On this Heroes Day, the 1st of February, I and the Rwanda People’s Party, join millions of Rwandans at home and throughout the world in remembering those men and women in uniform and out of uniform that sacrificed their lives to free our country from 35 years of slavery and an ethnic ideology that separated wives from husbands, brothers from sisters and parents from their children. This was a regime that turned genocide into a science. The genocide committed by Habyaramana’s regime has left unbearable scars, and a terrible darkness that will over shadow our country for thousands of years to come.
Dear Fellow Rwandans, every nation has its heroes. Rwanda has been fortunate in having many heroes and heroines who have helped to deliver the country from genocide, tyranny and terror. For 35 years Rwandans suffered cruelly. They suffered years of indignity, ethnic hatred, despair, humiliation, anxiety and slavery and many in those times endured exile and became stateless. For 35 years Rwanda and its people endured a kind of psychological rape. Then a group of patriots emerged to save the country from the disastrous rule of Habyarimana who was ruining the people and the country. On the 29th of April 1986, a group Rwandan refugees in Uganda known as the 47, headed by al-Sharif Ahamad bin Said aka. John V KARURANGA-BIGONZI, gathered, at Katigondo National Seminary, in Masaka, Uganda to draw up the ‘Rwanda Roadmap’ under the Umbrella of the Rwanda National Liberation Movement(RNLM). The RNLM is the mother organization of the Rwanda People’s Party (RPP).
On the 19 – 21 October 1986, the Rwanda National Liberation Movement (RNLM), whose objectives were the liberation of Rwanda and the return of all refugees, met with the Rwanda Government 410Km, south of Kampala, at the White Horse Inn, at Kabale, Uganda in an attempt to persuade the former Rwanda government to allow Rwandan refugees to return home but in vain. The RNLM failed repeatedly to persuade the regime of president Habyarimana to allow Rwandans to return home peaceful. It is their refusal that triggered the 1990 civil war that ended with genocide. The RNLM leadership (John V KARURANGA-BIGONZI) was expelled from Uganda and after eight months of incarceration, without charge at Luzira Maximum Prison as “Lodgers”. Some 2800 men and women of the RNLM/A that remained in Uganda decided to join the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) in July 1987. These were true patriots who sought to free their country. They joined the RPF/A without negotiations or bargaining and simply sought to help to save their homeland. They all had exhibited incredible foresight and had a vision for their country’s future. They all shared the main objectives and hopes of the RNLM and that the main questions of the day was not who initiated the struggle, or who should lead the struggle to liberate Rwanda. They all wanted to liberate their country. And they did so, by becoming part of a core of about 7,500 RPA men and women, who heroically and fearlessly crossed into Rwanda on 1st October 1990. In 1994 the country was finally liberated militarily by the RPF/A, and ended the genocide of the former Rwanda government Army and the Interahamwe militias that had turned the country into a graveyard. Today, we stand united to hail their courage and heroism. The RPP is grateful for the RPF’s struggle and its fulfillment of the objectives and aims laid, down by the RNLM on 29 April 1986. Fellow Rwandans, despite the RPP having many political differences with the RFP it would be unfair unjust, and a lack of political insight, if the RPP as a party failed to recognize the role played by the RPF/A, in freeing our country and people. This is at the core of the history of our country. We have to acknowledge, embrace, and accept this fact, no matter if it is as bitter as a Pokeroot or soapberry plant (Umuravumba).
Dear Fellow Rwandans, the 1st of October 1990, was a historic day that shaped the future of our country and will forever. It is on this day, that the Rwandan heroes crossed at Kagitumba, on the Rwanda-Ugandan border to begin a 4 year long, painful and hard campaign to liberate Rwanda. Many from the RPA lost their lives in the liberation of our motherland. We all recall with sadness, the some 2,500 RPA soldiers that died during the first days of the campaign to free our country. They were, apparently killed by Belgians, French and Zairean (DRC) soldiers who were brought in to prop up the heinous murderous regime of Habyarimana from collapsing. Though, it was sad and heartbreaking for most of us to lose our comrades, we have no regrets, because they died for the cause they loved and believed in. Their blood was not shed in vain. Today, it is our duty to remember and celebrate those heroes and heroines who sacrificed their lives to free our country and people.
The RPP believes that, the RPF were not just a military movement alone, but we assume that they also sought to reform the country politically, socially and economically. There is no doubt that the struggle to liberate Rwanda began in July 1994. Ultimately it will continue until Rwanda is liberated politically, economical and socially. The RPP is fully committed to this struggle. This struggle is ongoing today and will continue for as long as it takes, even if it takes as long as Rwanda as a nation and its people continue to exist. The RPP will strive to bring real change to Rwandan society and its economy. History will judge us harshly if we fail to reform Rwanda and make it a proud and prosperous nation. The RPP will make every sacrifice and use all its knowledge, understanding and capability to change Rwanda for the better. The Party will never turn back from its efforts to change our homeland.
To date, Rwanda has about 65,000 nationals still refugees in various countries, this include 18,000 refugees currently in the DRC according to the UN. The RPP believe that the RPF government must do everything possible to ensure that all Rwandan refugees return home, if they wish to. We acknowledged that since the Liberation of Rwanda about 6 million Rwandan refugees have returned home this includes 2.9million refugees from Uganda, 1,625,869 from the DRC, 923,455 from Tanzania, and the rest from other countries. Over the period more than 12,000 ex-Far/FDLR members have also returned home. We urge the RPF government to encourage those refugees, who want to return, to do so, in the national interest.
Fellow Rwandans, the RPP recognizes that in order for the country to progress, political dialogue is an imperative. Dialogue is essential if Rwanda as a nation is to leave its past behind and move on to a great new future. Today, no government of any particular country can live, work and succeed without a viable democratic political opposition. The world has moved on since 1946. The RPP is absolutely certain, that, the political opposition can play their part in an open and democratic system and help a country to develop. The RPP therefore, is calling on the Rwandan government to engage in political dialogue with all opposition parties that do not promote genocide or an ethnic ideology.
The RPP believe that the failures of the previous regimes were a result of the infamous political ideologies that used a "Wall of Fears" tactics to stay in power. Ultimately, the fears raised by these regimes caused the bloodshed and genocide that engulfed our beloved homeland. Eventually, these “Wall of Fears” became a deadly brew and was the catalyst for the self-destruction of the previous Rwandan regimes. The RPP calls on the Rwanda government not to emulate the infamous practices of former regimes of using fears and ethnic hatred as a mechanism and a strategy to assume and retain power.
The RPP therefore, calls upon the Rwanda government, to use this Heroes Day, to change its policy, with regard to the opposition parties. We invite the RPF government to begin meaningful peace talks with all opposition parties in order to secure Rwanda’s future. The RPP calls on the RPF to secure Rwanda’s interests by engaging in meaningful discussions for the good of the country.
Finally the RPP calls upon the Rwandan government to use Heroes Day to releases all those convicted of genocide over the ages of 65. We also call on the RPF government to release and compensate those so called "Lodgers" that have been many years in prison without charge. Further the RPP calls on the Rwanda government to release all political prisoners currently incarcerated in Rwandan prisons for political reason.
Fellow Rwandans, once again, on this Heroes Day, I and the Rwanda People’s Party, join millions of Rwandans everywhere in remembering our heroes and heroines who because of their exceptional qualities of selflessness, sacrifice and courage in the face of the greatest dangers have allowed Rwandans to regain their identity and dignity. The nation will always be grateful for their sacrifice.
May God Bless Rwanda
Rwanda People’s Party