By Hubert Mugabo
The headline in The Guardian newspaper of Britain, dated 15 January 2019, says: “Rwanda’s Khashoggi: who killed the exiled spy chief”?
The author of the article, Michela Wrong, wants us to believe that the former external intelligence chief of Rwanda, Patrick Karegeya who died in a hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg on New Year’s Day 2014 is like Jamal Khashoggi the Saudi Journalist that met his end in the Saudi Consulate of Istanbul, Turkey, last year.
But Wrong is just purveying wrong impressions. She writes that a member of the South African judiciary, whom she does not name, told her “This is South Africa’s Khashoggi”, in reference to the deceased Rwandan. If Karegeya is Rwandan, in what sense can he be “South Africa’s Khashoggi”? My mind spins.
I have some news for Wrong and the Guardian however. To the people of Rwanda, especially those that lost family members, or those that now are disabled for life as a result of a series of grenade blasts in Rwanda, Patrick Karegeya is the Osama bin Laden of Rwanda. A terrorist not to be confused with an innocent journalist.
Those grenade attacks began in 2009 and ended in 14, leaving a total of 17 Rwandans dead and 407 injured or maimed in various ways. Investigations by the Rwandan Police and intelligence services established that Rwanda National Congress (RNC) was behind the terror attacks.
Patrick Karegeya was a senior member of Rwanda National Congress (RNC), founded by former general Kayumba Nyamwasa when the latter quit his role in government and went to self-exile in South Africa.
Michela Wrong throughout her entire piece – a paean to Karegeya meant to turn him into some kind of hero that died “because he was free spirited and also a fierce critic of the Kagame government” – studiously downplays the fact her hero was a man in the habit of preaching war and violent regime change.
“Kagame will not leave power unless forced out by war!” Karegeya told The Observer newspaper of Kampala, in August 2010. What he was in the habit of telling radio programs, like the BBC’s Kinyarwanda/Kirundi language program Imvo n’Invano was much worse – using the most emotive, violent language with the aim to stir up even more hatred of the Rwandan leadership.
For people like Michela Wrong, in the comforts and luxuries of their homes in Europe, the words of such a man may be casually brushed aside. For Rwandans who – in the post independence years since 1959 have only ever known peace and stability after the end of the Genocide of the Tutsi in 94 – those words are another thing all together.
The images they conjure are too hideous to describe. When the RNC of which he was one of the big fish was discovered to be behind the grenade blasts, alarm spread throughout the population. “What does this man, and his friend Nyamwasa want to do to us?”
Rwandans want only peace after decades of trauma, but at precisely the moment they’ve found it these fellows are declaring war, and following through with terrorist action!
So when news came from South Africa that Karegeya had been found dead in a luxury hotel room, we Rwandans celebrated. We went to bars to drink and party!
It was a bit like America in 2011 upon the news that Osama bin Laden had been located, and drilled with bullets. Americans poured out in the streets of their cities, honking car horns, hugging total strangers, celebrating wildly.
One wonders why someone like Michela Wrong did not write an article portraying bin Laden as some kind of freedom fighter, of something like that. Or why she did not try to demonize President Barack Obama who openly toasted the termination of the mastermind of 9/11.
This is the thing with people like Michela Wrong with their ill-concealed double standards. They come to places like Africa and take sides, and decide who is the villain or the hero, and from there will tailor their narratives to favor whatever sides they’ve chosen. If several Rwandans died and hundreds more injured in acts of war perpetrated by those they choose to lionize, it matters little.
I wonder what Wrong’s reaction would be though if even one Briton died after an RNC terrorist lobbed a grenade at him.
Why, in her entire Karegeya-is-Khashoggi piece does this journalist not refer, even once to the victims of RNC grenades? You can draw your conclusions. Why does she not refer to the violent rhetoric of the Karegeyas and Nyamwasas anywhere in her lengthy article? I can only guess its because she is in sympathy with them, since she is doing all she can to turn them into some kind of heroes.
She only refers to “grenade blasts” in a dismissive way – as if the grenades merely detonated themselves, in a vacuum – upon which she declares RNC denied responsibility. And like that, she’s sanitized them.
The whole tone of the article clearly shows the object is to cast Kagame as “the terrifying tyrant”, something that she does with considerable skill through pseudo use of such journalistic gimmicks “balance”, “talking to both sides”, et cetera.
But there is no balance in what she’s written. She quotes Karegeya or Nyamwasa in such ways they will be case in a favorable light, while omitting anything that will expose them to be power hungry men that will not hesitate to wreak unspeakable violence on innocent people and disrupt a country in pursuit of that power.
She has also chosen to blithely dismiss the recent report published by the UN Group of Experts on the Congo on 31 December of the preceding year, which pins – factually and meticulously – RNC as a group that’s preparing to being war to back to Rwanda. Kayumba has dismissed the report as unfounded, Wrong tells us. Therefore, end of subject!
This, remember, is a group of experts that spent months investigating its report, talking to hundreds of sources – people on the ground in the DRC, Uganda or Burundi from where a good part of the coordination of all this anti-Rwanda activity is taking place. But the so-called objective journalist chooses to blithely skip over all that.
On the other hand Wrong for instance quotes the Rwandan leadership celebrating the death of Karegeya, a deadly enemy, twisting the quotes however to pin the murder on that leadership. Even when no one actually stated they had killed the man, or ordered his killing.
Apparently to people like Wrong, celebrating the death of a terrorist is only permissible when Americans, Europeans, or other white people do it.
What strikes me – as a private Rwandan who also happens to have been closely following RNC activities or writings – is how closely Wrong’s article in The Guardian mirrors RNC’s (and its allies) talking points.
The journalist pins several murders on President Kagame – just like RNC and several other virulent enemies of the Rwandan leader do, including extremist former officials of past genocidal regimes plus genocide revisionists and deniers of all stripes.
“Seth Sendashonga, a Hutu politician was shot in Nairobi. The journalist Charles Ingabire was murdered in Kampala.” And so on, and so on. The accusers always are emphatic that it is Kigali that committed these crimes.
Pinning someone on crimes that no evidence ever did is to be expected of propagandists. But why does Wrong, a journalist of repute, do the same? Why does she nowhere state that no one has ever solved these crimes?
Again she betrays contempt for journalistic norms when her target is not citizens, or leaders, of countries like hers, but countries like ours.
The whole article has one overriding aim: to demolish President Kagame and his leadership, and to do so by demonizing him, and by turning everything good he has done into bad, and by driving a wedge between the Rwandan leadership, and its friends in the developed world, or elsewhere.
Also Wrong has timed her article to coincide with an inquest in Randburg, Johannesburg, into the death of Karegeya. An inquest mark you that they are reviving five years after exhaustive investigations by South African police and intelligence services utterly failed to produce a single suspect.