Opinion: Pricey Prince Charles, do not shake arms with the tyrant who kidnapped our father

He rescued us from a refugee camp in Rwanda after our organic dad and mom have been killed through the 1994 genocide and raised us as his personal. We — Carine, who was one on the time, and Anaïse who was two — have been saved along with the 1,268 lives he saved by defending inside a resort all through the genocide.

His story was advised within the Oscar-nominated movie “Lodge Rwanda,” and he acquired quite a few awards for his bravery and humanitarian work.

Over time 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 expenses 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 need 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 yr in a rustic that doesn’t adhere to the Commonwealth’s core values and rules, we should see this as a chance to shine a light-weight 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 said publicly that our father is just in jail as a result of he spoke out towards a authorities that doesn’t settle for any criticism.

The USA just lately categorized 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 “received” 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 modifications to the Structure in a controversial 2015 referendum. Critics are usually harassed, brutalized, tortured, imprisoned, exiled, or have disappeared or died in suspicious circumstances.
This consists of each political opponents and former members of the regime who are seen as potential threats. Rwanda is a authorities that guidelines just for Kagame and a small elite.
Our father can be one among 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 international locations, together with the US, United Kingdom and Europe.

Our father was kidnapped virtually two years in the past, lured from our house 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 communicate to church teams about reconciliation. Having boarded a airplane 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.
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And he was subjected to what worldwide screens agree is a sham trial, with no credible proof introduced that he was concerned in any means 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 fashion in step with 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 large opposition from the church, civil societies, and all those that care in regards to the plight of these fleeing for a greater life.

Now our father has been sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, which shall be a life sentence for a person who final week turned 68. Our solely want for his birthday is to convey him house protected 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 could 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 around the globe, that Rwanda was given the privilege of internet hosting the CHOGM this yr, its presence in Kigali additionally gives a novel alternative.

The Prince of Wales and different CHOGM leaders can select to deal with their shared values and rules and push these members who don’t uphold these values in follow to take action. This consists of Kagame’s Rwanda. Though Prince Charles shouldn’t be a political determine, he can search dialogue behind closed doorways, and even ask to go to our father.

Rwanda has many associates within the CHOGM, each international locations 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 neighborhood to take this chance to avoid wasting him.