo borders, press and other organizations almost always characterize them as Uganda's oil and Rwanda's natural gas.

The boundaries on this map do not represent official borders recognized by the United Nations, but they illustrate that Lake Albert, with an estimated $30 billion worth of oil, forms part of the Uganda/Congo border, with the border running through its center.  And, that Lake Kivu, site of an estimated $20 billion worth of natural gas, forms part of the Western Rwanda/Eastern Congo border, again, with the border running through its center.



                                                                              

Friday, November 13, 2009

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Group on Rwanda's application; not until after a fair election in 2010


"On Rwanda it should wait for next year’s presidential elections, send a strong observer group to decide whether they are fair (the last ones were not) and then consider the application at the next CHOGM in 2011."  -Journalist Derek Ingram, writing for "Commonwealth Conversation," Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Group.




The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda's fourth attempt to convene in Kigali ended in broken bones and arrests after agent provocateurs stood up chanting "Hail the RPF!  Hail the RPF!" and threw chairs, injuring some of the 1000 Rwandans in attendance.   (The RPF is Rwanda's ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party.)


Since Rwandan authorities shut down the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda's failed attempt to convene on 10.02.2009, I've been reporting on the party's ongoing struggle for registration and a ballot line in the 2010 elections.

Rwandan authorities have now shut down the party's attempts to convene four times, last time violently.   (See OpEdNews: "Broken bones and arrests at Rwandan Green Party convention.")


As an American, I feel compelled to turn attention to this struggle for the most basic political and civil rights in Rwanda, because Rwanda is the U.S.A.'s strongest ally in Africa, the nation that the U.S. State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and, former President Bill Clinton, all describe, rhapsodically, as a shining beacon of hope for Africa. 

In fact, Rwanda has the third highest per capita prison population in the world, the highest in Africa, and many of these prisoners are political.  Homosexuality is a criminal offense, but there are no readily available records of how many Rwandans are now incarcerated for it.   Teenage girls are most often in prison for having an abortion.


Another writer, Umetezi, reported, in response to Derek Ingram's essay that:


". Members of one minority tribe (the Tutsis) have seven times more representation in the government, per-capita, than members of the majority tribe (the Hutus).

. In a discriminatory measure, the government recently banned the use of the French language in teaching and administration, despite the fact that the vast majority of Rwandans speak French in addition to Kinyarwanda. French has been used for decades as the language of commerce, education and law in Rwanda. French speaking Rwandans now find their entire careers and livelihoods at risk.

. Rwanda has gone from being a “low-inequality” country in the 1980’s to being in the world’s bottom 15% in terms of inequality today.

. One-third of Rwanda’s population now suffers from nutritional deficiencies, and life expectancy is among the 20 lowest in the world at only 44 years.

. Wealth and power are concentrated in the cities, the government’s stronghold, leaving 92% of the poor in underrepresented rural areas."


Party President Frank Habineza, introduces Party Secretary General, Charles Kabanda, who greets the congress with the party symbol. On his right is Party Second Vice President, Jeanine UWINEZA.  (This photo was taken before the disruption, broken bones, and arrests.)


Now, a state/RPF propaganda machine is publishing daily hit pieces to discredit the Rwandan Green Party and it's leader Frank Habineza, but all its mouthpieces keep dodging the most fundamental issue at the end of Derek Ingram's essay objecting to Rwanda's admission at the Commonwealth heads of state gathering later his month, November 2009:  "On Rwanda it should wait for next year’s presidential elections, send a strong observer group to decide whether they are fair (the last ones were not) and then consider the application at the next CHOGM in 2011."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

TV doc on copper mining in D.R. Congo nominated for investigative reporting award

On 11.09.2009, the PR Newswire announced that this "Dan Rather Report" on Freeport McMoran, an American corporation mining copper in D.R. Congo, has been nominated for an American television Emmy Award for investigative business reporting.  BlipTV  posted the clip below.

In this case corporate media gets some of the story and even gets that much of it right.
There's no mention of the U.S. and its allies' complicity in the Rwanda genocide or the Congo War, or, of the U.S. government's commitment to controlling cobalt reserves in the Katanga Copper Belt, where this story is reported, so as to ensure U.S. military industries' ability to manufacture for war.   But, Dan Rather did get the story of Freeport McMoran displacing Congolese people for foreign profit in D.R. Congo:









Tuesday, November 10, 2009

San Francisco energy policy disconnects from San Francisco Rep. Nancy Pelosi's

 Long awaited news in San Francisco this morning, 11.09.2009:  

"San Francisco Requests Bids for an Alternative to PG&E: Local Power-Assisted RFP Seeks New 51% Green Power Supply for Residents & Businesses, 360 MW of Local Green Power

San Francisco, CA, November 09, 2009 --(PR.com)-- The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) today released a Request for Proposals authorized by City leaders to implement the Community Choice Aggregation Program, known as CleanPowerSF. . .   Co-drafted by the San Francisco Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) with technical assistance of Local Power, Inc. following a decade of preparation, the RFP invites bids to provide a new electricity service to San Franciscans that consists of 51% renewable energy and demand technologies by 2017, and provides municipal financing for development of at least 360 Megawatts of new solar photovoltaics, smart grid, local wind, cogeneration, energy efficiency technologies and other local green power."

And, San Francisco's clean energy legislation, unlike the federal government's, clean means non-nuclear.

However, the City's new energy policy conflicts with that of its 8th District Congressional Representative, for the past 23 years, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Read more at http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-8257-SF-Energy-Policy-Examiner~y2009m11d9-San-Francisco-energy-policy-at-odds-with-San-Francisco-Rep-Nancy-Pelosis

Ruling RPF Party uses its mouthpiece to discredit Rwandan Greens



Rwanda Green Party members anxiously waited to enter the hall and be seated, at the Rwanda Green Party's fourth attempt to convene, in Kigali, Rwanda, which ended in broken bones and arrests, after the disruption and violence of ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front agents. 

Paul Kagame's ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party is using its mouthpiece, the New Times, to discredit the Rwanda Greens as they approach their fifth attempt to convene in Kigali on 11.20.2009 and secure a ballot line in Rwanda's 2010 elections.  AllAfrica.com posted this piece published in the New Times on 11.10.2009, http://allafrica.com/stories/200911100003.html



The New Times (Kigali)




Rwanda: Aspiring Party Hit By Internal Wrangles

Innocent Niyonshuti
10 November 2009


Kigali — Hardly before it gets the green light to operate in the country, the aspiring Democratic Green Party of Rwanda is already embroiled in internal wrangles threatening to tear apart the infant political organization.
Two weeks ago, the party called a convention that ended in chaos triggered by disagreements among party loyalists who accused the interim executive of being 'hoodwinked' by foreign interests and failing to come up with a tangible national program for the party.

This wrangling has already forced some founding members to call it a day, quitting the political organization as it struggles to meet registration requirements.
One of the key members to quit the infant party includes its interim Secretary General, Andrew Muganwa, who threw in the towel over what sources attributed to 'dictatorial tendencies' of the current interim President.

"This is simply a surrogate political party sponsored by foreign forces and designed to create subversion, insecurity and division," Aimable Kanamugire, a member of the party who attended the botched convention told The New Times.
"The party has no formal line it follows---it is remote-controlled by foreign interests and there's a lot of internal confusion. Its leadership hardly has an agenda for this nation and this has been a source of frustration for many of potential members," Kanamugire said.
"They have been promising us money claiming that they have a strong network from the larger world wide green movement, but from the look of things, these funds are benefitting a few individuals."
Sources say the meeting held at Hotel Gorillas was coordinated by the First Counsellor in the Belgian Embassy and attracted two other infant political groupings.

"The youth should be particularly careful about the intentions of the Green party," Kanamugire insisted.

"The Ministry of Justice and Nyarugenge District officials who had in the past issued permission for these groups, should look carefully into their agenda before issuing a permit."

Relevant Links

The violence that broke up two weeks ago among party loyalists is also partly attributed to rowdy members of the new breakaway function led by the party's former Secretary General, Andrew Muganwa.

Muganwa fell out with interim president Frank Habineza over what party insiders described as 'a fight for power supremacy.'

In an email sent to The New Times yesterday, the interim leadership of the green party failed to explain the cause of violence during their convention and insisted that their party was not controlled by foreign forces.

Frank Habineza is a former Personal Assistant to former Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Drocella Mugorewera, who fled into exile. It is said that the two are still closely in touch.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Three reasons to support African Greens



I sent invitations to join the Facebook group "We support the African Greens" to Green Party members and others who might, whether members of the Green Party or no.

Here are three good reasons to:

1) African Greens are the only trans-African party which, like the Global Greens, stand for LGBT rights, even amidst the extremes of homophobic hysteria stirred up by the U.S.A.'s de facto Ambassador to Africa, Reverend Rick Warren, who made Rwanda his first "purpose driven nation," in accordance with his best selling manual, "The Purpose Driven Life," then moved on to Uganda.  Uganda is now considering the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality."

Diversity, including sexual diversity, is one of the Greens' ten key values everywhere.

2) In December 2007, Africa surpassed the Middle East as a source of U.S. oil imports. Africans have contributed least to global warming, but they're already suffering most.

Sustainable practice is one of the Greens' ten key values everywhere.

3) Africa is wracked by the violence of myriad warring factions and militias as foreign interests import arms and engineer conflicts to displace Africans from their homelands and natural resources, including oil and gas, timber, fish, hydropower, cropland, precious minerals, and industrial minerals, including the cobalt and uranium essential to nuclear and other military industrial production.

Nonviolence is one of the Greens' ten key values everywhere.

Those of us, Green or no, from outside Africa, can stop sending our soldiers and arms to the continent, and resist Africom, the expanding U.S. Africa Command, http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1552/t/5717/signUp.jsp?key=3094.

And, we can listen and follow the lead of Africans engaged in grassroots democratic organizing on the ground, including the African Greens.

Global Greens are now focusing on the Rwanda Greens struggling for political rights in Rwanda's 2010 election, even after Rwandan police shut down their fourth attempt to convene in Kigali, on 10.30.2009. The Rwanda Greens now plan another attempt to convene, again in Kigali, on 11.20.2009.

BBC Radio-Kigali, 10.30.2009: 



KPFA Radio-Berkeley, 11.01.2009:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoAnoYqbIro