Friday, November 13, 2009

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Group on Rwanda's application: not until after a fair election in 2010


"On Rwanda it should wait for next year’s presidential elections, send a strong observer group to decide whether they are fair (the last ones were not) and then consider the application at the next CHOGM in 2011."  -Journalist Derek Ingram, writing for "Commonwealth Conversation," Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Group.




The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda's fourth attempt to convene in Kigali ended in broken bones and arrests after agent provocateurs stood up chanting "Hail the RPF!  Hail the RPF!" and threw chairs, injuring some of the 1000 Rwandans in attendance.   (The RPF is Rwanda's ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party.)


Since Rwandan authorities shut down the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda's failed attempt to convene on 10.02.2009, I've been reporting on the party's ongoing struggle for registration and a ballot line in the 2010 elections.

Rwandan authorities have now shut down the party's attempts to convene four times, last time violently.   (See OpEdNews: "Broken bones and arrests at Rwandan Green Party convention.")


As an American, I feel compelled to turn attention to this struggle for the most basic political and civil rights in Rwanda, because Rwanda is the U.S.A.'s strongest ally in Africa, the nation that the U.S. State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and, former President Bill Clinton, all describe, rhapsodically, as a shining beacon of hope for Africa. 

In fact, Rwanda has the third highest per capita prison population in the world, the highest in Africa, and many of these prisoners are political.  Homosexuality is a criminal offense, but there are no readily available records of how many Rwandans are now incarcerated for it.   Teenage girls are most often in prison for having an abortion.


Another writer, Umetezi, reported, in response to Derek Ingram's essay that:


". Members of one minority tribe (the Tutsis) have seven times more representation in the government, per-capita, than members of the majority tribe (the Hutus).

. In a discriminatory measure, the government recently banned the use of the French language in teaching and administration, despite the fact that the vast majority of Rwandans speak French in addition to Kinyarwanda. French has been used for decades as the language of commerce, education and law in Rwanda. French speaking Rwandans now find their entire careers and livelihoods at risk.

. Rwanda has gone from being a “low-inequality” country in the 1980’s to being in the world’s bottom 15% in terms of inequality today.

. One-third of Rwanda’s population now suffers from nutritional deficiencies, and life expectancy is among the 20 lowest in the world at only 44 years.

. Wealth and power are concentrated in the cities, the government’s stronghold, leaving 92% of the poor in underrepresented rural areas."


Party President Frank Habineza, introduces Party Secretary General, Charles Kabanda, who greets the congress with the party symbol. On his right is Party Second Vice President, Jeanine UWINEZA.  (This photo was taken before the disruption, broken bones, and arrests.)


Now, a state/RPF propaganda machine is publishing daily hit pieces to discredit the Rwandan Green Party and it's leader Frank Habineza, but all its mouthpieces keep dodging the most fundamental issue at the end of Derek Ingram's essay objecting to Rwanda's admission at the Commonwealth heads of state gathering later his month, November 2009:  "On Rwanda it should wait for next year’s presidential elections, send a strong observer group to decide whether they are fair (the last ones were not) and then consider the application at the next CHOGM in 2011."

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