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Oct. 14 marked the seventh anniversary of Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire’s arrest shortly after she attempted to run for president against Rwanda’s military dictator, President Paul Kagame. The Brussels-based International Women’s Network for Democracy and Peace commemorates Oct. 14 as Ingabire Day, a day of solidarity with Victoire Ingabire and all political prisoners. I asked Claude Gatebuke, Rwandan genocide survivor and founder of the African Great Lakes Action Network, to explain Victoire Ingabire’s message.
I answered some heartbreaking calls from Dr. Léopold Munyakazi phoning from an Alabama jail this week. Dr. Munyakazi is a gentle Rwandan born scholar, with a PhD in linguistics and further advanced degrees in French and African linguistics. He has lost his immigration case in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and will all but certainly be deported to Rwanda to face prison or worse.
Rwandan Dutch citizens and political asylum seekers in the Netherlands demonstrated in The Hague, the country’s capital, on Saturday, Nov. 29. They called on the Dutch government to stop supporting the dictatorship of Paul Kagame and stop deporting Rwandans at Kagame’s request. After watching the video of the demonstration, I spoke to Jean Flammé, a Belgian attorney for a Rwandan facing extradition for supporting Victoire Ingabire.
Victoire Ingabire has become an icon of peace and democracy in the war ravaged Great Lakes Region of Africa. She returned to Rwanda in 2010, announcing her intention to run against sitting Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who responded by imprisoning her instead. Opponents in Rwanda are neutralized, and they try to do that with people abroad too. This is what is happening now with Victoire Ingabire’s husband Lin Muyizere.