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Kagame says ‘No to Nonsense of Lack of Freedoms and Political Space in Rwanda’

Paul Kagame afungura inama y'umushyikirano 2011

President Paul Kagame opening the ‘Umushyikirano 2011’

President Paul Kagame has said that only Rwandans can have the right to define who they want to be and work towards that and only them have that freedom to make such choices but not foreigners, intruders, the press or rights groups.

Speaking at the opening of the 9th National Dialogue (Umushyikirano) at the Parliamentary buildings today, President Kagame called on Rwandans to stand up and defend themselves against intruders who assume the responsibility of defining who they should be and what should define their country.

In a powerful speech, President Kagame came out strongly against the critics who usually say that despite economic progress, there are no rights and freedoms of expressions and democracy in Rwanda, observing that it is a responsibility of Rwandans to say whether such rights exist or not.

Addressing a full house of central government leaders, local government leaders, private sector and civil society representatives, religious leaders and diplomatic corps, President Kagame said that it is disturbing when foreigners, who sometimes don’t fulfill the lessons they teach others, ignore the progress made and instead start pointing accusing fingers, calling upon Rwandans to reject this patronizing attitude.

Amidst applause, the Head of State pointed out that Rwandans should find it offensive for such critics to undermine the home grown solutions such as the National Dialogue to instead accuse countries of stamping on freedoms.

He said that the objective of initiatives such as the Dialogue is to ensure that all Rwandans have a platform to participate and play a central role in the development and decision making processes of their country but such are never recognised.

“This meeting is a symbol of nation building through a process where all Rwandans have a right to contribute to the process and play an active role in deciding the path of their country,”

“They will talk about the many things Rwandans have achieved but then they say ’but’….why the but?They say Rwandans don’t have freedoms of expressions. I see three things involved, we are either dumb, even if we have what we want to say, we can’t because we are dumb. Secondly, maybe Rwandans can’t say anything because there is someone silencing them,”
“Thirdly, probably you might not be dumb or no one is silencing you but you have nothing to say. Today, I want us to find an answer to this question, to assess what other people think we are and then come up with a stand of who we want to be, regardless of what other people think of us. Whoever considers us to be whatever, that’s their burden,” President Kagame said.

The Head of State wondered why people talk of the economy growing but cannot put in perspective other aspects such as democratic processes, freedoms of speech and other rights which Rwandans have defined and put in place themselves along with the economic development that is visible but continue to complain about space.

“Which space is bigger than this one?” President Kagame said in reference to the dialogue itself.

“In fact the space that is lacking is that space which is constantly being occupied by those intruders. This nonsense from outsiders is the one occupying our freedom. These so called teachers of freedom, space, the same people getting stuck with genocidaires murderers and criminals,” he said, pointing out the case of Theoneste Bagosora, the genocide mastermind whose sentence was on Wednesday reduced from life to 35 years by the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR).

“It has taken them 17 years to try him and try him so badly and they are the same people coming here to give us press freedoms? You are a joker. Some of us you come to teach about freedoms have been freedom fighters for their and other peoples rights since childhood. We have interest in our own freedoms and rights than anyone else has. We have that responsibility more that anyone else,” President Kagame said.

President Kagame said such people can do it, just because they can but not becuase they are right.

“They can do it to Africans, they want to do it to Rwandans but I want to assure you that we are different people. You Rwandans sitting here should not accept this nonsense. Accepting it is unthinkable, but accepting it is worse off for you, stand up and defend that right, they should not speak for you,” he said.

The Head of State took a swipe at rights groups and the media, saying that the two should not be the ones to be seen to have the right to define or choose what Rwandans want and also make freedoms appear like a myth where only a few have the power and previlege to define them and know what suits others.

“My question is, who are you? Who are you speaking for? Are these millions of Rwandans here waiting for you to come and tell them what their interests should be and what their rights are?
You Rwandans should reject that. We cannot make this progress and then at the same time fail in other areas, it doesn’t just add up,” he said.

The Head of State said that he was recently reading a foreign newspaper where a certain person wrote that they cannot be governed by a minority several years after the country failed to form a government, observing that such a statement comes out wishful thinking because Rwanda is not governed by a minority but rather Rwandans.

“They wish to be governed like Rwanda, these are people who havent been governed for two years, they failed to put in place a government.
Who is minority? I am not from a minority, I am from these Rwandans you see here. We cannot be a minority in our own country. These are people who need lessons about Rwanda, lessons in freedoms, you cannot teach us about our own freedom,” he said

“The main problem is just one and thats what brings us here, they can afford to call us all sorts of names, they can do whatever they want— and they can do anything, ask where Mutara Rudahigwa went, they will do that because you depend on them, they give you remains, when you depend on them, anything will happen. Even passersby will poke at you, that’s the position we are in, that’s the position we want to live far behind us and that’s why we are here,” he added.

He called on Rwandans to be more determined than ever to be in the position they want to be and end being in the position of being beggars and that will be the only way Rwandans will be independent of such negative references.

Source: Rwandan governement website www.umushyikirano.gov.rw

4 comments

1 Mzee wa kazi { 12.20.11 at 10:23 pm }

The biggest critics of Kagame and his dictatorial government are not foreigners but in fact Rwandans who have been locked out of their country or forced into exile by the climate in Rwanda. I like his usage of the word DUMB. The only way a Munyarwanda can survive inside Rwanda is by pretending to be dumb. You have to allow Kagame to be the only philosopher to define what Rwanda needs. The so-called economic progress is meaningless without basic freedoms. Having been in exile himself we thought Kagame the Man had learnt a lesson so that in his leadership he would never create situations that force Rwandans to flee their country. When commenting on a Rwandan journalist recently killed in Kampala, Kagame said the victim was a thief. Is theft punishable by assassination in Rwanda?

2 Matt { 12.31.11 at 11:41 am }

Is here any Rwandan community in London?

3 kats { 04.08.12 at 1:19 pm }

@ mzee wa kazi
I beg to differ from your point of view. We should not say that people are going into exile and stop from there. If Kagame can let FDLR come back to their country then why can he feel happy with his former commanders whom they fought together the liberation war when they flee their country! The truth is that Kagame isn’t the one who creates the environment that makes these people flee their country. They created it themselves the moment they regarded themselves to be untouchable, people who are above the law. Most of these generals had occupied vast lands and couldn’t mind about hundreds of Rwandans who were having no land to cultivate. The problem of Africans is that we want to live a life where the people on top become lords and the common people are simply sufferers. We should keep in mind that winning war doesn’t translate into sharing the riches of the country amongst army officers. Kagame is a kind of person who cares for his people and the critics are only self centred, full of greed.
Democracies are not developed just in a single day and it’s not imported or given through donations so that he can buy them for us. Even the so called democracies did not achieve them in a short period. It took them hundreds of years and up to now they’ve failed to agree on the same system that can define what democracy is. I believe that as we have managed to solve so many complex challenges that our has passed through even these freedoms we shall establish them ourselves with no foreign intervention.
Stop simply shouting out there, come and help us to build our nation instead of portraying destructive ideas that in turn may instead destroy our nation.

4 Umurerwa stella { 06.04.12 at 3:30 pm }

The only one we accept is our president,give him a bit of time! Do you think Rwandans are blind? Im sure that they know what they want,kagame is not mugabe or any other guy who promises air to his people,he loves Rwanda that’s the most important issue,it means that he loves his people’ give us a break there we build our Rwanda.

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