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General News    H2'ed 3/6/10

Kinzer compares free speech in Rwanda to yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre

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Former New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer, writing in the London Guardian, on March 2, 2010, paraphrased "Rwandan leaders" when comparing free speech in the African Republic of Rwanda to yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Kinzer is the author of "A Thousand Hills, Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed it," the story of how former General, now incumbent President Paul Kagame seized power in Rwanda during the Rwanda Genocide of 1994.
Critics characterize him as Kagame's biographer, apologist, and publicist.
After praising Kagame, but also noting Amnesty International's 02.18.2010 release "Intimidation of Rwandan Opposition Parties Must End," Kinzer wrote:
Many people in developed countries look suspiciously, as they should, on leaders who impose restrictions on free speech. Even in the US, though, it is illegal to cry "fire!" in a crowded theatre. That is what Rwandan leaders accuse the foreign-based opposition of doing fanning hatreds that could explode into another genocide. The opposition, in reply, insists it is merely speaking truths Kagame does not wish to hear.
The opposition has also stated that the ongoing suppression of human rights in Rwanda is far more likely to trigger another outbreak of violence than free speech and the inclusion of all Rwandans in the country's political and economic opportunities.
Frank Habineza, interim Chair, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

Habineza has called on Obama, Hillary Clinton, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and all those who, last November, supported Rwanda's acceptance into the Commonwealth, to speak out for democracy in Rwanda "before it's too late."

 

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Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached (more...)
 

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