Since Tuesday April 27, 2010 Rwanda’s Embassy in Brussels, Belgium is besieged by Rwandan pro-democracy supporters. The angered but disciplined pro-democracy demonstrators have been camping in front of Rwanda House premises for three weeks now.
They are asking Paul Kagame’s dictatorial regime to free PDP-Imanzi’s President Deo Mushayidi and UDF-Inkingi’s Presidential Candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and other political prisoners and to open up political space to opposition political parties, especially yet-to-be-registered Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s UDF-Inkingi and Frank Habineza’s Democratic Green Party of Rwanda.
Demonstrators’ action begins everyday early in the morning and ends in the evening. The sit-in has attracted tens of men and women essentially from Belgium and Netherlands. Woluwé-St-Pierre’s mayor Willem Draps gave a green light to the demonstrators to hold their sit-in after a group of pro-democracy supporters locked off the Embassy’s main entrance on April 22, 2010 prompting the Belgian police to intervene.
Demonstrators have deployed banners denouncing obstacles to democracy in Rwanda, pictures of prominent opponents detained in Rwanda prisons as well as photos picturing scenes of RPF mass killings in Kibeho IDP camps in 1995 and those committed in Eastern DRC forests in 1996-97 in which President Paul Kagame, Rwanda Defence minister Gen. James Kabarebe and DRC renegade military officer Laurent Nkunda bear a heavy responsibility.
Rwanda Embassy personnel including Ambassador Gérard Ntwari and First Councillor Faustin Musare lost their temper when the action commenced. Ambassador Ntwari is reported to have complained to the Belgian ministry of foreign affairs invoking that demonstrators were tarnishing Rwanda’s image in Belgium.
A delegation of UDF-Inkingi and Rwandan civil society activists in Belgium who met with Belgian foreign affairs officials last week said that Ambassador Ntwari was told that Belgium was a democratic country where citizen have the rights to express their views including the right to hold a sit-in.
CLIIR coordinator Joseph Matata said that the action that’s taking place will end when the Rwandan government meets their demands. Since it’s most unlikely that the regime in Kigali will hear these voices, an end to this action is yet to come especially because news from the land shows a more repressive move as the polling day of the looming presidential elections approaches.