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Rwanda National Congress Proclamation

Rwanda National Congress Proclamation

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Published by: jasonkstearns on Dec 14, 2010
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01/20/2011

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PROCLAMATIONESTABLISHINGTHERWANDANATIONALCONGRESS
We,theCitizensofRwandawhoaresignatoriestothisProclamation,metinBethesda,Maryland,intheUnitedStatesofAmericaon11-12December2010,todiscussstrategiesforresolvingtheexplosivepoliticalimpassethat prevailsinRwandaandtoenvisionanewnationembeddedinhumandignity,mutualrespect,freedom,liberty,justice,anddemocracy.Wefirmlybelievethatallhumanbeingshaveaninherentrighttoliveinpeaceandfreedomandtothefairuseof,andaccessto,theresourceswithwhichtheirnationsareendowedforthepromotionofthewell-beingofallcitizens..Every personisentitledtotherightspromulgatedbytheUniversalDeclarationofHumanRights,theInternationalCovenantonCivilandPoliticalRights,theAfricanCharteronHumanandPeoplesRights,andotherinternationalconventionsandinstrumentsthatexplicitlyestablishandprotectthefullrangeofuniversalhumanrights.Theprincipalrationalefortheexistenceofgovernmentistofacilitatetherealizationofthesefundamentalandinalienablerightsforallcitizens.Rwandaisanancientnation.Nodoubt,everygovernmentthathasexercisedcontrolovertheRwandanstateduringthecourseofourcountry'slonghistorycanrightfullybecreditedfordevelopmentsthathavebeenofbenefittoitscitizens.Onbalance,however,virtuallyeveryRwandangovernmenthashistoricallypreyedonthecitizenryandhassuppressedtherealizationandenjoymentoftheinherentanduniversalrightsofthosewhomitgoverned.Autocraticgovernment(intheformofagovernmentcontrolledbyanabsolutemonarchoranall-powerfulpresident)hasgenerallybeenthenormduringourhistory.WhileRwandaisadiversesociety,thediversityofitsnationalcharacter(based
on
class,ethnicidentity,religionorregionoforigin)hasoftenbeen manipulatedbyelitepoliticalleaderstosatisfytheirselfishandegoisticinterestsandtoacquireormonopolizepowerandaccesstoresources.Ourpeoplehaveneverhadtheopportunitytofullyrealizetheiraspirationsforfreedom,securityandprosperity.Duringitslonghistory,Rwandahaveneverbeenprovidedwithapoliticalenvironmentwhereinallofitscitizens,regardlessoftheirbeliefsororigins,wereabletoexercisetheirinherentrights.Instead,everygroupthathasassumed
 
power-thoughatfirstproclaiminguniversalanddemocraticideals-hasintimesuccumbedtothelureofthemonopolyofpower.Eachrulinggroup
eventually
foundjustificationtoexcludethemajorityofRwandansfromtheenjoymentoffundamentalhumanrights.Therulingclassoftenassumedabsolutepowerandgovernedwithimpunity,outsidetheruleoflawandoutsideuniversallyrecognizeddemocraticnorms;itpreparedtoeliminatebothrealandperceivedpoliticalopponentsandcompetitorsfortheprivilegesthatflowfromcontrolofpoliticalpower.ForordinaryRwandans,theywererarely,if
ever,
entitledtotheirinherenthumanrightsandtherightofexpressionofbeliefsandfreeassociation.Inthepast,andsadlytothisday,politicalleadersdeterminedwhoshould
live
orwhoshoulddie,outsidetheruleoflaw.ThestruggleinRwandaofcompetitionforpowerandaccesstoresourceshasoftenunleashedcataclysmicconflict,killingsanduntoldhumansuffering,particularly
over
thelast
five
decades.Horrendous
violence,
includingcrimesagainsthumanityandgenocide,hasinthepastbeenunleashedagainstinnocentmen,womenandchildrencaughtinthecrossfireofelitesstrugglingforpoliticalsupremacy.Uponassumingpowerattheendofthegenocidein1994,theRwandesePatrioticFront(RPF),thepartythatgovernsRwandatoday,promisedtoreversethe
violent
historyofthepast;itpromisedto
overturn
apoliticalcultureof
violence,
unaccountable
government,
andexclusionandmarginalizationofthemajorityofthepopulation.Regrettably,Rwandaisnowfarlessfreethanitwaspriortojustbeforethegenocide.TheRPFhasestablishedapoliticalsystemthatmaintainsafalseappearanceofmulti-partydemocracybutdoesnotproviderealopportunityforpoliticaldialogueorcompetition.Rwanda'slawsmakeitimpossibleforindividualsandorganizationsotherthantheRPFtoparticipatemeaningfullyinpoliticsandtobuildthenationonbehalfofallRwan-dans.Rwandansdonot
have
opportunitiesformeaningfulpoliticalparticipationandcannotexercisetheirfundamentalrighttochooseandchange
government.
Instead,'whileRwandaholdsregularelections,theiroutcomesarepre-determined.Rwanda'spoliticalsystemdoesnotprovideopportunityforchecksandbalances.Theentiremachineryof
government
iscontrolledbytheHeadofState.Thelegislature,virtuallyallofwhosemembersbelongtotherulingparty,isarubberstampforthe
executive
andcomplieswithitseverydemand.Further,thejudiciarylacksindependence.Economic,socialandpoliticalpowerisconcentratedinthehandsofasmallgroupofofficialsanswerableonlytothePresident,whocontrolallinstitutionsofthestatefrombehindthescenes.Insum,theRwandan
Government
isnotaccountabletothepeopleofRwanda.
 
TheRPFmaintainsitsmonopolyofpoliticalpowerbymeansofrepressivelaws,unfairandillegaladministrativepractices,fear,intimidationandviolence.Administrative,lawenforcement,judicialandsecurityinstitutionsareusedtosuppresstheexerciseoffundamentalhumanrightsofcitizenswhoarenotmembersoftheRPF.Draconianrestrictionslimittheabilityofcivilsociety,includingthemedia,toholdgovernmentaccountable.Thegovernmentusesthesecurityservicestopersecuteopponentsandcriticsofthegovernment.Elementsofthesecurityservicesregularlyresorttoissuingfalsecharges,illegaldetentions,politically-motivatedprosecutions,imprisonmentofopponents,enforceddisappearances,andextra-judicialkillingsandotherformsofviolencetomaintaintheRPF'smonopolyofpower.Rwanda'spoorrecordofgovernanceenhancessocialpolarization,stemmingfromcleavagesdrivenbyperceptionofmarginalizationandexclusionbasedonclass,ethnicity,region,languageandorigin.Thegovernment'sfailuresresultinwidespreadandincreasingpoverty,especiallyamongtheruralpopulation,andperpetualconflict.Rwandaalsosuffersanendemicproblemofrefugees.IthasgrappledwitharmedinsurgencybygroupsbasedintheDemocraticRepublicofCongothatthegovernmenthasnotbeenabletodefeat.PresidentPaulKagamejustifiesthesedraconianrestrictionsontheexerciseofcivilandpoliticalrightsonthegroundsthattherestrictionsarenecessaryto preventmanipulationofethnicityandrecurrenceofgenocide.Asaresultoftheserestrictionsandviolationsofuniversalrightsandliberties,Rwanda's governmentlackspopularlegitimacy.Thisfailureoflegitimacyonthepartofthegovernmentpresentsgraveimplicationsforpeaceandstability.InspiteofthetraumaticexperiencesthatRwandanshaveexperiencedandcontinuetoendure,theysharecommonaspirationstoliveinpeace,freefromfearofbecomingvictimsofpowerstrugglesamongcompetingelites.Rwandansareeagertoworktomeettheirownneedsandtobecomeself-sufficient.Theylongtoliveinanationwhosegrowthisfocusedonensuringthateveryindividual, familyandcommunityhasequalaccesstothefullrangeofhumanrights,includingaccesstohealth,education,workorlandforfarming.Ourpeopleyearntoliveinfreedom,inastatethathonorsandrespectstheirinherentrights tohumandignity,humanrightsandtherighttodeterminetheirownfutureinfreedomandsecurity.Rwanda'srecoveryfromtheravagesofwarandgenocidehasbeenremarkable, butisevidentlynotsustainable.Freedom,peaceandeconomicandsocial developmentareintimatelylinked.Freedomistheultimateexpressionofhumandignityandequality.Freedomisessentialforhumanhappinessandwell-being.
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