Rwanda: 3 opponents in prison, nominated for the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament 2012

Three opponents of the RPF regime currently in power in Rwanda were nominated this Thursday, September 13, 2012 by 42 MEPs for the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2012 of the European Parliament. Umuhoza Victoire Ingabire, Bernard Ntaganda and Deogratias Mushyayidi, all three are currently imprisoned in Kigali and should know the result around 10 December.

Created in 1988, this award is given annually to individuals or collectives who “are trying to defend human rights and fundamental freedoms  . ” This award will be given around 10 December, the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Past winners of this award are including Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.

MEPs justify their choice to propose the three Rwandan opponents by the fact that these three political prisoners have “tried to end the cycle of violence by promoting dialogue and reconciliation.”

Victoire Ingabire, Chairperson of FDU-Inkingi returned to Rwanda in January 2010 after 16 years of exile in the Netherlands to stand for presidential elections in August. She was deprived of the opportunity to present her party and is currently imprisoned. For several months, the sentencing has continuously been postponed.  The last report in September, the High Court announced the verdict would be postponed to October 2012.

For MEPs who nominated her, Victoire Ingabire is “a symbolic example of the peaceful struggle for the defense of fundamental rights of citizens.”

Mushayidi Deo, chairman of the PDP-Imanzi is a former member of the RPF in which he was the representative in Switzerland from 1990 to 1994. By the mid-90s, he distanced himself RPF strongly condemning the massacres committed by the latter after his takeover. He was subsequently exiled in Belgium where he advocated dialogue as a solution to the conflict in Rwanda. On March 5, 2010, he was kidnapped and taken to Burundi then returned Rwanda, where went to stand for presidential elections in August 2010. Where he has been held since he was sentenced to life in prison. His sentence was confirmed on the 24 February 2012 by the High Court.

In the introduction to his biography, MEPs highlight his “active work in favor of dialogue for Rwandans of all ethnicities.”

Bernard Ntaganda, President of PS Imberakuri is a Rwandan lawyer who started the policy at the end of high school.

June 24, 2010, after an opposition demonstration to denounce the intimidation that took place within the framework of the campaign and repressed in the violence, he was arrested and de facto deprived of the opportunity to register for the presidential elections.

On October 14, he was taken to intensive care after suffering from torture. On 22 April 2012, he was sentenced to four years in prison.

In the paper submission of the nomination of Bernard Ntaganda, the MEPs in particular highlighted the continuity of the struggle by the youth of his party. “The Democratic Youth Imberakuri wants to show that the seeds of democracy sown by their president are alive and growing “.

In total, five candidates are running, the application of Rwandan opposition is a single application. The winner should be known around 10 December 2012.

By: Ruhumuza Mbonyumutwa


Submitted by and translated from French by: Jennifer Fierberg

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