Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza is the president of the United Democratic Forces (UDF), a coalition of opposition parties formed by members of the Rwandan diaspora in Europe, the United States, and Canada, as well as a resident in Rwanda members. The idea of a unified opposition in exile based on the ideals of the rule of law, good governance, democratic values, respect for human rights and where the unifying axis are the political ideals and not belonging to a particular ethnic group, dominated her entire political career. For this reason, she participated in the creation of the UDF party in 2006, and her political and ethical commitment took her to be proclaimed president of FDU. In 2009 she decided left her career in the world of international trade to return to her homeland, after 16 years in exile in the Netherlands, and present herself as a candidate for presidential elections in August 2010 by the UDF party.
When she arrived in Rwanda in January 2010, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza delivered a speech at the Memorial of Genocide requesting recognition for all victims, regardless ethnicity, and therefore, also prosecute crimes of war and against humanity committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) against the Hutus and commemorate the Hutu victims during the war. Following this speech, contrary to the ideology of the RPF, Rwanda ruling party since 2003, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza was jailed in October of the same year and in 2012 the High Court of Kigali sentenced her to eight years in prison for “genocide denial” and “conspiracy against the country by collaborating with a terrorist group”. The following year, the Supreme Court increased her sentence to 15 years in prison.
The courage of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza has been recognized at international level, 2012 was nominated for Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament, in 2015 for the “Premi Internacional de Catalunya” and the International Network of Women for Democracy and Peace has created the prize that bears its name.
The Manresa City Council and the “Consell Municipal de Solidaritat” have significance especially in the case of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and on the situation in the Great Lakes region, following the murder of cooperant of Manresa of Doctors of the World, Flors Sirera, on 1997. Last February, the Manresa Municipal Council unanimously approved a motion of all the groups which supported the candidacy of Victoire to the “Premi Internacional de Catalunya 2015” and which did mention the support of Manresa City to the intra-Rwandan Dialogue process.
Ingabire has appealed her case to the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights, based in Arusha provisionally. Rwanda has accepted the jurisdiction of this court and also, in January 2013, signed and deposited a declaration allowing individuals and NGOs to present cases. With the aim of hindering the process of Ingabire, Kigali tried to withdraw that statement in February 2016. However, last June, the African Court of Human Rights announced that, while it was possible to withdraw, this required a 12 months advance. It also ruled that neither the case of Ingabire and other pending cases before the Court would be affected.
In recent months, her husband, Lin Muyizere, warned that prison conditions have deteriorated for Ingabire. Although she has been transferred to the common area reserved for women, the situation is different from the other prisoners. Her visits are limited to one person per week and she has no longer contact with their lawyers. “Ultimately, she is always subject to special vigilance” concludes Muyizere.
In September 2018, Victoire Ingabire has been unexpectedly released from prison, as part of a presidential pardon of 2,000 prisons. After her release, she declared that “there is hope for the opening in the political space”, but she also asks President Paul Kagame “to release all other political prisoners that are still in prison”. More information on: http://www.europapress.es/internacional/noticia-presidente-ruanda-indulta-lider-opositora-victoire-ingabire-20180915082728.html.