Rwanda: the presidential campaign takes off with red marks
by Victoire Ingabire, FDU-Inkingi.
The first day of the official registration of presidential candidates (24th of June 2010) was marred with mass arrests of opposition leaders and a brutal repression of peaceful demonstrators calling for the opening of the political space.
The clampdown on the opposition members was marked by torture, arbitrary arrests, disappearances and ethnic demonisation.
The assassination, the same day, of Jean-Léonard Rugambage journalist of the newspaper Umuvugizi, critical of the government was a death blow to any independent newspaper critical of the regime and the incumbent.
The landmarks of the red line of the no-go zone beyond which the opposition and the media are not allowed to cross are clear. The silence of bilateral partners of the regime over such a situation is tantamount to complicity in the repression.
The United Democratic Forces FDU-Inkingi condemns in the strongest terms possible arbitrary arrests of two members of the Executive Committee, Mr. Sylvain Sibomana, Secretary General and of Ms. Alice Muhirwa, Treasurer as well a the party official in Kigali city, M. Théoneste Sibomana. Other FDU members including Martin Ntavuka are still missing since the arrest. M. Osée Michel Nshimiyimana was admitted to a private clinic in Gikondo and is receiving treatment as a result of torture by the Security forces. Many members of our party arraigned by the police have reported cases of torture, inhuman and degrading treatments. The torturers were bragging to extirpate “genocide remnants” from the society. The ill treatments and other physical assaults took place in Police stations, in the Directorate of Military intelligence and in private residences.
We would like to recall that the Founder Chairman of PS Imberakuri, Bernard Ntaganda, and the Secretary General, M. Théobald Mutarambirwa, are still in detention.
The repression against peaceful demonstrators comes in the wake of a media lynching campaign which has been scandalously sectarian.
In fact the governmental mouthpiece Imvahonshya commenting on the decision taken by opposition leaders Mr. Bernard Ntaganda (parti social Imberakuli) and Ms. Victoire Ingabire (FDU- Inkingi) to stand for presidential elections, in its issue nr. 1980 (8-11April 2010, p.7), wrote that “descendants of Nazis are banned from standing for election in Europe whereas in Rwanda, they want to do so”. The Media High Council and the government never denounced that statement, meaning that they condone it.
The comparison made between opposition presidential candidates and Nazis by a governmental owned newspaper in order to belittle their rights and block them from the electoral exercise is racist and reflects an underlying collective criminalization of a section of the population, leave alone the incalculable consequences to our society. Those who are spreading the ideology that someone can be a genocidaire by birth, from generation to generation perpetuates the evil that led to genocide.
We consider that the criminalization of a whole section of the population for crimes committed by extremists and hardliners is also a crime. Condoning and espousing such a divisive ideology by members of the regime of President Kagame is an irrefutable proof that the policy of national reconciliation has failed.
Our political ambition has always been to present and defend a national political programme that transcends ethnic affiliation and brings people together around a common political platform and not ethnic identity. Branding people as « candidates for hutus » is an insult and is at the same time an attempt by the detractors to conserve dirty ethnicity inside rwandan politics. One way to pre-empt politics based on ethnicity is to open the political space and to allow the population to go beyond and freely make choices based on political vision and programmes. The RPF regime has failed to do that.
We are calling on the Government to release immediately all our members and other political prisoners and to bring to justice people responsible for tortures and inhuman and degrading treatments.
Our country is on the brink of chaos. The rising tension, nervousness, repression and the shrinking of the political space call for the postponement of the presidential elections. Otherwise the elections masquerade parading only the ruling party and its allied groups while excluding the opposition leaders and their political parties open questions to the legitimacy of the poll results.
Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza