By Ann Garrison
May 5, 2010
Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, presidential candidate of the Rwandan FDU-Inkingi Party, is going on trial in Rwanda. Ingabire is charged with “genocide ideology,” a statutory speech crime unique to Rwanda, and with “association crime,” associating with terrorists.
Eight days after Ingabire’s arrest on April 21 in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, a team of U.S. lawyers filed a civil lawsuit against Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Oklahoma City alleging Kagame ordered the political assassinations that triggered the Rwanda Genocide, costing one million Rwandan lives, and that he engaged in racketeering to control the vast natural resources of eastern Congo across Rwanda’s western border at a cost of six-million Congolese lives.
The international legal strategies and geostrategic implications of these parallel, competing courtroom dramas, are huge and historic. Like any trials of such import, they will become trials in the court of pubic opinion.
And, California’s most famous Proposition 8 anti-gay marriage campaigner, Reverend Rick Warren, will stand trial in that court as well. Warren has staked his reputation as an international humanitarian on his alliance with Kagame, and on his Rwandan and Ugandan HIV/AIDS ministries, which are infamous for hijacking PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, in service to his abstinence-only-until-heterosexual-married -monogamy-for-life agenda.
Warren persuaded Bush to champion PEPFAR with a $15 billion budget, in 2006, and Congress increased it to $50 billion in 2008. Most PEPFAR funds are spent in 15 U.S. “focus countries,” which are also allies of special U.S. strategic interest: 13 African countries, including Rwanda and Uganda as well as Haiti and Vietnam.
In 2009, TIME Magazine published Warren’s effulgent essay nominating his close friend and ally, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, for Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World list of that year; TIME included Kagame on the list, as a “leader and revolutionary.” Warren wrote, in the opening paragraph of his nomination:
“Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, is the face of emerging African leadership. His reconciliation strategy, management model, empowerment of women in leadership and insistence on self-reliance are transforming a failed state into one with a bright future.”
Warren’s narrative of the Rwanda Genocide simplifies even the received history of what we know as the Rwanda Genocide, the history contested in the eight-count civil lawsuit filed in Oklahoma, which alleges Kagame’s responsibility for: Wrongful Death and Murder; Crimes against Humanity; Violation of the Rights of Life, Liberty and Security of Person; Assault and Battery; Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; Violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act; Torture and Conspiracy to torture.
On September 25, 2009, at his Saddleback Church in Orange County, Warren presented Kagame with his second International Medal of P.E.A.C.E, in a Saddleback Civic Forum on Healing and Reconciliation.” He presented his first Medal of P.E.A.C.E. to George Bush a year earlier in a 2008 Saddleback Civic Forum on HIV/AIDS Policy.
To Rwanda, a nation where 60% of the population survives below the poverty level, 37.5% on less than a dollar a day, and just getting enough to eat is the central issue in most people’s lives, Warren has taken the message that the months of 2008, during which gay marriage was legal in California, signaled the apocalypse.
Warren’s close ally Paul Kagame as delivering the commencement address at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, Oklahoma on Friday, April 30th, while demonstrators held signs accusing him of guilt for millions of lives lost in the struggle for “blood minerals” in D.R. Congo. Inside a team of process servers and lawyers attempted to serve Kagame with the lawsuit and thus require him to answer.
International press, including the BBC, reported that he had avoided process service and left the ceremony early, surrounded by bodyguards. But Law Professor Peter Erlinder, Plaintiff’s Counsel in the civil lawsuit in Oklahoma City, Defense Counsel for Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza in Kigali and Lead Defense Counsel for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, told KPFA Radio that their team had been prepared for that.
To listen, click on: KPFA Radio News, 05.01.2010: Lawsuit alleges Kagame’s guilt in Rwanda Genocide.