Friday, May 4, 2012

William Penn University Shouldn't Award Kagame an Honorary Doctorate

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Update 5/2/12: Word has it that the letters and calls from the last couple of days has gotten the school's attention, but we got 10 more days to stop this. Keep pointing out to them what human rights groups are noting. Kagame and the RPF are responsible for massive human rights abuses that they have not been held accountable for; that they are attacking political opponents; that they are clamping down on media. Point out how cynical and hypocritical it is to award a genocidal mass-murderring dictator with a doctorate for his so-called "contributions" to humanity.


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On May 12, 2012, Rwanda's dictator, General Paul Kagame, will be delivering a commencement speech at William Penn University. According to the school,
William Penn University President Dr. Ann Fields announced today that His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, will present the commencement address on Saturday, May 12, 2012 to a graduating class of 370 students and receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, for his contributions to the humanities or human welfare.
These "contributions" are explained as him supposedly being "recognized as a world leader for his role in human interest issues," and being "known for empowering young people and women, as evident by the high percentage of women serving on the Rwandan Parliament (56%)."

This is grotesquely cynical.

Paul Kagame is a genocidal mass-murderer who makes Joseph Kony look like an angel. He has the blood of millions of Rwandans and Congolese on his hands. When he and his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) invaded Rwanda in 1990 he kicked off a bloody war that saw thousands killed, and hundreds of thousands ethnically cleansed from their land. Between October 1990 and April 1994 he continued to violate ceasefire agreements and carry out terrorist attacks. Finally in April of 1994 he assassinated Rwanda's President Habyarimana and conducted a massive invasion which overthrew the government in a one hundred day-orgy of genocidal slaughter and mayhem. But it didn't end there. As hundreds of thousands of Rwandans fled his terror campaign to neighboring countries he followed after them, hunted them down, and killed them—often by the thousands, and right in view of UN peace keepers. According to the Herald Sun:
By early 1995, the displaced persons' camp at Kibeho was the biggest in Rwanda, sprawling for 9sq km and containing 80,000 to 100,000 people.

The 32 Australian soldiers and medical officers arrived there as part of the UN peacekeeping force on April 18, 1995.

There were daily random killings by the Rwandan soldiers, but the slaughter exploded out of control soon after 10am on April 22. The Australians had a grandstand view of the nightmare from the Zambian compound.

The RPA soldiers murdered women and children right up to the UN wire. Bodies were everywhere. For the Diggers behind the wire, the next few hours were agonising.

For the refugees, there was nowhere to run.

As the Australians collected the wounded from among the piles of dead, the crisis began to escalate as panic-stricken Hutus overran the Zambian compound, driven forward by machete-and rifle wielding militia.

Hundreds were killed in the crush and the Australians were forced to repel at bayonet point the terrified victims they were supposed to be protecting, pushing them back into the RPA killing zone.

The RPA went wild and cut loose with another hail of fire on the panicking crowd.
It is even being reported by allAfrica.com that, "Thousands of Rwandan refugees living in Uganda remain unwilling to return home, citing a fear of persecution."

Human Rights Watch recently released a report that stated, "The Rwandan government, whose troops are accused of some of the most serious crimes" in the Congo wars. They also sent a letter to the ICTR requesting the RPF be prosecuted for their well-established crimes. The letter states, "We strongly believe that your mandate as Chief Prosecutor will not be fulfilled until you prosecute alleged RPF crimes."

Paul Kagame squashes any and all dissent, and there is no better example of him not empowering women than his kangaroo trial of Victoire Ingabire, a brave mother who came out of exile to be a political opponent to Kagame only to be quickly imprisoned. Amnesty International put out a really informing video last summer on the plight of Ingabire, and the grim realities of Kagame's Rwanda.

Even Human Rights Watch has requested that, "Rwandan authorities should immediately stop intimidating human rights defenders and allow them to work freely."

HRW has also recently released a report which notes Rwanda's "attacks on government opponents," their "clampdown on independent media," their "obstructions to the work of human rights organizations," and more. And in the last week HRW noted that they have "documented other cases [other than Bernard Ntaganda, an opposition leader) in which laws and charges such as endangering state security and inciting public disobedience have been used to prosecute and intimidate government critics."

Quite simply, Paul Kagame is the Hitler of Africa, and allowing him to give a commencement speech to college graduates under the bogus claim that he has made "contributions to the humanities or human welfare" is very disturbing.

Suggested Action: If you are here in the States and are close to the school please consider organizing some actions to stop this. A protest is already being planned in case the speech happens.

Otherwise please call and write to the school and request Kagame's speech to be canceled. Be polite and be clear.

Steve Noah, the school's Vice President of Advancement who is behind this, can be reached at: 641-673-1048

Or call Amber Lake, director of Marketing : 641-673-1078.

You can also send an email to her and others:

To: fieldsa@wmpenn.edu

CC: lakea@wmpenn.edu, noahs@wmpenn.edu, ottossonj@wmpenn.edu, stahlen@wmpenn.edu, taylors@wmpenn.edu, piercej@wmpenn.edu, collinsm@wmpenn.eduoskynews@oskyherald.com, news2@oskyherald.com, debve@oskyherald.com

Sample letter:

To Whom it May Concern,

I am calling on William Penn University to do the right thing, and cancel General Kagame's "doctorate" and commencement speech scheduled for this month.

Per the school's website we are told that General Kagame has contributed to "the humanities" and "human welfare," but that is simply not true, and worse: it is very offensive, especially to his victims.

Human rights organizations have documented his crimes since 1990, but particularly during the 1994 genocide and his invasion and occupation of Democratic Republic of Congo—where millions have been killed, tortured and displaced. And they have called on the ICTR to prosecute these RPF crimes.

These same human rights groups—e.g. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International—have also documented the brutal realities of living in Rwanda today where political opposition is not tolerated, fraudulent elections occur, and the media is silenced.

Considering the well-established fact that General Paul Kagame is a genocidal, mass-murdering dictator who is oppressing his own people and destabilizing the region, I beg the school to please cancel Kagame's "doctorate" and speech. It would be a disgrace to the school, and would be very offensive to truth and justice.

Thank you,
[Your Name]

1 comment:

Alex Engwete said...

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