Monday, December 13, 2010

KPFA News: Victoire Ingabire's daughter Raissa Ujeneza on Europe and the Kagame regime


KPFA Weekend News Anchor Anthony Fest:
On December 6th, the government of the Netherlands froze budget support for Rwandan President Paul Kagame's regime, citing human rights abuse and concern that imprisoned Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza cannot receive a fair trial in Rwanda, where she is charged with terrorism and genocide ideology.  Kagame then met angry street protest, during the rest of last week, at a European development conference in Brussels, where several European leaders avoided meeting or being photographed with him.   KPFA's Ann Garrison has the story.

KPFA/Ann Garrison:
Professor Ed Herman, co-author, with Noam Chomsky, of Manufacturing Consent and many other books, describes Rwandan President Paul Kagame as "the worst killer on the planet."

On April 30th this year, a legal team including American Law Professor and international criminal defense lawyer Peter Erlinder sued Kagame, in an Oklahoma City civil court, for the assassination of the Rwandan and Burundian Presidents that triggered the Rwanda Genocide, and racketeering to plunder the resources of Rwanda's neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, costing millions more lives.

In mid-July Spanish demonstrators took to the streets with hands and faces drenched in red paint to simulate blood, chanting "Kagame!  War Criminal!  Assassin!" and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero refused to meet or be photographed with Kagame.

On December 6th, the Netherlands froze budget support to the Kagame regime, and during the rest of the week hundreds of exiled Rwandan and Congolese demonstrators banged drums in the streets of Brussels, chanting "Kagame! Murderer!” after he arrived there for a European development conference. They urged European donor nations to follow the Netherlands lead, but Britain's Foreign Minister David Cash argued for ongoing support and, by the end of the week, both Britain and Sweden had pledged major cash grants.

Raissa Ujenza, the daughter of imprisoned Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, spoke to KPFA the Netherlands, where Ingabire lived in exile for 16 years before returning to Rwanda Ujenza and Ingabire's husband and two other children continue to live in exile.  Ingabire  for 16 years before returning to Rwanda

KPFA:
Are you encouraged by the Netherlands' decision?

Raissa Ujeneza:
Yes, I am. Very much so.

KPFA:
What about the church groups?  There were a number of church groups collecting signatures to ask the Dutch government to call for respect for your mother's human rights?  Did you have any contact with the church groups?

Raissa Ujeneza:
Not myself.  My father, my grandmother, and my aunt are in contact with the church groups.  They have spoken and set up collecting signatures.

KPFA:
Do you think it's been significant that you and your family, like most people in the Netherlands and in East/Central Africa, are Christian?

Raissa Ujeneza:
Yes, but also, every person who is religious feels a connection and is connected with others who are also religious, and that helps us in standing stronger together, helping my mother and supporting her in her action.

KPFA:  
Do any other European nations now seem inclined to follow the Netherlands lead?

Raissa Ujeneza:
Spain, definitely is supporting actions for Rwanda to act better, but I think it will be a slow process.

KPFA:
Your mother spoke to KPFA a number of times, between her February arrest and her re-arrest and imprisonment on October 15th, and she always said, adamanty, that she rejected violence, and that the country's problems had to be resolved by democracy and debate.  Can you imagine your mother being involved in a violent terrorist conspiracy?

Raissa Ujeneza:
I cannot imagine my mother being involved in a violent terrorist conspiracy at all.  Her purpose is for Rwanda to be a country where all citizens feel free and have equal rights.  And she fights for reconciliation and stability in Rwanda, and not by violence but by peaceful methods.  I really do believe that the accusations are a way for the Rwandan government to put her down and to shut her off.

KPFA:
What would you most like the world to understand about what she represents, in Rwanda and the wider region, including Congo?

Raissa Ujeneza:
I would like the world to understand about my mother that she stands firm in what she believes.  She's a smart, strong, and kindhearted person, who cares very much for her country and wants to make a difference.   And every person who would observe her would see that she has all the qualities that are needed to bring the necessary changes.  Too many people are still dying and still suffering.


KPFA:
Do you think that the Rwandan people and those of the wider region have had a lot of hopes that Barack Obama, the first African American president would make a significant difference in the region?


Raissa Ujeneza:
Yes I do believe a lot of people have a certain faith in him and I really hope he can live up to those hopes.


KPFA:
Raissa, thank you for speaking to KPFA.


Raissa Ujeneza:
You're welcome, and Merry Christmas. 

KPFA:
For Pacifica/KPFA Radio, I'm Ann Garrison.

No comments: