Fear and Insecurity are Kagame’s Principal Weapons
- Victorie Ingabire returned to Rwanda in 2010 in order to register her party and run for the Presidential seat against Paul Kagame. She stepped off of the plane went to a genocide memorial site where she spoke to supporters and dared to mention that Hutu were also killed during the genocide and should be remembered as well. This statement landed her in a judicial sea of vague charges and house arrest.
|Paul Kagame photo by Jennifer Fierberg
At the time she was part of a coalition of opposition groups who all came to her defense and stood by her side demanding she be released. On October 30th 2012 the judicial gymnastics have finally ended in the conviction of Mrs. Ingabire and a harsh sentence of eight years in one of the world’s worst prisons, 1930 in Rwanda. Sadly, neither of the other two parties that were part of the coalition upon her return has made any statement thus far as to her sentencing.
President Kagame needed to get rid of Mrs. Ingabire upon her return to Rwanda because she posed a strong and credible threat to his continued rule since 1994 and he knew she might just win the election back in August 2010 so she was arrested. He won the election at 93% and later expressed strong disappointment that he did not win by a larger margin. Now, with her sentence, she is a convicted criminal in Rwanda and cannot run for President so he has successfully been able to rid his country of a real threat to his continual oppressive rule.
In a press release published by her party the FDU-INKINGI made the following statement:
The Rwandan justice system is broken.
All of you who might still doubt the unfairness and the lack of independence of the Rwandan justice system with regard to the regime of Paul Kagame, open your eyes. Throughout the trial, we tirelessly showed you how the High Court, by violating basic judicial procedures and evidence of innocence presented by the defense, persisted in its wanderings and declared itself competent to judge the facts all of which were unsubstantiated and were contested by the defense, the facts that apparently occurred before the law repressing them was enacted or the facts that have been committed outside the jurisdiction of the High Court. Even the illegal acquisition of the evidential documents from the Netherlands, which were supposed to show the collaboration of Madame Victoire Ingabire with the armed rebellion of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), turned out to be a windbag. The Prosecution failed to provide, beyond any reasonable doubt, the evidence of guilt for Madame Victoire Ingabire. By refusing to consider the testimonies and breaches to the judicial procedure that were presented by the defense team, and moreover, by violating the basic legal principles of non-retroactivity of criminal laws and jurisdictions, the High Court failed to interpret the law and therefore denied to Madame Victoire Ingabire the right to a fair trial.
For FDU-Inkingi Coordinating Committee
Dr. Nkiko Nsengimana
Many political and human rights organization have published reactions to this miscarriage of justice. The Rwanda National Congress published the following statement in reaction to her sentencing:
The Rwandan Justice System, once again, demonstrated today that it continues to serve the interests of the government and the RPF, instead of serving those of the people of Rwanda.
The sentencing of Madame Victoire Ingabire is another wakeup call that reminds us of the urgent need for regime change and the introduction of a government that will implement the rule of law and fairness in the Rwandan justice system.
Despite the failure of the Prosecution in this case to prove beyond reasonable doubt, that Ingabire is guilty of charges she is accused of, she was sentenced to eight years in prison. This is violation of due process, which requires the government to follow certain procedures before it deprives a person of life, liberty, or property. Also, the Rwandan courts failed to determine whether the government had sufficient justification for its actions of taking Madame Ingabire’s liberty.
Signed by: Jean Paul Turayishimye
Date: October 30, 2012
Human Rights Watch published the following statement, in part, on the day of Victorie Ingabire’s sentencing:
|“||The prosecution of Ingabire for ‘genocide ideology’ and divisionism illustrates the Rwandan government’s unwillingness to tolerate criticism and to accept the role of opposition parties in a democratic society,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The courts should not be used for such political purposes.
Human Rights Watch cannot comment on the veracity of the charges relating to Ingabire’s alleged collaboration with armed groups, but is concerned that some of the evidence used to convict her appears to be unreliable.
Many political analysts and outside journalists have voiced a consensus that this verdict was 100% politically motivated and was used to silence a legitimate opponent to the current ruling party.
Rwanda refuses to open up political space and silences and dissident voices whether they are political, media or individuals.
With the pressure Rwanda is currently under with the international community they may have used a ‘reduced’ sentence of eight years to appear lenient but it did not work. This is a harsh sentence based on the politics of hate that government of Rwanda is known for.
While President Kagame may feel he is giving her a break by not giving her life in prison he is really sealing his own fate in the eyes of international donors who have called for him to open up political space.
Kagame’s insecurity is showing more and more each day and his fear of change and vocal dissent will be a losing battle.
Jennifer Fierberg is a social worker in the US working on peace and justice issues in Africa with an emphasis on the crisis in Rwanda and throughout the central region of Africa. Her articles have been published on many humanitarian sites that are also focused on changing the world through social, political and personal action.
Jennifer has extensive background working with victims of trauma and domestic violence, justice matters as well as individual and family therapy. Passionate and focused on bringing the many humanitarian issues that plague the African Continent to the awareness of the developed world in order to incite change. She is a correspondent, Assistant Editor, and Volunteer Coordinator for NGO News Africa through the volunteer project of the UN. Jennifer is also the media co-coordinator and senior funding executive for The Africa Global Village (www.africaglobalvillage.com) Jennifer comes to www.Salem-News.com with a great deal of experience and passion for working to stop human right violation in Africa.