Rwandans ask UK Members of Parliament to follow through British prime minister’s new foreign policy on dictators

On February 25th, 2011, a group of Rwandans living in UK organised a public protest in front of the UK Parliament. They requested from Members of the British Parliament to put pressure on Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda, for the unconditional release of all political prisoners held in Rwandan prisons. Among the detainees are

  • Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Chairperson of FDU-Inkingi in prison since October 14th, 2010
  • Me Bernard Ntaganda, Chairperson of PS-Imberakuri in prison since June 24th, 2010 and sentenced to 4 years in prison
  • Mr Deogratias Mushayidi, President of PDP-Imanzi sentenced to life imprisonment
  • Dr Theoneste Niyitegetse, former presidential candidate of 2003 elections imprisoned since then
  • Charles Ntakirutinka Founder of PDR-Ubuyanja in prison for more than 10 years
  • Journalist Agnes Uwimana Nkusi, sentenced to 17 years in prison
  • Journalist Saidati Mukakibibi, sentenced to 7 years in prison
  • And thousands more detained in inhuman conditions in Rwandan prisons for their political opinions

Participants to the protest also denounce politically motivated sentences of 24 and 20 years in prison made in abstentia by the High Military Court in Kigali against General Kayumba Nyamwasa, Colonel Patrick Karegeya, Dr Théogène Rudasingwa et Dr Gerald Gahima.

David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister publicly admitted recently in Kuwait that Britain and the West made “false choices” to support oppressive regimes that trampled on human rights. ‘As recent events have confirmed, denying people their basic rights does not preserve stability – rather the reverse,” said the Prime Minister. As a logic consequence of that new reality and understanding, protesters would like to see Britain translating such change of foreign policy by stopping immediately their unconditional support to Paul Kagame’s regime. It has abused Rwandans and other populations of the Great Lakes region in the millions. They would also want to see Britain use its leverage position towards the Rwandan government to push for political reforms before it becomes too late for peaceful change.

Asked by BBC World Service how they intended to proceed since in the past Britain has never considered officially Rwanda to be a dictatorship, Ambrose Nzeyimana, who represented the protesters, replied that Rwandans knew too well how oppressive and atrocious Kagame’s regime was. He added that they were planning to work with individual members of parliament to get the issue tabled during question time for ministers at the House of Commons. Such approach has successfully worked in the past. They don’t see why it wouldn’t work this time; particularly when one takes into account social uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa against dictatorial regimes.

 

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