By Greg Meyer
February 23, 2010
The Following is a note I just sent to NPR Morning Edition and forwarded to WFDD, our local station. I spoke to Michael Terry a local station producer. He said they will definitely help with follow up. I hope it leads to something.
Many thanks to Jackie Camp, a local lawyer and good friend of Rwanda, who with Innocent Ndagijimana helped edit this letter. Jackie is also helping with other leads.
Please feel free to use this text to contact other news media. For example, one can edit it and send it to "All Things Considered".
Dear Robert Siegel,
I am a Rwandan American living in North Carolina. I listen to NPR every day of the week. For the past many years, NPR has been my source of information on what is happening around the globe. I like your in-depth reporting on issues such as the war against terrorism, disaster relief in Haiti and other events worldwide.
When the genocide happened in Rwanda, my country, in 1994; I was a young student here in America, getting ready to graduate and head home. I watched with dismay the inaction by the Clinton administration, the UN and the West in general.
I do not believe in conspiracy theory, but I have to wonder why nobody in this country, not even NPR, is reporting on current events in Rwanda. What have we learned from 1994? The situation is more volatile than we, in this country think. I am writing this note to bring to your attention that I see in Rwanda, a picture not too different from what we witnessed in the past, a picture that in the past resulted in 1 out of every 2 Rwandans being killed or forced to flee their homes while the West turned a blind eye. Perhaps there was nothing that the West might have done to stop the 1994 genocide, but there is something the West, and specifically the US press, and even more specifically NPR, can do to stop what is happening now.
While presidential elections are ostensibly scheduled for August, the RPF, or political party of General Kagame, the current president, is trying to stop any opposition candidate from running for office. One opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire, has been beaten by a mob, and interrogated by police many times. My fear now is that, when opposition leaders are beaten or put in jail, there is a big chance that violence will erupt everywhere in the countryside. I am saying this because violence in Rwanda, always start by incidents happening to political leaders: the 1959 violence started when a group of royalists beat an opposition leader (who later got elected 1st president), the 1994 genocide started when the president's plane got shot down. Even in the time of the Rwandan kingdom, there was a coup around the 1880’s that took place because of similar situations. Kigali’s government blames the recent grenade attacks on the Interahamwe militia, but the opposition parties have described the attacks as an attempt by the party in power, to instill fear among the population ahead of the August elections.
I am hoping that NPR will not ignore this story just because no other major US media has reported it and just because the US government, for whatever reasons, has been a Kagame supporter. Developments I see in Rwanda are alarming. Amnesty International and Human Right Watch have already reported on the situation and have written to President Kagame. The BBC has carried the story, but no significant US press outlet has picked it up.
During my 18 years experience in America, I have noticed that the American public and administration pays attention to your reports. I believe that your news report on Rwanda will bring more visibility to what is happening there and force the political parties to more moderate positions. The government of Rwanda knows well that they get great help from American taxpayers. If Kagame’s harassment of opposition candidates becomes widely known, he will feel pressured to relent and allow Rwandans a free and fair election in August. Perhaps Rwandans will even follow in the footsteps of Liberians and elect a female head of state who can bring true democratic reform.
I have always been pleased with your unbiased positions when you report on conflict/war situations, and I want you to look into what is happening in Rwanda. Here is a link to a report by Ann Garrison on the situation that gives a good and very brief overview:"Rwandan opposition parties condemn grenade attacks in Kigali" ( http://www.sfbayview.com/2010/rwandan-opposition-parties-condemn-grenade-attacks-in-kigali) .
As the major donor and supporter of post-genocide Rwanda, the US government needs to be involved to make sure there is smooth transition to democratic governance, which in turn will provide more stable institutions and economy. Otherwise, the millions of taxpayer dollars that we used to help Rwanda would have gone to waste since war might erupt again.
If you need more info, do not hesitate to contact me.
My number: 336-837-7520. My name is Greg Meyer. I live in Kernersville, NC.