RWANDA:Reverend Rick Warren on Trial, in the Court of Public Opinion

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Reverend Rick Warren on Trial, in the Court of Public Opinion



Reverend Rick Warren and Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo via

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 of an “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.

President George Bush joined by Mrs. Laura Bush, is presented with the International Medal of P.E.A.C.E. by Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay Warren, Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, at the Saddleback Civic Forum on Global Health in Washington D.C., December 1, 2008. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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.

Pastor Rick Warren presents the International Medal of Peace 2009 to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, at the Saddleback Civic Forum.

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.

Filed under: Law, Media, News, Politics, War
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3 Responses to “Reverend Rick Warren on Trial,
in the Court of Public Opinion”

  1. Thanks, Luke; I just came to get the link to my other FCJ story, “Rwanda Genocide: Honoring the Dead without Honoring the Lies,”, to add to a list I’m using to apply for investigative reporting funds to stay on this story, and saw that you have this up too.

    There were six responses, besides my own, on that other piece, and all but one seemed to be written by Africans.

    Several reporters from the state run Rwanda New Times seem to have been assigned to follow me around the Web screaming, and they haven’t found FCJ yet, but quite likely will. Most show up on the SF Bay View site, where comments on some of my reports are running close to 200 and a recent insult was that I must be a lesbian hot for Hutu women. (I.e., big strong Black girlsssss . . . not such a bad idea, but I’ve been hunched over my computer, or on SKYPE/phone/e- to Africa about all this for most of the last six months.)

    I have eloquent African allies on the Bay View site as well, but I hope that the possibility of discrediting Prop 8’s most vocal proponent will encourage San Franciscans to respond as well—and speak out not only for LGBT rights but also for human rights in Rick Warren’s “purpose-driven nations,” Uganda and Rwanda.

  2. As a Rwandan, I was ashamed to see my country’s president running away from process of service in Oklahoma. If he really has nothing to hide, there was no need for him to run away before the event at the university ended. The thought that General Kagame could be the one who shot down President Habyarimana and President Ntaryamira’s plane simply makes me wonder what could have happened if this terrorist act never took place in Rwanda. I have a very hard time believing that any genocide would have happened without that act. If indeed General Kagame is the one who ordered the shooting down of that plane, he owes us all Rwandans a huge apology and should be ready to be tried and if convicted spend the rest of his life in jail. If General Kagame shot down that plane, that means anyone supporting him financially or politically is supporting a war criminal that is responsible for sparking the genocide.

    In his interview below with BBC Hardtalk in 2006, General Kagame beats about the bushes when specifically asked if he killed Habyarimana. But most viewers would agree that in his own words, General Kagame leaves very little doubt that he killed Habyarimana:

    Many of us Rwandans wonder if Reverend Rick Warren really believes that General Kagame is innocent of the many crimes we Rwandans know that he committed. Or whether the Reverend really knows about all the crimes and he still chooses to support Kagame for some other reason.

  3. Kagame’s RPF forces attacked Rwanda from Uganda in October 1990. Since then, life has never been the same in Rwanda. The violence that was started Kagame’s RPF forces turned my country upside down.

    In February 1993, a full year before the 1994 genocide, Kagame’s extremist soldiers massacred 40,000 unarmed civilians in one single day. It appears that a year later, the Interahamwe extremists decided to copy Kagame’s extremist soldiers. To the rest of us Rwandans caught in between the two extremist groups, it was clear that Kagame’s forces and the Interahamwes were trying to compete on who can kill more innocent civilians. Some of the crimes committed by Kagame’s soldiers before, during and after the 1994 genocide have been document by Paul Rusesabagina, the hero of the movie Hotel Rwanda at the link below:

    Kagame crimes:

    Most recently, a New York Times reporter published a video footage of what is now known as Rwanda’s “Island of No Return.” The video can be found at:

    New York Times Video:

    The video shows one way that Kagame continues to exterminate Rwandan civilians by keeping young men from one group away from their homes and villages, which ensures that they cannot have children. And before you know it, the minority in Rwanda will become the majority as the majority men are prevented from having children while the minority men roam free and continue to have children. These men from the majority group are kept locked up at a Guantanamo Bay type of island, without charge and without appearing in front of any judge.

    I am so saddened to hear that someone like Reverend Rick Warren, who claims to be a man of God, would dare support such a mass murder.

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