Rwanda: how can a powerful regime be worried by the reading of a book by 7 people?

By Erasme Rugemintwaza

This Thursday, October 21, 2021, INGABIRE Victoire, president of DALFA-Umurinzi, a party not yet approved in Rwanda, was summoned by the Rwanda Bureau of Investigation (RIB), to answer questions relating to the arrest of some members of her party. According to her VOA interview, INGABIRE Victoire was surprised by the charges against members of her party. Despite this absurd desire to arrest its members, under terrible false allegations, INGABIRE Victoire seems to have hopes that the RIB will come to their senses, and release these unjustly arrested people. What is really happening?

From October 13 to 17, 2021, the Rwanda Bureau of Investigation (RIB) carried out a wave of arbitrary arrests of human rights and freedom of expression defenders, accusing them of “spreading rumors” aimed at undermining the Kigali regime. These arrests mainly targeted members of Madame INGABIRE Victoire’s political party, DALFA-Umurinzi, which is not yet approved in the country, and a the owner of the Umubavu TV YouTube channel, Théoneste NSENGIYUMVA. This channel is the most popular with the Rwandans, because it publishes programs that address real problems of Rwandans, which put it in the crosshairs of Kagame. On October 17, the number of people arrested was a total of 10 including 9 supporters of DALFA-Umurinzi, as reported by INGABIRE Victoire on its Twitter account: “This Sunday, 10/17/2021, the number of people arrested by the security forces are 10 . Yesterday, a female friend, Régine Kadoyimana, was arrested. I tell you that until now, the reasons for their arrest are still unknown. “ Speaking to the VOA, RIB spokesperson Thierrey Murangira denied any arrest links to INGABIRE Victoire and to the DALFA-Umurinzi party, stating that the detainees had not been arrested on grounds of belonging to a particular political party. The RIB statement said of those arrested, “They are accused of publishing rumors intended to provoke uprisings and unrest among the population. They have things in common, they constitute an organized group with the intention of spreading rumors intended to provoke uprisings and unrest among the population by using different social media platforms ”, according to RIB spokesperson Thierry Murangira .

If the people arrested have nothing to do with Madame INGABIRE Victoire, why would she then be summoned by the RIB?

This Thursday, October 21, 2021, Madame INGABIRE Victoire was summoned by the RIB to undergo an interrogation in connection exactly with the arrest of its members. Thus at the RIB, according to VOA, INGABIRE Victoire was questioned about the imprisonment of some of his supporters, arrested with the journalist Théoneste NSENGIMANA of the Umubavu TV channel. INGABIRE said: “They say my supporters would have had training based on a book called “Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World”, the other thing is about, I would say, on that day, the day called’ INGABIRE Day ‘; and this seems to be the crux of the matter. Because they want to make a link between the alleged training that these people would have received and this “INGABIRE Day”, alleging that we were going to provoke unrest in the population, capable of undermining the regime. The crimes are serious, you yourself think how to say that 7 people who do not even have a stone in their hands want to overthrow the government on this date [10/14/2021 Editor’s note]. I tried to show them that they connected things that have nothing in common. First of all, I don’t know if this training took place; but also to claim that 7 people had a plan to overthrow the government without using weapons, in a country ruled by the RPF, with its recognized military power is also absurd. “

This is a worse storytelling of what was announced by RIB spokesperson Thierry MURANGIRA. In fact, at the time of their arrest, these people were charged with three counts whose the inner crux is the “spreading of rumours”, the less serious of which carries a sentence of 3 to 5 years in prison while the heaviest is 10 to 15 years.

INGABIRE Victoire explained that all the detainees were arrested one day before the celebration of “INGABIRE Day”, explaining that this day was founded in 2016 while she was still in prison. The day is dedicated to a commemoration, each year, of politicians who are imprisoned for their opinions. INGABIRE explains that it is a normal day to celebrate and which has not been a problem for anyone so far. “It’s a day for Rwandans to think, ‘is it necessary for someones to be jailed for their opinions?’ Deo Mushayidi is in jail, I have members of my party in jail, so these are the people we need to talk about over and over again so that they are not forgotten. This reminds us that they were imprisoned for their ideas, they were imprisoned because they were in the same fight for which I was imprisoned, striving to build a democratic country. RIB agents assaulted me before I finished the note we should use and even the photos to use. And then they fabulated saying that these images that we were going to use, are intended to cause this chaos. I told them that was not our intention. We are fed up with the exacerbation of the country’s situation; there are a lot of people who have been shot for simple reasons. For us, no Rwandan should be killed, because we no longer have the death penalty. No Rwandan leader should hit people, because it is a shame that we are in a country where a leader feels he/she has to hit people. These things are not allowed in our country. We are fighting against this state of situation, and it is the Rwandans who will fight for this situation to end, not the others. “

Mrs. INGABIRE Victoire declared that when she was questioned, she returned home immediately, she was not detained, even though she will show up, on Monday, October 25, 2021; this gives her a glimmer of hope that his colleagues will also be released. “I believe they will be released […], reading a book should not be a crime,” she said.

Some may think that the muscular repression of any dissenting voice, like this one, is a sign of the power of the Kigali regime. I don’t see it that same eye; for me it rather reflects the weaknesses that push Kigali to fear everything. There is what even seems incredible.  Imprisoning someone for having read a book on the overthrow of a dictatorship also means admitting that you are a dictator, from which people learn to free themselves! These arrests also reflect the fear of Paul Kagame in front of INGABIRE Victoire, whose party seems to gain memberships in various regions of the country, despite the muscular squaring of the RPF-Inkotanyi which believes that no Rwandan would dare to join the opposition, furthermore, not yet registered. To say that 7 supporters of INGABIRE Victoire were on the verge of overthrowing power, more than a fabulation, is to recognize the power of this iron woman – even if certainly her ideas themselves are powerful -, but it is It is also to make a fool of yourself because these 7 people are neither generals nor senior leaders, they are ordinary people but they make the lion tremble! I wonder how a country that flies to the rescue of other countries, to save their hard-pressed regimes, can really fear 7 people and make a case for it! Note that the day there will be a meeting like the one held in La Baule in 1989, it will be the end of a regime of terror of the RPF-Inkotanyi. The opening of the political space should therefore constitute, henceforth, the only pressure that the International Community can put on Kagame. Hold on, resist, write, speak, finally the ink will win over the powder, because Kagame’s dictatorship trembles: the slightest zephyir is a hurricane for him!