Rwanda political prisoners nominated for Sakharov Prize 2012

European Parliament receives among nominations for the international Sakharov Prize edition 2012 three renown Rwanda political prisoners

Members of European Parliament Willy  Meyer,  Rosa  Estaràs,  Santiago  Fisas,  María Muñiz, Ana Miranda and 37 other MEPs have nominated three renown Rwanda political prisoners, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Deogratias Mushayidi, and Bernard Ntaganda for the international Sakharov Prize edition 2012.

Other persecuted personalities or groups among the nominees include Ales Bialiatski (Belarus), Joseph Francis (Pakistan), Pussy Riot represented by Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina (Russia), Nasrin Sotoudeh (Iran),  and Jafar Panahi (Iran). 

Who is Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov, or what does mean the international prize which bears his name? He was a Soviet nuclear physicist, dissident and human rights activist. Born on May 21, 1921 and died on December 14, 1989. He gained renown as the designer of the Soviet Union’s Third Idea, a codename for Soviet development of thermonuclear weapons. Sakharov was an advocate of civil liberties and civil reforms in the Soviet Union. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975. The Sakharov Prize, which is awarded annually by the European Parliament for people and organizations dedicated to human rights and freedoms, is named in his honor.

The following is the text which accompanies nominations for each of the three Rwandan political prisoners as presented by their MEPs supporters. 

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza (Rwanda)

Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire

Rwanda  has  witnessed,  during  recent  decades,  a  cycle  of  systematic  violence  aimed  at excluding  a  great  part  of  the  population  from  the  governance  of  the  country. Cleavages  in Rwandan  society,  both  of  ethnic  origin  or  based  on  regionalism,  have  brought  about disastrous effects on the country and its population.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza (Rwanda) was forced into exile in the Netherlands, following the Rwandan  genocide.  She very  quickly became  engaged  in  community  life. Ms Ingabire became  a  founding  member  of  the  Contact  non-profit  organization,  then  of  Dialogue  and Charity Actions where she was co-Director until 2000. She was also co-Director of URAHO, an  organization  of  Rwandan  women  exiled  in  the  Netherlands  and  was  also  a  founding member of the PRO JUSTITIA – Rwanda, then CEO of the ZWALU association, a platform gathering  all  expatriate  women  in  the  Netherlands.  Later  on she  helped  in  the  creation  of HARAMBE, also a platform for African women in the same country.

Simultaneously Ms Ingabire was an active sponsor of the Inter-Rwandan Dialogue, an effort to bring together Rwandans of all ethnic origins in order to discuss the future of their country. Ms Ingabire went back to Rwanda on 16 January 2010, in order to run for the presidential elections to be held in August. She was not only banned from participating in those elections but was also detained in October 2010 and charged with attempts against State security and espousing a genocide ideology, a crime defined by the UN human rights Committee – as well as  by  the  majority  of  organizations  for  the  protection  of the same –  as  an  infringement  of  liberty.  She  is  currently  being  kept  at  the  infamous  central  prison  of  Kigali.  Before being arrested Ms Ingabire was subject to even worse humiliations by the regime’s security forces.

After she announced her intention to run for the presidential elections, her aged mother, living in  the  Netherlands,  was  charged  with  genocide  and  condemned  in  absentia  to  a  heavy imprisonment term. Ms  Ingabire  is  a  symbolic  example  of  peaceful  combat  for  the  defence  of  citizens`fundamental  rights.  Her innermost conviction affirms that only a nation  living  in reconciliation will be able to put an end to the political culture of exclusion and violence that has defined the history of Rwanda for far too many years.

Déogratias  Mushayidi  (Rwanda)

Deo Mushayidi

Mushayidi was  born  in  1961  at  Sake  in  South-East  Rwanda.  Mr Mushayidi is a Tutsi who escaped the genocide, during which he lost many members of his family. Albeit being himself a victim, he refused to caution the deadly crimes committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the Tutsi movement in power in Rwanda since 1994. A former representative of that military-political movement in Switzerland from 1990 to 1994, and even having brilliant prospects within the RPF, it was shocking news when Mr Mushayidi resigned from his post of RPF assistant Secretary General. He condemned the army of that movement, which  boasted that it  had  stopped the Tutsi  killings, for itself  becoming  a war machine  aimed  at  slaughtering  Hutu  communities  having  nothing  to  do  with  Tutsi extermination.

In Belgium, where he is a refugee, Mr Mushayidi has worked actively in favour of a dialogue among Rwandans of all ethnic origins. Having been kidnapped in Burundi in March 2010, Mr Mushayidi was deported to Rwanda against all international conventions. At the conclusion of a trial without any witnesses for the prosecution  he  was sentenced  to  life  imprisonment  for  attempts  against  the security  of  the State as a result of his articles and his political views. While returning to Africa to obtain official recognition of his political party in Rwanda, the Covenant for People’s Defense Pact (PDP Imanzi), Mr Mushayidi was aware of the risks he was running.

Bernard Ntaganda  (Rwanda)

Bernard Ntaganda

Ntaganda was  born  in  1969  in  the  township  of  Ntongwe  (Gitarama). Beginning in his youth Mr Ntaganda was spurred on by love for his brethren, and the defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms. On this basis he made the choice to study law. After secondary school he began his political career. Mr Ntaganda was appointed assistant Mayor in charge of judicial and political affairs in his native township. At that time he was 21 years old. With the arrival of a multi-party system  in  1991,  he  became  a  member  of  the  Social  Democratic  Party. Mr Ntaganda was chosen as head of his party in the National University of Rwanda (1993), then at the Gitarama prefecture and afterwards as a mem ber of the PSD political bureau (2001-2008).

On  14 December  2008  Mr  Ntaganda  took  the  initiative  of  convening  in  Kigali  numerous colleagues of the democratic opposition. Together, they carried out a critical assessment of the political situation in Rwanda. They remarked on the absence of an  opening  in the  political arena, non-respect of human rights and the absence of an independent justice system, absence of freedom of expression, drastic inequality at the economic level, and absence of a project of society to overcome it and provide an answer to the people’s basic needs.

Following  multiple  attempts  to  neutralise  his  party,  on  24  June  2010,  the  RPF  sent  Mr Ntaganda  to  prison.  This  was  the  same  date  that  candidatures  to  the  presidency  of  the Republic  (elections  being  called  for 9  August  2010)  had  to  be  registered.  During his imprisonment, he was regularly beaten and held in total isolation. On 14 October 2010, Mr Ntaganda had to be taken to intensive  care  due to torture inflicted  on  him. Despite the  illtreatment  inflicted  on him,  as  well  as  on  other responsible  officers  of  his  party  and  of  the democratic opposition, the democratic youth IMBERAKURI want to show that the seeds of democracy sown by their president are alive and growing.

On April 22, 2012, Mr Ntaganda was sentenced, with no possibility of appeal, to 4 years in prison for the mere fact of having founded an opposition political party.

Source: European Parliament

Advertisements

What is your opinion about this?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s