Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rwandan political opponents surely deserved the Sakharov Prize 2012

The elimination in the second round of the application of three political prisoners in Rwanda , Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Bernard Ntaganda and Déogratias Mushayidi, from the 2012 Sakharov Prize is undoubtedly a big disappointment and surprise. With our utmost due respect to the verdict of the European Parliament which is sovereign in this matter, we had hoped that the European Parliament gives a further boost to that struggle of the three nominees for freedom and it reinforces the wind ofdemocracy which is blowing across the African continent and the Middle East.
Created in 1988 by the European Parliament to honor individuals or organizations who have dedicated their lives to the defense of human rights and freedoms, this award is a gesture of democratic solidarity without borders, which cannot be separated from the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
By nominating the three Rwandan opponents to this prize, the promoters of the application wanted, first of all, to express their admiration for the courage and selflessness of these three personalities who braved the fear and dared to denounce the repression that is currently afflicting the people of Rwanda . Indeed, who can still dare to deny the obvious evidence of intolerance and the closure of the political space in Rwanda ?
In its last report of May 2012, Amnesty International denounced the "systematic use of torture in Rwanda " by the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI).
While the Rwandan Constitution guarantees the right to personal integrity and prohibits the use of torture, even in its report of October 2012, Amnesty International mentions "reports of enforced disappearances, torture and other forms of abuse perpetrated against individuals in military detention centers ".
It is against these gross violations, well known to the international community that the three Rwandan figures firmly stood up regardless of the ultimate risk for their lives.
There is no doubt that the three final candidates are great and that their struggle deserves recognition as well. We congratulate them. The fact that the situation of human rights in their countries of origin is of great concern is also a reality. However, all things considered, none of their respective countries has been in less than two years the subject of two damning reports of the UN for serious violations of human rights.
Indeed, in its report entitled "Mapping Report", the Rwandan government is pinned by the UN for acts, some of which can be qualified as genocide, committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) against Rwandan refugees and Congolese people.
In another report no less damning, UN experts have accused the Rwandan government of supporting the mutiny of Congolese rebels named M23 by enrollment of child soldiers in fighting.
Rwanda has also been strongly criticized at the last general meeting of the UN Commission of Human Rights for its draconian laws, including the one relating to genocide ideology. This is the same law that led the three Rwandan figures behind bars where they currently are locked up with no hope of fair justice.
Their struggle is similar to the one of the illustrious ancestors who were the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which inspired the Sakharov Prize. We therefore believe that the European Union and its upper house of representatives which share these values ​​would be honored to support them in one way or another because freedom of expression and exercise of civil rights has no border.
We take this opportunity to express our heartfelt thanks to all honorable Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who supported this application. It is only a postponement. We urge them to remain in solidarity with the Rwandan people in their struggle for the universally recognized freedoms. This is the only way to prove that there is an alternative to violence that may surely lead to the opening of the political space.
Done in Bruxelles, on October 14, 2012.
FDU-Inkingi                                                                PS-Imberakuri
Dr. Nsengimana Nkiko                                                Jean Baptiste Ryumugabe
Chairman Coordinating Committee                            Representative in Europe
PDP-Imanzi                                                        IWNDP
Gérard Karangwa                                                Madame Primitiva Mukarwego
Vice-President                                                     Coordinator Belgium Section
Encounters for Peace
Luc Marchal
Central Africa Section 


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