McKinney Urges Reno To Get All The Facts
"The United States must never become a safe haven for war
criminals," said McKinney
August 10, 2000
Washington - Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), a member
of the International Relations Committee and Ranking Member of the
International Operations and Human Rights Subcommittee, recently
issued an urgent warning to Attorney General Janet Reno to fully
investigate allegations of gross violations of human rights in considering
a former Prime Minister's petition for asylum.
McKinney has learned that Pierre Celestin Rwigema has fled Rwanda
and may seek asylum in the United States despite wide-spread and
credible reports of gross violations of human rights. These violations
include crimes against humanity and genocide, that were allegedly
committed by the government of Rwanda during Mr. Rwigema's tenure
as Prime Minister.
A joint letter from McKinney and Congressman Christopher H. Smith,
Chair of the International Operations and Human Rights Subcommittee,
raises numerous human rights concerns including an International
Rescue Committee (IRC) study. The study showed that at least 1.7
million people died needlessly in the past 24 months due in part
to Rwanda's military occupation of Eastern Congo.
A March 2000 report from Amnesty International (AI) stated, "The
year 1999 started with one of the largest massacres by the RCD and
allied troops from Rwanda and Burundi at Makobola in South-Kivu
province. The RCD, together with Rwandese and Burundian forces,
then reportedly set on the local population shooting at any local
person they saw."
As McKinney stated in the letter to Reno, "The Makobola massacre
is merely illustrative of the continuing pattern of horrendous abuses
committed by the Rwandan government. Internationally respected non-government
organizations have uniformly condemned the human rights abuses against
citizens of Rwanda and neighboring DRC by the Rwandan government."
"In addition," the letter continues, "we believe Mr. Rwigema may
have important information about continuing gross violations of
human rights in Rwanda. We hope and trust that appropriate United
States government officials will make diligent efforts to obtain
this information and to ensure that it is given proper weight in
the development of U.S. policy toward Rwanda and in assessing his
right to asylum in this country."
"The United States must never become a safe haven for war criminals,"
McKinney continued, "and if he is complicit in these crimes, he
should in no way be considered for asylum in this or any other nation
that holds democracy and human rights sacred."