It is amazing what can come from adversity. It is not always the expected. The imprisonment of Victoire Ingabire, leader of FDU-Inkingi, a Rwandan political party opposed to the regime of Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda, is so much galvanising Rwandans in the diaspora, all ethnic groups inclusively, that the latter will be himself surprised by the boomerang effect of his action.
The more the president of Rwanda demonstrates his unwillingness to more openness towards a democratic Rwandan society, the more there are people who are ready to show him that this shouldn’t be the case.
Friday 29/10/10 in front of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, a group of Rwandans and Ugandans displayed banners to the attention of the London public, which explained some of the persistent and current issues Rwanda experiences because of Paul Kagame’s dictatorial regime.
The objective of the demonstration was to request immediate release of Victoire Ingabire and other Rwandan political prisoners such as Deo Mushayidi, Charles Ntakirutinka and Me Bernard Ntaganda.
An open letter of which a copy is reproduced below and which was addressed to the Rt. Hon. William Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, was delivered to his office after the demonstration. Many leaflets about Victoire Ingabire and her democratic fight in Rwanda were also distributed to the passing-by public.
An immediate and positive outcome of the demonstration was that participants decided to support actively the release of Victoire Ingabire by initiating different actions including a monthly public protest in London, this until she becomes free out of Kagame’s prison.
Knowing that the UK department for international development is the main British executive agency to distribute the country’s budget allocated to other nations, it was agreed that the next demonstration would be held at its location. Provisional date and time for the event are Friday 26/11/10 from 12.00 to 15.00. News that other participants from other places in UK and countries would like to join were welcome.
By imprisoning Victoire Ingabire, Paul Kagame may have wished to destroy Rwandans’ aspirations to democracy. Instead what is emerging from such injustice inflicted to a woman who has always only preached unity, reconciliation, freedom, democracy, justice and good governance for her country, is an unstoppable determination from more and more Rwandans to get rid of a dictatorship responsible of millions of victims in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region, this as soon as possible.
Among Rwandans living in UK, I had sensed such determination only a few years back, when some of their members, had been arrested and imprisoned in London at the initiative of Paul Kagame’s government. The community stood up as one, fought back, and got them released. This time around, the Rwandan president is warned, they are going to get Victoire Ingabire released soon.
October 29th, 2010
Open Letter to The Rt. Hon. William Hague MP
Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
Call for Immediate Release of Ms Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and other Rwandan political prisoners
On this day of October 29th, 2010, we citizens from the Great Lakes region, particularly from Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, living in the UK, and our British friends, are gathered in front of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London, to call upon your government to use its influence on the Rwandan regime led by President Paul Kagame, for an immediate release of Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Chairperson of FDU-Inkingi opposition party in Rwanda, with no more conditions and the release of all other Rwandan political prisoners.
Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza was arrested and immediately incarcerated on October 14th. She has been detained in inhuman and humiliating conditions, handcuffed 24 hours, and denied any sleeping item. The longer she stays under the mercy of Paul Kagame’s prison guards, the more we become very concerned that she may be treated and incapacitated like the former Head of State, Mr. Pasteur Bizimungu.
The alleged crimes for Victoire Ingabire’s imprisonment are seemingly politically motivated charges of forming a terrorist organization (Coalition of Democratic Forces as an alleged military wing of FDU-Inkingi). She denies the accusations and has pleaded not guilty explaining that she was only being imprisoned for being a persistent critic of Paul Kagame’s government.
We are convinced that your urgent intervention will help defuse the current political crisis in the country and help achieve sustainable peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Contrary to the official line in Kigali, political, social and economic policies of post Rwandan genocide have divided the country along ethnic lines as never before.
As you may be aware, genuine opposition political parties that have challenged the Rwandan Patriotic Front Led Rwandan Government have undergone serious and dangerous trials. It was blocked from participating in the recently concluded Presidential elections, which the incumbent run with stooge candidates and later awarded himself 93%.
The Government refused to register opposition parties to participate. Their leaders were either killed or imprisoned. Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, Vice President of the Green Democratic Party, was assassinated and found decapitated on 14th July 2010, till now his killers have not faced justice and there are no signs of on-going investigations despite the fact that the UN Secretary General, EU, France and Canada called for investigations.
The United Democratic Forces-FDU Inkingi and many of its members have been imprisoned or released on bail. In April 2010 the party leader, Ms. Victoire Victoire Umuhoza, was bailed out of jail and kept since then under extended house arrest. She had never been given a chance to defend herself in a court of law.
The Founding President of The Social Party Imberakuri, Maître Bernard Ntaganda is in prison since 24th June 2010. He is in critical health conditions and has been admitted at King Faycal Hospital for treatment. He is reported to be losing sight and to be paralyzed due to ill-treatment in the Kigali Maximum Prison known as “1930”.
The vicious cycle of political violence in Rwanda has been due to a lack of a system for a peaceful competition for and transfers of power between the political elites. Your government can help Rwandans take a commitment to make sure that it does not happen again. Justice is needed for the country to achieve genuine reconciliation and sustainable development. To have sustainable peace in Rwanda, there is a strong need of creating political space that enables a peaceful process of transfer and competition for power. We call for a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission and a Rwandan National Dialogue.
Many ordinary people are fleeing their country at a time when prominent members of the political elite are fleeing for their lives. We fear therefore that the present management of the political system has the potential to lead to another cycle of violence. This must be stopped immediately; UK government and other nations in the international community can prevent this. It should not be like the 1994 Genocide, which was a result of extreme ethnic radicalization as Rwanda is now heading to.
We request you to impress upon the President of Rwanda to immediately release all political prisoners: Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Maître Bernard Ntaganda, Mr. Deo Mushayidi, Mr. Charles Ntakirutinka, Ms. Seraphine Mukamana, Mr. Andrew Muganwa plus many others and also allow political parties that are critical of the regime (the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda and FDU-Inkingi) to register and exercise their full political rights and let the legally recognized leader of Social Party Imberakuri, Maître Bernard Ntaganda, manage his party without Government interference.
On behalf of participants
Public Event Organiser
Organising for Africa