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US Green Party protests violent attempts to suppress Rwanda Green Party

The Green Party of the United States today expressed solidarity with the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR, http://rwandagreendemocrats.org) and condemned attempts by Rwandan government security forces to sabotage the party and prevent it from holding its historic first national congress.

On October 30, over 600 members and supporters of the new party came from all over Rwanda to Kigali, the capital, to present their notarized signatures for the DGPR’s registration dossier with the Ministry of Local Government.  They were driven away by police, while a meeting that was underway was violently attacked by unidentified men who called out their support for the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front, while he was throwing a chair into the crowd.  Police interrupted and canceled the meeting and arrested DGPR members who tried to restrain the disruptors instead of the disruptors themselves.

According to DGPR founder Frank Habineza, the attacks were no accident: “We have established the man who started the shouting and threw chairs (on October 30th) is an ex-soldier in the Rwandan army and a former employee of Military Intelligence.”

For more information on the incident, see “Police halts Green Party congress ‘due to insecurity'”, Rwanda News Agency, October 30, 2009, (http://www.gp.org/campaigns/international/rwanda/Rwanda-News-Agency.pdf) and “Arrests and broken bones at 1st Rwandan Green Party Congress” by Annie Garrison, Green Change, October 30 (http://network.greenchange.org/news/10878-arrests-and-broken-bones-at-1st-rwandan-green-party-congress).  The Green Party of the United States has set up a web page featuring breaking news from Rwanda (http://www.gp.org/campaigns/international/rwanda/index.php).

On October 2, more than 900 members and supporters had traveled to a similar meeting in Kigali, only to be told by the Nyarugenge District Mayor that even though the Greens had secured a location and a notary, it had to resubmit its request for permission to hold the meeting.

The party has met with similar official obstructions ever since it was launched on August 14, 2009, at a press conference in Kigali with an audience that included representatives from the Embassies of the US, Sweden, and the Netherlands, as well as the BBC, SABC, Newvison-Uganda, Africa Press Agency, and Umuseso Newspaper (http://www.rwandagreendemocrats.org/spip.php?article23).

“We protest all violence and obstruction aimed at peacefully organizing political parties throughout the world.  We especially deplore actions taken to prevent our fellow Green Parties in other nations from participating in the political process.  The Rwandans who’ve been blocked, intimidated, and injured by provocateurs are heroes in the struggle for democracy,” said Steve Herrick, co-chair of the International Committee of the Green Party of the United States.

US Green Party leaders have encouraged Americans outraged by the political repression and violence to complain to the Rwanda Embassy in Washington, DC .at (202) 232-2882.

“Although far more brutal, the hostile actions undertaken by Rwandan officials, police, and security forces against Greens mirror the efforts taken by many Democrats and Republicans in office in the US to keep keep Greens and other parties’ candidates off the ballot.  In Pennsylvania, Green candidates face the threat of personal financial ruin for trying to run.  In many states, biased ballot access rules privilege major party candidates and bar all others.  As Americans and as Greens, we demand democracy — in Rwanda, in the US, and everywhere,” said Sedinam Kinamo Christin Moyowasifza-Curry of the Black Caucus of the Green Party of the United States.  Ms. Curry is helping to prepare an international summit on the situation in Rwanda.

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Unedited statement by Frank Habineza, founder of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda and one of the three African Greens representatives on the 12-member Global Green Coordination (http://www.globalgreens.org/ggc/ggc_homepage):

Its indeed been a terrible day, the man who started the shouting and threw chairs, we have established that he is an Ex-Soldier and a former employee of Military Intelligence, the other three people who joined him, one of them had something like a gun-pistol, it was also seen by the US Envoy and Netherlands Envoy and many others.

This was a well planned sabotage done by security operatives.  Another guy was also from the Local Defense Forces.  The police was not helpful at all. It looked like they were compromising us.

What is surprising though is that the police has released the guys who caused trouble and rather arrested our members one of them a mother.  Thankfully our members have been released but made statements at the police.  They were asked why they decided to be members of our party.

Several people are injured, one Lady is in intensive care.  Her Back is having a problem.  Am still finding out how many are injured.

Keep us in prayers,
Frank Habineza

MORE INFORMATION

Petition to the Rwandan Government to Register the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda
The Green Party of Canada, October 7, 2009
http://www.greenparty.ca/blogs/103/2009-10-10/rwandan-green-party-struggles-receives-help-global-greens

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