Victoire Ingabire - When denial is in the DNA

Ingabire is handed her release papers by an officer from Rwanda Correctional Service at Nyarugenge Prison last Saturday (Sam Ngendahimana)

 It has long been obvious that Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire’s differences with the truth are irreconcilable. 

 When confronted with a fact, her default position always is, deny! Deny and obfuscate as if your life depends on it. Her motto is: when someone shows you the verified truth, say it wasn’t you! 

 Like the famous Shaggy once notoriously sang, whatever compromising position your girlfriend catches you in, just insist: “It wasn’t me!”

 Ask Victoire Ingabire who it was that has been writing letters to the President of Rwanda asking for clemency for her crimes and begging to be released from prison. 

 “It wasn’t me!”

 But we saw your signatures on the letters.

 “It wasn’t me!”

 But the Government cannot possibly lie about something so easy to verify; it even received similar requests from the likes of former president  Pasteur Bizimungu over a dozen years ago, and he too was granted clemency.

 “It wasn’t me!”

 Even Shaggy would be left awestruck.

 Stating the opposite of the truth is the position Ingabire has once again taken as she stirs up controversy only a few days after leaving prison, eight years into a 15-year stretch. 

 The President had finally listened to her constant cries for clemency – as well as similar pleadings from musician/convict Kizito Mihigo – and exercised his prerogative to show mercy. 

 Yet there she was in the media set free at the same time as 2,139 other prisoners all over the country – all beneficiaries of a similar exercise of commutation of sentences or parole – boasting that she has never asked for it.

 That was and is the total opposite of the facts. 

 The Ministry of Justice said Ingabire had as recently as June 2018 asked for clemency, which was the latest in a list of letters going back almost eight years, when she first stepped into prison.

 Those who she shared the women’s wing of Mageragere Prison say it had reached an extent where she even asked for clemency in her sleep!

 The fact she is now posturing, trying to portray herself as a heroic sufferer that was released only because some individuals or international ‘rights groups’ applied pressure on Rwanda”, tells us more about her than about this country that is far from a pushover in any sense.

 Ingabire has been trading on the fallacy that she was a “political prisoner”; a fabrication that a coalition of anti-Rwanda groups, and well-meaning but naive individuals have been promoting aided and abetted by unquestioning international media. 

 Those groups have ultimately been using her, and Mihigo, as a cudgel with which to batter the Rwandan administration, as the prime examples of imagined “repression”, conveniently ignoring the reality that they were prosecuted and convicted of known crimes by courts of law. 

Obviously a leadership like Rwanda’s that works for Rwandans far more than it does for foreign interests, or that is willing, as an African country, to stand its ground and refuse to be pushed around, will attract a virulent backlash. It is hardly surprising that any weapon available will be used to hit back at Rwanda, including disinformation and propaganda about the supposed democratic credentials of an extremist like Victoire Ingabire. 

 The woman’s agenda, it was proven beyond doubt long ago, is a Genocide denialist one. Her agenda is to sow divisionism in Rwanda along ethnic lines. Her first utterance once she landed in Rwanda from the Netherlands in 2010 was at the Kigali Genocide Memorial where she told journalists that she would like to see Hutus that lost their lives also buried there.

 This was an explicit call to dredge up barely healed ethnic divisions amongst Rwandans. 

 The memorial is dedicated to victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi. The woman in effect was brazenly pushing the heinous double Genocide theory. Negation or trivialization of Genocide being a crime in Rwanda, she would go to prison for it (in addition to other crimes). 

 In Ingabire, terrorist groups like FDLR, RNC and her own FDU Inkingi long ago identified a valuable propaganda tool, and an ardent fifth columnist. 

 In her the international coalition of deniers of the Genocide against the Tutsi – the Judi Revers, Phillip Reyntjens, Peter Verlinden and similar – also identified a priceless individual through whom to peddle their vile ideology. 

 In this woman, those French politicians that served in the time of Francois Mitterrand – and who know their country is culpable not merely of supporting the genocidal regime of Rwanda from right up to 1994, but of actually participating in the Genocide – also push the same absurd theory of a double Genocide, a useful tool to detract from their own culpability. 

 Everything about Ingabire is centered on the negation of some heinous atrocity.

 She denies that her mother Therese Dusabe, a former nurse at Butamwa Medical Center committed crimes of Genocide. The residents of Butamwa who participated in the Gacaca Courts that found her guilty in absentia know it very well. Dusabe knows it too, where she is holed up in the Netherlands, and can never dare come back to Rwanda.

 Ingabire denies that her father, Pascal Gakumba, was a Genocidaire, yet there was incontrovertible evidence against the man, who died in Gisenyi, apparently by suicide, shortly before he was to be sentenced by Gacaca.

 She denies the vice president of her FDU Inkingi, Joseph Ntawangundi, with whom she swept into town in 2010, committed Genocide. But again as in her father’s case there was indisputable proof of what he did in 1994, including the fact that he supervised the killings of his own students when they fled to his house for safety. Ntawangundi confessed after overwhelming evidence was revealed, and is now serving a 17-year sentence.

 Behold Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire in all her glory then – denier extraordinaire!

The writer is a political analyst for the Great Lakes region.

The views expressed in this article are of the author.

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