He rescued us from a refugee camp in Rwanda after our organic dad and mom had been killed throughout the 1994 genocide and raised us as his personal. We — Carine, who was one on the time, and Anaïse who was two — had been saved along with the 1,268 lives he saved by defending inside a lodge in the course of the genocide.
His story was informed within the Oscar-nominated movie “Resort Rwanda,” and he obtained quite a few awards for his bravery and humanitarian work.
Through the years he turned some of the high-profile critics of Rwanda’s longtime President Paul Kagame. Then, in August 2020, our father — now a Belgian citizen and US everlasting resident — was kidnapped by the Rwandan authorities and has since been in jail on false fees for over 650 days.
Now as consultant heads of state, together with the Prince of Wales, descend on Rwanda for the Commonwealth Heads of Authorities Assembly (CHOGM) Monday, they have to not flip a blind eye to the host nation’s human rights violations.
Whereas it’s unhappy that the CHOGM is being held this 12 months in a rustic that doesn’t adhere to the Commonwealth’s core values and ideas, we should see this as a possibility to shine a lightweight on Rwanda’s lack of democracy.
Our household is asking Prince Charles to not stay silent to this actuality and to not shake the hand of the tyrant who’s holding our father as a political prisoner.
The United Nations, the Clooney Basis for Justice, the Worldwide Bar Affiliation and plenty of others have acknowledged publicly that our father is barely in jail as a result of he spoke out towards a authorities that doesn’t settle for any criticism.
The USA lately categorised our father as a “wrongful detainee,” noting the large irregularities in his seize and trial.
Rwanda has no freedom of speech, a central worth of the Commonwealth of countries and a proper my father has been imprisoned for exercising. There’s additionally no democracy, freedom of affiliation or proper to participate in opposition political events in Rwanda.
Kagame “gained” two elections with over 98% of the vote in 2017 and 93% in 2010 and is ready to run for workplace for many years to come back following adjustments to the Structure in a controversial 2015 referendum. Critics are commonly harassed, brutalized, tortured, imprisoned, exiled, or have disappeared or died in suspicious circumstances.
This contains each political opponents and former members of the regime who’re seen as potential threats. Rwanda is a authorities that guidelines just for Kagame and a small elite.
Our father can be one in all many victims of Rwanda’s follow of transnational repression, a tactic sometimes utilized by Russia, China and Iran, the place a authorities reaches throughout borders to silence critics. Along with my father’s case, Rwandan officers and brokers harass and intimidate opponents in different nations, together with the US, United Kingdom and Europe.
Our father was kidnapped nearly two years in the past, lured from our dwelling in San Antonio, Texas, via Dubai, the place he was tricked into boarding a flight to Kigali. An agent of the Rwandan Authorities, posing as a Bishop, requested our father to come back to Burundi and converse to church teams about reconciliation. Having boarded a aircraft in Dubai anticipating to fly to Burundi, he was drugged, waking solely to understand he had landed in Kigali, Rwanda — a spot to which he would by no means voluntarily return.
On arrival he was tortured for 4 days and compelled to make a false confession, which was then used as “proof” towards him. He had no entry to counsel of his selecting. He was compelled to endure solitary confinement for 250 days, in violation of the UN’s Nelson Mandela guidelines, which characterize imprisonment of over 15 days in solitary confinement as torture.
And he was subjected to what worldwide displays agree is a sham trial, with no credible proof introduced that he was concerned in any manner within the terrorism-related crimes of which he was accused.
The Rwandan authorities has rejected all criticism of those processes, extremely claiming that it has acted in a way per worldwide regulation.
Much more heartbreaking, is that governments just like the UK proceed to accomplice with the Rwandan regime, together with within the scheme to offshore susceptible asylum seekers to Rwanda. It’s unsurprising that the British authorities’s willingness to show a blind eye to Rwanda’s widespread human rights abuses is garnering big opposition from the church, civil societies, and all those that care concerning the plight of these fleeing for a greater life.
Now our father has been sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, which will probably be a life sentence for a person who final week turned 68. Our solely want for his birthday is to deliver him dwelling secure to us. He’s a most cancers survivor with hypertension whose well being is deteriorating whereas he’s incarcerated. His present signs, together with a weak proper arm and facial paralysis, point out that he might have had a number of strokes already whereas in jail, however these go untreated.
Whereas it’s nonetheless incomprehensible to us, and so many victims of the Rwandan regime world wide, that Rwanda was given the privilege of internet hosting the CHOGM this 12 months, its presence in Kigali additionally affords a singular alternative.
The Prince of Wales and different CHOGM leaders can select to deal with their shared values and ideas and push these members who don’t uphold these values in follow to take action. This contains Kagame’s Rwanda. Though Prince Charles isn’t a political determine, he can search dialogue behind closed doorways, and even ask to go to our father.
Rwanda has many buddies within the CHOGM, each nations and people, and we urge the Prince of Wales and all the different leaders assembled to not keep silent and to ask Kagame to offer our father with a compassionate launch now, earlier than it’s too late.
Our father saved us in 1994. We plead with the worldwide group to take this chance to avoid wasting him.