Thursday, November 1, 2012

Rwanda. Victoire Ingabire - The crocodile comes

Aljazeera reports

Rwanda jails opposition leader for 'treason'
Victoire Ingabire sentenced to eight years in prison for terror charges and denying the country's genocide.

A Rwandan court has sentenced the country's top opposition political leader to eight years in prison for treason and genocide denial, a charge stemming from the central African nation's murderous ethnic attacks 18 years ago.

Victoire Ingabire returned to Rwanda in 2010 after living abroad for 16 years and quickly visited the country's genocide memorial, where she asked why Hutus killed in the violence were not recognised like the minority Tutsis were. She had planned to run for president, but instead was arrested.

This was no surprise Kagame will not accept challengers. Rwanda is well on the road to a police state.
"She has been sentenced to eight years for all the crimes that she was found guilty of," judge Alice Rulisa told the court on Tuesday.
Rulisa said the leader was found guilty of the "crime of conspiracy in harming authorities through terrorism and war" as well as denial of Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

Actually I was surprised it was only " eight " years maybe the eyes of the world have caused a bit of caution on the establishments part.
The court acquitted her on charges of promoting ethnic division, genocide ideology, creating an armed group, and complicity in terrorist acts.

Ingabire's lawyer, Iain Edwards, said Ingabire will appeal the court's ruling.
More than 500,000 Rwandans, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were killed in Rwanda's 1994 genocide. In the wake of that violence, the government set out to de-emphasise ethnicity. Many in the country now identify themselves simply as a Rwandan, not a Hutu or Tutsi.

The government accused Ingabire - who has had contacts with the FDLR, a group of Hutu fighters in Congo - of trying to raise an armed group, a charge Ingabire denied.

'Once more explode'

The government's chief prosecutor, Martin Ngoga, said that Ingabire's statements were not simply a free-speech issue because she could incite Rwanda "to once more explode" as it did in 1994.

Anything that Kilgame disagrees with is  classified as a threat to the state. 
President Paul Kagame has been lauded by the international community for leading Rwanda through nearly two decades of peace, for advancing women's rights and for leading the country to strong economic growth. But the court's sentence reinforces the view by political analysts that opponents of Kagame have little space to operate in post-genocide Rwanda.
Human Rights Watch criticised the guilty verdict as the culmination of a "flawed trial that included politically motivated charges".

The truth is she should never have returned.

"The prosecution of Ingabire for 'genocide ideology' and divisionism illustrates the Rwandan government's unwillingness to tolerate criticism and to accept the role of opposition parties in a democratic society," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The courts should not be used for such political purposes."

Courts are an arm of the state and therefor will always be subject to some political oversight. It is the degree that is important.

The group said it could not comment on the veracity of the charges relating to Ingabire's alleged collaboration with armed groups, but expressed concern that some of the evidence used to convict her appeared to be unreliable.
Though Rwanda appears serene on the surface, Ingabire's political party - FDU-Inkingi - calls Kagame a dictator. The party urged Rwandans to remain calm and "to get ready for the day to march until freedom is won."

"This is a conclusion of a long chapter of hope that the current dictatorship would understand how important peace, genuine unity and sustainable reconciliation are," a statement from a party leader Boniface Twagirimana said.

Judge Alice Rulisa, speaking for a three-judge High Court panel, said Ingabire was given a lighter sentence because she had written a letter to Kagame asking for leniency. Edwards, the lawyer, said Ingabire admitted to no crimes in the letter.

The trial began in September 2011 and wrapped up in April. Four co-defendants all implicated Ingabire in collaboration with armed groups. 

Does she get time  served taken into account ?

Raissa Ujeneza is a 23 year old studying international and European law in the Netherlands. Her mother is Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, whom Rwanda’s high court sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison for treason and genocide denial. RNW visited Ujeneza at her home to hear what she was thinking and feeling shortly after the verdict was announced.
                                                   Raissa Ujeneza

“She only went [to Rwanda] to bring peace and to reconcile the Rwandan people. And anybody who would understand that would not fight her and would definitely not put her eight years into prison,” says Ujeneza.
Relative to the life sentence that her family had envisioned as a worst-case scenario, the ruling may seem quite mild. But her daughter feels little satisfaction.
“I am also disappointed because it is my mother who they are sentencing [to] eight years while she is innocent,” she says. “It is not just.”
The global gaze
According to Ujeneza, the international criticism that her mother’s case drew spared Ingabire from receiving a life-long imprisonment.
“They are aware that the international community is watching them,” she says about Rwanda. 
“The government has been criticized several times on different aspects,” she explains, referring to accusations of Rwanda “participating with the rebel group M23 in the Congo areas” and “meddling” with the Ingabire case.
“Also, my mother’s case has been in the media on several occasions,” she continues. “And the Rwandan government, in trying to show that they are doing a [good] job and that they are acting [according to the] law...they of course gave her eight year sentence instead of the required life sentence...I think and I believe truly that they wanted to give her life.”
Life in the Netherlands
Ujeneza’s life in the Netherlands comes in stark contrast to her mother’s. Ujeneza lives in a colourfully decorated apartment in a small Dutch village.

Ingabire left for Rwanda in 2010 to run against the country’s sitting President Paul Kagame. Ingabire was jailed. Kagame won.
“It’s been quite difficult and quite chaotic. It happened actually that every time she would end up in prison in the beginning, before she was arrested, I had an exam,” says Ujeneza when asked how she has coped with her mother’s situation.
“I try to separate myself, having one side which focuses on school and everything that is going on in my own life. And another side that is focused on her trial and everything that comes along with it.”
But how does the young woman prevent herself from feeling split into two?
“You get used to it,” she says. “You get used to switching off a button and do what you have to do and when you have to do it, and switch it on when you have to focus on this area which is quite confronting my emotions.”
Looking forward

Now that the verdict has been announced, Ingabire and her supporters are expected to bring the case to a higher court.
“We will not take this verdict for what it is. We know that the court has favoured in the Rwandan government’s demands actually and we want justice to be served,” says Ujeneza. “We will go to the Supreme Court and, if necessary, we will also take this trial abroad outside the Rwandan country,” she says, noting that the case could be appropriate for the African Court on Human and People's Rights.

 Interesting times

1 comment:

  1. I didn't remove the " eyes of the world " link and it links back I suspect to one of my blogs. I have been hacked a couple of times but thought I had stooped any damage. It would appear not. Rwanda Rwanda Rwanda....