A regime’s credibility should be measured through, among other things, the kind of justice it metes out to its citizens. The case of Mrs. Victoire Ingabire, President of the Unified Democratic Forces party (FDU-Inkingi), highlights beyond all doubt the absence of equitable justice under the Kigali regime which we have tirelessly denounced in its 18 years of existence. Eight years in prison was the verdict rendered this October 30, 2012.Mrs. Ingabire was found guilty of genocide ideology and threatening state security.
We’d like to point out from the get-go that Mrs. Ingabire’s trial has been nothing short of a nightmarish procedure fraught with serious irregularities from beginning to end. First, she was handled ruthlessly by being denied due defense when her American attorney, Peter Erlinder, was arrested immediately after arriving in Kigali . He was then put in jail, subjected to blackmail, before being asked to leave the country in total shame three weeks later after being granted bail thanks to intense pressure from the international community, starting with the American government. The world was then stunned to witness theatrical interference in Mrs. Ingabire’s case by the highest executive authority, none other than President Paul Kagame himself, who went as far as stating publicly in the place of competent judicial authorities in charge of the matter, that he had irrefutable evidence of her culpability. Then came the mysterious disappearance of Mrs. Ingabire’s personal belongings, including her cell phone, followed by a series of other strange procedural irregularities worthy of a dictatorship. This was a case that, in a true democracy with an equitable and independent judicial system, would simply have been dismissed.
In the end, Kagame’s Rwanda remains the one which Mrs. Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., had so accurately described during her visit in November 2011. She observed that “the political culture in Rwanda remains comparatively closed. Press restrictions persist. Civil society activists, journalists, and political opponents of the government often fear organizing peacefully and speaking out. Some have been harassed. Some have been intimidated by late-night callers. Some have simply disappeared.” There’s no doubt that Mrs. Ingabire’s only sin is that she is a political opponent who dared to run for the presidency.
Other opposition political leaders are rotting in jail in Rwanda . There is Déogratias Mushayidi, President of the PDP-Imanzi party, who was sentenced to life in prison by Rwanda ’s High Court on September 17, 2010. There is also Bernard Ntaganda, President of the PS-Imberakuri party, who was sentenced to 4 years in prison by the High Court on February 11, 2011. Then we have Dr. Théoneste Niyitegeka, whose audacity to run for president in 2003 earned him 15 years of jail time. There are many others yet.
Despite being jailed by a hardened dictator, Mrs. Ingabire’s fight has not been in vain. Her fight has helped to prove to the world that there is neither democracy nor equitable and independent justice in Rwanda . It has also helped to debunk the myth that President Kagame is the world’s model for promoting gender and women’s rights. He will now be known as the African dictator who is serially imprisoning female politicians and female journalists as well, such as Ms. Agnes Uwimana Nkusi, Director of “Umurabyo” newspaper and her collaborator Ms. Saidati Mukakibibi.
The PDR-Ihumure party urgently calls upon the international community to demand the immediate and unconditional release by the Rwandan regime of Mrs. Victoire Ingabire and all other political prisoners languishing in Rwandan jails, particularly Deo Mushayidi, Bernard Ntaganda, Théoneste Niyitegeka, Agnes Uwimana Nkusi, and Saidati Mukakibibi.
Done in Brussels ,
Deputy Executive Secretary