BBC hosted a debated for Rwandans/and friends of Rwanda on the upcoming elections. I was thrilled and pensively penned several paragraphs.
After several hours, the BBC sent me the following message:
Dear contributor, Thank you for commenting on the debate. Unfortunately we've had to remove your content below. Postings to BBC sites will be removed if they:
*Break the law, or condone or encourage unlawful activity. This includes defamation and contempt of court
Seriously, what I wrote was nothing but plain facts. Could it be that Paul Kagame has infected the BBC with a dose of intolerance?
Below is my comment. Judge for yourself!
First and foremost, I thank the BBC for opening this much awaited forum. In a country whose leadership is hostile to freedom of speech and intolerant to pluralism, such a forum (however small) offers Rwandans a sense of determination and self worth. It reminds us that the entire universe is not opposed to our quest for democratic reform. Considering our historical difficulties, such sense of determination and hope has never been so desperately needed!
As Rwandans, we have endured oppression for a long time while the world continued to watch passively, and in some instances, provided the life support to dictatorships. History has been cruel, but the present is equally tormenting.
I will bring to your attention several issues--which, if we are ever to prosper, need serious and urgent consideration.
After the assassination of President Habyarimana in 1994, the first group to be targeted by Hutu extremists was Rwandan opposition. Irrespective if ethnicity, opposition activists from all walk of life, were hacked to death in the most merciless and cruel fashion.
This is a very striking point. The weakening of the opposition by a rabidly racist and genocidal government, paved way for genocide.
Several months after the RPF took charge of , ending the Genocide they promised to carry out political reforms.
However, their (RPF) promises did not match their actions. A few years down the line, opposition parties were dismantled, their leaders fled for exile, some were imprisoned, while others disappeared.
The list is long, and some of them have since escaped my memory. However, just to mention a few high ranking ones, Faustin Twagiramungu, the leader of MDR escaped to Belgium. So did Joseph Sebarenzi (RPF). lizinde as well as Seth Sendashonga both belonging to the RPF were gunned in the city of Naiorbi. In both cases, was personally blamed.
The extent of political repression means that Rwanda exists in absence of a civil society to hold the government accountable. Journalists who dare speak up are imprisoned, exiled or killed. This means the the government operates without the much needed checks and balances. Hence, if there is no corruption in Rwanda, it is because there is no one to report it. In bars and local markets, you here Rwandans, from all walks of life, complaining about corruption and government's interference in their daily lives.
In summary, the Rwandan regime is the reincarnation of Stalin. Everything is tightly controlled and stage managed. The critic who seeks to expose these flaws is the enemy number one. Hence, dissent and criticism is not allowed.
In the circumstances that the RPF has created, it is not possible to have free and fair elections without some external intervention. And for the intervention to succeed, it has to be well informed.
The junta that has hijacked Rwanda must first allow for parties opposed to the government to function. Without the freedom to disagree and to contribute our views without fear of retribution, we remain nothing but prisoners.
To Paul Kagame:
Please realize that the winds of change are blowing so quickly. You are the only one capable, at this moment, of reuniting Rwanda and building an all inclusive country. You have chosen not to, however, it is not too late. A better way to begin would be to free opposition activists. Allow the , The FDU Inkingi and the P.S Imberakuri to participate. These parties only wish good will for the Rwandan people. At the very least, allow the people of Rwanda the freedom to choose.
I wish you (Paul Kagame) and all Rwandans the freedom that democracy guarantees.