There is nothing like experience. When I first landed in the West, fleeing Africa, after my home country Rwanda was savaged by war, there is one understanding I got aware of firsthand. Ordinary Westerners are fed with filtered and misrepresentative news about what raw African realities generally are, and particularly in the case of tragic events in specific countries such as Rwanda or Democratic Republic of Congo.
Despite the blame developing countries put generally on the West for their structural problems, either social or economic, Western leaders are relatively democratic, as their political survival depends on what the public thinks of them. They may be pursuing policies detrimental to the developing world (meaning citizens and not necessarily local political leaders who may be accomplices), if they loose the confidence of the public, i.e. their electorate, this becomes the ultimate end of their political career as they may have wanted it to be.
A list of countries top the group of those which have been effectively supporting financially Paul Kagame’s government at the point that if for any particular reason such backing stopped, Rwandan public services wouldn’t be able to function normally. More than 50% of Rwandan government budget come from external aid. Countries keeping the Rwandan government afloat include US, UK, The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, etc. There are also international institutions, such EU, backing Rwanda financially.
Though abuse of human rights has reached an intolerable level in the Great Lakes region of Africa, particularly in Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, nothing seems to bother Western governments which are financing Paul Kagame, the main destabilising factor of the whole region.
In order to change the public opinion in these countries I would like you to invite to read carefully the following letter, personalise, then send it to your representative at the parliament of your government.
Call for Immediate Release of Ms Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and other Rwandan political prisoners
I write to request your urgent intervention to help release Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Chairperson of FDU-Inkingi opposition party in Rwanda, with no more conditions and also free all other hundreds of Rwandan political prisoners.
Ms Victoire Ingabire is a mother of three children. Her family lives in The Netherlands. She returned to Rwanda in January 2010 after sixteen years of exile. Since her arrival she has been consistently publicly intimidated and harassed by the Rwandan government institutions. In April 2010 she was imprisoned then released on bail.
FDU-Inkingi, Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s political party, and other parties from the opposition have been refused their registration to participate to the August 9th, 2010 presidential elections, in which Paul Kagame allocated himself 93% of the vote.
Ms Victoire Ingabire was re-arrested and immediately incarcerated on October 14th, 2010. She has been detained in inhuman and humiliating conditions, handcuffed day and night, 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.
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and many other advocacy organizations have for several years pointed to institutionalized abuse of civil rights in Rwanda, where any dissent voice is immediately crashed violently.
Opposition leaders are 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 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 UN report released on October 1st on crimes committed in Democratic Republic of Congo documents atrocities including acts which could be qualified as genocide in front of a court, and of which Paul Kagame forces are responsible.
With the help of his strong lobby and PR machineries particularly backed by powerful personalities in US and UK, the Rwandan president has been so far capable of remaining unpunished despite his significant and irrefutable responsibility in the millions of victims that his criminal ventures have caused in Rwanda and the whole Great Lakes region.
Ms Victoire Ingabire politician case is the latest in Paul Kagame’s strategy of remaining in power indefinitely unchallenged peacefully and democratically.
Our government has committed to support Rwanda at a high cost and without any good value of what citizens of this country are giving away in terms of their taxes. This allocation has been so far distributed to Kagame’s government without questioning its records particularly on human rights grounds.
At the time when our government and people are living under drastic budget cuts in different areas of their welfare, it should objectively be the moment to use the financial leverage we have as a nation to put strict and new conditions on our country’s assistance to Rwanda.
These conditions would include:
- Immediate release of Ms Victoire Ingabire, all Rwandan political prisoners, and other prisoners without judiciary files, elderly and seriously ill.
- Opening up political space and allow registration of political parties of the opposition
- Putting in place a Truth, Reconciliation Commission and a Rwandan National Dialogue
- Agreeing to form a Transitional Government of National Unity to prepare democratic and truly inclusive and transparent elections
If you could divert some attention to this emergency effort to end the abuse towards a courageous woman in Rwanda, you would be serving a significant cause.
This is in the wider context of Kagame’s outrage at being in effect indicted for genocide by the UN report leaked last August, forcing an official release October 1. It is also in the context of an ominous Rwandan troop build-up and displacement of refugees from North Kivu which is ongoing.
Hoping to count on your prompt appreciation of the seriousness of prevailing situation in Rwanda, I look forward to getting your rapid intervention towards our government on the matter.