Is it Diane Shima Rwigara and her family on trial or Kagame and his Courts are on trial?

By Charles Kambanda

The woman who wanted to challenge Kagame in the recent presidential race was yesterday asked to defend herself on the crime of inciting insurrection and making Rwandans hate their government.

Prosecution alleges that the defendant committed the crime on July 14th 2017, during a Press Conference, at a Hotel in Kigali. Only a handful of journalists attended the Press Conference, during which Diane Rwigara launched a civil society organization; Itabaza.

Prosecution argues that during the Press Conference, Ms. Diane Shima Rwigara made statements that constitute the crime of inciting insurrection and making Rwandans hate their government. The statement Diane Shima Rwigara made, which she does not deny, are:

a) History proves that most Rwandans easily unite to butcher others instead of uniting to fight injustices and dictators.

b) Some Rwandans that support my candidacy will certainly be imprisoned and/or killed

c) The unprecedented numbers of enforced disappearances and assassinations in the country is scary and dangerous for acountry, like Rwanda, with has a long history of horrific violence

d) There is practically no electricity and clean water in Rwanda

e) The government of Rwanda wastes tones on dollars in Public Relations and/or propaganda compared to the cents spent of addressing the general public’s concrete problems.

Diane Shima Rwigara’s sister and mother alegedly share Diana Shima Rwigara’s view; they made similar statements on different occasions. The three were jointly charged for ” inciting insurrection and making Rwandans hate their government.

While defending herself, Diane Rwigara argued tha( i) she stands by her statements ( ii) all the statements are true, to the best of her knowledge, ( iii) the constitution of Rwanda guarantees her freedom of opinion and speech and so (v) she has no case to answer.

The gut-wreaching question came from no other than the presiding Judge: “can you prove to this court that the government is responsible for enforced dissappearance and assassinations … why do you smear our government?” Your Honor”, Ms. Dian Shima Rwigara responded, ” I did not accuse the government of any crime. However, its true that countless people have been disappeared and/or assassinated. The government does not appear interested in investigating these cases. Isn’t government responsibilityto protect Rwandans and investigate such cases?”

That’s law-made in Rwanda. It’s dangerous and risky to hold a different opinion, from what Kagame junta ” preaches”, over any issue. Kagame has mastered the ” art” of using courts of law to persecure his critics. Courts of law in Rwanda appear comfortable with Kagame junta’s systematic violation of people’s fundamental rights and freedoms.