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Free African political prisoner Victoire Ingabire

August 31, 2011

by Ann Garrison

“Don’t give up. He will never jail a whole nation.” – Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza

Victoire behind bars
We need an international movement to free Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Her case is important to African people all over the continent and in the Diaspora and to all of us, all people.

The weight on Victoire’s shoulders is that of resource war, the ongoing wars for the world’s natural resources that threaten to destroy the whole planet. The fate of her tiny East African nation, Rwanda, is intertwined with the resource war in Rwanda’s vast, resource rich neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, site of the most lethal conflict since World War II. The Congo conflict has taken over 6 million African lives since 1998 alone.

Background of the Congo conflict, in Rwanda and Uganda

In 1990, the U.S. and Uganda backed the invasion of Rwanda, from Uganda, by an army of ethnic Tutsis who had grown up in Uganda, the children of Rwandan refugees. Four years of bloody civil war left over a million Rwandans dead, and Rwanda then joined Uganda and Burundi, the other two nations on Congo’s eastern border, in invading Congo, first to overthrow Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and then to overthrow his successor, Laurent Kabila, the onetime ally who had proven less than compliant in their project: the ongoing occupation, de facto colonization and resource plunder of eastern Congo.

A peace treaty was signed in 2003, but the death toll in Congo continues to rise. The majority of war dead perish of hardship after being driven from their resource rich land, rich in minerals, timber, cropland, fresh water, oil and natural gas, everything that feeds the world’s industrial and military industrial machines and the global capitalist system’s insatiable demand for profit.


I don’t believe that Victoire went home to Rwanda, after 16 years spent first studying, then working and raising a family in the Netherlands, to take on so much weight, the weight of resource war threatening the whole world, but that is the broad context in which her own people are suffering. She said she was returning home because she could no longer stand to see her Rwandan people suffering so, under such brutal dictatorship. By that time, January 2010, she had emerged as the most inspiring and intellectually forceful leader in the Rwandan Diaspora.

I first became aware of Victoire when I saw demonstrations amongst the Rwandan Diaspora in Europe. She was then under house arrest in Rwanda and they were lined up in Brussels, holding her picture and chanting “Victoire! Victoire! Victoire!”

As a journalist, I maintained my distance for some time, making my way through all the available information and asking myself, “Who is Victoire?” I knew American radicals who were suspicious of her. They imagined that she was the Pentagon and State Department’s chosen successor to Paul Kagame.

I still don’t know just why they imagined that, though it seemed perhaps because she hadn’t been arrested, or rather, had only been placed under house arrest, forbidden to leave Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, to speak to the majority Rwandan population, rural peasant farmers, whom she hoped to represent. Her political party was not allowed to register and she was not allowed to run in Rwanda’s 2010 presidential election.

Victoire was finally arrested and incarcerated two months after the election she had been excluded from, and several days after the last time I spoke to her for Pacifica Radio station KPFA. We had by then spoken many times, for KPFA and for WINGS, Womens’ International News Gathering Service. She has been in maximum security prison ever since.

Her Rwandan support team now reports that she is ill, without a doctor’s care. This worries me because, earlier this year, Rwandan American Law Professor Charles Kambanda told me that he did not believe Rwandan President Paul Kagame would release her from prison with her faculties intact. Pasteur Bizimungu, Kagame’s last major challenger, has been released, but he is, by all accounts, not the same man who entered Rwanda’s prison system, one of the most overcrowded and notorious on earth. Rwanda’s per capita prison population is second only to those of the United States and Russia.

Professor Kambanda said that Victoire is a great leader, capable of leading Rwanda, whose conflict has spilled into eastern Congo, to real reconciliation – between African people who have been manipulated by foreign powers to the point of human catastrophe. But Kambanda also thinks Victoire is such a great leader that Rwandan President Paul Kagame will never let her leave prison alive, or with her faculties intact.

I hope he’s wrong, because we need her. Rwanda, Congo, Africa and the world need her.

Free Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza!

San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Star News, the Newsline EA (East Africa) and her own blog, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, Weekend News on KPFA and her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at


24 thoughts on “Free African political prisoner Victoire Ingabire

  1. mahenga

    Bravo. The world knows now how Kagame uses his country’s institutions to perpetrate crime. Kagame injects his political prisoners with slow killing poison so that when his partners in crime, the Bill Clincton and Bair cannot put up with the shame and order him to release the political prisoner, the prisoner goes out of jail with the poison. That is Kagame, Africa’s Hittler.

  2. Morgan Amabyayingona

    As per Ann Garrison: "We need an international movement to free Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Her case is important to African people all over the continent and in the Diaspora and to all of us, all people"
    Well, i can tell you that i'm aAfrican but also victoire ingabire's case is NOT important to me. Therefore, stop making sweeping generalizations pretending to speak on behalf of all African people, okay!

    1. Aimable

      I am African too and the reason why General Kagame was scared of allowing Victoire Ingabire's name to be on the presidential ballot is because he knew that Morgan represents only a minority among the Rwandan people. The majority of Rwandans would have elected Victoire with a sweeping majority.

  3. Karasanyi

    Ann Garrisson has excelled in trying to turnish the image of Rwandan leadership. Victoire Ingabire came back to Rwanda after 16 years of self imposed exile. On arrival to the airport, she went straight to the Genocide memorial and made an incendiary statement calling hutus again to raise and kill Tutsi. The following day, she visited the tomb of one of the former Rwandan official considered as the founder of the so called hutu power.

    This carried a wrong message especially now that Rwandans are reconciling and turning the chapter towards coexistance and harmony. Victoire went ahead to visit the prison in Gisenyi on her third day, just to tell genocide convicts that he has come back to free them and to fight Kagame.

    1. Aimable

      Karasanyi has excelled in the art of lies. When Victoire Ingabire went to the genocide memorial, she said that we should remember all innocent victims, not just Tutsis. That we should remember innocent Hutus and Twas that also perished during the genocide as well as before and after. For Karasanyi to claim that this remembering all innocent victims means to rise and kill Tutsis, this is disgusting.

      As for the tomb that Victore visited, this tomb was for Rwanda's first president, when the nation switched from a feudal monarchy to a republic. For Karasanyi to accuse the founder of Rwanda's republic to be "the founder of Hutu power", again disgusting.

  4. karasanyi

    She continued to make hate statement and inciting Rwandans for division when the government is doing whatever possible to bring people together. Now she is in prison for various charges including treatening the state security.

    Do we really have to accommodate such behaviors especially for a country like Rwanda, freshly from the worst genocide in the 20th century? Now Ann Garrison in her usual anti Rwanda sentiment tries to mix issues and confuse readers. Please whatever Garrison's writtings on Rwanda, you will realize her inclination to hate the Rwandan leadership.

    1. Aimable

      Rwanda's president General Paul Kagame is a mass murderer that even the United Nations in its 2010 Mapping Report on DRC has accused of crimes that are probably genocide if proven in court. A mass murderer cannot bring people together. Same way that a serial thief cannot safeguard people's property. It does not matter how many trumped up political charges General Kagame fakes against Victoire Ingabire. Thanks to Ingabire's courage in leaving her comfort in Europe to go back to Rwanda, it is only a matter of time before General Kagame ends up in an international court where mass murderers like him belong.

  5. Frank LeFever

    Karasanyi is quit simply, a liar. Victore has never called for anybody to kill anybody. Her "crime" (at that memorial and elsewhere) was simply to say that Tutsis were not the only people killed in 1994. Indeed, careful research supports a conclusion that more Hutus than Tutsis being killed, yet you risk your life to mourn for any Hutu dead or to mention their deaths.

    As for Morgan, perhaps he would like to tell us what part of Africa he is from, that he can be so unconcerned about oppression in Rwanda and continuing bloody exploitation of Congo — the very heart of Africa.

  6. Frank LeFever

    Perhaps Karasany is not a conscious liar, but simply ignorant — young enough to be shaped by Kagame's indoctrination. Possibly he does not know as much of the history of Rwanda as I do, especially Kagame's killings and instigating of violence from 1990 to 1994, and indeed his role in starting the "genocide" which people (falsely) credit him for "stopping" — killing Tutsis and Hutus alike in his drive to seize Kigali and use it as a base for raiding Congo.

    1. Andrew E. Mathis

      Frank, repeating the same false things over and over again doesn't make them true.

      Properly defined, the genocide covers the period from April 4, 1994, until the RPF taking power in Kigali in July. The vast majority of the over half a million civilians murdered during that period were Tutsi being killed at the behest and with the assistance of the Hutu-led extremist government that arose in the aftermath of the assassination of Juvenal Habyarimana.

      To truly understand what constituted the genocide and what did not, one must bear in mind who the perpetrators were at any given point. In the period commonly called the genocide, the perpetrators were overwhelmingly Hutu and the victims overwhelmingly Tutsi.

      None of that changes that Kagame is a war criminal responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of citizens in his own right, mainly after the genocide. But to conflate the massive war crimes of the RPF with the genocide committed after Habyarimana's death or to claim a "double genocide" is flat wrong.

      To truly understand what constituted the genocide and what did not, one must bear in mind who the perpetrators were at any given point. In the period commonly called the genocide, the perpetrators were overwhelmingly Hutu and the victims overwhelmingly Tutsi.

      1. Angela

        Andrew, who assassinated president Juvenal Habyarimana? If it is true that General Kagame assassinated president Habyarimana, then sure General Kagame would be the mastermind of the genocide through the process of psychological manipulation of the Hutu militias. Don't you think?

        1. Andrew E. Mathis

          Angela, no one knows for sure who killed Habyarimana. But let's go on the assumption, for the moment, that Kagame did order him killed. That doesn't make Kagame the "mastemrind of the genocide." You're evoking what's called a post hoc propter hoc fallacy. It isn't sufficient that one followed the other that one caused the other. You have to demonstrate causation. You haven't done that.

  7. Karasanyi

    Response to Frank: I am not young to see and I am not brainwashed and ignorant as you may suggest. I personally lived in Rwanda before and after the genocide and I rather talk out of experience unlike you and Ann Garrison who are fed with the information by the extremists who only wish to see Rwanda back to dark days.

    Thus the only strategy you chose to use is to attack the Rwanda leadership being the center of gravity to move Rwanda towards unity and reconciliation.

  8. Karasanyi

    Yes human rights is key word and it would not make sense to leave Victoire and the likes continue to propagate hate and divisions among Rwandans. Instead of attacking the Fdlr who continue to kill, rape and maim congolese, your obsession remains the leadership of Rwanda. You are dead wrong and won’t fight and win this stupid propaganda

  9. therisingcontinent

    @Morgan. Victoire Ingabire is important to all Africans as Ann Garrison declares in her article, for one particular reason. If you allow injustice to be committed in one place, when you are confronted with it in your own backyard, it becomes difficult to address it.
    @Karasanyi. On what Victoire Ingabire discussed with prisoners she visited in Gisenyi, just after her arrival in Rwanda early last year, I don't think you have an objective account of what emerged out of it. Your views are those of the Rwandan government which doesn't want any Rwandan challenging its stand on almost everything regarding Rwanda. With prisoners in Gisenyi, she found out [and we Rwandans know well this to be 100% true because we have relatives upheld in jails without trial for more than 10 years for the only sin of being Hutu], that the majority of them were innocent. For the 80,000 officially recorded prisoners in Rwanda, more than 60%, are kept in prison because cronies of the regime wanted to take their properties or replace them in social, economic and political positions they occupied. Of course to achieve that the regime needs to fabricate accusations and make them loudly public, so people like you can repeat them as the real truth.

    1. Sanyu

      Mr. I think your sick and mentally retarded when it comes to what happened to Rwanda. Rwandans took up weapons of all sorts and murdered fellow Rwandans in broad day light because of what they are. "Tutsi" .Who would you punish? the killers or the departed or you prefer to set them free to go on killing like what was done from 1959 to 1994 where Tutsi were killed at will and the government wouldn't touch the killers solely because Hutu's were used as instruments promising them riches. Today's government of national unity cannot tolerate that and nobody is above the law. So stop crying and have a heart of a Man -Rwandan before anything else.

      Man, you mention properties! these were given back to all even the killers own land, cows, etc. Let me furnish you with facts. Tutsi let behind properties that were taken over by your fathers through the government and when they returned nobody asked for it back. Even the government made sure no person was uprooted from where they were at the expense of right to property for every citizen of Rwanda. You guys have always looked at your selves as first citizens.

      You fabricate issues looking for sympathy, well go a head and destroy youself or else be a Man and re-evaluated yourself and come to terms with reality.

  10. Kgoweng Moses Mapogo

    Paul Kagame is a coward,how can he even justify imprisoning this lady and claim that she is a threat to his government? In modern society as the ones we live in people are supposed to have a free will to form their own political parties without the government having to sanction them.What can we do as People of the world and her fellow Africans to increase the pressure over her release? Rise African people and free our people from dictators such as Kagame,for your fight for freedom today will benefit your continent at large.The African economcan only stand if and when Africa is free from such leaders who only cares about clinging to power rather than empowering their people.May the people of Rwanda also see the monster that is Kagame when they still have time to make sound decisions about the future of that lovely country? Peace and stability can only be attained when a nation stands together in fighting whatever evil is dividing it.

  11. Sanyu

    Leave us alone!!!!

    Rwanda is a sovereign state with good laws to take care of wrong does like Ingabire. Let her go through the process of the law and receive what is just for her. Imprisonment or Freedom. I think she will have a good number of years behind bars. To stop her venom from spreading to our people who are living peacefully and working hard to put their children to school and feeding then. Well as her own are having sanctuary in Europe she comes to destroy our hard earned freedom and development.

  12. Johnie

    Ingabire should be sent to Ingando, have her thoroughly trained, taught english and employed because thats waht she wants, job.

  13. Jean Pierre

    Créons une commission de suivi et publication d`une même lettre ouverte, de date mis à jour, demandant la libération inconditionnelle de Victoire Ingabire et les annexes des nouvelles quotidiennes sur Victoires en prison aux membres permanente et non permanente de Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies chaque premier du mois de Janvier au décembre toutes les années jusqu`à sa libération.


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