Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rwanda: The trial of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza is politically motivated

By Mamadou Kouyate
June 13, 2011

The upcoming trial of Ms Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Chairperson of FDU-INKINGI, is politically motivated. The trial, which appears to be lengthy and complicated, is based on trumped-up charges. Even the Rwandan prosecution knows well that in normal conditions all charges preferred against Ms Ingabire should be dropped. Because Ms Ingabire is strongly committed to the struggle for freedom, democracy and justice in Rwanda, Rwandan officials who would like to cling on power by all means usually resort to her character assassination through public and private media and state security services.

Upon her arrival in Rwanda on January 16th, 2010 after 16 years in exile, Ms Ingabire was subject to state sponsored media lynching and was later physically assaulted within the premises of an administrative building in Kigali. As the time went on, Rwandan officials came to realize that such acts of harassment and intimidation will never deter her determination. Indeed, Ms Ingabire continued to visit the Rwandan people nationwide and to have interviews with international media with the ultimate goal of exposing the real nature of the dictatorial regime in Rwanda.

Rwandan officials finally brandished the wall of laws, their own laws with their own reading. Since February 2010, Ms Ingabire was repeatedly summoned, almost every week, by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) until her first arrest on April 21st 2010. She was subsequently placed under a prolonged house arrest until her second arrest on the 15th of October the same year. The Rwandan prosecution having failed to give Ms Ingabire a speedy and fair trial is now turning the blame on her, cynically implying that she enjoys her prolonged preventive detention in Kigali maximun security prison!

Briefly, Ms Ingabire is accused of promoting divisionism; harboring genocide ideology, collaboration with a terrorist group.


It is important to recall that Ms Ingabire is the Chairperson of an opposition political party, FDU-INKINGI. Compared to the current regime, Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI obviously see things differently on several crucial issues facing Rwanda.

For instance, Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI refuse to be led by a one-man-rule, a state-party system for fear of being accused of divisionism. The Rwandan Constitution recognizes a multi-party system which means that the Rwandan Constitution gives to the Rwandan people the right to conceive and freely express dissenting political ideas. Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI attest that the Rwandan people live under the yoke of fear and ignorance. Most of the Rwandan people are kept in perpetual extreme poverty characterized by widespread malnutrition and poor healthcare, especially in rural areas. Government officials are forcing people to destroy their banana plantations even though these plantations represent the principal source of income for the poor.

The healthcare system doesn’t guarantee healthcare coverage for all the Rwandan people due to scarcity and high cost of prescription drugs even though every Rwandan is required to subscribe to the universal health insurance coverage: the so-called Mutuelles de Santé. The reform of the education sector should go hand in hand with adequate infrastructures, trained human resources and relevant translated books. How will teachers deliver in languages they don’t speak? This is terrible for the quality of the education. In schools, History teachers are totally confused: the regime’s political manipulations are in total conflict with the facts. Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI are not afraid to tell the world that the Rwandan people are under the yoke of fear and darkness and that hunger is acute in rural Rwanda. Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI are against the fact that the Gacaca courts that were traditionally responsible for settling social disputes, consider cases that require special knowledge that the criminal court judges do not have. This is even more serious because it involves crimes as serious as genocide. Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI are also opposed to the fact that people who are accused in Gacaca courts have no right to be assisted by a lawyer.

Professor Andre Guichaoua, a renowned researcher from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha , Tanzania , recently published a reference book titled “ Rwanda , from War to Genocide. Criminal Politics in Rwanda, 1990-1994.” In this book, Andre Guichaoua thoroughly analyzed the Gacaca court system and found that nearly all Rwandans who were at least 14 years old and were living in Rwanda before 1994 have been dragged to Gacaca courts.

If someone says that there is something rotten in Rwanda’s leadership, government officials are quick to brandish the law on divisionism.

Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI strongly reiterate that the Rwandan people need a democratic change, more political space, freedom of speech while President Paul Kagame continues to hold opposition leaders in contempt, as worthless people, criminals, and hooligans. He even boasted once about how it was patriotic to shoot down Rwandan refugees in DRC!

When Ms Ingabire heard such incendiary utterances from Kagame she felt deep sorrow and sadness. Ms Ingabire said that she truly respects the President of Rwanda; she is a mother and she will never dare to insult Paul Kagame even though he insulted her. Such incendiary utterances were delivered during the 16th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsis and a week after, before the Rwandan chambers of the Senate and the National Assembly.  Although Ms Ingabire was outraged, she did not deem necessary to respond, there was nothing she could say about it. Whoever says this is not acceptable is accused of divisionism. Does that mean that Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI should refrain from denouncing such utterances simply because they are from a head of state or his government? To this, Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI say a big No!

In Rwanda, people are afraid of discussing openly the current ethnic problem.

To assert that the Rwandan population is composed of three ethnic groups should neither be a crime nor a problem. The problem is to be deprived of your fundamental rights simply because you are Tutsi, Hutu, or Twa. It does not make sense to allege that there are no ethnic groups in Rwanda while we all know that the Tutsis were decimated simply because of their ethnicity and were slaughtered because they were Tutsis. Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI attest that they already have a comprehensive plan specifically designed to deal with this ethnic problem from its root causes in order to protect everybody’s right to life through a legal framework that would guarantee that no Rwandan would be threatened because of his/her ethnic background.


Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI recognize that in 1994, in Rwanda, there has been genocide against the Tutsis. Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI also recognize that BEFORE, DURING and AFTER that genocide, there have been war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against other groups of the Rwandan population. These are facts Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI witnessed but also the facts that are recognized by the United Nations, Resolution No 955 of November 08, 1994 establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI also believe that anyone who has responsibility in those unspeakable killings of innocent civilians should be held accountable. This is what the current regime in Rwanda calls “harboring genocide ideology” or “genocide denial”. Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI advocate for national reconciliation of the Rwandan people. However, Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI strongly believe that true reconciliation cannot be achieved as long as the sufferings of some Rwandans who lost their relatives during those killings have not been officially recognized. It is our responsibility altogether to encourage Rwandans to talk about their tragedy with no taboo; to bring them together in order to set up solid guidelines for a long lasting settlement. The Rwandan judiciary system needs to be fair and not selective.


Referring to her speech on January 16th 2010 at Kigali Airport upon her arrival in Rwanda, Ms Ingabire said: “I am a daughter and a mother, moved by the misery and humiliations of my people. I don’t need an army to defeat the dictatorship. All we need is determination, commitment and patience. The sacrifices of all committed people will overcome our misery and this endless crisis in our motherland. (…) We don’t need another war in our country. Too much blood has been poured. Enough is enough…

Why does the Rwandan government want Ms Ingabire to collaborate with the FDLR rebels? She doesn’t need them. The Rwandan government and the FDLR rebels have been tackling each other for more than 16 years but without success. The Rwandan people need to bring this turmoil to an end. The Rwandan people and their neighbors need peace. Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI condemn the politics that killed more than 5 millions people in
DRC since 1996. Those who have been fighting this war, have they achieved long lasting peace? No. Why should Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI be inspired by such a shameful failure?

The Rwandan government will parade dozens, hundreds of former FDLR, to accuse Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI of anything they want. Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI answer remains the same: the war is not the answer. How can one achieve anything with that kind of paraded Colonels former FDLR combatants? Why did the Rwandan government keep them in military facilities since 2009 without any charges until Ms Ingabire went back home, and is making big cases of them now?

The political decision to register FDU-INKINGI in Rwanda to compete with the current regime in Rwanda was not an easy decision that we took recklessly. Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI first put together ideas, thoroughly analyzed many ways they should rely on and assessed related consequences in order to solve the political deadlock in Rwanda. Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI chose the non-violent way in their fight for freedom, justice and democracy. When Rwandan officials jail a politician on suspicions of talking to elements of a rebellion how can they convince these rebels to voluntary repatriate and be safe?

Ms Ingabire and FDU-INKINGI are in total disagreement with the current Rwandan government policy aimed at “poaching” some FDLR leaders, while encouraging the use of force against the others. The FDLR rebels are Rwandans and have no other country on this planet. They need sincere guarantees prior to repatriation. However, those who are responsible for crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity will face justice. Others deserve a normal socio-professional life.


Address of Victoire Ingabire in captivity to Rwandans and Friends of Rwanda

Related Materials:

Ingabire’s trial: Judge and prosecutor media comments not fair

New governmental interferences in Victoire Ingabire Trial: Ill-comments from president on twitter and organized hassles by the governmental human rights commission


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