Press Release: Protest Rally in Support of Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza
Dear Members of FDU- INKINGI
Dear Friends of the platform FDU INKINGI – IHURIRO RNC – AMAHORO PC
Distinguished Representatives of political parties PDP-IMANZI, PDR- IHUMURE, PS- IMBERAKURI
Mr. the Coordinator of CLIIR and all Representatives of the Civil Society
Dear Supporters of FDU- INKINGI
Dear Friends of Rwanda,
Dear All, in your respective honors and functions,
On behalf of the political party FDU- Inkingi, we thank you all for your presence at this public protest rally in support of our party Chair, Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the political justice of the Rwandan regime.
Our first words will therefore go to our party Chair, who has been unjustly convicted. We all came here to show her our support and to assure her that even though she is momentarily and physically prevented from leading this struggle for democracy and empowerment of our people, the struggle we all started together, we will continue the fight to which we have all pledged until the total conquest of our rights and freedoms and the total liberation of the Rwandan people from the yoke of dictatorship under which they have been languishing for nearly two decades.
This protest rally was planned long before the murder of a comrade in struggle, late Col. Patrick Karegeya, who was killed in South Africa during the night of December 31st leading to January 1st by the Rwandan regime, by President Paul Kagame himself, given the fact that he has already self-confessed to the crime at the Prayer Breakfast which was held on January 12, 2014 in Kigali. We therefore take this opportunity to bow to the memory of a comrade in struggle, and pay tribute to a friend. Patrick Karegeya has given his life; he has shed his blood for our ideals of democracy and of our living together in harmony as Rwandans, regardless of our ethnic, regional, religious and social origins, for the right of memory and the duty of memory for all victims of the Rwandan slaughter of 1990-2000. We invite you to observe a moment of silence in memory of Patrick Karegeya. Dear friend Patrick, your blood that was shed is the leaven for our liberty and our victory.
Our thoughts also go to our other party comrades who have been unjustly convicted of the crime of having held a political meeting in a private place and of having attended the trial hearing of our party Chair. We think especially of our comrade, Sylvain Sibomana, our party Secretary General who, on January 13, 2014, was sentenced to 6 years in prison, in addition to the previous sentence of 2 years in prison. Mr. Sibomana was indeed among the first comrades who joined Ms. Ingabire immediately upon her arrival in Rwanda on January 16, 2010, after 16 years of exile in The Netherlands. Other comrades such as Anselm Mutuyimana, Venant Abayisenga, Emmanuel Byukusenge, Leonille Gasengayire, Jenny Flora Irakoze, Marcel Nahimana, Samuel Hitimana, Tuganemungu, Christian Norbert Ufitamahoro, Valens Uwiringiyimana, and Venuste Uwiringiyimana are languishing in prison. Ms. Jenny Flora Irakoze is currently wandering in inside or outside exile.
We have also organized this public protest rally to give thanks to the family of Ms. Victoire Ingabire because her family has endured so many sacrifices and is now deprived of a wife, a mother and a child. Dear Lin, with all yours, we just say thank you.
Our party Chair has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. We will not wait for her to purge such a heavy and unjust sentence before she can recover her freedom. We will use all possible political pressures so that she can be released at the earliest. Ms. Victoire Ingabire has informed us about her intention to appeal to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Upon the receipt of the copy of the judgment, we will carefully examine it and let her know our recommendations as a political party. Ultimately, it will be up to Ms. Victoire Ingabire to follow through our recommendations or not. We have also thought of other possibilities such as the United Nations Commission for Human Rights. The judicial process is one way among many others. However, having been imprisoned for political reasons, we cannot rule out that it is the same political reasons that will liberate Ms. Victoire Ingabire. We will therefore continue to deploy in such political processes.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
If our comrade, Ms. Victoire Ingabire was stripped of her freedom, it was of course because of the police and the justice system that are under the orders the Rwandan regime. Such a politicized and political justice system is supported politically and financially by a country, which also happens to be the country of adoption for our party Chair. We meant to name The Netherlands.
We are here before the Dutch Parliament, an institution that represents the sovereign people of The Netherlands, to send three strong messages to the Parliament and through it, the Government and the Dutch people:
First, the Dutch taxpayers’ money that is supporting Rwanda’s police and justice system kills because it contributes to assassinate political opponents and independent journalists that are even being haunted down across Rwandan borders. The most recent case concerns the murder of our comrade late Col. Patrick Karegeya who was killed poisoned and strangled in South Africa by Rwandan secret services. Among many others, we would like to cite, Mugabo Manasseh, Seth Sendashonga, Augustin Bugirimfura, Emmanuel Munyemanzi, Theoneste Lizinde, Assiel Kabera, Augustin Cyiza, Eleazar Runyaruka, Leonard Hitimana, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, Charles Ingabire, and Jean-Leonard Rugambage. The list is long.
Second, the Dutch taxpayers’ money in Rwanda is not only used to build a justice that is controlled by the regime but also to create a machine that imprisons political opponents. To date, all of the leaders of the opposition political parties in Rwanda are in prison because the regime in place would like to prevent these leaders from holding public offices, including access to the presidency. These leaders include the FDU-Inkingi’s Chair Victoire Ingabire, the PDP-Imanzi’s Chairman Deo Mushayidi, and the PS-Imberakuri’s President Bernard Ntaganda who are all languishing in prison.
Third, the Dutch taxpayers’ money in Rwanda is used to erect legal walls and administrative obstacles to the registration of opposition political parties to prevent them from normally contributing to the expression of suffrage, the rise of civil liberties and the anchoring of a democratic debate. That’s why until now, only political parties that are subservient to the system are the only ones that are formally registered not to mention the current law on political parties in Rwanda which with its multitude of penalties constitutes in itself a second penal code.
Fourth, we are here to ask the Dutch Government to halt its plans aimed at extraditing to Rwanda for judgment a large number of Rwandans that are accused of allegedly having participated in the 1994 genocide. Without prejudging the guilt or the innocence of our compatriots, we would like to draw the Dutch government’s attention on the fact that the country where these individuals risk being sent cannot guarantee them to receive a fair trial. Indeed, Rwanda is a country where its leaders are accused of serious crimes against humanity, war crimes and massive violations of the international humanitarian law. The highest authorities of the state that also have control over the justice system, are accused in the UN Mapping Report of having committed a possible genocide against the Hutu refugees in DRC. According to the report of the group of UN experts on the DRC, the Rwandan authorities are accused of forced recruitment of child soldiers, rapes and direct support to the M23 rebels.
We ask the Dutch Government to prosecute such individuals in The Netherlands if the evidence of their guilt is proven. At the same time, we would like to tell our compatriots that are being sued: do not let yourselves be sheared off, stand up, come out from that torpor in which you are immersed and claim your rights. Indeed, no one else will do it for you. Shake it up, defend yourself and let the Dutch public opinion know about your situation.
To conclude, we would like to thank you all once again for coming to show your solidarity with our comrade Ms. Victoire Ingabire, and through her, with all of our comrades that are unjustly imprisoned in Rwanda. Thanks to all of you FDU-Inkingi activists in Rwanda and abroad, for your commitment and sacrifices. Our next protest rally will be held on February 22, 2014 in Brussels, Belgium, in front of the European Parliament.
Together, with determination, we shall set them free!
Dr. Nkiko Nsengimana