The news on Colonel Karegeya's assassination was broken through a private message from my Twitter friend, Revi Mfizi (excellent report on Karegeya's death here). I was immediately astounded. Revi is a Tutsi survivor who is currently pursing a PhD in political science. The story of how our lives intersect is one that I will come back to in a different post.
Before he fell out with the Rwandan dictator in 2007, Karegeya, Tutsi, was a very powerful man in Kigali. A former classmate of Kagame, he followed him into the Rwanda civil war and was appointed his top spy after the fall of the genocide regime in 1994. He carried on his duty with unwavering but questionable dedication. According to several sources, Karegeya was responsible for a number of assassinations of Kagame's critics throughout his tenure--allegations he never made any effort to deny.
While I have always know that Karegeya was a shady character with a murderous past, I was largely unaware of his role in the Kibeho massacre where an upward of 4000 internally displaced people (mostly women and children) were hacked to death in the broad daylight on the weekend of April 22nd 1995. The revelation of his complicity in this macabre murder further heightened my disdain for this man. Still, I wished him no death.
Every man, regardless of how evil, should never be condemned without being offered a fair chance at trial. For that reason, Karegeya is still innocent before the law and deserved better than murder. In fact, it is probably because someone wanted to cover up these crimes that he was killed. In his interviews, Karegeya had suggested a desire to share information on Kagame's complicity into the assassination of former president Habyarimana--whose killing sparked the 1994 genocide. As someone who did Kagame's "dirty jobs", he takes lost of valuable secrets with him to his gave--the very hope of his killers.
Mr. Karegeya's colleagues in the Rwanda National Congress insists that the Colonel was killed by Kagame. "I can confirm that this is 100% by the government of Rwanda", Kayumba, a former Rwandan army chief and close friend of Karegeya said. But there are more ominous and obvious signs. Such as the fact that Karegeya's death closely mirrors that of other opponents of Kagame who have been unlucky to face a similar fate.
While Rwanda is often a country of sophisticated intrigues, there is little reason or motive to point fingers elsewhere. Indeed, Twitter accounts closely allied to the government have been mocking or joking about his death. Some have concocted ready made stories that seem desperately keen to influence the narrative: "Karegeya was a victim of business deals gone sour", some have said. Still in an effort to mislead, others have tied his death to an imaginary jilted lover or suggested that his colleagues in the RNC might have killed him. No reason is offered to back the claims.
Personally, I see no reason to suspect any other entity than the Rwandan government in whose direction the smoking gun seems to point. Kagame has a callous record of silencing former allies turned opponents through murder. In many ways, Karegeya lived in the shadows of death never failing to predict his own demise. He knew he was a marked man and presciently identified his potential killers. "Kagame wants to finish me off", he told a journalist two years ago. On his part, Kagame has never been shy about expressing his desire to kill opponents.
Ultimately though the bigger story is a fact that no one wants to face: that Tutsi elites have long gotten away with monstrous crimes--that include assassinations, mass murder and even genocide. This is due in part to massive US support for Kagame and his cable of killers. The US has protected Kagame from even the most verifiable allegations of genocide such as this one that occurred in 1995. In this case, the report was suppressed only to resurface a decade later. The take away lesson: murder can be addictive especially if individuals or states get away with it. Such has been the case of President Kagame who has abused US support to create a false sense of invincibility around himself that employs murder as if it were legitimate political weapon.
The killing of opponents has to end and the choices are clear. Either the international community takes a hard line on Kagame by exposing his crimes and demanding accountability or the monster that he is, continues to get out of hand and kills more people. Unfortunately, his pattern since 1994 has shown that he is unlikely to reform.
Soon, the US will be forced to account to the unpredictable consequences of supporting this heinous dictator. Crimes like this are much harder to conceal in this day and age of Twitter. The parting question is: Why risk unnecessary embarrassment by supporting someone who the majority of Rwandans do not want and who is easily replaceable?