At this time of the year, families across the world come together. Whatever has been happening in personal lives, people with some close connection look forward to this period to be united and share. But particular circumstances can prohibit such reunion of family members.
In the case of Ms Victoire Ingabire, Chair of FDU-Inkingi and icon of democratic struggle in Rwanda, those who have been following her for quite sometime know well that she cannot be with her family this time. That prompted me to write to Hon Malcom Riftin, my local Member of Parliament, to whom for some time I have been explaining my concerns about Rwandan government’s human rights record for him to forward them to the UK government.
As people in normal settings, particularly those in political positions, celebrate the festive season – Christmas and New Year, it is important to make them aware that there are others whose conditions are such that normality appears to be a luxury. I have reproduced below the letter I wrote to highlight to my MP the plight of Ms Victoire Ingabire and possibly inspire anyone who feels concerned about her rights to write to their Member of Parliament or Congress.
13th December 2010
Hon Malcolm Rifkin MP
House of Commons
Dear Hon Malcolm Rifkin,
I am writing to raise awareness on the case of a Rwandan mother who on January 16th, 2010 went back to her country of origin, with an intention of exercising her full human rights, and today she finds herself in prison.
The mother in question, Ms Victoire Ingabire, has three children. When her elder daughter Raissa heard her mum was imprisoned in Rwanda on October 14th, 2010 she approached the Rwandan embassy in the Netherlands where the family has been living for the last sixteen years. But she was denied any help to get her mother freed.
Victoire Ingabire, being as well leader of FDU-Inkingi, a political party that the Rwandan government fears could remove it from power if legally authorised to operate, has been accused of threatening national security then jailed through an ongoing judiciary process which seems not to care about any of her rights for fair justice.
As one of your constituents I am requesting your intervention before the Secretary of State in charge of Commonwealth and Foreign Affairs to get that woman and all other Rwandan political leaders who are in prison for the only sin of expressing or not dissent views about the government policies. UK could use its leverage position as one of the main financial supporters of the regime to put pressure for their release.
I am confident I can count on your prompt contribution to improving conditions of these Rwandan political prisoners of whom some have already spent sixteen years in prison.
I am looking forward to reading your feedback.