Dear Commonwealth Heads of Governments,
RE: Organizing the CHOGM 2020 Meeting in Kigali is a pure whitewash of the flagrant undemocratic rule, basic human rights abuses and diktat that characterize the Rwandan Patriotic Front exclusive and authoritarian regime in Rwanda
We, The Rwanda Alliance for the National Pact (RANP) – ABARYANKUNA, are deeply concerned of the decision to organize the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali from 22nd to 27th June 2020 under the chairmanship of Paul Kagame.
For more than two decades, international bodies like the reputable Commonwealth have progressively continued to ignore the voices of many Rwandans that are calling for a real democratic change and for a true national dialogue to end the arrogant but blessed dictatorship in Rwanda. In 1994, the world did the same mistake and millions of lives were lost in a genocide.
Our efforts to mobilize all but especially the Rwandan youth against the current imposed status quo has been crushed by the bloody intelligence machine of the Rwanda Patriotic Front inside Rwanda since 2014. However, after killing many of our movement members, imprisoning and terrorizing others, our voice hasn’t been silenced and our determination remains upheld.
It is with that voice and determination that we call upon the entire Commonwealth and your honor to avoid the same 1994 mistake by ignoring the following:
1. An outrageous lack of “Good Governance and Rule of Law” in Rwanda as sub-theme 1 of the 2020 CHOGM.
Starting by the very recent, we would like to bring to your attention or to remind you that, while preparing for your honorable assembly in Kigali next June, the Government of Rwanda forcibly destroyed more than 7,000 family houses in Kigali, without compensation as the law stipulates, with an unsubstantiated excuse of environmental calamities while those families have been there since even more 40 years. The hidden agenda in all that is to keep “clean” the Kigali for you to see the red carpets, the cleaned routes and not the poor Rwandan families. As per now, the families who lost their houses have no shelter and have seen their future totally destroyed. Moreover, because of harsh policies, the impoverished citizens and street children are repetitively rounded up and confined in prisons as documented by human rights organizations for the CHOGM 2020 to be in a “poor-free” hosting city, Kigali.
The lead political opposition figures who tried to advocate for those families have been as usual silenced. Mrs. UMUHOZA INGABIRE Victoire is summoned to report to Rwanda Investigation Bureau at least twice a weak. Mr. NTANGANDA Bernard has been also called to report to the same bureau to be interrogated. The two have had a courage to collect food for the families whose houses were destroyed but their action was simply stopped by the Rwandan intelligence men with no explanation.
Mr. BARAFINDA Sekikubo Fred, a 2017 Presidential elections candidate, who dared to speak out for the people who were victims of the repressive actions in Rwanda, especially those who had their homes destroyed, was handcuffed and brought to a neuropsychiatric treating hospital in Kigali where his family is afraid his life is in danger. One of the abuses he was denouncing is the illegal arrest and disappearances caused by the Rwanda Investigation Bureau, the Police and the Intelligence services. He was himself a true testimony of that harassment because he has been kidnapped more than five times. His episode recalls the mysterious death of Businessman Mr. Assinapol RWIGARA who was knocked by a truck in Kigali and brought agonizing to Kigali Police Hospital to die in a very mysterious but well unsurprising way in Kigali. His properties were seized by the regime, others destroyed. Ms. RWIGARA Diane, his daughter, who was also a Presidential Candidate was jailed along with her family now silenced.
The politically motivated repressions, and the lack of rule of law in Rwanda could be illustrated in many more cases. A country which uses the national budget to finance the famous European football clubs, without being debated in the two chambers of parliament, with no clear data on the motives behind, just
because the President who extended his term limits, wants it like that; a country that kills those who dare to raise a voice to ask those basic questions, that country is not an example to scroll the screen of the 1991 Harare Commonwealth Declaration Principles and host the CHOGM.
2. ICT and Innovation untold stories
While the world continues to close its eyes on what is happening in Rwanda in terms of democracy and basic human rights, the Rwandan regime continues to praise the so called success in ICT and Innovation. However, while you will have a 4G Internet access in your hotel rooms, you would be surprised to see that just outside of that hotel room people are struggling to have breakfast, lunch and dinner. The current Government of Rwanda will never speak the truth of its failures such as “One Child One Laptop program”. The 12,000,000 Rwandans will need ICT and Innovation of course, but before that they need electricity, they need clean water, they need quality education. How will people innovate without good education? Measuring Rwanda as an ICT hub should start by the 80% rural areas, and the current education system graduates with a low quality, which the current Prime Minister himself admitted during the 17th National Retreat by lamenting that if this continues in 15 years to come we will miss even a qualified person to lead a District in Rwanda. Again because of bad politics and policies, Rwanda is not an example of ICT and Innovation to host the CHOGM with this as a sub-theme.
3. The Environmental Policy and Governance in Rwanda is not a model.
The floods that affected the Kigali City recently are a sign that Kigali doesn’t need to have his poor inhabitants extirpated by force and without compensation but instead to have a centralized sewage system that responds appropriately to heavy rains and also have an inclusive urban development for all socio- economic levels of the population.
4. Trade: Instead of promoting Trade, Rwanda closes borders.
The closure of the Rwanda-Uganda border has not only affected the citizens of Rwanda, but also the business community in Uganda and in Kenya, all members of the Commonwealth. Without analyzing the details of this crisis, but many of are aware that this was caused by the fact that Rwanda doesn’t tolerate any critical voice and wants to send spies to kidnap and kill Rwanda refugees in neighboring countries including Uganda. This open secret is the main cause of Gatuna Border crisis. The same has happened with the Rwanda-Burundi borders. This is a practical example of how the bad politics inside Rwanda are not only affecting the Rwandans inside but negatively impacting regional and international trade and integration. The Commonwealth should not ignore this.
To conclude this letter, we would like to emphasize that the last but not least sub-theme of the CHOGM which is the Youth, is the most affected by the regime that you have asked to host this important gathering. In all the points raised above, the first and foremost affected are the youth.
The recent arrest and subsequent murder on February 17th 2020 of Kizito MIHIGO, a Rwandan singer and activist, who has been at the frontline to sow the seeds of our movement along with Mr. Gerald NIYOMUGABO who after being arrested five years ago by the Rwandan police disappeared up to date, in the efforts to stop our work for a true reconciliation and dialogue among the Rwandans, is an another example that the world continues to turn a blind eye to the crushing of any discordant voice by the Rwandan Government, thus hampering the youth that is aspiring to a fundamental democratic change and egalitarianism against the diktat imposed by the man you call the strong man of Kigali.
We, The Rwanda Alliance for the National Pact (RANP) – ABARYANKUNA, again call upon you to use the Commonwealth meetings and principles not to bless the one man power in Rwanda but hold him accountable for the principles you have agreed and signed on while the whole world was watching.
We hope that our voice will be heard for the best future of Rwanda. We humbly request you that, once in Kigali, you reaffirm the Commonwealth principles which are the of protection and promotion of the fundamental political values of the Commonwealth, of democracy, democratic processes and institutions which reflect national circumstances, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, just and honest government; of fundamental human rights, including equal rights and opportunities for all citizens regardless of race, color, creed or political belief among others.
For The Rwanda Alliance for the National Pact (RANP) – ABARYANKUNA