By Fred Gashema
Europe-based members of groups bent on sowing instability in Rwanda have come up with something they’ve dubbed “Ingabire Day” which seeks to glorify Victoire Ingabire as “an icon of democracy and rule of law in Rwanda.” “It is a shameless whitewashing that these groups, such as Jambo asbl, have embarked on,” said a Rwandan Facebook account.
Ingabire is best known as someone that was convicted of criminal offences, sentenced to prison, but later benefited from presidential clemency.
The so-called Ingabire day, according to organizers, will be marked on 31 this month, and Ingabire will be rewarded virtually for, as they claim, “being an advocate of democracy and peace.”
The new drive is currently being promoted by prominent genocide denialist, or revisionist elements that work tirelessly to falsify the facts of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi, and to try to sow discord among Rwandans. These include the Brussels-based Jambo ASBL, an association of Europe-based sons and daughters of major perpetrators of the genocide, genocide revisionist Judi Rever, as well as several members of FDU-Inkingi who are partnering with a group that calls itself “Fondation Victoire Pour la Paix.”
Their strategy is to keep falsely pushing the claim that Ingabire was “a political prisoner and prisoner of conscience for 8 years.”
Ingabire was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in 2013 by the Kigali High Court after she was convicted of inciting the masses to revolt against the government, forming armed groups to destabilize the country, and minimizing the genocide.
“It is all propaganda; the woman knew she was guilty of the crimes for which she was locked up and kept sending letters to President Kagame requesting to be pardoned,” said a Kigali-based political commentator. “But they try to downplay this fact because it doesn’t fit their narrative of a ‘brave prisoner of conscience!’”
The President did grant her clemency in 2018, which she began abusing only a few months later, among other things, lying that “she never asked for mercy”, other observers point out.
In a videotaped statement shared by Ingabire on social media platforms, she welcomed the narrative that her sympathizers are pushing and echoed their rhetoric, claiming that “Rwanda still has a long way to go in terms of human rights, democracy and establishment of rule of law.” Social media users were quick to mock her, saying she obviously was “participating in a coordinated propaganda stunt in a futile effort to retain relevance,” commented a twitter user, adding: “if Rwanda was the kind of country that Ingabire and her friends claim it to be she never would have walked out of jail before her 15 years were up.”
Ingabire’s history ranges from denying the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi to participating in the forming of, sponsoring, and heading terrorist groups.