The Oppression of the Opposition in Rwanda; the recent story of Victorie Ingabire Umuhoza; and today’s kidnapping of the person delivering food to her in prison!

The crackdown on Opposition in Rwanda is well known abroad and the FDU (Forces Democratiques Unifies) leader Victorie Ingabire Umuhoza who was in the late 2013 through a trial sentenced to jail for 15 years. She is deemed as a political prisoner and gotten the court rigged for her sentence and jailed as certain opposition of the RPF and the Presidency of Paul Kagame. Reason why the world knows little of this is because of the stranglehold the Government of Rwanda has over the media and information.

Important information about the trial of 2013:

“Gatera Gashabana stated that the witness would testify Michel Habimana discharge but this was refused by the MP. This prompted Ingabire to no longer submit to the Court. Another witness wanted his testimony to be heard without being present to the Court for its safety and this was refused. Me Ian Edward has meanwhile raised the crime of genocide denial. He reported that Ms. Ingabire said that there was a genocide of Tutsis but also Hutus are killed and this comes from their own ideas and this is allowed in the Rwandan law ; thereto, Me Ian added that Ingabire should not be prosecuted for it” (LIPRODHOR, 2013).

She appealed in December 2013:

“The Supreme Court has turned down Victorie Ingabire’s appeal against an 8-year sentence handed to her by the High Court last year” (AllAfrica, 2013). “The judge, stating that Ingabire should be serving a 27-year jail term, claimed to have shown her leniency due to the fact that this was her first conviction and because her family was based in the Netherlands” (…)”Ingabire’s trial – which saw her accused of offences related to terrorism, genocide ideology, discrimination and disseminating rumours aimed at inciting the public against the existing leadership – took place between September 2011 and April 2012, and has attracted a considerable amount of criticism from international non-governmental organization” (Joyes, 2016). ” Considering accusations against her, various identified irregularities and ignorance of due process, it has been clear that Rwandan justice system has been used by the Rwandan government as a tool to oppress legitimate and peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and freedom of association” (…)”Freedom of expression and associations are important base and foundations of a democracy. Their absences undermine one of important fundamental rights of people. This situation not only has the potentiality to cause insecurity and conflicts, in Rwanda as result of consequences of oppression, it also affects the country ability to achieve its various social and economic potentialities as result of participation of its people in environment of freedom and rule of law” Said GCRHR coordinator” (Kamuzinzi, 2016).

The Application to the African Court:

“In the year 2000, she became the leader of a political party known as Rassemblement Républicain pour la Démocratie au Rwanda (RDR) (The Republican Movement for Democracy in Rwanda). She had been a member of the party since 1998” (…)”Sometime later, a merger between this party and two other opposition parties (The ADR and the FRD) led to the creation of a new political party known as Forces Democratiques Unifiees (FDU Inkingi) led by the Applicant till date” (…)”In the year 2010, after spending nearly seventeen years abroad, the Applicant decided to return to Rwanda, according to her Counsel, to contribute in nation building” (…)”She did not attain this objective because as from 10 February 2010, charges were brought against her by the judicial police, the Prosecutor and Courts and Tribunals in Rwanda” (…)”On 21 April 2010, the Applicant was remanded by the police and placed under detention” (African Courts, 2014).

In February 2016:

“Her lawyer Gatera Gashabana wrote in letters to the head of the Bar in Rwanda that “on 5 February 2016, I went to the prison to meet with my client to prepare for the hearing before the African Court on Human and People’s Rights based in Arusha (Tanzania) on 4 March 2016.” He went on to say he was told that before any visit all his documents had to be checked and that this hindrance would make it impossible to prepare for the upcoming hearing. He demanded an end to “these excessive demands and intimidations,” according to the letters released by Ingabire’s opposition United Democratic Forces (UDF) party, which is not officially recognised in Rwanda”  (AFP, 2016).

Today – FDU Supporter jailed for bring food to imprisoned Vicoire Ingaire:

“Boniface Twagirimana, FDU-Inkingi 1st vice-president of the political party of the imprisoned Victoire Ingabire, is alerting the Rwandan and international community that 15 minutes ago, Ms Gasengayire Leonille, the person in charge of bringing food to the prisoner from outside, has just been kidnapped by RPF security forces which were waiting for her inside the prison at lunch time. When she entered the prison compound, she was told to get in a civilian car with number plate RAA442M which took her rapidly to an unknown destination” (Twagirimana, 26.03.2016).

Afterthought: 

As much as the Government of Rwanda trying to silence the opposition and the leader of Victorie Ingaire Umuhoza of the FDU who has been jailed and sentenced since 2010 after her arrival back from diaspora in the Netherlands. The last straw and the recognition of the African Court, a African Court that the Government of Rwandan the Rwandan Patriotic Front and their President Kagame tries to distance themselves from or discontinue themselves from.

The proof here is how far the Rwandan Government stifle the opposition and to what extent they don’t value the democratic values, as they even now goes to the point of kidnapping the person who feeds a opposition leader in jail; who is sentenced for 15 years in jail and has not gotten her appeal accepted and also gotten refused to go to African Court on Human Rights in Arusha, Tanzania. This might be the reason for why the Rwandan Government trying to distance themselves from the African Courts as they don’t want the outside to understand their dealings or get grips to the sovereignty.

The state might be sovereign still they will have to be responsible from the actions. That is why they have ratified certain statues and Human Rights laws, even charters as they want to be legitimized internationally and that is why the Rwandan Official defended their case this week. But this kind of imprisonment of an opposition leader and using genocide as a motive for taking her in and letting her rot in prison. As she just returned from Netherlands to do her duty and for her party, not to destroy the RPF or the Government, but create and prove democratic values, as President Kagame neglect and doesn’t care about it, only that he have power and holds on to it by any means. Peace.

Reference:

African Courts: ‘Application No. 003/2014 -Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza v. The Republic of Rwanda’

AFP – ‘JAILED RWANDAN OPPOSITION LEADER’S LAWYER SAYS DENIED ACCESS’ (16.02.2016) link: http://www.newstimeafrica.com/archives/41785

AllAfrica – ‘Rwanda: Ingabire Loses Appeal, Sentenced to 15 Years’ (13.12.2013) link: http://allafrica.com/stories/201312160001.html

LIPRODHOR – ‘In the trial of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, his lawyers suggest the innocence of their client’ (29.04.2013) link: http://www.liprodhor.org/en/2013/04/dans-le-proces-de-mme-ingabire-umuhoza-victoire-ses-avocats-evoquent-linnocence-de-leur-cliente/

Joyes, Ben – ‘Rwandan Supreme Court Increases Sentence Against Victoire Ingabire’ (14.03.2016 link: http://arcproject.co.uk/2013/12/rwandan-supreme-court-increases-sentence-against-victoire-ingabire/

Global Campaign for Rwandans Human Rights (GCRWHR) / Kamuzinzi – ‘Rwanda: Opposition leader conviction extinguishes some hope of political freedom and put Rwanda on a dangerous path’ (13.12.2013) link: http://www.inyenyerinews.org/democracy-freedoms/rwanda-opposition-leader-conviction-extinguishes-some-hope-of-political-freedom-and-put-rwanda-on-a-dangerous-path/

Civil Society Statement on the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: “Uganda’s Rise – Our Responsibility!” (07.03.2016)

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Jobless Brotherhood Leader Arrested: Norman Tumuhimbise picked from home by security (Youtube-Clip)

“Norman Tumuhimbise one of the leaders of the political pressure group Jobless Brotherhood has been taken into Police custody following yesterday’s incident at State House Nakasero when a Piglet was dropped in protest at the Electoral Commission’s handling of Feb. 18th Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.  Tumuhimbise was picked up from his home Kasubi today morning by security operatives. His wife who preferred that we protect her identify spoke to Reporters who arrived shortly after her husband had been bundled into a car and whisked away” (WBS TV, 02.03.2016).

My take on the CEON-U January 2016 Report: “There is a need for the state to provide equal facilitation to all parties, to empower them conduct their campaigns on a level ground”.

Topowa Vote

Here is what I found that was important to take from the Citizens Election Observations Network of Uganda (CEON-U) report of pre-election report of January 2016. This here is the second report from Civil Society Organization on the time before the General Election starting 18th February 2016. Most of this I have described piece by piece. I will not take all of the graphics, you should read it yourself as well, but if you don’t have the time. Here is what I see as the important information from the report as the CEON-U has stated. Though it coming in the end of the campaign trail, so the changes they want is most likely not arriving before next election. Right, therefore here is the finding they have found. First: “There is a need for the state to provide equal facilitation to all parties, to empower them conduct their campaigns on a level ground” (P: 4, 2016).

About Dialogue – Inter-Party Liason Committees:
“Majority of LTOs reported that they had not seen or heard of any inter-party liaison committees in their constituencies. At least 89% of LTOs reported that they had no inter-party liaison committees in their constituencies, and at most 97% during this period” (P: 5, 2016).

Uganda-Electoral-Commission

Voter Information:
“With a few days left to the polls, 23% of constituencies that are observed by CEON-U had not reported any voter information by the Electoral Commission by 18th January 2016. This has been observed across regions where observation is taking place. Up to this day, the majority of voters are not clear about the voter identification process. The issue of National Identity cards vs the voter’s card is yet to be resolved” (P: 8, 2016).

Campaigns:
Defacing Campaign posters:
“For FDC, defaced presidential posters were more prevalent compared to parliamentary posters. The percentage of observers reporting defaced FDC posters ranged from 9% to 21% during this period. For Go Forward the percentage of observers reporting defaced posters ranged from 6% to 26% during this period” (P: 11, 2016). “NRM defaced posters was highest in Bukedi, followed by Buganda, Bunyoro and Kigezi” (P: 12, 2016). While FDC defaced posters were mostly observed in Bukedi, Teso and West Nile” (…)”And Go Forward defaced posters was highest in Kigezi, Teso and West Nile” (P: 13, 2016).

Conducting Campaigns after 6PM:
“Contrary to EC regulations, CEON-U observer reports indicate that presidential candidates from FDC, Go Forward and NRM have in some cases conducted campaigns after 6pm” (P: 13, 2016).

Campaigning after 6PM Uganda Nov-Jan

Election Violence and Hate-Speech:
“In week 6, which covered the period 16th to 22nd November 2015, in Nyabushozi County a counselor of Kanyaryeru division in Kiruhura district, on 26th November 2015, used hate speech against presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi when he alleged that he killed Nobel Mayombo and so people should not elect him to presidency because he is a murderer. And because Amama is a murderer he cannot be trusted to be president of Uganda. Still in week 6, while on a rally at Butaleja, Busolwe sub-county in Bunyole west constituency, on 19th November 2015, the voters called Besigye a liar who had no ability to deliver on the promises he was making. They said he was no better than Museveni because he is also corrupt” (P: 14, 2016).

This here puts the things in motion and also how the systematic actions have been during the days of the campaigns. Though compared to the economic campaign report, this here was very simplistic and easy read through; therefore I could compile the information quickly. This here is just a basic information for those who haven’t had an eagle eye on the elections, like the European Union Election Observations Monitoring team and COMESA who arrived in darkness and should see some of the numbers; so they know what they come into. As the sweet-talking IGP Kale Kayihura can really talk the white man into peace and blow smoke up his ass. We all know what the police does towards the Opposition, as seen in recent days.

And with the little voter information at this stage is worrying as we are in final stages of the race and campaign trail. There is something rare about it. CEON-U has done something important explaining the issue of missing voter information. That is something the Electoral Commission should work on of facilitate with the NGO who is behind the #Topowa campaign as they can explain the voters and information with passion, something Dr. Badru Kiggundu in the EC does not have. It is even hard to see him really smile to camera, think it was ages since he enjoyed his work and job. Therefore he should hire Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) with their #Topowa to get the message out. Though I don’t think Badru Kiggundu has the balls, stamina or independent mind to evolve and trust in CCEDU, as they are not loyal NRM cronies as themselves. Therefore this will not happen, but if they could travel around in the villages and major towns with their CSO/NGO machinery then they would have dropped the bomb of information on how to “honor your vote” which is basic and should be in the veins of the citizens. Something the NRM doesn’t seem to want to deliver to the public. Because they fear that won’t vote for them, and that is why they don’t educate them to vote, as that will contridict their usual message of fear, as they themselves fear their own citizens and their will. 

Peace.

Reference:
Citizens Election Observers Network Uganda (CEON-U) – ‘Pre-election Observation Report’ (January 2016)

Uganda – Road to 2015: “High Level Scenario-Building Colloquium on the Run Up to and Beyond the 2016 Elections”

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