By Jason Muhire
On Wednesday, August 12, 2020, Victoire Ingabire, the convicted criminal who benefited from presidential clemency and whose sentence for genocide trivialization and terrorism-related offences was commuted, further exposed her enduring support for genocide ideology, issuing a letter opposing the Rwandan parliament’s protest addressed to its Belgian counterpart. Parliament’s letter of protest stemmed from the appointment of Laure Uwase among a group of experts to assist a Belgian parliamentary committee tasked with shedding light on Belgium’s colonial past and its consequences in Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.
“The Parliament of Rwanda is concerned by the inclusion in the group of experts of a known genocide denier whose known ‘expertise’ is the distortion of the recent history of Rwanda, and who belongs to an organization whose mission is the denial and revision of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi,” the statement from the Rwandan House said.
Indeed, Laure Uwase, a member of the notorious Jambo Asbl group, is known for her relentless fight to absolve former members of the genocidal government and to sanitize groups like the genocidal terrorist outfit FDLR, whose founders are none other than members of the ex-FAR and Interahamwe who spearheaded the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.
Unsurprisingly, Ingabire Victoire, whose conviction – for forming armed groups to destabilize the country and trivializing the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi – rushed in to support her fellow ideologue Laure Uwase. Ingabire believes Uwase deserves to be in that group of experts regardless of her beliefs, when it is in fact her beliefs and character should be the basis of her inclusion in the group. Her beliefs are her expertise, after all.
Ingabire’s position does not come as a surprise. In 2010, Victoire Ingabire, then still officially FDU-Inkingi president, defended tooth and nail her assistant who had been convicted in absentia by a Gacaca court for participating in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. Joseph Ntawangundi, who had returned to Rwanda with Ingabire for the 2010 elections, was arrested when the long arm of the law finally caught up with his past. After initially trying to claim streneously he was a victim of false identity, he eventually pleaded guilty when presented with overwhelming evidence provided by several witnesses, including his ex-wife that he was indeed the individual they knew and who had been convicted by the Gacaca court. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison for incitement in the massacre of eight people during the genocide.
Victoire Ingabire defended Ntawangundi then, as she defends Laure Uwase today. She defends Uwase despite the overwhelming evidence presented by Ibuka – an association of genocide survivors – whose energetic action previously succeeded in halting a conference in the European Parliament by proving that Jambo News was linked to the FDLR; Ibuka conveyed to the parliament that Jambo asbl is driven by an ideology of trivialization of the genocide against the Tutsi and conflates perpetrators with victims. Ingabire herself argues that these genocide ideologues are in reality “survivors” being victimized by the Rwanda government.
In the aforementioned letter, Ingabire also makes another misleading statement, affirming that the Rwandan government treats Rwandans living abroad as enemies of the country, especially if it turns out that they left the country when they were as young as Laure Uwase.
To contradict her patently false claim, one need only draw attention to the success of the regular Rwanda Day events – an outreach programme where President Paul Kagame and members of his government meet and interact with the Rwandan diaspora in different foreign cities and which invariably attracts thousands of Rwandans from the entire continent in which they are held, and even beyond. Ingabire should admit to the reality that the new Rwanda, unlike the one she remembers so fondly, accommodates everyone willing to constructively contribute to the country’s development. If Rwanda has accommodated thousands of genocide perpetrators and repatriated families of FDLR members, why would it fail to treat its other nationals living abroad with dignity?
The truth is that some of these have decided to remain in exile because they cannot renounce their parents’ and grandparents’ genocidal ideology. It’s not the country that refuses reconciliation; it is their ideology of hate and exclusion that doesn’t fit any more in the new Rwanda of “Never again”.
Uwase’s identity as a Rwandan doesn’t automatically make her an expert. Her ideology, on the other hand, disqualifies her as far as the interests of Rwanda in the the Belgian parliamentary committee are concerned.
But all clouds have a silver lining. It has taken this Laure Uwase affair for Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza to shed her carefully constructed new public image of misleading reasonableness and revert to her real, enduring Ingabire of old. The Ingabire of RDR, of ALIR, FDLR, and FDU-Inkingi. It is the Ingabire fighting tooth and nail to absolve her assistant Joseph Ntawangundi in his ultimately forlon attempt to deny his real identity to evade his conviction on genocide charges. It is an Ingabire who has just blown her thin cover, thanks to the Laure Uwase affair.