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Rwanda arrests presidential candidate Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza; Rwandans call on the international community to speak out

April 21, 2010

On the morning of April 21, Rwandan police arrested presidential candidate and icon of peace and justice Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza less than four months before the Aug. 9 presidential election.

The stakes in this political contest are very high throughout the Great Lakes region of Africa, including D.R. Congo, site of the most lethal conflict in the world since World War II. The U.S. State Department and Pentagon have manipulated tensions in the region for many years, as I have reported in the San Francisco Bay View, Digital Journal and Global Research and on KPFA and KMEC News.

BBC World News Radio reports that Ingabiré was rushed to court in six hours, rather than the seven days expected. To listen, click here.

Toronto-based Rwandan exile, writer, activist and FDU-Inkingi Party member Aimable Mugara wrote the following call to the international community to come to the aid of Mrs. Ingabiré and peaceloving Rwandan people. – Ann Garrison

by Aimable Mugara

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza - Photo: AFP
Mrs. Victoire Ingabire is a 41-year-old mother of three. She had a very good job in the Netherlands, where she had been studying during the 1994 genocide. In 2009, she resigned to return to Rwanda and participate in the presidential election this August 2010. She was back in Rwanda on Jan. 17, 2010, after 16 years in exile. She was recognized by all as the main leader of the Rwandan non-violent political opposition.

After three months of fabricating evidence, today the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) Rwandan government arrested her. The current Rwandan government’s abuse of prisoners has been documented by many human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Mrs. Ingabire is currently at risk of torture or even death while incarcerated.

Today is a very sad day for Rwanda because the current Rwandan government is sending a message that if you participate peacefully in the country’s political process, there is a price to pay. If the government thinks that the people may vote for you, you will be jailed. This disrespect for human rights and democracy is exactly what caused the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

The extremists’ belief that the only way to resolve political issues is through violence is exactly what caused the genocide. For 50 years, there has never been a peaceful transfer of power in Rwanda. Every president of Rwanda who has ever lost power lost it only by being killed or by being jailed. Mrs. Victoire Ingabire believed in a new Rwanda – a new Rwanda where power can be changed peacefully, at the ballot box.

If you participate peacefully in the country’s political process, there is a price to pay. If the government thinks that the people may vote for you, you will be jailed. This disrespect for human rights and democracy is exactly what caused the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Today is a turning point in Rwanda’s future. What happens from now on will determine whether the 50-year curse of using violence to make political change in Rwanda remains the only way possible. Or whether non-violent peaceful democratic ways championed by Mrs. Ingabire remain a viable option to create political change in Rwanda.

Below are five actions you can take to help the Rwandan people in this very dark moment of Rwandan history:

1. Donate to Mrs. Ingabire’s Legal Defense Fund at http://ww.fdu-rwanda.org/donation. In the Comments field, please note “Ingabire’s Legal Defense Fund.”

2. Contact your local Human Rights Watch office and let them know of today’s injustice. Contact information can be found at http://www.hrw.org/en/contact-us.

3. Contact Amnesty International Secretariat and let them know of today’s injustice. Contact information can be found at http://www.amnesty.org/en/contact.

4. Contact Mrs. Ingabire’s party and let them know that you stand with Rwandan people in this peaceful struggle for peace, equality and human rights for all Rwandans. Contact information can be found at http://www.fdu-rwanda.org/fr/contacts-rwanda/index.html.

5. Contact any other organizations you can think of such as media, human rights organizations, international aid groups, embassies.

Aimable Mugara
As peace-loving Rwandan people, we call upon you to help us convince Gen. Kagame’s current Rwandan government that this dangerous escalation is not in the government’s interests and it is not in the interests of any peace-loving person on earth. We thank you in advance!

Aimable Mugara is a Rwandan exile, writer and activist living in Toronto, Canada, and a member of the Rwandan FDU-Inkingi Party led by Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza. He is the author of two blogs, Rwanda Human Rights and Democracy and Rwanda Hall of Shame.


Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza made this presentation at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands on April 15, 2009, before she had officially declared her candidacy. She had been invited by the United Nations Students Association to discuss Rwanda’s history and politics, as well as her presidential ambitions.

32 thoughts on “Rwanda arrests presidential candidate Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza; Rwandans call on the international community to speak out

  1. elias

    I new this should happen, what a peace then if they don’t have free and fair for all their are just a joke to appear to the internationals in help to kill the human being.

    Reply
  2. Peacemaker

    Democracy in Rwanda has different meaning, that why the ruling party believed and still believing in what they called democracy since 1994 genocide. We should have the same understanding when we talk about democracy, if I against your system does not mean that I hate you, Ingabire will be one of the victims of the democracy in Rwanda, and her party should move on, harder and united,hope one day we will see the light because of her, and democracy will be established because of her and those who are mistreated by the RPF the ruling party, God is with all WHO fight for peace, God be with you Ingabire, we are together.

    Reply
  3. Albert

    Thank you for your work, this report has the truth that many media are blocked to let us know about Rwanda, we used to think that thinks are 100% good and perfect, and now here comes the truth in just one week after 16years. I cant believe it.
    Thanks BayView.

    Reply
  4. Ann Garrison

    Victoire’s courage is epic. I’m urging all my Rwandan friends to post these Bay View links telling her story to their blogs and websites, to increase their visibility in Google Search. The more visible Victoire is, to the international community, the more protection she’ll have. I didn’t expect her to be granted bail yesterday. See new post, today: http://goo.gl/9p75

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  5. nicodeme

    Ann oh Ann, you need to see the light!!! all I can do is pray for you, how can you use words like epic and courage in relation to Ingabire, a woman whose agenda is to reopen the wounds of Rwandans with hate speech? You whites amaze me at times and indeed wonders will never end. I suggest you advise your hero Ingabire to get her act together and revisit her outdated ideologies.

    Reply
  6. Ann Garrison

    @nicodeme: Just why would you be praying for me? You think I am in danger? Some people have suggested that but it seems very remote, though I have been warned, more realistically I’d say, not to travel to Rwanda without the company of prominent U.S. leaders.

    Reply
  7. cash

    @Ann, The only danger you face is your ignorance of realities in Rwanda. I am not sure any prominent US leader would want you on their delegation anywhere. Don’t wanna waste hard earned taxpayers money now do we?

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  8. Joy

    I wonder which prominent US leaders are willing to Escort such a genocide activist like Ann. Just where were you in 1994 and before that when the habyarimana regime was slaughtering Tutsi’s? why werent you this vocal? if you have failed to get another source of income, stop using Rwanda to get funding for your genocidal activities. We dont know you, dont care about your “opposition people” and yes, you wouldnt be welcome here if you are being a prophetess of doom…..we need angels here in Rwanda.You and Habineza and whats her name are simply not. STOP TELLING THE WORLD LIES. Rwanda is MUCH MORE THAN KAGAME, IT IS ABOUT US THE RWANDANS and we are tired of all your hypocrisy. You make me sick. If you have kids, I pray they dont take up your line of work.

    Reply
  9. Ann Garrison

    Didas Gasana, Editor of banned Kinyarwanda language newspaper Umuseso said: “I would like Americans to know that their tax dollars are being used to support one of the most brutal dictatorships in Africa. I would like them to ask President Obama and the Congress why. . . “

    Reply
    1. June sina

      "Americans tax dollars are used…" completely shum. Rwanda is regarded as of the African countries that account for donar's money.Thats a reality and jsutifid that its the regarded as the least corrupt country in Africa.

      Reply
  10. cash

    Ann, where were you in 1994?? How dare you sit on your high horse and pose to know more about Rwanda than Rwandans?

    Reply
  11. Tharcisse

    Ann,
    If there is anybody who has never seen or heard an empty Tin and the noise it makes,he/she should see you!!!!Even ur photo does not make things any better!! A massenger of Doom indeed!!! You look what you write.Ingabire`s bail is not a surprise to anybody, except you. She is a Rwandan and thus treated like anybody to ur surprise,poor u!!! She is not above the law to ur disappointment,and the law will take its course whether u like it or not.Shame upon u! There aren`t many unsuspecting people out there to deceive!!!

    Reply
  12. Jeremie Musonera

    @ Ann

    Don`t waste time discussing with Kagame`s agents on this blog.They are very stupid and the only argument they have now is saying all kinds of insults against you and all who praise your audacity. What is in their minds is just extremism,hatred,and criminality.They dream killing people who oppose their dictatorship system.Nothing good will come from their bloody brain.They think all western people must embrace what they say and support all what they do.They are just out of mind !!!!!

    Reply
    1. June Sina

      @ Jeremie. May i know why you like accusing people of insults when actually you are the patron of that yourself.Has there been any decent word coming out of your mouth really? every time you open your mouth your pour out venom. Cut it off man,if you were decent enough you would atleast have remorse of what people you are defending did to innocent Rwandan Tutsis but you dont have remorse and tells us exactly what you are capable of.,Continue the legacy of genocide.Isnt that waht you want?

      Reply
  13. Joy

    @ Ann and Jeremie Musonera

    We are not anyone’s agents but even if we were, we are more than happy to stand by him and his actions. Go bite on that.

    The former regimes killed with impunity and no one said anything. Or maybe you werent borne by then?!! Why dont you ask us that were there at the time to give you an account of what we went through? Do you think the people you supporting honestly mean well?

    We are enjoying peace and stability and you want to shake that up for us. We refuse and stand firm against all your nonsense.

    And Anne, i would expect you as a journalist not to tell people to piss off….just shows what kind of journalist you…”briefcase, bigoted and trigger happy journalist”
    Your articles lack any coherence, facts and eloquence. You just reiterate romours and sour grapes by those who have failed to destabilize Rwanda’s current regime. Believe me, you backing up the wrong horses here, they are so insignificant to us Rwandans so no matter how hard you try to shove them down our faces, we know whats good for us.

    Get off your lazy ass and try coming to Rwanda and seeing for yourself. Stop relying on genocide deniers testimonies. They are not especially happy people.

    Reply
  14. Luke

    @Cash and Tharcisse.

    I am Rwandan and I agree 100% with what Ann says. Please try to be fair and humble when you discuss with other human beings. After all, when you know the truth you can discuss it without insulting people. Frankly speaking we need mutual respect, and if you need to know why mutual respect is so important go to LUKE 6:31. It reads: Do for others just what you want them to do for you. I think what Luke wrote in the Bible is not a genocide ideology

    Reply
    1. June Sina

      @ Luke.I know that and completely understand that bse i witnessed during genocide the killers praying holding Bibles before smashing a 4 month baby on a tree stump. You even recall the Radio RTLM songs calling people to celebrate that thy have killed all the Tutsi-the last word was that" Imana ntirenganya" -Sorry Ann but you will surely get a translator from one of your agents.using God's name even as you commit the biggest sins ever.Now Luke is blindfolding us with Bible quatations while justying genocide agents-its not new we have seen it before

      Reply
  15. Jeremie Musonera

    @Gigi, Cash , Tharcisse

    You are now at a level where you can`t hide who you are indeed. Give Ann a break ! If you want someone to insult,go ahead and do that to me a rwandan like you.I am used to this from people like you who in their stubborness don`t want to respect whoever has different opinions than them and speaks about the reality going on in Rwanda.Go ahead and utter your insults but know the boundaries.Be matures !!!!

    Reply
  16. cash

    Immaturity and no boundaries is Ann telling someone to piss off!! I wonder how close that is, to calm and reasoned argument according to Ann.
    As for reality going on in Rwanda, ofcourse you will never know because you sit wherever it is you are, constrained by the fear and hatred in your heart that will not let you acknowledge the progress Rwanda has made.

    Reply
  17. Ann Garrison

    @ Cash and company: You and your people have been calling me names and hurling all kinds of vicious, illiterate, illogical, and badly spelled and punctuated insults, including accusations of sexual perversion motivating my reporting, all over the Web. If you expect me to keep reading this and responding rationally instead of finally telling you to piss off, then piss off.

    To any more honest and rational readers here, I recommend the WBAI-New York City radio interview with Law Professor Peter Erlinder now available at this link on my blog: http://goo.gl/IEjz

    And, this CNN video interview with Paul Rusesabagina: http://goo.gl/Ayyp Note that he says Kagame has re-instituted slavery, by sending Rwandan prisoners to labor unpaid in eastern Congolese mines. This is the first time I’ve heard this, but it’s a serious accusation, coming from a serious man, so I’m bookmarking it, in my notes and my mind, as something I’ll be looking for more information about.

    I have seen video about horrific labor conditions, including child labor, in Congolese mines, but this is the first time I’ve heard of Rwandan prisoners working in them.

    Reply
    1. June Sina

      @Ann.And when you do look for more information about Rwandans working in congolese mines, do it professionally.We expect a story from the 2 sides, not the one you side around and make a phone call to your agents and then you come up with biased stories.
      As for our badily spelt ,badly punctuated,illiterate name it,we couldnt do better.When were supposed to be literates when our governments were busy teaching us hate-you may say that were literates of hate bse thats what our pre 1994 governments taught us.
      If you give us a few more years our spelling will improve, we have just started learning Ann just 16yrs ago, And i think we are doing well thanks to the regime that emphasizes really academics orther than Kangura lessons.

      Reply
  18. June Sina

    @ Musonera. What happened to the decent man who teaches orthers not to insults? Old habbits die hard,you cant help yourself,can you?

    Reply
  19. Hi

    I’m not Rwandese, I’m an American journalist who has lived in Rwanda for a while now. And I just need to say to Ann, that if you actually came and experienced this country, you would be taking a very different angle with this story.

    I’ve traveled all over Africa (including the D.R.C.) and can tell you that Rwanda is by far the most peaceful, relaxed country I’ve seen. I’ve visited prisons and can clearly see that they are much more humane than our prisons at home. I’ve developed close friendships with both genocide survivors and family members of those who have committed the genocide. And these friends are friends with each other, despite the very different situations each of their families were in just 16 years ago. I’ve met perpetrators who have repented and survivors who have forgiven. If you look at a Rwandese person’s ID card, it makes no reference to Hutus or Tutsis, it identifies the person as a Rwandan and that is the attitude the country is gradually adopting. Human rights groups take issue with Kagame’s policy against divisionism, but you know what? They’d have many more issues if it wasn’t in place. Much, much more serious issues.

    But, can I go into each and every home in Rwanda and monitor each and every family’s situation? No. Can I tap into each and every phone call the government makes and monitor exactly what they are doing with every individual in the country? No. But I can tell you what’s right in front of me, and that’s a stable country. Even considering the recent grenade attacks– they haven’t succeeded in creating large scale fear.

    A person can still walk around at night in this country safely. Try doing that in Nairobi or Dar Es Salaam, or even major U.S. cities. I can tell you that the police are not corrupt. As opposed to Kenya, for example, the thought of attempting to bribe a Rwandan policeman is absurd. I can tell you that the house I’m staying at contains both Hutus and Tutsis. Genocide survivors. And I can also tell you that the idea of your female Mandela becoming president disgusted them all. And Ann, it doesn’t matter how many human rights reports, or New York Times articles we read. We’re never going to understand this country as well as the people who have lived here their entire lives. That’s why your stories need accounts from Rwandese citizens representing BOTH sides of the issue.

    They are the ones who understand how this country works and the reactions that are likely to come from her words. Not us. Democracy as we value it in the U.S. is not a one-size-fits all concept. A person’s right to free speech is restricted even in the U.S., specifically in the case of “fighting words,” which we can’t accurately identify unless we spend a LOT of time inside this culture. And, according to the people who live here, at least within my network, Umuhoza’s words were fighting words. Maybe they wouldn’t be in the U.S., but they are here.

    As outside journalists, it’s tempting to believe we have a certain responsibility to expose injustices occurring in Africa. That’s our job, right? We think it’s the right thing to do. When we hear stories of extreme violence and the needless killing of innocent people, we feel empathetic and want to do something for those people. But there are many places in Africa that simply aren’t broken and don’t need our fixing. And when you go searching for them, you find stories like this and make the mistake of advocating for the wrong people. You end up offending the people you should really be the most respectful towards.

    And forgive me if I come off as patronizing. But, if you look around Rwanda and see what Kagame’s initiatives to promote forgiveness and a common identity in the country have done to achieve incredible stability in an incredibly short period of time, your stomach would churn the second you read your previous reports characterizing him as a blood-thirsty dictator.

    And, there is nothing wrong with telling this story and bringing into discussion the issue of free speech in Rwanda. But please at least pay tribute to the fact that Kagame himself went the “Mandela route” to promote forgiveness, eliminate the death penalty, accept Hutus of the former regime back into his own government…one of my friends here even told me that the army itself is made up of 60% Hutus.

    After reading your article, and many articles written by the international community about this whole issue, my thought was, “Ok. If I was in the U.S., had never been to Rwanda, and read this, it’d be easy to absorb the angle taken. But actually being in Rwanda, I look around and I don’t see a broken country, not at all. I see an inspiring one that the U.S. could learn a lot from.”

    And if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

    Reply

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