Rwandan President Paul Kagame took centre stage on the sidelines of the European Development Day in Brussels where he lashed out at human rights records of his country during an interview with France24‘s Catherine Nicholson.
“It’s rubbish, it’s absolutely rubbish. Rwanda is completely different from what it was 25 years ago. In fact, maybe you need to be looking around in Europe, you are violating people’s rights when you have people being bundled and sent back to sink in the Medittarean and so on, and so many people demonstrating in your own countries. Why don’t you talk about your human rights than offloading everything on Rwanda,” Kagame said when he was asked about his assessment of Amnesty International’s Human Rights Report in the lead up to the 2017 election.
The report, which was released in 2017, accused Kagame’s government of clamping down on political opponents before and after the presidential elections, severe restrictions on freedoms of expression and association, as well as unlawful killings and unresolved disappearance cases.
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“I think it is just ridiculous, there is nothing like human rights minus these things we are talking about in terms of development. Development, schools, education and health and food security. Now the level of poverty has decreased almost by 60%.
“These human beings with improved lives and participating in that themselves to improve their own lives get lost in the whole list you are spewing out like what is in Rwanda is real hell. Forgetting the hell we have gone through that we stood against and sorted out when you were there just talking about more or less nonsense,” he said in the interview.
Kagame did not mince words after the EU Commissioner for Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, spoke about the EU’s “comprehensive approach” to having political dialogue on the respect of human rights with partners on all levels.
“You need to stop this superiority complex nonsense about human rights. You think you are the only ones who respect human rights, all others is [sic] about violating human rights. We’ve fought for human rights of our people much better than anyone including you who keep talking about this nonsense.
“Where we have taken our country from and where it is now speaks for itself. The rest of the stories just comes from this complex. These two worlds where there are people who know everything about human rights and all kinds of things and the other world where people don’t know. These are our human rights, the things we respect in our countries is not for you and it’s not for anybody, its for ourselves,” Kagame reacted to Mimica’s statement.
He also agreed with Nicholson that human rights is universal, however, anyone who believes in it should not be the judge of it.
“You don’t go telling the others what to do and what they should not do and what they are doing that is not to your satisfaction. I believe that you shouldn’t be there belittling Africans or leaders of Africa who are trying to do their best,” he explained.
Paul Kagame is one of the most outspoken African leaders who address the most unpleasant issues head-on. Despite his track record of boosting the economy of Rwanda and opening up the country for development, rights agencies have also accused his government of denying opponents freedom of association, assembly and expression, enforced disappearances among others.
Watch the video of the interview below.