Rwanda: Opposition leader Victoire Ingabire jailed
As violence sparked what is since then commonly known as the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Victoire Ingabire left the country. From 1994 until 2010 Ingabire studied and worked in the Netherlands where she got involved in the Rwandan exile opposition since 1996. In January 2010 she returned to Rwanda in order to contribute her part to her home country’s political scene on the ground. As the main leader of the Rwandan political opposition, she was the head of the yet-to-be registered United Democratic Forces-FDU Inkingi. After several speeches in Kigali, Ingabire was arrested shortly before the presidential elections, facing charges of terrorism, inciting citizens against the government, genocide denial and promoting the genocide ideology and ethnic divisions.
After a two year trial, Victoire Ingabire was sentenced to eight years imprisonment, found guilty of two charges: genocide ideology and conspiracy against the government by use of war and terrorism – two of the most popular allegations Rwanda’s government uses to muzzle the opposition. The sentence of the High Court in Rwanda’s capital city Kigali is seen as a serious setback for the political opposition. Human Rights Watch African director, Daniel Bekele, stated:
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. The courts should not be used for such political purposes.”
Impressions from Victoire Ingabire’s trial in Kigali (2011)