Thursday, July 19, 2012

Join Never Again youth and Roméo Dallaire in signing a petition to bring home Omar Khadr. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Add your voice to a petition to bring Omar Khadr back to Canada.

As the Executive Director of Never Again International - Canada, a NGO dedicated to peace and human rights, I call upon the Canadian government to facilitate the immediate repatriation of Omar Khadr.

In a country known for its human rights record, the manner in which the case of Omar Khadr is being delayed is abhorrent.

Omar Khadr has been tried and incarcerated for an action for which he is not supposed to be internationally held criminally responsible.

Under the terms of a diplomatic plea deal that was negotiated in good faith, Canadian citizen Omar Khadr should have been repatriated to Canada. The lack of action on behalf of the government displays a fundamental lack of ethics. As a Canadian citizen and child soldier, Canada has a moral obligation to ensure that Omar Khadr is rehabilitated and reintegrated. If this case involved the prime minister’s own son or daughter, I question whether such a delay in justice would be prolonged. This calls into question the credibility of a government that refuses to respect human rights and international law and take action on an issue of fundamental importance.

When it comes to human rights, the Canadian government has an ethical and moral obligation to ensure Omar Khadr’s immediate return back to Canada.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Bearing Witness

For six long years, the region of Darfur has been a bloodbath and we, the world, have had a front row seat to this debacle that has clamed the lives of over 400,000 Darfurians and has uprooted over 2.5 million. But now, all that could change when the International Criminal Court will decide whether or not to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir whom is said to be directly responsible for the genocide taking place in Darfur. If the warrant is issued, al-Bashir would be the third head of state to be charged with crimes against humanity following Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic and Liberia's Charles Taylor.
Darfur of course, isn’t the only place where people are being killed and oppressed. For over a century, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has seen the darkest and brutal oppression by Belgian colonists killing and working to death millions of Congolese during the 1900’s. Now, as the conflict between the government and the rebels intensify, thousands of civilians are being uprooted and thousands more are dying from a lack of food, poor health, and violence. One of the most tragic aspects of the crisis in the DRC, are the thousands of women who are a target of sexual assaults by both rebels, the government soldiers, and even the U.N. peacekeepers who are supposed to protect them in the first place.
When I first started my activism for Darfur in 2006, I was sometimes overwhelmed with the magnitude of the violence in Darfur. But from I learned about past genocides like Rwanda, a deep-seeded anger bubbled up and I was determined that I would not be passive or ignorant while a genocide or any injustice was taking place. Last year was a very busy year with organizing and hosting a photo exhibition about Darfur, giving numerous presentations, and being able to go to Washington, D.C. (My second trip was for winning the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s essay contest) and meeting various individuals who are becoming the change they want to see in the world. What I have come to learn is that once a person become’s involved with a worthy cause, they can move mountains.
With a new President dedicated to change, this is a moment of truth not only for this nation, but the world over. Increasing pressure to those in power to use their influence and bring about peace in both the DRC and Darfur is absolutely vital. It is also important to support the work of the ICC to bring those responsible of crimes against humanity to justice. This would insure that if any rouge leader should think twice about committing genocide and war.
For the millions of people whom are suffering during never ending violence all over, we, the activist, have becoming a beacon for hope. Our efforts for peace and justice are very strong, since every human in this planet is equal. For those in power who talk the talk, it’s time to start walking the walk. Until that happens, ordinary people will, as Gandhi once said “be the change you want to see in the world.”

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Are You Ready for the Congo Challenge?

Imagine: Your life being measured by days, not years.

Imagine: The luxuries you once knew like clean water to bathe in, food to eat, and security are taken away.

Imagine: Every where you go, you witness poverty, hunger, and death.

Imagine: You are attacked just because you are a female.

For hundreds of thousands of women and girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this isn't imagination. This is real life. Since 1996, a deadly civil war has taken place against the government troops and rebels, which has lead to the deaths of over 5 million people from lack of food, diseases, and safety. This makes it the most deadly war since World War II. Although a peace agreement has been signed (elections were held in 2006) and the U.N. has sent the largest amount of peacekeepers, violence, disease, and, hunger are calming thousands of lives each month. There is another weapon that is used against civilians, mainly the women and girls: rape. This cruel and often deadly weapon, not only destroys lives but communities and even the country itself. The cases of rape by both government and rebel troops (and even U.N. peacekeepers) are in the hundreds of thousands. For most of us it's heartbreaking to learn about the daily tragedy befalling on the women of the DRC, and want to find a way to help. But the issue is so unbelievably horrifying and complicated (the DRC has experienced deadly conflicts for over a century) you might start to doubt if you can actually have an impact on the lives of the Congolese? Think about this: If any like-minded person starts by signing an online petition, attending a rally, writes letters to their leaders in the Congress and Senate and thousands of people are doing the something, then those actions become a strong voice against the crisis and THEN our elected Congressmen and Senators have to respond to our call. Like any movement, teamwork is one of the most vital tools available to make the cause gain more awareness. Here are a few tips that can help you out:

* Learn about the issue at hand. Books, magazines, newspapers, online websites are some of the best ways to get info.

* Tell your friends. Most likely they will become part of the cause.

* Plan a way to raise awareness and money by either hosting a movie night, car wash, or bake sale. Be creative!

* Write letters to your local newspaper on why the issue is important to you. While you’re at it, write to your Congressional leaders asking them to take action.

This upcoming March, Raise Hope for Congo is starting a new campaign called ''Are You Ready for the Congo Challenge?'' Go to to sign up and receive a list of things you can do to raise awareness, raising your voice, and raising the public profile. If we all take little actions like this, then just imagine how much of a difference we all can make to put an end to the misery for the millions of lives hanging by a thread in the DRC.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Alison Des Forges, Human Rights advocate, dies on a plane crash

This is a very sad day for both Rwanda and the world over. This past Thursday, Alison Des Forges, one of the world's leading experts on the Rwandan genocide was killed in a plane crash near Buffalo, New York among 50 other passengers. Ms. Des Forges had spent more than twenty years studying the history and culture of Central Africa and was a Senior Advisor for Human Rights Watch, which monitors human rights abuses worldwide. She was one of the few people to sound the alarm on Rwanda during the genocide in 1994 and pleaded with the State Department to block the radio signals, which was used by the Hutu extremist to urge listeners to kill the Tutsis. But her pleas fell on deaf ears. After the genocide, she returned to Rwanda and investigated what had happened which resulted in her book ''Leave None to Tell the Story'' outline the events during the genocide and how and why it happened. She wrote:

"This genocide resulted from the deliberate choice of a modern elite to foster hatred and fear to keep itself in power."

She was a key expert witness in several tribunals in Africa, Europe, and, Canada and has helped convit many top officials responsible in one of the bloodest mass killing in recent times. Ms. Des Forges devoted her life fighting for justice for those whom were silenced. But of course despite the tragedy, our work for a better and just world continues.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thousands of Rwandans protest over Kabuye's arrest

By Etienne Ntawigra and Melanie Tomsons

After Rwandans heard that Rose Kabuye, director general of state protocol, was arrested at Frankfurt's airport on Sunday, thousands of Kigali city residents were gathered yesterday in streets in protest against the arrest.

Despite the heavy rains, protests took place in different corners throughout Kigali, Rwanda's capital, and met at the German Embassy in Kiyovu, a suburb of Kigali, where the demonstrators were chanting "Free Rose!", "Free Rose!", "We want our Rose back".

A French inquiry in 2006 alleged that aides to Kagame were involved in the assassination of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, although the identity of the assassins has never been determined. Kabuye is the first Rwandan official arrested on this warrant. The killing of the president quickly plunged Rwanda into the 1994 genocide. Kagame's government has denied involvement and countered with evidence that France itself was deeply involved in the genocide, as France at the time backed the majority Hutu party in power. Since then, Rwanda has ceased diplomatic relations with France and has issued warrants for French officials it believes are implicated in the genocide, including former President Francois Mitterand.

Protests have continued today in different regions of the country where thousands of people, including villagers, were walking in streets in demonstrations against Kabuye's arrest and gathered in public places such as stadiums where they listened to the words of their local leaders.

The demonstrators were also asserting Rose Kabuye's innocence and insisted that she is one of brave people who stopped the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, therefore there is no reason to arrest her.

"Rose is innocent; she is ready to prove it"; "Germany shame on you! 70 years after the Holocaust, you arrest a woman who stopped the genocide"; "Why don't you arrest genocidaires on your soil such as a priest Wensislas Munyeshyaka and Munyandekwe" demonstrators touted highly on their placards.

Protestors condemn Germany that is currently home for Ignace Murwanashyaka, the leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDRL), an outfit composed of perpetrators of the 1994 genocide of Tutsis.

Many of Kigali residents listened carefully to the news on Monday to hear that Kabuye was arrested in the German city of Frankfurt as she arrived at the airport on state duty on Sunday. People could be heard in the markets animatedly discussing Rose's arrest in different places on Monday. Restaurants and buses were filled with the buzz of some people asking "What does France really want?", "We support our leaders, we don't want France to disturb us."

Some citizens remembered the indictments issued in 2006 by French Judge, Jean Louis Bruguiere, against nine senior government officials and made comments on that.

"How can Bruguiere indict the former members of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) that stopped the 1994 Tutsi genocide including Rose Kabuye?," wondered Alphonse Rukara a 47 year old as he got emerged from the Volcano bus park in central Kigali.

"We Rwandans strongly condemn the arrest of Rose Kabuye by the Germans; This shows the way those from the poor countries are humiliated by the so called rich countries," said Immaculate Ingabire, a veteran journalist who spoke on behalf of the citizens.

"Rose has no case to answer and she is ready to stand trial…all we ask is for her to get the justice she deserves because she is our hero," she added adamantly.

"What we request (is that) the French assure us of her security before they bring her back here," said Evanys Nyinawankusi, a 55-year old who said she had walked many kilometres in protest over Kabuye's arrest.

"Rose is a woman who deserves respect and honor, she has devoted her life to the restoration of the rights of Rwandans and women in particular; she is our leader and is really innocent… I can't imagine how those people arrested her over these erroneous and stupid allegations?" questioned Marie Louise Mukarutamu.

"Attacking our beloved leader means attacking all of us, we can't keep quiet as long as she is not back to our Rwanda. We believe and hope she will be free and sent to us as soon as possible," Mukarutamu added hopefully.

Rwandan Senator Aloysia Inyumba said that the arrest in Germany of Rwanda's Director of State Protocol, Rose Kayange Kabuye, is not about her alone but it is about Rwanda as a country.

"Rose is a hero and a liberator for this country so this is unfair. Again this does not end on an individual (Rose Kabuye) but it is about Rwanda as a country," Inyumba, who was part of the demonstrators at the German Embassy, underscored.

The peaceful demonstration, especially in Kigali, was held under a heavy deployment of riot police that controlled the masses. Protests that began on Monday in the afternoon are expected to continue and no one knows when they will stop. Some people think that they will end when she will be back to Rwanda.