AFRICANGLOBE – Paul Kagame described the decision by Britain to arrest General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake as “contemptible”, and said Gen Karenzi Karake was a “freedom fighter who has brought us where we are as a people”.
“Absolute arrogance and contempt is the only basis for this arrest,” said Kagame.
“They must have mistaken him for an illegal immigrant. The way they treat illegal immigrants is the way they treat all of us. Black people have become targets for shooting practice. We cannot accept that people treat us this way just because they can.”
Gen Karenzi Karake was stopped on Saturday at Heathrow, after travelling to London on “official business”. He is sought by Spain, who in 2008 issued a European Arrest Warrant for him to face trial, alongside 39 other Rwandan officials.
They are accused of a series of war crimes in the period from October 1990 to July 2002 — a time when Rwanda was ripped apart by genocidal violence which spread across the border into the DRC.
A former head of military intelligence during the conflict, he is under investigation for alleged involvement in genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and terrorism. Nine Spaniards were killed from April 1994 to June 2000, and their families have brought about the case — alongside Rwandan victims’ families.
Two Britons died in the same period — Chris Mannion, a 43-year-old missionary, who was killed on July 1, 1994; and Graham Turnbull, a 34-year-old UN aid worker, who died on February 4, 1997.
Gen Karenzi Karake was set to be sent to Spain yesterday afternoon, following a hearing at Westminster Magistrate’s Court. Kagame said the UK authorities had informed him they had a legal obligation to extradite the general.
And yesterday morning, speaking at a ceremony in Rwanda’s parliament, he was visibly enraged at the events in Europe.
He reminded his audiences of what he termed an attempt to “wipe us off the earth” during the 1994 genocide, adding, the country will not accept “this rubbish.”
Kagame, who fought side by side with Gen Karenzi Karake in the 1990-4 war that saw the RPF seize power and stop the genocide, said his intelligence chief’s arrest is intended to “inconvenience and destabilise Rwanda”.
“How on earth can we put our lives on the line to save our country and our people, and at the end of the day we are killers?”
The president Kagame saw Gen Karenzi Karake’s arrest as a highly-politicised attempt to shift the focus away from the international failure to stop the genocide, and instead to focus on the Rwandans themselves. He accused the authorities of being part of a plot to “cover their responsibility by saying it’s not us, it is savages of Africa who killed each other”.
He declared that it was “history repeating itself in a different form,” as “a continuation of slavery, of colonialism, of violence and bigotry.” He added: “It shows nothing but total contempt they have for Rwanda and Africans. “Being pushed against the wall builds resilience and anger. Left with nothing else, build on that spirit and come back in full strength.”
“We are proud of the spirit of resilience.”
Kagame said no “decent person in Africa or anywhere else can accept this,” warning, “this is not the first time, and it won’t be the last.”