U.N. Report confirms Victoire Ingabire’s position
Months before the UN report was published, she was the first Rwandan to publicly defy Kagame’s regime, on Rwandan soil, by mentioning war crimes committed to Hutu people during RPF military campaigns. Arriving in Rwanda since 16 years, besides acknowledging the Genocide against Tutsi, she equally mentioned crimes against humanity committed to Hutu people in history of Rwanda.
Call for Accountability
“ The report raises serious allegations of brutal and horrific mass killings, rape and other abuses during the period in question,” said the US Government through the Assistant Secretary in charge of the Bureau of Public Affairs, Philip J. Crowley, who has called for accountability for crimes committed against Congolese and Rwandan ethnic Hutus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) over the last decades
January 2010, similar to conclusion of the U.S. political scientists Dr. Alan Stam of the University of Michigan and Dr. Christian Davenport of Notre Dame who have analyzed data from all reported crimes in Rwanda during 1994 and have concluded that more Hutu were killed or brutalized than Tutsi before and after the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) seized power in July 1994, Victoire Ingabire issued a statement:
“We totally agree and are conscious that there has been genocide against Tutsis and we seriously and continuously advocate that all those who were responsible be brought before the courts of justice. We also agree that there have been other serious crimes against humanity and war crimes committed [against Hutus]; those who committed them have to bear the legal consequences. We must all the time remember those tragedies; make sure they don’t get ever repeated. We also need to ensure that people’s lives are effectively and strongly protected by laws”
She refused to submit to the only one-sided orthodoxy permitted by Kagame’s regime. This is something that is still taboo in the country today. Mentioning that RPF leadership commandeered atrocities is a crime that could get you sentenced to more than 25 years of imprisonment under the country’s “genocide ideology” laws. For this, many compare Victoire Ingabire to the American activist, Rosa Louise McCauley Parks whose act of defiance to segregation laws became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.
Soon after she finished her speech, Kagame’s propaganda machine started her character assassination through the media. New Times accused her of being a genocide denier, “a munyarwanda of hate and divisionism”, a double genocide theorist, a revisionist and so on. A few weeks later, the National Police mirroring threats from President Kagame started the grilling of the new opposition leader in the country.
Endless interrogations in police corridors were designed to deter her determination, to dig anything that would help the government reject the registration of her political party, to freeze her freedom and finally to throw her in jail. Since then she is placed under permanent surveillance, her communications are monitored and many hacking attempts to her computers have been recorded. Later on, new charges were brought against her. Terrorism accusations for her alleged working with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) were later added to the list.
Before the UN report, she used to be the only one speaking loudly what many were saying secretly. She accused the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of killing people and being a small group that manages the assets of the country.
The challenges and danger she faces still leaves me wondering how Victoire Ingabire could decide to come back home and stand as an opposition leader against Kagame. When many highest-ranking military officers, prominent politicians, senators, ambassadors and ordinary citizens who don’t agree with Kagame are heading for exile to save their lives, that is the time Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza is heading to Rwanda to do politics.
In Rwanda, people like General Kayumba Nyamwasa, a founding member of the ruling party RPF who narrowly escaped an assassination in exile in South Africa, are not safe home or abroad. Mr. Safari Stanley, Senator, the author of the RPF notorious vague law on “ genocide ideology” and on genocide denial, has been charged of the same genocide ideology before going in exile. Mr. Joseph Sebarenzi, a speaker of the house of parliament and a genocide survivor has had to resign and ended up in exile for disagreeing with the government.
January 2010, Victoire Ingabire resigned from her job in the Netherlands, left her family behind and travelled to Rwanda to represent a party she knew had less chance of being registered. At Amsterdam Airport, she spent a few minutes with the press, she hugged goodbye to her children and husband, she waved to her supporters and she headed to the boarding gate on her way back to her homeland.
To those who know her, this came as no surprise because this lady’s political career didn’t start from there. Since she took the leadership of RDR, a political party that started as a refugees’ advocate movement for their return way back in 1995, Victoire has engineered alliances and coalitions with other opposition parties, which culminated in the formation of her current exile-based FDU party.
Victoire Ingabire’s return to Rwanda was felt by many to be a significant and impactful initiative from Rwandan opposition. She strategically joined forces with two other embattled opposition leaders in the country, Mr Frank Habineza, President of the Democratic Green party and Mr. Bernard Ntaganda, President of Socialist Party to form a “Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties”.
She is now kept under house arrest and Kagame wants her to be forgotten before he jails her for the next 20 years or more.
[The Proxy Lake]