Those who make a living from understanding real meaning of terms, such as divisionism and genocidal ideology, will help me here. As me I don’t, I only refer to the latter in a much more practical sense, i.e. in the way their right or wrong interpretation, depending on which side one looks at them from, affects people.
I recently looked at the list of charges that the Rwandan government through its prosecutor is accusing of Victoire Ingabire, chairperson of FDU-Inkingi. As a reminder the accused has been imprisoned in Kigali since 14 October 2010, after months of intimidation and harassment and a spell in prison in April of last year. The six charges of accusation are namely
1) Forming an armed group with the aim of destabilizing the country,
2) Complicity in acts of terrorism,
3) Conspiracy against the government by use of war and terrorism,
4) Inciting the masses to revolt against the government,
5) Genocide ideology and
The hearing started on 05 September 2011. One evidence that the prosecutor brought forward before the court refers to a declaration Victoire Ingabire made on 16/1/10 at the Genocide memorial in Kigali – Gisozi. She spoke in Kinyarwanda, and Aimable Mugara took on the task of translating in English what she said at the time. Let’s read her public announcement at her first day in Rwanda, after 16 years of living in exile in The Netherlands with her family.
“I would like to say that today, I came back to my country after 16 years, and there was a tragedy that took place in this country. We know very well that there was a genocide, extermination. Therefore, I could not have returned after 16 years to the same country after such actions took place. They took place when I was not in the country. I could not have fallen asleep without first passing by the place where those actions took place. I had to see the place. I had to visit the place.
“The flowers I brought with me are a sign of remembrance from the members of my party FDU and its executive committee. They gave me a message to pass by here and tell Rwandans that what we wish for is for us to work together, to make sure that such a tragedy will never take place again. That is one of the reasons why the FDU Party made a decision to return to the country peacefully, without resorting to violence. Some think that the solution to Rwanda’s problems is to resort to armed struggle. We do not believe that shedding blood resolves problems. When you shed blood, the blood comes back to haunt you.
“Therefore, we in FDU wish that all we Rwandans can work together, join our different ideas so that the tragedy that befell our nation will never happen again. It is clear that the path of reconciliation has a long way to go. It has a long way to go because if you look at the number of people who died in this country, it is not something that you can get over quickly. But then again, if you look around you realize that there is no real political policy to help Rwandans achieve reconciliation. For example, if we look at this memorial, it only stops at people who died during the Tutsi genocide. It does not look at the other side – at the Hutus who died during the genocide. Hutus who lost their people are also sad and they think about their lost ones and wonder, ‘When will our dead ones be remembered?’
“For us to reach reconciliation, we need to empathize with everyone’s sadness. It is necessary that for the Tutsis who were killed, those Hutus who killed them understand that they need to be punished for it. It is also necessary that for the Hutus who were killed, those people who killed them understand that they need to be punished for it too. Furthermore, it is important that all of us, Rwandans from different ethnic groups, understand that we need to unite, respect each other and build our country in peace.
“It is important that all of us, Rwandans from different ethnic groups, understand that we need to unite, respect each other and build our country in peace.” – Victoire Ingabire
“What brought us back to the country is for us to start that path of reconciliation together and find a way to stop injustices so that all of us Rwandans can live together with basic freedoms in our country.”
I had most of the difficulties trying to find in above text some even far related invocations or references which could direct the prosecutor to any of the crimes Victoire Ingabire is accused of. My efforts remained futile. I had only to guess. Since she is clearly talking of Tutsis and Hutus, the two main Rwandan ethnic groups, and what happened in 1994, or before and even after, I had only to use my imagination and come to some conclusion that she must’ve stated something that the Rwandan government did not want to hear publicly.
Victoire Ingabire was and still is publicly requesting punishment for all the criminals who saddened Rwandans (Tutsis as well as Hutus), and sincere reconciliation among citizens from all ethnic groups. Unless the Rwandan government and its ruling party – Rwandan Patriotic Front, don’t want any of these for the population, there would be serious doubts about what they have been preaching inside the country and to the rest of the world on these specific issues.
It would then be time from donor countries, US and UK, and others, to ask Paul Kagame and his government, what he has been using the billions of $ and £ they have given to Rwanda so far since July 1994, if people like Victoire Ingabire can be imprisoned for demanding fairer justice and the establishment of solid foundations for a sustainable Rwanda.
What clearly emerge from the accusation, and the evidence supposed to support it, is that all the money provided to improve justice or reconcile Rwandans has been wasted. It has not been allocated where it should. More accountability is required from both Kagame’s government and donor’s side which apparently has let itself being deceived for so long.