NYARUGENGE - Thousands of Kigali City residents braved a heavy downpour that washed the city yesterday afternoon when they took to the streets in protest against the weekend’s arrest of Rose Kabuye, the Director of State Protocol.
Kabuye was arrested in the German city of Frankfurt as she arrived at the airport on state duty. The arrest was based on the heavily contested indictments issued in 2006 by French Judge, Jean Louis Bruguiere, against nine senior Government officials.
“It is a shame for Germany to arrest an innocent woman just 70 years after the Holocaust…you should be arresting the Genocidaires who are freely roaming in your country!” read one of the many banners that were held by protesters who converged at the German embassy in Kiyovu, a Kigali suburb.
The peaceful demonstration was held under a heavy deployment of riot police that controlled the masses who were consistently chanting “we want our Rose back.”
A former Mayor of Kigali, Kabuye is among the nine former members of the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) who were indicted by Bruguiere.
The indictments were apparently based on testimonies by well known Genocide perpetrators while other witnesses have since retracted their testimonies saying that they had testified due to political pressure from the French Government.
The indictments which were issued without hearing from the persons allegedly implicated, accused the nine officers of having played a role in the shooting down of the plane that was carrying former President Juvenal Habyarimana.
“We Rwandans strongly condemn the arrest of Rose (Kabuye) by the Germans…this shows the way those from the poor countries are humiliated by the so called rich countries,” said Immaculee Ingabire, a veteran journalist who spoke on behalf of the citizens.
She continued: “Rose has no case to answer and she is ready to stand trial…all we ask is for her to get the justice she deserves because she is our hero.”
“What we request the French is to assure us of her security before they bring her back here,” said Evanys Nyinawankusi, a 55-year old who said she had walked many kilometres in protest over Kabuye’s arrest.
The protests started off from different parts of the city attracting dwellers from all the three districts of Nyarugenge, Gasabo and Kicukiro who converged at the embassy which seemed deserted throughout the two-hour demonstration.
Others interviewed by The New Times included Odda Gasinzigwa, the Chairperson of the National Women Council.
“Rose is a woman who has devoted her life to the restoration of the rights of Rwandans in general and women in particular; she is an inspiration to many young Rwandan women, both as a mother and a leader. Why arrest her over these fictitious allegations?” questioned Gasinzigwa.
She added that she believed Kabuye will go through the circus, “because I have known her as a strong and courageous woman for all the time I have known her and we shall fight alongside her to ensure that she overcomes this smear campaign because an attack on her is an attack on us all.”
The protests follow the Rwandan government’s denunciation of the arrest at a news conference held by the Minister of Information, Louise Mushikiwabo, Sunday afternoon.
Mushikiwabo, who is also the government spokesperson, in a statement, said that the Government of Rwanda believes it is a political game designed to blur the truth about the 1994 Tutsi Genocide.
Together with Maj. Gen. (rtd) Sam Kanyemera and Jacob Tumwine, Kabuye a retired Lieutenant Colonel filed a case in a French court protesting the indictments but the court has ignored the case.
Germany is currently home for Ignace Murwanashyaka--the leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDRL), an outfit composed of perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide of Tutsis.