Two pieces of news today to share with my brothers and sisters who are working for peace and reconciliation and truth and equality and love and dignity and hope and healing.
First, we won our court case today in Chicago -- in which i was an expert witnesses testifying for the defense -- and the Rwandan asylum seekers (2 adults and 3 minors) were awarded asylum status after more than 5 years in the immigration hearings process. These (adults) are Rwanda genocide survivors, and they are Hutu people, and they also survived the RPF perpetrated genocide against Hutu people in Zaire. The lawyer did an amazing job, and the defendants showed incredible graciousness in the face of huge injustices.
If Rwanda's President Paul Kagame knew how to eat humble pie, today would be the day. Sadly, he's one of the worst examples of a human being ever created, only outdone, perhaps, by those governments and people who support him.
Second, one of the world's greatest human rights champions, was assassinated this weekin the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I and other human rights defenders are calling for a thorough independent investigation into the assassination of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, executive director of Voix des Sans Voix (VSV) (i.e. Voice of the Voiceless), one of Congo's largest human rights groups (whom I believe I met and interviewed in 2006).
So, very happy news and very sad news.
Today, it was very interesting to see how the Judge and U.S. Government prosecutor handled me and my testimony, which pretty much contradicted everything the U.S. Government prosecutor had submitted as evidence, and according to the prosecutor's cross-examination, based on his reviewing my resume on my web site, I am not entitled to be a substitute school teacher (1996?) or be caretaker of a place called EARTHLANDS (1995), and still call myself a journalist and human rights investigator, which I did at the same time.
Most outrageous are all the distortions, mischaracterizations and outright lies submitted in the annual U.S. Department of State Human Rights Country Reports, and all the documents that support these, and all the documents that rely on them to make their own shoddy or vested-interest arguments, and the many media articles that all say the same thing, in platitudes, and cover up the state of criminality and terror in Rwanda (and Rwanda's involvement in Congo) at present.
I've looked very closely at these state department HUMAN RIGHTS COUNTRY REPORTS on Rwanda, beginning with 1993, and they are really a scandal of omissions, falsehoods, decontextualized facts, and standard establishment mythology -- and what is even more outrageous are the way they laud and applaud the dictator Paul Kagame, the U.S. wonder boy of mass murder in Africa, and cover up his crimes, and this is more greatly appreciated in contradistinction to how the State Department reports characterize other countries and the leaders that stand up to the U.S., including Omar Bashir (Sudan), Raul Castro (Cuba), or Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe). I've looked in detail at these State Department Human Rights Country Reports, and they are all a scandal. I suppose I will publish my analyses if i can find the energy and surmount the absence of financial support.
It was hugely satisfying to find that amongst the submissions of evidence the attorney for the respondents seeking asylum submitted was a recent article by San Francisco journalist Ann Garrison, who has been following the events in Rwanda closely and publishing furiously in independent print and radio, and works independently herself and deserves people's financial support. Ann has done amazing work to understand and communicate the truth, with little support as well.
Alas, it's very pathetic to see the extent to which popular understanding of what happened in Rwanda or Congo or Sudan is so completely determined by the indoctrination of the mass media, and -- as the U.S. Government prosecutor today attempted to characterize me -- how anyone who doesn't work for the New York Times or Newsweek or Time must be a conspiracy theorist, a crackpot or a social degenerate. The possibility that working for these institutions means unacceptable moral compromise does not enter into people's arrogant frames of mind, so twisted is the western addiction to our one indoctrination, under God, indivisible, with oil barons, and corruption, unto all.
The U.S. Government was watching this case, it was considered a very high profile case, all the way in Washington, and the legal community was watching it closely in Chicago.
In any case, the judge found in favor of the Rwandans for asylum. The U.S. Government prosecutor indicated to the defense attorney that he will appeal. If he does, the process will go on for a few more months, and by then more of the truth will be known, as the current regime in Rwanda fights tooth and nail to keep the lid on their own coffin, one they have built of the blood of the Congolese, Ugandan and Rwanda people, and with the help of the U.S. State Department, Britain, Canada and Israel.
When in comes to Central Africa, people have no idea how little they really understand, how much we all in the US, Canada and Europe are personally implicated and involved, and how much our help is needed.
Of course, the lawyer works pro bono on this case, as I did. Much thanks to the people who support my work in little and big ways. Much appreciation for expansiveness of mind of today's judge, too.
keith harmon snow
Chicago, 3 June 2010