Rwandan Opposition Leader Victoire Ingabire Arrested

Opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza has been arrested in Rwanda, according to members of her FDU-Inkingi Coalition of Rwandan political parties, who also report that authorities have taken her to an undisclosed location.

On Oct. 9, Ingabire spoke to KPFA Radio-Berkeley, CA, by phone and confirmed reports that the Rwandan government security operatives surrounding her home in Rwanda’s capitol, Kigali, had been replaced by police with firearms, and that six of them were visible from inside. Others reported that there were Rwandan troops in her neighborhood, and that shops had been ordered to close.

Ingabire returned to Rwanda, from European exile, in January, intending to run for the presidency against Rwandan President Paul Kagame, but she was not allowed to register her party or contest the election. Instead she was arrested, the first time in March, for violating Rwanda’s “genocide ideology” statutes, which criminalize disagreement with the official history of the horrific violence of 1994 that became known as the Rwanda Genocide. American law professor and international criminal defense attorney Peter Erlinder then traveled to Rwanda to defend her, only to be arrested on the same “genocide ideology” charges. Erlinder was released on medical grounds, after which he returned to the United States and continued to speak out against the Rwandan government and against the Pentagon’s use of Rwanda, and Uganda and Burundi, as its military proxies in Africa. This week Rwandan prosecutors announced their intention to proceed with their case against Erlinder after removing any citations of his pleadings at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda as evidence against him.

Ingabire and Erlinder have both been outspoken about the UN Mapping Report on Human Rights Abuse in the Democratic Republic of Congo that was leaked to Le Monde on August 26th, then officially released on October 1st, with responses by the Rwandan, Ugandan, Burundian, and Angolan governments, all of whose armies were implicated. The report most shocked the world with its documentation of the Rwandan army’s genocidal massacres of civilian Hutu people, Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese Hutus, from Congo’s eastern to western border, during the 1990s.

Of the three opposition candidates who attempted to contest this year’s Rwandan presidential election, against incumbent President Paul Kagame, two are now in prison, not only Ingabire but also Bernard Ntaganda, leader and presidential candidate of the Parti Social Imberakuri was arrested on June 24th and has not been released. He has reported being tortured, and on Monday, Ingabire reported that he had been moved to an undisclosed location.

Frank Habineza, chair and presidential candidate of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, has taken refuge with his family in Sweden, since the body of the party’s vice president, Andre Rwisereka, was found beheaded and dumped in the wetlands of the Makurera River in southern Rwanda on July 14th.

There were also assassinations and assassination attempts against prominent opponents of the Rwandan government in neighboring South Africa, D.R. Congo, and Tanzania during the election year, which concluded, on August 9th, with the report that Rwandan President Paul Kagame had been re-elected with 93% of the vote.

Articles by: Ann Garrison

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