By David Himbara
General Paul Kagame appears to have imagined that if he freed the women he jailed for daring to challenge him for high office, they would thank him and disappear from the public space. Kagame was badly mistaken. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza refused to keep quiet. Diane Rwigara is refusing to keep quiet. As Rwigara herself explained, she is more determined than ever to speak out on injustices in her country. ”I just don’t see myself and everyone else I know keeping on living in fear” — Rwigara said. Diane Rwigara will not be silenced.
If further evidence were needed to show how determined Rwigara is to pursue her purpose, see her October 9, 2018 interview with CNN. Rwigara’s key statements in the interview are as follows:
“Jail has not squashed my political ambitions at all. On the contrary, it has given me more determination because I just don’t see myself and everyone else I know keeping on living in fear.”
“Anybody who dares to challenge the government is viciously attacked – whether you’re a man or a woman.”
“I know the Rwandan government is scared of the movement – it’s scared because they know I’m speaking the truth and they do not want to be exposed. That is the main fear that they have – the fear of being exposed.”
“The only women who are welcome are the women who speak the language of the RPF (Kagame’s ruling party). They are the only women they want. If you dare to speak a different language, you are no longer part of society. They try to demonize you, they attack you in any way that they can.”
“Kigali is full of nice buildings, but the people live in poverty. The focus of our government has been things, buildings. But they have not been able to build up people’s lives. They (Kagame’s government) are more interested in impressing the outside – the West – than impressing their own people, the Rwandan people. The fact that Kigali is clean and nice-looking does not mean that our government cares about its own people. People are harassed, people disappear, people get killed, and all those things our government doesn’t want us to expose.”
“It has not been an easy journey… but that does not stop us from going forward because I see this movement as the main channel for our voices to be heard…It’s one thing to punish me for my beliefs, but it’s another thing to punish everyone around me.”
“I criticized the government and this is what happens in Rwanda when you criticize the government – you are punished for it. The punishment for me was prison.”
“It’s for us to dare to speak out – because all Rwandans see what’s going on, they see what’s happening, but they’ve been pushed to silence. The Rwandan people should be the first to get out and speak out and force our government to be accountable, because our government isn’t accountable to anyone.”
Kagame guards roughing Adeline in the courtroom — justice Kagame style.
I have said this before and I say it again. Rwandan women will free Rwanda. Here is a woman who has risked everything; jailed with her mother, Adeline Rwigara; family properties seized; lost her father mysteriously; but keeps going. Diane Rwigara is a definition of leadership — courage, and total commitment to her vision of a prosperous and democratic Rwanda. Rwigara will not be silenced.