DECLARATION O03/ 2001 ON THE PERSECUTION OF THE FORMER RWANDAN PRESIDENT Mr. PASTEUR BIZIMUNGU
The Rwandan alliance for the Renaissance of the Nation (ARENA) which labors for the restoration of Rwanda as a lawful nation-state, calls the attention of the national as well as the international community to the Kagame government’s persecution of the former president of Rwanda, Mr. Pasteur Bizimungu.
On may 30th 2001, Rwandan security forces acting on the orders of President Kagame disturbed a meeting between Mr. Bizimungu and the Belgian Ambassador in Rwanda, canceled a press conference called by Mr. Bizumungu at his residence, and ordered him not to leave his residence. On the following day, the persecutions continued with Mr. Bizimungu being thrown out of his official residence and having all services given to him by law, in his capacity as former head of state, revoqued
ARENA forcefully condemns these anti-democratic acts towards a former head of state, acts which violate fundamental rights. This proves once more how much President Kagame strongly opposes political pluralism, and how much the words and deeds of his regime differ.
The persecution of political opponents is a deplorable act, even more so when it targets a former head of state that should be honored and recognized for his/her services to his/her nation. ARENA believes that the more respectfuly and honorably former heads of states are treated, the less the current ones would cling on to power and this will promote peaceful transfer of power.
President Bizimungu and his partners committed no illegal act. The right to create a political party is guarantied in the fundamental law of our country and it is explicitly noted in the law on political parties. The wave of creation of political parties inside and outside of Rwanda is nothing else than the expression of the will of the Rwandan people to enjoy their political rights, and a rejection of the military dictatorship of one man, General Paul Kagame. It is regrettable that the RPF does not realize that the era of one party systems has come and gone and that its effort to suffocate the multiparty system only further undermines the little credibility that it had left.
ARENA fears that the persecution of political opponents, the continual muzzling of political parties, and the persistent violations of the human rights has accentuated the exile of Rwandans. We are concerned that the above violations will lead to violence and consequently to a new bloodshed in our country.
ARENA urges President Paul Kagame to insure the security of the former President Mr. Bizimungu, his family, and that of his political partners.
We insistently ask President Paul Kagame to accept political pluralism and allow freedom of expression as a way to prevent violence. We believe that only a franc and sincere dialogue can result in a multiparty system that takes into account the social and historical realities of our country, and thereby channel our people’s energy towards peace and development instead of violence.
ARENA calls the attention of the international community to the latent conflict in Rwanda, and thereby to the real risks for renewed violence. We implore the international community to encourage President Kagame to allow political openness and to respect human rights in order to avoid an eventual blood shed.
ARENA takes this opportunity to reiterate its attachment to the peaceful resolution of disagreements by the way of dialogue and compromises. ARENA calls all Rwandans, in particular those in political parties, not to despair but to continue their struggle for democracy and reconciliation in our country. ARENA will spare no effort in its democratic fight for the building of Rwanda as a lawful nation-state.
Done in Sacramento, June 3rd, 2001
For the Coordination,