Demonstrations against the arrest in Germany, of President Paul Kagame’s aide, Rose Kabuye continued in different upcountry towns on Tuesday.
The protestors in different regions covered by The New Times, carrying placards, chanted liberation songs and strongly lambasted the French and the German governments for the arrest.
Kabuye, the Director of State Protocol, was arrested in Frankfurt on Sunday while on state duty-on the basis of the heavily contested indictments issued in 2006 by the French Judge, Jean Louis Bruguiere, against nine senior Rwandan Government officials.
In Muhanga, hundreds of protestors chanting songs asking the French to leave Rwanda in peace, rallied at Gitarama Taxi Park. Led by local and opinion leaders, the protestors decried what they called the consistent interference of the French government in Rwanda’s affairs.
“What do the French want…maybe we should give them beans and potatoes so they leave Rwanda alone-we shall win them in broad daylight; as before and we are all prepared to achieve this goal,” they chanted.
The Mayor of Muhanga urged the protestors to voice their anger until the French and its allies drop their ‘increasing insults in masking their complicity in the Genocide of Tutsi.’
The protestors grouped in three zones including Nyabisindu, Kabgayi and Kyakabiri marched through Gitarama town before gathering at the taxi park.
Police watched the protestors who were moving in a single file. Their placards read: “Rose Kabuye should be set free, Rwanda has a right to sovereignty” and “we shall stand besides our leaders” among others.
In Gisagara, Southern Province, the protestors from Ndora Sector braved the early morning showers. The messages on their placards also highlighted the French role in the 1994 Tutsi Genocide.
The protesters called for the intervention of the United Nations (UN) and other international organisations- to stand against what they called the political manipulation of the international justice system.
Heshron Hategekimana, the district Vice Mayor in charge of Finance pointed out that it is inconceivable for a country like Germany to arrest a person like Rose Kabuye- who played a significant role in stopping the Genocide that claimed the lives of over 1 million people- while it continues to offer sanctuary to Genocide perpetrators like Ignace Murwanashaka.
Murwanashaka is the leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDRL), a rebel outfit largely composed of perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide of Tutsis.
Hategekimana called the arrest of the Rwandan official an act of contempt.
In Huye district, hundreds of protestors from Ngoma Sector gathered at the Huye Football stadium where speeches denouncing the arrest were delivered.
“Arrest of Rose Kabuye, Jungle Justice, Insult to Genocide Survivors, Germany do not be trapped by France’s criminal agenda for Rwanda , We are fed up of the arrogance of the French and Germans, France why do you fear International Court of Justice,” read their placards.
“We call for the unconditional release of Rose Kabuye because the manner in which she was arrested contravened international law,” said Fabien Mutaganda, the representative of the civil society organisations, who organised the protests.
Similar demonstrations were held in Nyamagabe and Nyanza districts.
Near the RPF headquarters in Ngororero district, while in the Western Province, over 5,000 protestors gathered near the Genocide Memorial Site. The singing protestors marched from the district headquarters to the site.
A genocide survivor among the protestors reminded others that, most of the innocent civilians in Ngororero were brutally murdered under the command of the French, ‘who are still repeating their bad actions’.
In Rutsiro district the protestors estimated in thousands, led by the Mayor, Jean Ndimubahire, marched from the district headquarters towards Congo Nil centre and back before settling for speeches.
The Mayor said the district strongly denounces European countries especially France for the ‘continuous bogus actions against Rwanda.’
“We strongly denounce the French and Germans for their shameful actions against our leaders who liberated this nation from where we all know. It is shameful also, for the European Union (EU) to allow such an arrest under the French warrants,” he said.
He reminded area residents, who were in Rutsiro during genocide, about France’s role during the genocide and wondered the essence of detaining Rose Kabuye-who left her family to stop the genocide.
“I think you know what the French did in the South Western side of the country in their famous ‘Zone Turquoise’. They are continuing to kill us indirectly but we shall never admit this if the world can not stop it. We don’t want genocide to happen again,” he added. Other protestors hailed Kabuye as one of the heroines who struggled to liberate Rwanda.
In Karongi district, the protestors led by the Mayor, Bernard Kayumba, marched from Gatwaro stadium in Kibuye to St Jean Catholic Church before gathering at the stadium for speeches.
They chanted in Kinyarwanda, “Uriya ninde ujimije itabaza ryange? Umufaransa ashaka iki mururu Rwanda?” translated to: “who is that one blowing my light? What does the French need from Rwanda?”
On their placards, the protestors pointed out that the French killings in Rwanda ended with the 1994 genocide and no one will again attempt to temper with Rwanda’s peace and sovereignty.
In Rusizi district, the protestors from the different sectors took to the town streets before gathering in Kamembe town. Others came from home while others left their work places to join the protest. They chanted to ‘hell with France, Germany-while others praised Kabuye as a hero.
“We seriously and strongly blame the German government for arresting Ms Kabuye. We want her released unconditionally and flown to the country very soon because she is innocent and our hero,” they chanted.
“Shame upon the French government for indicting our leaders who stopped the 1994 Rwandan Genocide,” the crowds said.
They pointed out that arresting Kabuye without the government’s notice is a symbol of disdain and an extension of colonialism.
In Nyamasheke district, some protestors moved a distance of about 12 kilometers from Kagano Sector to the district headquarters to join the demonstrations. They called upon the international community to intervene.
Noting that the arrest was a trick to further conceal the role of France in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, the protestors noted that both German and French governments mix politics with Justice. They vowed to continue with demonstrations until the release of Kabuye.
“We Rwandans and residents of Gisenyi strongly condemn the arrest of Rose (Kabuye) by the Germans. This is a sign of disrespect to developing countries by the so called rich countries,” said Rubavu district Mayor Celestine Twagirayezu, while addressing the protestors Rubavu protestors.
The protestors in Rubavu, many of them Gisenyi town residents started their peaceful demonstration at the Main Taxi Park marching towards the DR Congo-Rwanda border. They also said Kabuye was innocent and a hero one of those people responsible for stopping the 1994 Tutsi genocide.
Watched by the police, they chanted “We want our Rose back, the French should leave us alone, we are tired of the French’s arrogance and disrespect.”
“It’s a pity to see that the French are using their political interests to arrest our people, people who stopped the genocide and have contributed a lot to the country’s development. Why don’t they arrest the genocide perpetrators who are freely living in Germany and France,” Martin Habimana the district officer in charge of Good governance said.
He described the 2006 Jean Louis Bruguiere’s indictments as baseless-since they were based on testimonies given by well known Genocide perpetrators and fugitives who fear to return home due to their role in the 1994 Genocide.
Agnes Mahoro, one of the demonstrators described Kabuye as an innocent person who has lived an exemplary life.
DANIEL SABIITI PAUL NTAMBARA, DAN NGABONZIZA, STEVENSON MUGISHA AND MARTIN TINDIWENSI