Explore Now. Buy As Gift. Overview John Yves Bizimana was only seven years old when his family was caught up in the Rwandan genocide.
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For the Birminghams, the journey through America's most tragic conflict has led to loyalties, passions, and losses Faith Precedes the Miracle. Apollo was gone. But he fell out with Kagame and fled the country in , setting up an opposition party in exile in South Africa. Karegeya had every reason to believe that the regime he had done so much to establish was now out to kill him. He and the other three founders of the opposition party in exile, the Rwanda National Congress RNC , had been tried in absentia by a military court in Rwanda, which found them guilty of threatening state security and sentenced them to year prison terms.
Several Rwandans in South Africa had warned Karegeya that they had received calls from military intelligence in Kigali seeking to hire contract killers. During the World Cup in South Africa, one of the other founders of the RNC, General Kayumba Nyamwasa — former chief of staff of the Rwandan army — was shot in the stomach in a failed assassination attempt as he returned from a shopping trip in Johannesburg with his wife. The South African authorities had immediately assigned the two high-profile political exiles hour protection. But Karegeya had sent his government bodyguards packing.
A freewheeling, irreverent spirit, he found the constant supervision unbearable and decided instead to rely on his decades of intelligence experience and network of contacts to keep a step ahead of his enemies. One basic rule: all meetings must take place in public. I really wish it.
He chose to deliver it, of all places, at a prayer breakfast in Kigali, and it was presented with an admonishing finger and a cold smile. State prosecutor Yusuf Baba has told magistrate Jeremiah Matopa he intends calling at least 30 witnesses. Hearings are expected to stretch into February. Since none of the suspects are believed to be resident in South Africa , that would require official requests for their extradition. The key issue, though, is whether the inquest will address the possibility of a political motive and state collusion in the assassination.
As fighting escalated, the UN actually evacuated its peacekeeping force from the country. Western states that did nothing to prevent the massacres have treated Rwanda with kid gloves ever since, in part out of a frequently acknowleged sense of guilt. In the years after the genocide, international criticism focused on brutal events in the forests of eastern Zaire now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC where the RPF hunted down those who had committed the genocide, slaughtering alongside them hundreds of thousands of Hutu civilians. The process is likely to reignite a long-simmering debate about how far the global development industry is willing to compromise moral principles in the service of stability.
W ho wanted Patrick Karegeya dead? What is striking about this story is the intimacy of the links that bind its protagonists. Karegeya, Kayumba and Kagame were all Tutsis, part of a Kinyarwanda-speaking community whose territory historically fans out from Rwanda, spreading into the Congo, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania. In , an emerging Hutu elite enjoying the support of both colonial Belgium and the Catholic church launched a revolution.
The Tutsi royal family was ousted and hundreds of thousands of Tutsis, running from Hutu persecution, settled in neighbouring countries. Karegeya and Kayumba, by contrast, both came from well-integrated Ugandan Tutsi families. But as youngsters during the s they all bumped into one another at festivals, weddings and market days. Karegeya and Kagame attended the same secondary school in Kampala. In the early s, when the Ugandan president Milton Obote began victimising their community, all three joined the armed resistance led by Museveni, an ambitious leftist revolutionary.
Their plan was to learn how to fight, in order to return home.
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Once Museveni seized power in Kampala in , these trusted Tutsi cadres established their clandestine army-in-waiting, the RPF, within the Ugandan military. For four years they raised money and made plans. It was an exodus with biblical overtones: the boys were going home. Karegeya, working in Ugandan intelligence, was initially left behind as liaison, responsible for connecting commanders in the field with Museveni, but he moved back to Kigali in late to run external intelligence.
For Karegeya and his fellow RPF commanders, this was a frantic, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants period. The Rwanda they took control of in had been devastated by the genocide. Putrefying bodies were piled high in churches, schools and stadiums, crops lay untended, buildings had been looted and shrapnel-shredded, the civil service and judiciary were either scattered or dead.
During these years, Rwanda intervened repeatedly in neighbouring Zaire, spearheading a regional alliance that backed rebels who toppled the military dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in at which point Zaire became the DRC. African diplomats who befriended Karegeya during that era remember a flamboyant, fiercely intelligent personality who served more as de facto foreign minister than intelligence chief.
He was utterly loyal to his boss, Kagame, and very good at what he did. Just like Israel, he would say, a government that knew from experience that no western power would ever come to its rescue retained the right to intervene well beyond its own borders. But with the passage of time, he began nurturing doubts.
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To outsiders, the RPF seemed a close-knit brotherhood, bound by ties of genuine friendship, business, marriage and blood. But the harmonious facade was deceptive. As Kagame emerged as the dominant player, unhappiness among former close aides grew. The RPF, paying lip service to ethnic reconciliation, had originally been careful to nominate Pasteur Bizimungu, a Hutu, as president, with Kagame widely recognised as the real decision-maker holding the title of defence minister and vice-president.
In , Kagame did away with that pretence, wresting the presidency from Bizimungu and arresting him when he set up a political party. Disenchanted former RPF members cite that event as a turning point in their perceptions of Kagame and his ambitions. Always free with his opinions, Karegeya made his feelings known about what he saw as the drift towards totalitarianism. Others decided to remain silent for ever.
It is a matter of choice. If you speak publicly, the consequences are bad. After he was sacked by Kagame, Karegeya shuttled in and out of detention. He was jailed without charge, then kept under house arrest, then finally tried and sentenced to 18 months for insubordination. On his release in November , he was privately warned by a friend in the military that he would die if he remained in Kigali. So he fled.
High-profile Rwandans who decide to leave the country have developed a strategy. First, persuade a friend to drive you to the Ugandan border. Then, before you are in sight of the customs post, stop the car and get out. While your friend drives across the frontier and undergoes the necessary security checks, you swim across the river, and reunite with the car at an agreed spot on the other side.
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