Thursday, January 14, 2010

2010 Presidential Elections and Human Rights in Rwanda

By Jean-Christophe Nizeyimana
Chairperson
African SurViVors International
January 12, 2010

His Excellency Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
President of the European Union

His Excellency, Dr. Herman Van Rompuy
President of the European Council
Rue de la Loi 175,
B-1048 Brussels

His Excellency, Dr. Jose Manuel Durao Barroso
President, European Commission
Rue de la loi 200
B- 1049 Brussels

His Excellency, Dr. Karel de Gutch
European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid
Berlaymont 10/165
B- 1049 Brussels

Your Excellencies:

RE: 2010 Presidential Elections and Human Rights in Rwanda

African SurViVors International (ASI) is an international nonprofit charitable organization based in The Netherlands. ASI deeply values Democracy and the principles of International Human Rights.

The Declaration of the European Union on the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights stipulates:

"The universality and indivisibility of human rights and the responsibility for their protection and promotion, together with the promotion of pluralistic democracy and effective guarantees for the rule of law, constitute essential objectives for the European Union as a union of shared values and serve as a fundamental basis for our action. The human being is at the centre of our policies. Ensuring the human dignity of every individual remains our common goal.” Vienna, December 10, 1998.
"The success of any development policy depends not only on the quantity and quality of foreign aid, but also on governance in partner countries. Supporting governance is not a technical issue, but a highly political one, dealing with the principles and norms that organize societies".
Does this declaration also apply to Rwanda where General Paul Kagame has ruled the country with an iron fist for 16 years?

Under the above-mentioned circumstances and to get the right picture of the tyrannical regime in Rwanda, African SurViVors International (ASI) reminds the EU that all Rwandans from all three ethnic groups (Hutu, Tutsi and Twa) of the Rwandan society, are entitled to five fundamental freedoms protected by several treaties and declarations: freedom of speech, association, assembly, religion and movement.

Freedom of speech

Rwandans should be free, within the bounds of the law, to say or write what they think privately or publicly, about the government, or about any topic.

Nongovernmental Media in Rwanda are censored, journalists are mistreated and citizens cannot criticize the Tutsi-led government without fear or arrest. There are laws created for ethnic Hutu, laws against saying or writing against the government. There are laws that have been created by the RPF and the Tutsi-led government especially to muzzle the Hutu majority because of their culture, ethnicity or background. The ‘genocide ideology’ prevents Hutus, interior Tutsis and the Rwandan opposition from speaking out. The brutal tool the RPF uses to prevent criticism and stifle free speech known as the “RPF FORUM”. The Rwandan genocide should not be used as an excuse by the government, by the RPF organization and its members, to harm others, to intimidate or assassinate those who are outside the Tutsi ethnic group, especially those Tutsi from Uganda.

Freedom of association

Rwandans are NOT FREE to join any organization or group if it is OUTSIDE THE FORUM AND THUS DECLARED ILLEGAL. Rwandans Have No Right to belong to a political party outside the RPF Forum. Debating points of view Is Not Allowed and thus ASI cannot expect a healthy and strong democracy in Rwanda. The European Union observers and EU institutions tolerated the illegality of the first Kagame election: The result is catastrophic. This dreadful situation CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE.

Freedom of assembly

Despite criticism from all directions, outside the RPF organization and RPF sub-organizations such as IBUKA, other Rwandans willing to organize themselves, the political opponents in particular, ARE NOT FREE to meet in public or private places across the country.

The majority of people cannot meet in small or large groups for legal social or political purposes. Look at what is happening to the FDU and Rwandan Greens. Greens are STILL NOT able to meet to protest and to demonstrate. As a follow-up to this argument, the Tutsi-led government and the RPF deny to other Rwandans this form of free expression and association. Even if protestors are not violent or if they do not break laws such as by assaulting others or trespassing on private or public property, they have NO SUCH RIGHT. Rwandans CANNOT change the government in a peaceful way through democratic monitored elections. The Tutsi-led government alleges that the regime change in a peaceful way might incite hatred by ethnic and or by political reasons.

Freedom of religion

Rwandans should NOT have an official or state religion. Catholic believers in Rwanda are NOT free and cannot be free to publically worship as protestant religions do as long as the current law enforces the extremism of protestant religious doctrine.

Freedom of movement

The majority of Rwandans CANNOT move freely to and from Rwanda. The nationality status has become a new tool while political opponents living in exile are refused visas or nationality. As a result, Rwandans CANNOT leave and return to Rwanda at any time they want to. To go back to your country as a Rwandan citizen, you need a visa, and to get it, you must be known as an RPF follower or someone ready to serve RPF interests.

As an international organization, ASI closely watches the developments in preparation for the 2010 elections in Rwanda. As we struggle for democracy and freedom, we are very concerned and appalled to learn that the RPF has started to intimidate the opposition to avoid criticism relating to RPF violations of elementary human and civil rights of Rwandans.

While it is a widely accepted notion that freedom of speech and association are interwoven with democratic governance, Human rights violation remains the RPF preferred manner to keep up power in Kigali. The Tutsi-led government in Rwanda uses it mostly to survive the dissatisfaction and increasing anger from the majority of Rwandans, and today’s preparation of the 2010 elections just offers a rather extreme example.

Since 1990, the large part of the Rwandan population sits in slavery and lives a daily intimidation and terror from RPF authorities at all levels. More than 3,5 million Rwandans (Hutu and interior Tutsi) got murdered and President Paul Kagame is believed to be the mastermind of the Rwandan genocide. Within the last 15 years, we saw no goodwill from the EU commission, no efforts and attempts at investigation have been carried out by our European Union to end the violation of human and civil rights and bloodshed against the Hutu continues inside and outside Rwanda. Some of the RPF‘s main perpetrators have been named, arrest warrants issued, but the punishment being meted out is a joke.

Worse than that, French and Spanish arrest warrants have been issued against General Paul Kagame and some of his co-authors in the joint criminal enterprise against the Hutu majority and the interior Tutsi. We saw several violations in that area while RPF leadership enjoys impunity ignoring the Spanish and French arrests warrants. The situation is alarming not only because President Kagame kills his own citizens, but also because the EU refuses to take tough measures against him and those RDF officers who are suspected and accused.

Being an EU charity,


• African SurViVors International (ASI) cannot continue to helplessly watch the EU’s ongoing support of dictatorship and crimes committed by the RPF leadership in Rwanda. The RPF has created a restrictive constitution and abusive laws that create the framework for repression and totalitarian control in Rwanda.

• African SurViVors International continues to keep an eye on the escalating situation in Rwanda but also to denounce the brutality and the blatant violations of human rights by the RPF regime and the Tutsi-led government controlled by the pleuri-indicted terrorist General Paul Kagame. The EU should be aware of this shocking situation in Rwanda.

• African SurViVors International warns of the dangers of not supporting democracy and human rights promotion in Rwanda, particularly in this period of preparation for the 2010 presidential elections.

• African SurviVors International must do whatever it can to prevent the EU and the international community’s attitude from leading to CIVIL WAR AND GENOCIDE in Rwanda. Therefore, the policy of isolation of the RPF regime might end the RPF elections’ rigging that includes intimidations, terror, imprisonments, assassinations and disappearances.

• The rules of the RPF regime in power in Rwanda are marred by excessive repression, state sponsored terror against Rwandan citizens from the Hutu majority, and state-incited ethnic conflicts that have claimed the lives of countless Hutus and interior Tutsis since 1990. Therefore, African SurViVors International recommends the EU put pressure on the Tutsi-led government to remove article 16 of the constitution and change voting laws by dismantling the RPF Forum aimed at seriously muzzling freedoms of speech, assembly, association and movement in Rwanda.

• As the illegitimate regime is increasingly rejected by the majority of Rwandans and Congolese victims of Kagame’s wars in Congo, and due to the mounting anger of the population in the African Great Lakes Region, General Kagame has resorted to rule by dictate and terror while he uses his RDF soldiers and proxy armies to loot DRC’s mineral resources. The Rwandan constitution is amended at each time due to new events questioning the RPF regime’s legitimacy after the 1994 coup d’État that dragged the country into awful scenes of bloodshed.

• As the RPF Tutsi extremists in power in Rwanda are set to respond to hate and war crimes accusations, crimes they committed against their own citizens and other nationalities during the mass-murder of IDPS in the Kibeho, the death camp actually known as the Rwandan Auschwitz and of the Hutu Refugees in 1996 up to 1998 in Congo, Rwanda has undoubtedly descended into being a police state where the only alternatives left to any decent citizen is To Die in Silence or Flee the Country in precarious circumstances.

• African SurViVors International recommends the EU not to tolerate the brutal and repressive policies of the RPF regime, which are creating an explosive political situation just before the 2010 presidential elections. The current socio-political situation in Rwanda should be under the watchful eyes of the European Union and of the international community as well, as it is a situation that, without tough measures, risks dragging Rwanda into wider and deeper internal strife and civil unrest.

• Before the 2010 elections take place in Rwanda, African SurViVors International recommends the EU to ensure that all Rwandans are able to freely elect without fear and enjoy all their rights and liberties as provided for in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and other related international laws, rules and democratic principles.

• The misguided policy favoring the close cooperation of the EU with one of the few heavyweight tyrants in the world who is responsible for current human and civil rights violations; assassinations and mass-murders that profoundly tarnish the image of the European Union with millions of Europeans and Rwandans, in particular, who bear the heavy yoke of the RPF‘s bloody repression and tyranny.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Very sincerely,

Jean-Christophe Nizeyimana
Chairperson
African SurViVors International

CC:

His Excellency Jan-Peter Balkenende
Dutch Prime Minister
Binnenhof 20
Postbus 20001
2500 EA The Hague

His Excellency Hans-Gert Pöttering
President of the European Parliament
Rue Wiertz, 60
B- 1047 Brussels

Her Excellency Halonen, Tarja Kaarina
President of Council of the European Union
Rue de la Loi 175
B- 1048 Brussels

Her Excellency Catherine Ashton
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs
Rue de la Loi 175
B- 1048 Brussels

His Excellency Mr. Elmar Brok,
Chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
EU Parliament

Her Excellency, Mrs. Helene Flautre
Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Human Rights
EU Parliament

Her Excellency, Mrs. Luisa Morgantini
Chairperson of the Committee on Development
EU Parliament

Honorable Parliamentarian Members (all)
Strasbourg - France
Brussels - Belgium

Related Materials:
The situation of human rights in Rwanda

Political repression in Rwanda, as August 2010 elections approach

Rwanda 2010: Another Kenya? Another Zimbabwe?

Road Map to 2010 Presidential Elections in Rwanda

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