… even one day in prison is too much if you haven’t done anything reprehensible.
During the early days of Victoire Ingabire’s imprisonment, I remember discussing with someone, asking how long they thought she would stay in prison.
The answer the person gave me was, “even one day in prison is too much if you haven’t done anything reprehensible.”
The leader of FDU-Inkingi, main political opposition to the Rwandan President Paul Kagame, was officially detained as a political prisoner on 14 October 2010.
On January 9, 2010, I had traveled from London to her farewell event in Brussels. We had gathered on a snowy day of the Belgian winter.
Despite the bad weather we were almost 500 Rwandans and friends of Rwanda in the hall that had come from different corners of the world.
Nobody had paid for us to be there, especially those who had come from afar. It was only particularly important to be part of history.
In September 2009, Victoire Ingabire, already chairperson of FDU-Inkingi, had discussed with me and other Rwandans living in UK, the Rwandan situation.
We were all aware of the suffering that Paul Kagame and his RPF regime had brought to all Rwandans inclusively since October 1990.
We were all survivors in many respects.
Hundreds of thousands, neighbors relatives, friends and foreigners, people we knew and others nothing would’ve made it possible for us to know, had fallen under his hordes of killers who haven’t stopped their criminal operations until today.
Since getting the upper hand on every space of authority in Rwanda, and this is since July 1994, the Rwandan president has been keeping hostage millions of Rwandans.
He has killed those who raise any contradictory voice and or that he does not want them to live.
He has dispossessed those whose properties fulfill aspirations of his greed.
He has been oppressing and terrorizing the rest of the population that he needs for his occasional pleasures.
In an uncommon demonstration of courage rarely seen in Rwandan recent history, and particularly from a woman who seemed not to lack what she could live on for the rest of her life, Victoire Ingabire decided to leave her comfort zone and sacrifice herself for the benefit of her millions of compatriots suffering in the hands of Paul Kagame.
On October 14, 2012 two years in prison will have been the life experience for that politician.
If she is lucky she can survive her ordeal.
But we know thousands haven’t had that chance when taken into Kagame’s prisons.
A friend asked recently how long the Rwandan regime would continue postponing the sentencing of Victoire Ingabire.
I replied that her case was not a criminal one, but mainly politically motivated.
Consequently, the Rwandan president will always analyse pros and cons for sentencing her before deciding on the right move.
For example, considered current condemnation of the international community of Paul Kagame for his support to M23, Congolese rebel movement which occupies part of North Kivu in Eastern Congo, he won’t give in because of his defiant character.
The other reason for not sentencing her is the message that this would send out about the Rwandan president.
That he could ever compromise on his views.
And that’s not how he is.
As he announced in his recent speech opening the judiciary year 2012, he is persistently defiant, whatever the issues he is confronted with.
On October 19, 2012 Victoire Ingabire will more likely not be sentenced as this happened before. But I would like to be proven wrong.
That her stand has galvanized many among Rwandans and helped change the course of Rwanda history, that’s incontestable.
Though her imprisonment is not deserved and seems difficult to bear for those outside her prison’s walls, it has achieved more than any previous similar cases before.
Rwandans should follow Victoire Ingabire in her footsteps in big numbers if they want to better the future of their country.