by Ann Garrison
KPFA Evening News broadcast Nov. 3, 2012
KPFA Evening News Anchor: Earlier this week, a court in Kigali, Rwanda found Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire guilty of treason and denying the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis. Ingabire’s British lawyer Iain Edwards told KPFA that they were glad the sentence was eight years instead of life, but that the evidence didn’t justify any conviction. And that he and her Rwandan lawyer Gatera Gashabana would appeal the judgment to Rwanda’s Supreme Court as soon as they have a copy. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Ingabire’s daughter, Raissa Ujeneza. Ujeneza is a student of international and European law in the Netherlands.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Raissa, how are you and the rest of your family feeling now that the court has finally handed down this verdict, two years after your mother was imprisoned?
Raissa: Well, we realize that it is not over yet. And this verdict is another part of her journey in fighting for reconciliation, equality and freedom in Rwanda. As her family, we have tried to stay strong. And, yeah, I have to say that the worst moment for me is when I think about my youngest brother. He was 8 when my mother left the Netherlands; and seeing the way things are going for her, it is uncertain when we will see her again, so he might be a teenager at that time, as he is already 10. But, yeah, we have each other as a family, and besides that, there are many who support us – friends, churches – and that makes going through all of this much easier. So, there is hope and there is faith.
KPFA: The Dutch government suspended budget support to Rwanda after the August U.N. report that Rwanda was behind the M23 militia that resumed the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Have they responded in any way to your petition asking them to call for your mother’s release?
Raissa: Well, we have not yet received a response from the Dutch government on our petition. The Dutch government currently is dealing with national complications that arise with the new government. Ahh, we will have to wait and see if the petition will be given importance.
We realize that it is not over yet. And this verdict is another part of her journey in fighting for reconciliation, equality and freedom in Rwanda. As her family, we have tried to stay strong.
KPFA: The issues at stake in your mother’s trial are very large. She has steadfastly maintained that not only Rwandan Tutsis but also Rwandan Hutus were killed and were victims of crimes against humanity before, during and after the Rwanda Genocide. This undermines President Kagame’s justification for Rwanda’s 16-year war and occupation in Congo, where he has claimed the right to hunt down perpetrators of the Tutsi Genocide who fled across the border.
Rwandans and Congolese have come together in European capitals to demonstrate for both your mother’s release and an end to Rwanda’s war in Congo, which they understand to be connected. But, do you think many Europeans outside the diaspora understand that connection?
Raissa: No, I don’t think the connection between the war in Congo and Rwanda’s role in it is understood well. I’m afraid actually that only those who are familiar with the Great Lakes Region understand their connection.
Raissa: I believe that this is a problem that is rooted with the old generation Rwandans. Young Rwandans from the ‘70s and after, such as myself, we were not compelled to keep the hate going that has destroyed so many lives of Rwandans already.
My mother does not want to entice anybody to hate another. Her message is one of peace, freedom and equality, and she’s a Hutu herself, but her party has worked and still works with Tutsis.
My mother advocates for a Rwanda where people look beyond these differences, while the Kagame regime hides behind the genocide of 1994 and the genocide ideology law. This is just another way the regime tries to justify the way it rules and consequently this also appears to hold the international community back from protesting.
Young Rwandans from the ‘70s and after, such as myself, we were not compelled to keep the hate going that has destroyed so many lives of Rwandans already.
My mother welcomes any collaboration between different ethnic groups. She taught us at home that we should learn from history by choosing to do better.
And yeah, both Tutsis and Hutus suffered, killed and were murdered. A war always has victims on both sides, and anyone who can deny that is – yah – simply not being real.
KPFA: And that was Raissa Ujeneza, daughter of imprisoned Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire on Ingabire’s guilty verdict and eight-year prison sentence.
San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Star News and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News and her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to see Ann Garrison’s independent reporting continue, please contribute on her website at anngarrison.com.