Kagame’s angry speech after arrest of Rwanda Intelligence Chief
As we speak, we are in a struggle where we want to determine for ourselves what we want to be, and not allowing someone else to decide for us.
It is not an isolated case, it is one of many cases that remind us how hard it is to travel on that journey of self-determination, to make choices for our future, of who we want to become.
We have one of our senior government officials; the head of our security and intelligence organisation, a general, a freedom fighter; somebody who fought with us to make this country what it has become. He was picked off the street in London. An official, going to perform duties that fall in his responsibilities, is arrested as he is boarding a plane to come back home.
From that we are told, there was a request from Spain that this person is wanted in Spain and therefore should be extradited to Spain for whatever crimes Spain says they want him for.
We are also told that UK has a legal obligation to hand this person over to Spain and it doesnâ€™t matter what facts, what circumstances, and what context; he must be handed over. It is an obligation. But that is very selective.
Because UK has another legal obligation. The legal obligation is: this is an official of the State of Rwanda, an official of a people who respect themselves, who donâ€™t offend others. A people who want to decide what they become. Not UK, not France, not Spain, deciding what they become. It will never happen.
Just picked a security chief on the street like one of those thugs. According to them, there is no legal obligation they have towards Rwanda for their official, somebody with diplomatic status; because there is this other obligation they have towards Spain.
But look at the depth of this matter. First, it is France, then Spain, now it is the UK. I donâ€™t know who is coming next. All directed to inconvenience, to destabilise, to just show the absolute contempt they have for Rwanda and for Africa. It is absolute contempt.
Something African, something Rwandan doesnâ€™t feature anywhere in their considerations when it comes to making choices. Itâ€™s not the first time and itâ€™s not going to be the last time.
But any decent human being, any decent Rwandan, any decent African, even any decent person from those countries, cannot accept this. Absolutely not.
In fact, sometimes I feel like being cynical about it. But let me put it this way: I think it is good, I really feel happy that of all people, it happens to us, to Rwandans. Maybe if it had happened somewhere else, it would just disappear. But here, it is happening to the right people. The right people who want to stand up to it and who will always stand up to it.
I am happy that such people pick on us, they pick on Rwanda to be the one they treat like this. We are up to the job in many ways.
We donâ€™t have the power of wealth, or military strength, of technology, of all kind of things these countries have pride in. But we have a couple of things. We have the power of the spirit.
We have the power of being underrated. The power that comes from anger of being held in contempt. The power that comes from the anger of being insulted. The power that comes from the anger of being pushed against the wall. Because when that happens and when we are left with nothing else, building on that spirit, we come back in full strength.
We have the power of resilience. We have the power that derives from the anger of the historical attempt to wipe us off the surface of the earth, and we refused to go.
Those who want or were behind or associated with the genocide that happened here in Rwanda, did not reach the point they wanted to reach. Not because they changed their mind on the way, or because they forgave us. But because they failed to achieve it. They wonâ€™t achieve it now. They wonâ€™t achieve it today.
People may think they can put us down, but theyâ€™ll never take us out. We are a decent people. People of enough strength to not accept this rubbish of injustice.
I kept reading comments in social media, and I happened to read something about somebody, a really useless African but whoâ€™s held in high esteem, writing that, you see, it is right for these people to be arresting Karenzi, because it is time to do justice, that the victims of genocide got justice, now it is the time for justice for others.
What that means to me, the history of my country isnâ€™t the history we read in books, itâ€™s the history we have lived.
The question in my mind, was so really the victims of genocide got justice? But is it what the victims, those people who were targeted in genocide, before genocide happened, were thinking about? Did they say, let genocide happen and we will get justice?
In other words, it was okay to lose one million people, as long as there was going to be something that looked like justice at the end of it. This person who works for human rights who was saying that must have gone nuts!
We did not need genocide here in Rwanda. If he wants it for other people, let him recommend that. We did not want it. Itâ€™s as if Rwandans chose justice after they have got genocide. But have they even got justice?
Every single day, they are all over the place chasing, hunting down people who actually fought, sacrificed and stopped genocide. They protect and take pride in associating with those who actually perpetuated it. They do.
Those capitals are full of people who carried out genocide here in Rwanda. If you are saying those who stopped it should be tried for stopping it, or for any mistakes some individuals could have made during that time, and you equate it to genocide, well again, it is an issue of being selective.
Why donâ€™t they look a little bit back in their history? What the history would have suggested would have been to try those people who stopped those who were carrying out the Holocaust. In Nuremberg, they should have tried the Allied forces that stopped the Holocaust, they should have charged and tried those who fought the Nazis. Why didnâ€™t it happen? Because itâ€™s not an African situation.
Today, all these stories you hear about, in fact is what they donâ€™t say out there. Spain wants somebody from Rwanda, for anything. Spain has never asked Rwanda to try or discuss whatever issues they need to talk about relating to whatever they have in mind about justice. It is actually Rwanda that has several times gone to Spain and asked them: what is your problem? Itâ€™s like they donâ€™t have to say anything. They will wait until somebody is out, or they create these cases to actually inconvenience people, so that they donâ€™t travel anywhere to do their business.
These judges and others who were sworn in today can tell me, they are learned people in matters of law: I want to understand under what circumstances the laws of countries like ours, or others, become completely subordinate to the laws of other countries, to the point that other countries will say â€œwe think somebody did something in your country, we want them here to answerâ€?
And sometimes these cases are decided on by village judges. Village judges. Like you have one in our villages. Judges over there operating on their own, summoning and saying to a country that they want their Minister. They wag their finger. That tells a story.
We have discussed this matter between Europe and Africa in our last meeting of Head of States and Government in Brussels – this matter came up very well. It has been discussed at an AU summit. But every time they decide to shelve it because they want this kind of situation to go on and on forever.
It is history repeating itself in a different form. It is a continuation of slavery, of colonialism, of arrogance, bigotry and telling the Africans, wagging a finger at them and saying â€œthis is where you belongâ€. We are no longer the African that belongs there.
But there are Africans who belong there. Even among us. Even those who sit and drink and live with us. And these are the Africans preferred by those countries because in the end they serve their interests.
One typical example, in fact, is even associated with this case. We have Rwandans who are out there who exiled themselves under all sorts of claims. But all of them have cases to answer here. All of them. Not a single one doesnâ€™t have a case to answer here. Not a single one of them. If you check their records, some ran away, they used to be in the army and they committed a series of crimes. They are there, on record. Others used to work in the places you know.
One of them used to work for me. And the only thing he can talk about, the only thing he can take pride in, is having worked for me. Thatâ€™s the only thing. Nothing else. And he ran away twice. He deserted and asked for mercy to come back to work. We allowed him to come back then he worked for some time, he got into another mess and he ran away again. But when he is out there, this is the man Himbara, you hear of him every day, even yesterday he was on radio talking about this case.
Of course these are the people these countries find very important to associate with. And you know the reason? Among them, you have seen this BBC documentary, the so-called â€˜Untold Storyâ€™. What they are talking about is not the untold story.
The untold story is what underlies that documentary. The untold story is that these countries and the people who are behind it want to change the narrative into one that lacks the actual story of what happened in Rwanda that they were so deeply involved in.
They want to mask it by saying â€œNo it is not us. These are the savages of Africa who kill each other. The genocide was between the Hutus and Tutsis; this is the normal thing in Africa, it is the normal thing in Rwanda. These blacks turn on each other and kill one another. Itâ€™s the normal thing. For us we have nothing to do with those things that happened.â€
So that they retain the moral ground on which to always operate from, dictating to the very Africans. But it is not us. We are people of high standing and above these fellows.
Of course inadvertently they make one big mistake. How do you maintain any credible ground by associating with criminals who feed you, who advise you, who you want to flaunt as the people who respect democracy and human rights, â€œthey have run to us, the government in Rwanda was about to kill themâ€.
Kill them? Since when did we become killers? These same people have killed more people than they can claim Africans ever killed. Among those killed, they have killed Africans, millions of Africans.
How then do we become killers? How do we give our lives to save our country and our people, and at the end of the day, we are killers? Just because you hobnob with these foolish fellows, actual criminals, in your country, who you use as witnesses, the ones with â€œcredible evidenceâ€ that so and so did this. You are using criminals.
How can you take pride in hobnobbing with criminals? These Rwandans they use, even those who gave advice to those who arrested Karenzi are criminals from here.
One of them happens to now have dual citizenship, he is British and Rwandan. People see him on twitter every day, a fellow called RenÃ© Mugenzi. How he wants to be of political influence in UK and then in Rwanda at same time, is going to be difficult. And there is another thug from our army who ran away, a criminal called Marara.
They move around and tell police that the head of security in Rwanda is in town, we feel threatened, because he will kill us. â€œOh, OK, weâ€™ll go for him.â€ That is one of the things that happened. Because this man, Karenzi, was arrested three or four days after.
In fact, we didnâ€™t know, that is how much these fellows hold us in contempt. But these fellows knew. They were already writing, those of you who follow online news, these fellows Rene, Marara and some of their foreign friends living in Canada, and one in the US.
They were already writing talking about the arrest of this man on 17th of June. We are told that it is when the indictment, the request for extradition came from Spain. As for us, we only knew when he was being arrested. These people have already formed their own imaginary state of Rwanda, that leaves out who they work with, to determine what happens to us. This is not serious. Absolutely not serious. How can this be?
As I said last time I was here, somebody says we are really good friends, we even support your development, which we appreciate by the way. But do you support my development and take away my dignity at the same time? Are you really helping me because you despise me? Is that the meaning? You support my development but at the same time despise me. You hold me in contempt. This level of disdain is just unacceptable. To tell me, you are not good enough., you are not relevant enough, to deserve any respect from me.
This is what the story is about. So now how can the argument be extradition? You want to extradite this Rwandan general to Spain? No, you should not have arrested him in the first place. There are no grounds under which anyone should have arrested our chief of intelligence under any circumstance.
We are talking about justice. Justice has a course that it follows, which respects certain norms. So I donâ€™t understand the grounds on which we talk about extradition.
Extradition to where? What right does Spain or any country have in this matter, to try Rwanda, to try this head of intelligence?
What right did this country have to arrest him in this manner, let alone now talk about extradition?
None of these things have any basis. They donâ€™t have anything other than absolute arrogance and holding people in contempt. It is the only basis.
People talk about rule of law and they respect their laws, you canâ€™t treat people like this. If this is how Africans must be treated, imagine if we arrested, even for a good reason, one of their chiefs of anything? Is that even thinkable? You know what would happen.
But it is easy to do it to the Africans. I think they must have mistaken him, you know, for this problem they have with illegal immigrants, these fellows who are sinking in boats in the Mediterranean, these brothers, sisters and children of ours.
The way they treat them is the way they treat this minister from Africa, head of intelligence. They really must have mistaken him for an illegal immigrant. What was he looking for? They know that he works with them, he has been working together with them on many sensitive things. Thatâ€™s how they turn around.
But of course, again, in other places, Africans or black people have become shooting practice targets. You know when people are learning to shoot they have dummies made from paper or something. We Africans and other blacks we have become targets for shooting practice of trigger happy people. Whenever they want to learn to fire bullets, they practice on us. That is how far it has gone.
They want to hold in esteem the Africans who the Africans donâ€™t respect at all. They are the ones they respect. Like these fellows I was talking about, criminals, petty criminals and thugs literally. These Himbaras and their sponsors. There is a man who used to be a businessman here called Rujugiro. We found out heâ€™s the one who financed the hearing which Himbara had in another friendly country. Himbara appearing anywhere to talk about Rwanda, can you imagine? Why donâ€™t they invite one of you to go and talk about Rwanda? Why do they invite Himbara? Because he has a bad story to tell about us.
Well, if there are bad stories about us, we will take care of that ourselves. You donâ€™t have to take care of me; you donâ€™t have to take care of my bad story. I donâ€™t take care of your bad story. If there are any wrongs here, if there are things that need to be put right, and there will always be things to put right, absolutely, we should be the people who can put them right.
But for somebody else to want to put right the wrong they may be preserving here is not the way to do business. I think theyâ€™ve run this kind of business for so long that theyâ€™ve gotten too used to it. Pulling back from it is almost impossible for them. Every day it is sweeter to keep practicing the same thing, even as it gets worse with us and makes us angrier every day.
So we come here, swear in ministers, judges, MPs, and we just go. We go and do what? If we donâ€™t internalise this and understand it. Any decent human being, any decent Rwandan, any decent anybody cannot accept that people will do to us whatever they want, because they can. No. We will do things with people because it is the right thing to do. And they should be doing with us, or to us, the right things. Not just because they can.
So we will keep our heads cool. You need to keep your heads cool, because these things can drive you to a level of anger where you can even make a mistake.
So just keep your heads cool, Iâ€™m trying to keep mine cool, Iâ€™m really trying. Iâ€™m struggling, Iâ€™m not finding it easy, but I know I have to keep the calm, that is necessary to do things right. It is important. Otherwise the anger that people might have about what others do to us can drive people crazy. They can influence people to make mistakes. And we shouldnâ€™t make mistakes. But that doesnâ€™t mean we can accept any mistake being done against us.
I think, in the end, we must and will prevail. It doesnâ€™t matter how long. We learned in our earlier days to be patient. But be patient and not just hope for time. Time is important and so is patience. But it is also what you do in that time. Donâ€™t just sit back and say you are patiently waiting it out. You must be patient while you are doing something.
These struggles we have been in, they take a long time. They require a lot of patience. But even more, they require a lot of hard thinking and a lot of doing. And simply have the right spirit that wonâ€™t be easily broken.
So those who take us on, we advise them that we are aware that we are in it for the long haul. We can absorb a lot of these things and still remain with our heads high.
There are too many things to say, I think I should allow you time to go have your own thinking, and more doing of things that can make our country better, in spite of all these things that happen to us.
Thank you very much.
Source: The Independent