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Decision on the dissolution of IBUKA Belgium postponed

Decision on the dissolution of IBUKA Belgium postponed

This Thursday, December 9, 2021, the non-profit organization IBUKA Belgium, appeared before the Brussels Commercial Court, in the context of a dissolution proceeding initiated for non-filing of annual accounts. After the debates, the hearing was again postponed to February 17, 2022, and the fate of the association was put in the hands of its members.

Closed door refused

The hearing began with a rather surprising request to plead behind closed doors from Mr. Bernard Maingain, the Belgian lawyer who usually defends the interests of Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Europe. Indeed, Me Maingain, who advises IBUKA-Belgium in this case, wanted the debates to be kept away from the public, justifying his request by the presence of “members of Jambo asbl” in the room. The Tribunal did not follow up.

“No financial embezzlement” according to IBUKA’s lawyer

Me Maingain then began his argument by refuting any suspicion of embezzlement or financial fraud, as has been noted in the press[1]. He made it clear that IBUKA Belgium has never received for several “hundreds of thousands of euros in subsidies“, but rather “three subsidies of 10,000 euros paid by the Wallonia-Brussels community as well as a subsidy of 25,000. euros paid for the making of a documentary” and that IBUKA Belgium does not have any bank account in Rwanda.

Regularization still in progress

As to the merits of the case, Maître Maingain explained that an important work of regularization had been carried out to update the accounts, but that they could not be filed before the hearing, given that they must first be approved by a general meeting convened for December 29, 2021.

Indeed, the current proceedings before the Commercial Court are aimed solely at verifying whether the non-profit organization has fulfilled its administrative and accounting obligations. This is not an investigation for financial embezzlement or financial fraud since in such case, the procedure would be conducted by the Public Prosecutor’s Office or an Examining Magistrate and would be dealt with before the Correctional Court.

In this case, it is simply an administrative regularization, and if the members of IBUKA-Belgium approve the accounts of the association during their General Assembly on December 29, this procedure before the Court of business will be terminated.

« No dissension within IBUKA-Belgium but distinct sensitivities »

The President of the Court then asked for explanations as to any “dissent” which would exist among the members of IBUKA-Belgium and which could “give rise to discussions” on the accounts during the General Assembly. On this point, Maître Maingain explained that there was no “dissent” within IBUKA-Belgium, and that even if we could speak of “distinct sensitivities” among certain members, he was confident that the accounts presented were going to be approved during the General Assembly and that “everything was going to be fine“.

A decisive General Assembly

The General Assembly scheduled for December 29, 2021 should therefore be decisive for the future of the Association. Me Maingain also made a point of clarifying that several other shortcomings should be corrected, in particular with regard to the terms of office of directors having expired for several months, as well as the appointment of auditors who, until then, did not exist.

The fate of IBUKA-Belgium is therefore now in the hands of its members and no longer in the hands of a management team singled out for being the relay of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in Belgium, as denounced by several observers. for many years.

Indeed, in March 2019, the LeVif’Express newspaper already spoke of a president “more in tune with the Rwandan Embassy in Brussels[2]. Indeed, she does not hesitate to attack Paul Kagame’s political opponents or publicly defend the RPF’s record[3].

In 2011, the newspaper La Libre Belgique had referred to relations which “deteriorate between the power of Kigali and the survivors of the genocide” after 23 members of IBUKA in Europe and America, had written a letter to President Kagame, in order to ‘express “their concern about Kigali’s new policy towards Hutus in the diaspora.[4]

But already in 2007, the then president of IBUKA-Belgium had denounced a “putsch aimed at illegally controlling the Board of Directors of IBUKA” operated by the relays of the Rwandan regime in Belgium which had pushed the leaders of IBUKA to take legal action in Belgium. Calls for violence against the then IBUKA-Belgium leadership team were also launched by members of the RPF, aimed at bringing the non-profit organization under the Rwandan Government’s supervision.[5]

A political problem despite everything

The administrative and financial concerns of IBUKA-Belgium will perhaps allow a fundamental debate on the political positioning of IBUKA, whether in Belgium or elsewhere. Moreover, since this year, a new association of survivors of the Tutsi genocide has emerged in Belgium and clearly shows itself as independent from the Government of Kigali (IGICUMBI, the Voice of the Survivors)[6].

Even if the Belgian branch of IBUKA manages to overcome its administrative, accounting, and financial troubles, the question that most interests Rwandans in Belgium is whether it will also free itself from the hold exerted on it by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) or if it will continue to be its ideological relay, at a time when the repression against the critical voices of the RPF is intensifying all over the world[7].

Gustave Mbonyumutwa

[1] https://www.lesoir.be/409482/article/2021-11-30/rwanda-lassociation-ibuka-devra-sexpliquer-devant-un-tribunal-belgehttps://www.jambonews.net/actualites/20211129-ibuka-belgique-bientot-dissoute-par-la-justice-belge/https://www.radiyoyacuvoa.com/a/ishirahamwe-ibuka-risabwa-gutanga-raporo-y-imyaka-itatu-iheze/6331822.html 

[2] https://www.levif.be/actualite/international/genocide-rwandais-du-rififi-chez-ibuka/article-normal-1113549.html

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6tDZHI8sco&t=7144s

[4] https://www.lalibre.be/international/2011/02/09/linquietude-des-rescapes-du-genocide-rwandais-QF4N2KOVPVBHPCRRDRDEVOBTKI/

[5] Cfr the letter of May 23rd 2008 of the then President of IBUKA-Belgium, at the attention of Mister Bonesha, the then Ambassador if Rwanda in Belgium.

[6] https://www.igicumbi94.com/

[7] https://freedomhouse.org/report/transnational-repression/rwanda



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