Rwanda: A Manifestation in Pink for Victoire Ingabire

Photo: Victoire-Ingabire
Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Ingabire speaks with her lawyer.

The trial against Rwandan opposition politician, Victoire Ingabire (UDF), will start again this month in Kigali, Rwanda's capital. While the international press seems to have somewhat forgotten her, her supporters are taking to the streets.

Every Thursday, Victoire Ingabire's husband dresses up in pink. At his residence in Zevenhuizen, in the Netherlands, Lin Muyizere tells us more about his costume. "This is the pink dress which symbolises our solidarity with the prisoners in Rwanda," he says. "We've chosen this colour because it's the colour worn by prisoners in Rwanda. My wife is wearing a pink dress like this one. We have adopted the same look."

Victoire Ingabire's supporters have announced that a weekly demonstration, with everyone wearing pink, will be held in front of the Dutch Parliament in The Hague, to protest against what they consider to be a political trial. The Rwandan regime has charged Ingabire with, amongst other things, denying the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Muyizire: "We've sought permission from the police to hold demonstrations every Thursday between nine in the morning and three in the afternoon. We don't know when the protests will stop. It all depends on the commitment from the authorities in Kigali in solving this matter."

Prison

After spending years in exile in the Netherlands, Victoire Ingabire, who is from the Hutu ethnic group, returned to Rwanda with the intention of running in the 2010 presidential elections.

When she arrived in Kigali, as the president of the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF), she called for the prosecution of those responsible for crimes against Hutus. Shortly after her declarations, she was placed under judicial control. Meanwhile, the Tutsi leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), President Paul Kagame, was re-elected.

Victoire Ingabire has been living behind prison bars since October 2010. She is currently charged with attempting to divide the country and collaborating with terrorist groups. She has denied the accusations.

Not impressed

"If we are fortunate enough to meet Members of Parliament who are interested in our cause, we will talk to them and explain our problem," says Muyizere, Victoire Ingabire's husband. "However, Dutch politicians do not appear impressed by our pink demonstration," he adds.

"A weekly demonstration? No, I didn't know anything about it," says MP Klaas Dijkhoff from the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), the liberal majority party in the Netherlands. "It's anyone's right to raise awareness on a particular issue. As for me, I haven't formed an opinion. But we will continue to follow the trial," he said.

According to communications published in 2011, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs was reportedly confident regarding the transparency and equitability of the trial in Kigali: "There is no clear and solid ground to reject Rwanda's request for assistance in the trial of Victoire Ingabire."

Trial

Ingabire's trial is scheduled to resume on 13 February, after the translation - from Kinyarwanda to English - of approximately 600 pages of documents sent from the Netherlands.

Late last year, the Rwandan State Prosecutor was sent documents found at Ingabire's residence in the Netherlands. According to the Dutch Public Prosecutor, the documents were sent to the Rwandan judiciary, together with phone and financial records as well as testimonies.

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InFocus

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Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Ingabire speaks with her lawyer.

Victoire Ingabire, leader of the UDF-Inkingi party, has been convicted and sentenced on charges of treason and and genocide denial. Her lawyer says she will lodge an appeal. Read more »