Rwanda: Will the US extradite Munyakazi for speech crime?
KPFA Weekend News Anchor Sharon Sobotta: Dr. Léopold Munyakazi is in the custody of ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in the state of Maryland, where he is very close to being extradited to Rwanda for alleged crimes related to the 1994 massacres that came to be known as the Rwandan Genocide. However, the Rwandan government did not accuse Munyakazi of genocide crime until after he gave several talks on university campuses in which he said the Rwandan massacres were not genocide but rather, a class conflict.
KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to the Reverend Doctor Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa about the Munyakazi case. Ntagengwa is a priest and the author of Overcoming Cycles of Violence in Rwanda: Ethical Leadership and Ethnic Justice.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Reverend Doctor Ntagengwa, I understand that you were able to speak to Dr. Munyakazi very briefly today. Could you give us an update?
Rev. Dr. Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa: Yes, I did speak to him briefly today. First of all, I would like to say even though he's being deported, he's in detention, he has high spirits. But one thing that he decided to do since last night is to go on hunger strike so that they give him his documents. So, I don't know where those documents are but it would be very very important for those documents to get to him. So he's begging to have those documents. So that's why he's on hunger strike.
KPFA: What is in the documents that he's been unable to receive, and why are they so important to him?
RDJBN: It's everything that is pertaining to his case, his immigration case. His case of these allegations against him about genocide. In the time he spent in prison in Rwanda, every document he had there for people who signed for him that they are testifying that he helped them one way or another. Everything is in those packets. So he would like to have them, to look at them, to use them when he's preparing his defense.
When he asked for them before, he wanted to write a kind of supporting statement on the brief his lawyer had prepared. So all that he feels like these documents are very dear to him, very important, for pulling out any document that he collected to have as a proof.
KPFA: Dr. Munyakazi said, in these talks he gave on college campuses, he said that the massacres in Rwanda in 1994 were class conflict rather than ethnic conflict, because Rwandans share the same language and culture and marry each other. Do you agree?
RDJBN: What I would say, the statement that Tutsi, Hutu and Twa intermarry, they live next to each other . . .they have the same culture, they speak the same language, they eat the same food. There is no Tutsiland, no Hutuland, there is no Twaland. That's true. The international community, the UN, decided this was a genocide, but it's a debate. It's being debated. One can say yes or no, but since the law, the international community, the UN has said it's a genocide, it would be hard to say it was not genocide.
KPFA/Sobotta: And that was the Reverend Dr. Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa speaking to KPFA’s Ann Garrison.
Reports on Dr. Leopold Munyakazi’s case can be found on the websites of the San Francisco Bay View, the Black Star News and the Black Agenda Report, and updates will be posted to those sites soon.