How to support the release of Victoire Ingabire and why this matters
The name of Victoire Ingabire might sound unfamiliar. If for some it might be the first time to come across it, let’s help them to make the connections.
On June 27th, 2012 a UN group of experts submitted an addendum S/2012/348/Add.1 to their report S/2012/348 transmitted some days before to the UN Security Council regarding the situation of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The experts document in their reports the involvement of Paul Kagame’s Rwandan government in active support of rebel groups, particularly to M23, in destabilizing the fragile peace which has been very sporadic in Eastern Congo for almost two decades.
With extensive evidence at hand, the experts confirm the violation of paragraph 1 of Security Council resolution 1807 (2008) on arms embargo and sanctions regime committed by the Rwandan government.
These violations consist of the provision of material and financial support to armed groups operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, including the recently established M23. The arms embargo and sanctions regimes violations include the following:
• Direct assistance in the creation of M23 through the transport of weapons and soldiers through Rwandan territory
• Recruitment of Rwandan youth and demobilized ex-combatants as well as Congolese refugees for M23
• Provision of weapons and ammunition to M23
• Mobilization and lobbying of Congolese political and financial leaders for the benefit of M23
• Direct Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) interventions into Congolese territory to reinforce M23
• Support to several other armed groups as well as Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) mutinies in the eastern Congo
• Violation of the assets freeze and travel ban through supporting sanctioned individuals.
While the Rwandan president Paul Kagame is destabilising its neighbouring country, Democratic Republic of Congo, inside Rwanda, he is detaining tens of his political opponents, including Victoire Ingabire, chairperson of FDU-Inkingi.
But who is Victoire Ingabire?
Mrs. Victoire Ingabire is a 43-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 which was scheduled for August 9th, 2010.
She was back in Rwanda on January 17, 2010, after 16 years in exile.
She was recognized by all as the main leader of the Rwandan non-violent political opposition.
Her FDU-Inkingi political party has been refused registration until today.
Instead, as her chairperson, she has been imprisoned since October 14th, 2010 on false allegations of supporting a terrorist group, genocide ideology, and divisionism.
How can people support her release from prison?
On June 29th, 2012 Victoire Ingabire was supposed to receive her verdict from the High Court in Kigali, but the hearing was postponed. Almost 20 months have passed since her incarceration.
The Rwandan president Paul Kagame is determined to keep her in prison as he has done for other political leaders such as Bernard Ntaganda, or Deo Mushayigi.
This is what you can do to support the release of all these political prisoners. Below are five actions you can take to help the Rwandan people who want change from the authoritarian regime of Paul Kagame:
1. Write to the representative of your constituency at the national parliament or congress and raise this issue of injustice which is being supported by your government in your name
2. Write and talk to your faith and other opinion leaders from your community about the crimes that the Rwandan government led by Paul Kagame is committing inside the country and in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo while receiving millions of dollars, pounds sterling and euros from your government
3. Contact your local Human Rights Watch office and request the release of all the Rwandan political prisoners. Contact information can be found at http://www.hrw.org/en/contact-us.
4. Contact Amnesty International Secretariat and let them know of ongoing injustice in Rwanda and crimes being committed in Eastern Congo by the Rwandan authorities. Contact information can be found at http://www.amnesty.org/en/contact
5. Contact any other organizations you can think of such as media, human rights organizations, international aid groups, embassies.
Why does this matter?
There are lives of families like yours which are being wasted by letting Paul Kagame to carry on with his oppressive and criminal policies in Rwanda and DRC, and particularly keeping in prison Victoire Ingabire and other political opponents.
Millions of $ and £ and Euros of Western aid are being used to oppress Rwandans, foment rebellions in Eastern Congo, and kill Congolese people by the Rwandan government.
This is happening while Britain, U.S. and other major developed countries are experiencing high levels of unemployment and welfare budgets.
And this increased governments’ spending is expanding national deficits at unsustainable limits.
We have had the Rwandan genocide in 1994 which took away the lives of almost one million of Rwandans.
In 2007, the International Rescue Committee estimated that wars of invasion in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo initiated by Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi had directly and indirectly provoked the death of 5.7 millions of Congolese and Rwandan refugees.
Since then, there has not been any lasting peace in Eastern Congo but a constant insecurity intentionally maintained by Rwanda and Uganda to facilitate illegal exploitation of DRC minerals.
The world is witnessing an ongoing institutionalised genocide by the Rwandan government enabled by external funding from donor countries.
By supporting the release of the political prisoner Victoire Ingabire, and putting pressure on the Rwandan president to end his criminal policies in his country and the region, you will have made a big difference in your own life and that of millions others.