Bishop Mbanda: “So! What?”

Bishop Mbanda applauds Paul Kagame.
Bishop Mbanda applauds Paul Kagame.

In July, I published a brief post showing current Rwandan Anglican Bishop Laurent Mbanda appearing onstage with Rwanda’s dictator, Paul Kagame, and applauding him. 1)Much as he did at the notorious Prayer Breakfast where Kagame boasted about killing Patrick Karegeya. Bishop Mbanda apparently saw this post, and in a confusing turn of events, commented about it over on my old blog. His response was:

Yes I did. So! What?

This kind of response is astonishing and callous in its utter lack of Biblical awareness about how Christians are to respond to evil. I would say that it is a perfect illustration of the complacency and outright cooperation of the current Rwandan House of Bishops with a dictator who kills, murders and plunders innocents.

Although Bishop Mbanda’s support for Paul Kagame is fairly low-profile, it is there if you start digging. A great example is found in reading his book, which I reviewed at length here. As recently as 2013, Bishop Mbanda referred to Rwanda’s leadership (i.e. Kagame) as “visionary.”

American Anglicans should not be aligned with the Rwandan State, but they are through their own ignorance and apathy.

References   [ + ]

1. Much as he did at the notorious Prayer Breakfast where Kagame boasted about killing Patrick Karegeya.

Bosco Ntaganda’s connection to John Rucyahana

Bosco “The Terminator” Ntaganda

Rwandan-backed warlord Bosco Ntaganda began his trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for war crimes today. You can listen to an overview of Ntaganda here or watch a brief video about him here.

I would like to remind folks that Anglican Bishop John Rucyahana supported this murderer and his faction as was documented in several highly-sourced reports; see my post about it here. The key takeaway from that post is that I was told by a confidential source that  Rucyahana’s own driver assisted Bosco Ntaganda to escape to the American embassy, proving how closely aligned the Bishop is to this monster.

My former pastor used to say, “If these things are true, they are a scandal in the Church!” Well, they are true, they are a scandal, and the Church (PEARUSA and ACNA) does not care.

Rucyahana_Kayizari

Here is an excerpt from that previous post on how Rucyahana fits in:

Rucyahana’s Bagogwe Connection

Where does Bishop John Rucyahana fit into this picture? In 2012, the UN said that Rucyahana was the “president of the Bagogwe community”:
John Rucyahana has been the head of the Anglican Church at Ruhengeri, president of the Bagogwe community from Rwanda, and President of the Rwandan National Unity and Reconciliation Commission.
Details about this role in the Bagogwe community are lacking, but Rucyahana’s fundraising and recruiting efforts for M23 were clearly in support of the Ntaganda faction, as subsequent evidence makes clear.
In late 2012, Rwanda decided that Bosco Ntaganda was unreliable and decided to eliminate his faction of M23 in favor of a faction led by Sultani Makenga:
…Rwandan officials who had previously supported Ntaganda, and who could no longer control his network in Rwanda or his actions in the DRC, decided to sideline him from M23 and to dismantle his support in Rwanda. In late December 2012, Rwandan authorities arrested RDF Col. Jomba Gakumba, due to his close ties with Ntaganda, according to former RDF officers and an M23 collaborator. A former Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) member, two former RDF officers and a politician loyal to Ntaganda, told the Group that Bishop John Rucyahana, a Ntaganda ally in Rwanda who recruited politicians and raised funds for M23, had to stop his collaboration (emphasis added). The Group has sought clarification from the Government of Rwanda on the matter and is awaiting a response.
A “civil war” of sorts broke out between the two factions within M23, with Bosco’s faction losing badly because Rwanda was determined to eliminate him. Anyone who helped him was arrested:
…on 10 March 2013, Rwandan authorities arrested Gafishi Semikore and Theo Bitwayiki, while they attempted to help Ntaganda from Rwanda by supplying him with small quantities of ammunition, food and medical supplies during the hostilities between the two factions in Kibumba.
With Rwanda hunting him, Bosco Ntaganda had to flee for his life. How he was able to do so is laid out for us by the UN and sources such as this:
Hailing from Northwestern Rwanda and from the reclusive Tutsi Bagogwe’s ethnics, generally hostile to the current Rwandan  government dominated by Tutsis from Uganda and Burundi, General Ntaganda could rely on a network of incorruptible clansmen. So he was moving from relative to relative, avoiding highly circulated areas and moving in trucks carrying staples to the capital city Kigali. While the DMI killing squad was looking for him in Gisenyi, the volcanoes and Masisi, he had already crossed Kinigi on his way to Kigali.
He reached Kigali late at night on Sunday, where a trusted relative was waiting for him. Early morning, the relative dropped him off close to the US Embassy (emphasis added), to where he walked in and asked for being sent to the International Criminal Court.
The UN’s account of Bosco’s flight says:
On 15 March 2013, Ntaganda clandestinely crossed the border into Rwanda using a small path in the Gasizi area, with one escort…he reached Kigali with the help of his family, and arrived at the United States embassy on 18 March where he requested to be transferred to the ICC, without the prior knowledge of Rwandan authorities. Subsequently, Rwandan authorities arrested an individual suspected of having aided Ntaganda’s escape, and interrogated Ntaganda’s wife and brother.
According to confidential sources, the situation of bishops Rucyahana and Kolini is bad because since (a) the escape of Bosco Ntaganda into the American embassy in Rwanda and (b) intense external pressure to end support for M23, Paul Kagame has abandoned the bishops. A sign of this abandonment is his open admission that churches support M23 as a Tutsi self-protection campaign. A source says that Bishop Rucyahana cannot travel outside Rwanda on orders of the Government (or without its explicit permission); and that in fact Rucyahana’s own driver assisted Bosco Ntaganda to escape to the American embassy. If true, this means that Rucyahana’s driver is or was a relative of Bosco’s all along.
In short, Rucyahana (a) had a driver related to Bosco Ntaganda, (b) was the President of the Bagogwe community in Rwanda, and (c) was sidelined when Bosco’s support network was eliminated as part of the M23 civil war.
The civil war between Bosco’s faction and the Makenga faction may have hurt Bagogwe support for M23, since many native sons of the Bagogwe were betrayed by Paul Kagame. The UN says:
The Group notes that M23 recruitment in Rwanda has decreased since the dismantling of Ntaganda’s recruitment network; community leaders in northern Rwanda who supported Ntaganda have ceased collaborating with the M23. […]
Demobilized Rwandan soldiers have been killed on M23 frontlines in the DRC. The Group obtained the identities and addresses of seven families residing in the northern Rwandan villages of Bigogwe and Mukamira, whose sons fought in the ranks of M23 as demobilized soldiers and died during the fighting between Makenga and Ntaganda.

Bishop Rucyahana calls Karenzi Karake a Hero

ruc 2015 jan

Bishop John Rucyahana (retired) has a long track record of defending Rwanda’s wicked dictator Paul Kagame. He did so again recently. For background, see this post about how he spoke up for Rose Kabuye when she was arrested. Kabuye is now an enemy of the state and I’m sure Rucyahana wouldn’t speak two words in her defense now, because he only speaks up publicly when the Rwandan regime is denouncing the latest enemy.

Lately, Rucyahana is outraged by the arrest of Karenzi Karake, a regime insider with blood on his hands. Karake was indicted in 2008 by a Spanish court on charges of genocide and the killing of three Spanish nationals working for Medicos del Mondo. These Spanish nationals were “shot through the head at close range” in a murder that was then blamed on Hutus. 1)http://www.nytimes.com/1997/01/20/world/hutu-militiamen-kill-3-spanish-aid-workers-in-rwanda.html
Hutu Militiamen Kill 3 Spanish Aid Workers in Rwanda
Published: January 20, 1997
RUHENGERI, Rwanda, Jan. 19— In what appeared to be a calculated attack against foreign aid groups here, Hutu militiamen shot and killed three Spanish aid workers and seriously wounded an American in an overnight raid in northwestern Rwanda, survivors said today.
Three Rwandan soldiers were also killed in the attack, aid workers said.
The Spaniards, shot through the head at close range, were members of the Spanish branch of the international charity Doctors of the World. In Paris, the parent group announced that it was suspending all aid activities in Rwanda pending further information about the killings.
The American, identified by aid workers as Nitin Madhav, 28, of the Pittsburgh area, was a program director for the organization. He was shot in the leg, which was later amputated at the local hospital at Ruhengeri, about 140 miles northwest of the capital, Kigali.
Mr. Madhav was later flown to the capital and evacuated for further treatment. The bodies of the three Spaniards — two men and a woman — were still in the aid workers’ house today.
»These people were executed, » Javier Zuniga, the director of the United Nations Human Rights Operation in Rwanda, said.  »Clearly these attacks were aimed at aid workers and expatriates generally. »
The attack occurred weeks after six workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross were slain in their beds in Chechnya, a secessionist region of southern Russia. Those killings reverberated deeply in the network of international aid groups, prompting the Red Cross and others to begin re-examining the ways they protect vulnerable workers in conflict areas.
In the attack here, Hutu militiamen stormed into the house and first demanded the Spaniards’ passports, an American diplomat said. The attackers were then disturbed by gunfire outside the house, and began shooting the three aid workers.
Mr. Madhav, the American, was shot in the leg as he dived behind a table in an effort to escape.
In Madrid, Doctors of the World identified the dead as Dr. Manuel Madrazo Osuna, 42, of Seville; Maria Flores Sirera Fortuny, 33, a nurse from Lerida, and Luis Maria Valtuena, 30, a photographer from Madrid who was working as an administrator here.
The killings spurred most other expatriate aid workers in the Ruhengeri area to leave for the capital.  »Most of the expatriate in Ruhengeri have already reached Kigali, » a Western diplomat said.  »The mood is very somber. »
In Kigali, the United Nations, international relief groups and the Government will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to decide whether the aid groups should formally suspend work in parts of Rwanda on security grounds.
»U.N. people have been told to stay put and not go out, » a United Nations official said.  »And as soon as we have talked to the army we will be discussing whether or not to suspend operations. »
The United Nations had already warned on Saturday that intensifying violence in Rwanda could force the suspension of humanitarian operations in some areas.
The attack was the latest in a series involving expatriates in the area, which is near the border with Zaire. The house was in a compound also used by the French branch of Doctors of the World and by workers for Save the Children.
»These attacks are deliberately mounted to scare away expatriates, » a senior Rwandan military officer said.  »We know these people are now operating from inside Rwanda. They think if they can drive out the expatriates now working here they can mount such attacks more easily. »
He said the gangs responsible for recent attacks on aid workers had returned from neighboring Zaire with other Rwandan Hutu refugees late last year. They were now becoming bolder, he said.
»The fighting appeared to have started in the slum areas of town among returnees who have come back from Zaire, » a senior United Nations official said of the overnight attack.  »There were two other incidents during the night during which a grenade was thrown into an aid worker’s house. »
$(The attack was apparently coordinated with three others in the area, in simultaneous raids by Hutu militants on the aid agency compound, the home of an appeals court judge and a police station, The Associated Press quoted Mr. Zuniga as saying.
$(It said the three Rwandan soldiers were killed when the troops responded to the attacks.$)
Hutu militiamen, Government army troops and mobs killed about half a million people, mostly Tutsi and moderate Hutu, in a genocidal campaign here in 1994.
Many of the militiamen along with more than a million refugees fled to neighboring countries after Tutsi rebels seized power and ended the three-month killing spree.
Nearly a million Hutu refugees, including some militia members, returned from eastern Zaire and Tanzania at the end of last year. Their return has once again heightened ethnic tensions in many parts of the country.

Later, Karake was in charge of forces invading the DRC that lobbed artillery into population centers, as this article says:

“It’s a period during which the Rwandan army killed hundreds if not thousands of civilians in both Rwanda and the Congo (DRC), particularly in the late 90s. He (Karake) was one of the key figures and many victims and witnesses and often cites his name in serious crimes,” says Carina Tertsakian, a senior researcher on Rwanda at Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch said of the crimes:

In this letter, we wish to focus particularly on the killings of civilians in the city of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo in June 2000. Press accounts identify General Karake as the commanding officer of Rwandan troops who fought against Ugandan army forces at Kisangani during that period. His own comments make clear that he had command of those forces at that time.

During that conflict, both sides acted with blatant disregard for the lives of the civilians present in Kisangani, Congo’s third largest city. According to a UN inter-agency assessment mission, more than 760 civilians were killed and 1,700 injured during four days of battle. Heavy artillery was used in a populated area of the city by the belligerents resulting in the destruction of schools, health centers, and churches as well as hundred of homes.

Karenzi Karake

Whatever crimes Karake committed do not phase Rucyahana, who considers Karake to be a hero, as he said about the arrest:

“Those people who walk and eat with killers of our people do not arrest those Genocide perpetrators, but have the guts to arrest our heroes who risked their lives to stop the Genocide. They are exercising Genocide denial.
We Rwandans, knowing where we are coming from, have to jointly fight that arrogance,” he said.

Rucyahana has no objectivity towards Rwandan evil and is certainly not operating on the basis of any moral reasoning deduced from the Bible. He dances to the tune of Paul Kagame, but still finds a willing audience with gullible Christians in the West.

References   [ + ]

1. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/01/20/world/hutu-militiamen-kill-3-spanish-aid-workers-in-rwanda.html
Hutu Militiamen Kill 3 Spanish Aid Workers in Rwanda
Published: January 20, 1997
RUHENGERI, Rwanda, Jan. 19— In what appeared to be a calculated attack against foreign aid groups here, Hutu militiamen shot and killed three Spanish aid workers and seriously wounded an American in an overnight raid in northwestern Rwanda, survivors said today.
Three Rwandan soldiers were also killed in the attack, aid workers said.
The Spaniards, shot through the head at close range, were members of the Spanish branch of the international charity Doctors of the World. In Paris, the parent group announced that it was suspending all aid activities in Rwanda pending further information about the killings.
The American, identified by aid workers as Nitin Madhav, 28, of the Pittsburgh area, was a program director for the organization. He was shot in the leg, which was later amputated at the local hospital at Ruhengeri, about 140 miles northwest of the capital, Kigali.
Mr. Madhav was later flown to the capital and evacuated for further treatment. The bodies of the three Spaniards — two men and a woman — were still in the aid workers’ house today.
»These people were executed, » Javier Zuniga, the director of the United Nations Human Rights Operation in Rwanda, said.  »Clearly these attacks were aimed at aid workers and expatriates generally. »
The attack occurred weeks after six workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross were slain in their beds in Chechnya, a secessionist region of southern Russia. Those killings reverberated deeply in the network of international aid groups, prompting the Red Cross and others to begin re-examining the ways they protect vulnerable workers in conflict areas.
In the attack here, Hutu militiamen stormed into the house and first demanded the Spaniards’ passports, an American diplomat said. The attackers were then disturbed by gunfire outside the house, and began shooting the three aid workers.
Mr. Madhav, the American, was shot in the leg as he dived behind a table in an effort to escape.
In Madrid, Doctors of the World identified the dead as Dr. Manuel Madrazo Osuna, 42, of Seville; Maria Flores Sirera Fortuny, 33, a nurse from Lerida, and Luis Maria Valtuena, 30, a photographer from Madrid who was working as an administrator here.
The killings spurred most other expatriate aid workers in the Ruhengeri area to leave for the capital.  »Most of the expatriate in Ruhengeri have already reached Kigali, » a Western diplomat said.  »The mood is very somber. »
In Kigali, the United Nations, international relief groups and the Government will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to decide whether the aid groups should formally suspend work in parts of Rwanda on security grounds.
»U.N. people have been told to stay put and not go out, » a United Nations official said.  »And as soon as we have talked to the army we will be discussing whether or not to suspend operations. »
The United Nations had already warned on Saturday that intensifying violence in Rwanda could force the suspension of humanitarian operations in some areas.
The attack was the latest in a series involving expatriates in the area, which is near the border with Zaire. The house was in a compound also used by the French branch of Doctors of the World and by workers for Save the Children.
»These attacks are deliberately mounted to scare away expatriates, » a senior Rwandan military officer said.  »We know these people are now operating from inside Rwanda. They think if they can drive out the expatriates now working here they can mount such attacks more easily. »
He said the gangs responsible for recent attacks on aid workers had returned from neighboring Zaire with other Rwandan Hutu refugees late last year. They were now becoming bolder, he said.
»The fighting appeared to have started in the slum areas of town among returnees who have come back from Zaire, » a senior United Nations official said of the overnight attack.  »There were two other incidents during the night during which a grenade was thrown into an aid worker’s house. »
$(The attack was apparently coordinated with three others in the area, in simultaneous raids by Hutu militants on the aid agency compound, the home of an appeals court judge and a police station, The Associated Press quoted Mr. Zuniga as saying.
$(It said the three Rwandan soldiers were killed when the troops responded to the attacks.$)
Hutu militiamen, Government army troops and mobs killed about half a million people, mostly Tutsi and moderate Hutu, in a genocidal campaign here in 1994.
Many of the militiamen along with more than a million refugees fled to neighboring countries after Tutsi rebels seized power and ended the three-month killing spree.
Nearly a million Hutu refugees, including some militia members, returned from eastern Zaire and Tanzania at the end of last year. Their return has once again heightened ethnic tensions in many parts of the country.

The Silence of Rwandan Religious Leaders

David Himbara served under Paul Kagame from 2006 to 2010 as the head of strategy and policy in the Office of the President and from 2000 to 2002 as the principal private secretary to the president. He since fled the country to preserve his life, as so many others have.

Himbara wrote a post this week, asking the same questions I have frequently asked. He says:

Rwanda is very religious nation in which 56.9% of population are said to be Roman Catholic; 26% is Protestant; 11.1% is Seventh-day Adventist; 4.6% is Muslim; 1.7% with no religious affiliation; and 0.1% practices traditional indigenous beliefs. These numbers show why the church is a force to reckon with in Rwanda.

So where is Rwanda’s Bishop Tutu? Where are religious activists condemning dictatorship in our homeland? Even outside Rwanda, our church-going brothers and sisters are largely silent.

Rwandan churches have a long history of playing wrong politics. The Catholic Church in particular has almost always played ethnic politics. The church favored the Tutsi during the colonial period, then switching allegiance to the Hutu after 1959. Church leaders were to develop even closer ties with political leaders, especially in the Juvenal Habyarimana dictatorship.

In the Kagame regime from 1994 onwards, the church seems to have become intimidated into silence like the rest of Rwandan society. Like other Rwandans, church leadership is resigned to a fear-driven life in which thoughts, decisions and actions are predominantly motivated by fear of what harm the current dictatorship can do.

I would broaden what he says to PEARUSA, a branch of the Rwandan Anglican Church that operates in the United States and never says a word about the totalitarian government of Rwanda. How can PEARUSA remain silent?

IMG_1340

Human Rights in Rwanda, 2014

In a letter to the Emperor, St. Ambrose says to Roman Emperor Theodosius:

Should I keep silence? But then my conscience would be bound, my utterance taken away, which would be the most wretched condition of all. And where would be that text? If the priest speak not to him that erreth, he who errs shall die in his sin, and the priest shall be liable to the penalty because he warned not the erring.

The United States Department of State recently released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014, Rwanda’s report is available here. I am interspersing highlights from the report with quotes from Thad Barnum’s book “Never Silent”, which was foundational for the Anglican Mission in America (and what is now PEARUSA). The quotes from the book are from Bishop John Rucyahana, who is now a mouthpiece and tool for Rwanda’s dictator. The irony is thick.

The most important human rights problems in the country were disappearances, government harassment, arrest, and abuse of political opponents, human rights advocates, and individuals perceived to pose a threat to government control and social order; disregard for the rule of law among security forces and the judiciary; and restrictions on civil liberties. Due to restrictions on the registration and operation of opposition parties and nontransparent vote-counting practices, citizens did not have the ability to change their government through free and fair elections.

IMG_1340

Other major human rights problems included arbitrary or unlawful killings, torture, harsh conditions in prisons and detention centers, arbitrary arrest, prolonged pretrial detention, and government infringement on citizens’ privacy rights. The government restricted freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association. Security for refugees and asylum seekers continued to improve but was at times inadequate. The government restricted and harassed local and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), particularly organizations that monitored and reported on human rights. There was a small and declining incidence of trafficking in persons. The government restricted labor rights and child labor continued to be a problem.

IMG_1341

On June 5, President Kagame defended the government’s policy and practices with regard to individuals suspected of posing a threat to state security. During a speech in Nyabihu District, Kagame stated, “those who talk about disappearances…we will continue to arrest more suspects and if possible shoot in broad daylight those who intend to destabilize our country.”

IMG_1342

On September 25, the commissioner of the Rwanda National Police (RNP) Criminal Investigations Division announced the arrest of two RNP officers in connection with the July 2013 murder of Transparency International Rwanda Office Coordinator Gustave Makonene. Makonene was strangled and his body dumped on the shores of Lake Kivu near the town of Rubavu; the government and domestic observers noted that Makonene was investigating cases of local police corruption and the trafficking of conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at the time of his death.

IMG_1345

From July to October, a number of corpses appeared in Lake Rweru, which is bisected by the border between Rwanda and Burundi. Fishermen reported seeing dozens of floating bodies, some bound and wrapped in sacks. The fishermen alleged that the bodies were carried into the lake by the Nyabarongo River and that the majority of the bodies were then carried away from the lake by the Kagera River. Four bodies were recovered and buried near Kwidagaza village in Burundi’s Muyinga Province. Fishermen living near Kwidagaza reported that on the nights of September 21 and 22, Rwandan marines attempted to exhume the bodies, allegedly to return them to Rwanda. Both Rwanda and Burundi called for a joint investigation into the identity and origin of the bodies. On December 16, Burundi’s minister of foreign affairs accepted an offer of forensic assistance from a group of countries through an international NGO for an investigation led by the African Union. Rwandan officials stated that the government also supported a joint investigation, but no investigation was conducted by year’s end.

IMG_1346

There were more reports of disappearances and politically motivated abductions or kidnappings than in previous years. The NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) and domestic observers alleged the SSF–including the Rwandan Defense Force (RDF), the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), and the RNP–were involved in reported disappearances. The government stated the police opened missing persons investigations for all individuals reported to be missing by families or human rights organizations, but no perpetrators were identified or punished.

19405386702_53e8bda8b9_k

From March to September, domestic observers alleged that several hundred persons disappeared in Musanze and Rubavu districts in connection with an extensive security operation conducted by the RDF and RNP. The SSF reportedly detained individuals incommunicado without access to legal representation for up to two months. The SSF released numerous individuals without charge; however, the government charged 77 individuals with crimes against state security, including for collaborating with the FDLR. Of those 77 individuals, judges ordered the release of 33, while upholding charges against 44 in pretrial hearing. At year’s end 44 cases awaited full trial, while the whereabouts of at least 150 individuals reported missing during the March to September security operation remained unknown. The government noted the majority of persons reported to be missing by human rights organizations had not been reported to the police by family or community members.

Applauding a Madman
Applauding a Madman

On June 27, the organizing secretary for the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR), Jean Damascene Munyeshyaka, disappeared after meeting with an unknown individual in Nyamata town, Bugesera District. Police investigated the disappearance but reported no credible leads.

rut jan 2014

 

There were reports that torture continued in the Kami military intelligence camp, Mukamira camp, Ministry of Defense headquarters, and undeclared detention facilities as first reported by Amnesty International (AI). In 2012 AI documented 18 allegations of torture and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment perpetrated by military intelligence and other SSF personnel in 2010 and 2011 to secure information or force confessions. Former detainees alleged they endured sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, starvation, extraction of fingernails, electric shocks, scalding, melting of plastic bags over the head, suffocation, burning or branding, beating, and simulated drowning through confinement in cisterns filled with rainwater. Local and international human rights organizations reported the RDF took positive steps in 2012 to reform military interrogation methods and detention standards, resulting in fewer reports of torture and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment at Kami and other military detention facilities. They cautioned, however, that the increased use of undeclared detention facilities by NISS, the RDF J-2, and RNP Intelligence made monitoring more difficult.

quote 1

 

Although there is no requirement for individuals to carry identification, police and the LDF regularly detained street children, vendors, and beggars without identification and sometimes charged them with illegal street vending or vagrancy. Authorities released adults who could produce identification and transported street children to their home districts, to shelters, or for processing into vocational and educational programs.

Bishop Mbanda and Paul Kagame.
Bishop Mbanda and Paul Kagame.

Although the constitution and law prohibit such actions, there were numerous reports the government monitored homes, movements, telephone calls, e-mail, other private communications, and personal and institutional data. There were reports of government informants working within international NGOs, local civil society organizations (CSOs), religious organizations, and other social institutions.

ruc kagame(1)

 

RPF cadres regularly visited citizens’ homes to demand contributions to the political party and the government’s Agaciro Development Fund, and there were some reports of persons being denied public services if they had not contributed. Despite orders from cabinet ministers not to do so, there were reports that local leaders, employers, and others coerced persons into donating one month’s salary to the Agaciro Development Fund.

buddies

My summary:

Times have changed. Anglicans are silent in the face of evil again, despite all the hoopla about “never silent” 15 years ago.

 

 

 

 

Salim Saleh and the Anglican Cathedral in Gahini, Rwanda

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord. Proverbs 17.15

Rwandan propaganda organ The New Times reports on a new cathedral slated to be built for the Anglican Church of Rwanda in Gahini. The article talks up the collaboration of Uganda and Rwanda in fundraising for the construction. A follow up article talks about how much money was raised at an event in Uganda.

Many Ugandans involved in the fundraising effort are intimately tied to the corrupt regime of Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni. 1)See this post for a description of one bishop who stands up to Museveni. Indeed, “Gen. Salim Saleh Akandwanaho is expected to be the chief fundraiser.” General Saleh is Museveni’s brother and is well known for his corruption. The picture below shows Bishop Alexis Bilindabagabo of Gahini shaking Saleh’s hand.

saleh
Bishop Alexis and Salim Saleh

A 2002 United Nations report from the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo outlined some of Saleh’s activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Read the report yourself, particularly pages 19 and onwards, to see all the details about Saleh. Saleh fronted CONMET, a company that specialized in Coltan trading and also the Victoria Group, cited for resource exploitation and tax fraud. The report says in part:

Criminal groups linked to the armies of Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe and the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have…have built up a self-financing war economy centred on mineral exploitation.

    • The elite networks derive financial benefit through a variety of criminal activities including theft, embezzlement and diversion of “public” funds, undervaluation of goods, smuggling, false invoicing, non-payment of taxes, kickbacks to public officials and bribery.
    • The elite networks form business companies or joint ventures that are fronts through which members of the networks carry on their respective commercial activities.
    • The elite networks draw support for their economic activities through the networks and “services” (air transport, illegal arms dealing and transactions involving the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) of organized or transnational criminal groups.

The objective of the elite network in the areas controlled by Uganda has been to exercise monopolistic control over the area’s principal natural resources, cross-border trade, and tax revenues for the purpose of enriching members of the network.

The Uganda network consists of a core group of members including certain high-ranking UPDF officers, private businessmen and selected rebel leaders/administrators. UPDF Lieutenant General (Ret.) Salim Saleh and Major General James Kazini are the key figures.

…a paramilitary force is being trained under the personal authority of Lt. General Saleh which, according to the Panel’s sources, is expected to continue to facilitate the commercial activities of UPDF officers after UPDF have departed. This military group draws on dissidents from Jean-Pierre Bemba’s MLC, members of the Uganda-supported RCD-Congo including its leaders Professor Kin-kiey Mulumba and Kabanga Babadi, and others in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo who have supported UPDF in the past. It has been reported that Lt. General Saleh discreetly provides financial support for this new rebel group. The Panel’s sources have indicated that Heckie Horn, Managing Director of Saracen Uganda Ltd., is a key partner with Lt. General Saleh in supporting this paramilitary group and that Lt. General Saleh himself is a 25 per cent owner in Saracen. Saracen’s managing director also provides military training and arms to members of this group.

As in the past, the network continues to involve the transnational criminal group of Victor Bout. Mr. Bout recently purchased the Uganda-based non- operational airline company Okapi Air. The purchase of the company allowed Victor Bout to use Okapi’s licences. The company was subsequently renamed Odessa. The Panel is in possession of a list of outbound flights from 1998 to the beginning of 2002 from Entebbe International Airport, which confirms the operational activities of Mr. Bout’s aircraft from Ugandan territory. Currently, Mr. Bout’s aircraft share the flight times and destinations (slots) with Planet Air, which is owned by the wife of Lt. General Salim Saleh and which facilitates the activities of Mr. Bout by filing flight plans for his aircraft.

General Saleh’s Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) used child soldiers:

The spread of HIV/AIDS, the large numbers of child soldiers and the rape of women are other consequences of the pervasive armed conflict. Many soldiers are young boys who hardly seem capable of wielding the weapons they carry. The issue of child soldiers surfaced when 700 young recruits from the Bunia area were discovered at a UPDF training camp in Tchakwanzi, Uganda, of whom 165 were between 14 and 16 years of age.

The fact that a man who:

  1. is the brother of a dictator;
  2. steals minerals from a neighboring country as part of a criminal ring;
  3. evades taxes;
  4. used child soldiers in a horrendous war with widespread crimes against humanity;

is the chief fundraiser for an Anglican Cathedral should raise all kinds of red flags for PEARUSA and all its American parishioners. After all, American bishops like Steve Breedlove and others are counterparts with Bishop Alexis. Surely, they can inquire about this matter and not accept pat answers for what is going on – correct? Or will they ask their congregations to “walk with Rwanda” and pay not attention to the man behind the curtain, so to speak?

What do you think they will do?

 

References   [ + ]

1. See this post for a description of one bishop who stands up to Museveni.

Partnership between ACNA and Rwanda?

Bishop Mbanda and Paul Kagame.
Bishop Mbanda and Paul Kagame.

Greg Goebel is Canon to the Ordinary and Chief of Staff for the Anglican Diocese of the South in ACNA. This means he serves Archbishop Foley Beach because Archbishop Beach is also the Bishop of the Diocese of the South. Fr. Goebel travelled to Rwanda with Archbishop Beach and the PEARUSA bishops in March “for discussions related to the Protocols between the Province de l’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda (PEAR) and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The Archbishops will develop new Protocols this year to clarify PEARUSA’s relationship within ACNA and PEAR.” 1)Post by PEARUSA Bishop David Bryan.

Fr. Goebel writes about the working relationships of Fr. Brandon Walsh, an American who works for Archbishop Rwaje, Canon Francis, the provincial secretary in Rwanda and Bishop Steve Breedlove, the Presiding Bishop of PEARUSA.

Fr. Goebel then provides a pretty standard “testimony” about Rwanda that you will hear a version of if you spend any time around PEARUSA (or AMiA before it) parishes:

My time spent as an American priest of Rwanda was formative, and affects me much to this day. The pastors and lay leaders that I’ve met are lifelong friends. The spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness, missionary church planting, and a fully integrated social ministry still serves, for me, as a benchmark of following Jesus faithfully here in the U.S.

When American Anglicans bear witness to Rwanda, they emphasize the East African Revival, reconciliation and church planting; Fr. Goebel is true to form here.

I emphasize his mention of reconciliation, because the narrative that he and many others spread is simply not true. If Fr. Goebel would take the time to consult academic literature on Rwanda, he would find a very different story. For example, Susan Thomson’s article “Rwanda’s National Unity and Reconciliation Program” says:

Hearts remain broken as many Rwandans recognize the government-led national unity and reconciliation program as the product of a distorted and self-interested history that legitimizes its own grip on power.

Or he could read Jennifer G. Cooke, who wrote in “Rwanda: Assessing Risks to Stability“:

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has largely skirted—or been forced by the Rwandan government to abandon—investigations and prosecution of RPF war crimes. Similarly, the traditionally inspired gacaca court system, set up by the government to process the many thousands implicated in the genocide and provide some measure of justice and community reconciliation, addresses only those crimes committed during the genocide and excludes RPF crimes committed in the genocide’s aftermath. The issue of RPF war crimes is high- lighted in this report not to obscure or draw parallels to the scope or extreme horror of the 1994 genocide. But the RPF’s refusal to acknowledge the extent of those crimes—and its suppression of independent investigations and reporting—is a source of deep and enduring resentment among many Rwandans. Among Hutu who played no part in the genocide, it fuels a sense that the government and justice system accord less value to innocent Hutu lives lost than those of Tutsi.

Or he could speak to Theogene Rudasingwa, former cabinet member and friend of Paul Kagame, who said:

The fact of the matter is that even when I was part of the establishment, when Kagame called a kitchen cabinet and all of us were military guys, we were all Tutsi and we had a preoccupation of thinking how we could survive in a sea that is populated by Hutu. So during the day Kagame and us would be talking about all these things but the fact of the matter was that this is a regime where you have a tiny minority within an ethnic minority and that kind of minority tends to rely on force, on coercion, on brutality in order to survive.

In fact, Kevin Ward points out that the Anglican church had “reconciliation” going on before the genocide of 1994: “At high-profile meetings of reconciliation, church leaders confessed and sang Tukutenderza in the old spirit of the Balokole fellowship, but these occasions did not seem to have the power to transform the faction-riven nature of the church.” It is quite obvious that this pre-1994 reconciliation is not a model to follow, nor should the post-1994 version inspire more confidence.

But Anglican boosters of Rwanda are not deterred by these facts, and so Fr. Goebel continues:

For this reason, I am sold on a vision of communion and partnership between Anglicans in the U.S. and Anglicans in Rwanda. My trip strengthened this conviction even more. Regardless of which network or diocese we are affiliated with, we can all benefit from partnership with Rwanda.

It seems like Fr. Goebel is advocating for partnership with Rwanda that goes beyond PEARUSA and extends to every part of ACNA! He writes:

Finally, I was inspired by the desire of the leaders of the Rwanda church to maintain relationship with us here in America. Our connection is mutual, affectionate, and important.

So I would encourage all of us to consider how we might be a part of maintaining that communion and partnership. For some churches, it may be through a sister-to-sister parish relationship. For some, through sending visitation teams, or hosting visitors here. For individuals and families, raising awareness, visiting or sponsorships. You will receive so much, and your friendship and fellowship will be a blessing to so many as well. 2)I also would like to know more about the claim “…one bishop told me that his diocese has grown from 23,000 members to over 100,000 members during his episcopate. Most of these new members are converts. The Faithful in Rwanda still have much to teach us.”
In a nation said to be 85% Christian, is it likely that there are roughly 70,000 ‘new converts’ in one Anglican diocese?

If Archbishop Beach and PEARUSA are going to propose that the way for PEARUSA to sever formal links with Rwanda is for all of ACNA to now embrace Rwanda, then we need to raise some serious questions about church subservience to an evil regime in Rwanda, false narratives, racism towards the Hutu and many other specific problems.

Fr. Goebel’s post says nothing about the dictatorship in Rwanda, state sponsored evil, the complicity of bishops in this evil, or any potential future hazards if Rwanda again explodes. This is standard fare, as I have never seen or heard any Anglican in PEAR/AMiA/ACNA discuss these problems openly, they only present the sanitized, false view of Rwanda.

Let’s talk about the missing money that Bishop Alexis was after and that precipitated the AMiA implosion, how bishops Kolini and Rucyahana supported M23, how Archbishop Rwaje wrote the United Nations in favor of Paul Kagame’s position on a U.N report, and many other issues. All of these things are ignored in PEARUSA “City Gates” posts, blog posts from Bishop Breedlove, and other official communications. How long will this kind of whitewashing go on?

References   [ + ]

1. Post by PEARUSA Bishop David Bryan.
2. I also would like to know more about the claim “…one bishop told me that his diocese has grown from 23,000 members to over 100,000 members during his episcopate. Most of these new members are converts. The Faithful in Rwanda still have much to teach us.”
In a nation said to be 85% Christian, is it likely that there are roughly 70,000 ‘new converts’ in one Anglican diocese?

Anglican Bishops with Kagame in Huye

Paul Kagame visited with “opinion leaders” in Huye, Rwanda this week. Front and center in the audience were two southern bishops, Augustin Mvunabandi and Nathan Gasatura. Their Dioceses (Kigeme and Butare) are on the border of Burundi, where the town of Huye lies.

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Bishop Nathan Gasatura (left) with Paul Kagame
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Bishop Augustin Mvunabandi in the audience.

Bishop Mvunabandi was (is?) part of the Peace in the Great Lakes campaign. Here, he is sitting in front of the man who foments war in the Great Lakes. I wonder if he had anything to say about it?

 

Archbishop Rwaje on the East African Revival and the 1994 Genocide

Archbishop Rwaje at GAFCON in 2013
Archbishop Rwaje at GAFCON in 2013

In the course of responding to questions about the East African Revival at GAFCON’s 2013 meeting in Nairobi, the Archbishop of Rwanda, Onesphore Rwaje talked about the relationship of the revival to the 1994 genocide. 1)His remarks begin here. He says:

…and I don’t know whether it is one of the questions you would like to ask me, let me respond to it before asking this question.  You may hear there is a contradiction and there is in fact, a country where revival movement was born, 1930’s—a second revival and the same time the country where has been a genocide against the Tutsis. 2)He is using the official government term for the genocide. Deviation from using “against the Tutsi” is a signal inside Rwanda that you question the regime’s narrative of events. That’s a contradiction, that’s a contradiction, and we are requesting ourselves what’s happened; 1960’s onward mainly within the church, mainly within the revival.

But after analyzing there {were a} few remnants among the revivalists in fact who stood against {the genocide} and we have testimony, some of them were killed and others are testifying for that. So that’s a contradiction and we have to bear that and this is a challenge we have to bear that not only for revival even for the church itself.

Archbishop Rwaje seems to be saying that the Anglican Church in Rwanda is trying to figure out what happened after the 1960’s that caused a nation of 85% Christians to slaughter one another. This is a good question, and you can see that for all the talk of revival and reconciliation before the genocide, it did nothing to stop the killing:

Moreover, by 1990, the Anglican church was deeply involved in internal wrangling and divisions. They were focused on jealousies and bitterness between Adoniya Sebununguri, bishop of Kigali, and John Ndandali, bishop of the second diocese of Butare, created in 1978. The conflict was focused on who would become the first Archbishop of the new Anglican province of Rwanda created in 1992. Although personal factors were paramount in this conflict, it did strangely parallel political divisions between the ‘north,’ where the deeply unpopular president came from, and a ‘south,’ which felt excluded. A series of other conflicts among the leadership of the churches began to disfigure the Anglican church: based on personal and family rivalries, regional differences, political disputes (as a multi-party system was introduced). Hutu-Tutsi divisions were only one of many factors fueling and sustaining these disputes.  Often the rhetoric of the Revival was introduced into the disputes. At high-profile meetings of reconciliation, church leaders confessed and sang Tukutenderza in the old spirit of the Balokole [Balokole means ‘saved’ – editor] fellowship, but these occasions did not seem to have the power to transform the faction-riven nature of the church. The form of Revival had replaced its genuine spirit. 3) “Christianity, Revival and the Rwandan Genocide,” Kevin Ward.

Bishop Laurent Mbanda tells us that some participants in the revival meetings were active killers in 1994:

Christian survivors of the genocide who participated in these evangelical meetings tell stories of church members and testifying Christians who, having attended the same meetings, were later seen in the uniforms and activities of Interahamwe (militia). During the killings, many were also seen at roadblocks with machetes. It is hard to believe, but reported by trustworthy individuals.

Unfortunately, the pattern of acquiescence with evil has continued as clergy support many evil actions of the Kagame regime. For example, bishops Rucyahana and Kolini supported and raised funds for M23, a group that kidnapped child soldiers, raped and murdered in the DRC. Before we rush to embrace the East African Revival, it is wise to ask what its legacy is in the world outside of church meetings, in the nitty gritty of political life and society.

Some related posts on the Revival are here: 1, 2, 3, 4.

References   [ + ]

1. His remarks begin here.
2. He is using the official government term for the genocide. Deviation from using “against the Tutsi” is a signal inside Rwanda that you question the regime’s narrative of events.
3. “Christianity, Revival and the Rwandan Genocide,” Kevin Ward.