Rwanda Information Portal

Amnesty International urges Rwanda to ensure opposition leader Victoire Ingabire receives fair trial

Amnesty International urged the Rwandan Government to ensure that opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, receives a swift, fair trial on charges including genocide ideology and collaboration with a “terrorist” group, and is not punished for the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression.

Victoire Ingabire, President of the United Democratic Forces (FDU-Inkingi), who plans to stand in presidential elections in August 2010 was arrested on 21 April 2010 after being summoned to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, the previous day. This was her sixth summons by the police this year.

“We have documented a number of incidents of intimidation and harassment of opposition groups in Rwanda in recent months,” said Erwin van der Borght, Africa programme director at Amnesty International.

“Now with the arrest of a potential presidential candidate a few months ahead of the election, we call on the government to demonstrate that this is not another such case.”

Ingabire, was charged with “genocide ideology” and “minimising the genocide”, “divisionism” and “collaboration with a terrorist group”, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). She appeared before Gasabo Intermediary Court (TGI) on 21 April and pleaded not guilty on all counts.

On 22 April, the court ruled that Ingabire could be released on condition that she not travel outside the capital Kigali while proceedings against her continue.

The Rwandan authorities had already prevented Ingabire from travelling to Europe in March 2010 due to ongoing police investigations.

The “genocide ideology” and “divisionism” charges relate to speeches Ingabire made on her arrival back in Rwanda in January 2010 and in Europe where she spent 16 years in exile in the Netherlands and formed FDU-Inkingi. FDU-Inkingi is still seeking registration in Rwanda.

Government officials have over recent months claimed that comments made by Ingabire at the Gisozi Genocide Memorial on 16 January 2010 amount to “genocide denial” and “divisionism” or promoting ethnic division.

In her speech, she called for the prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Hutu by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), as well as commemoration of Hutu victims killed during the war.

“The onus will be on the prosecution to prove that there is credible, solid evidence to justify the charges against Ingabire, said Erwin van der Borght.

“The prosecutor will have to demonstrate that what she said actually constitutes advocacy of hatred and that they are not punishing her for political dissent.”

A Rwandan law promulgated in October 2008 criminalises “genocide ideology” in vague and ambiguous terms which unduly stifle freedom of expression. The Rwandan Government appear to have recognized that aspects of the genocide ideology law may be problematic and, according to Rwanda News Agency, the Cabinet is currently reviewing this law.

Ingabire is also charged with collaboration with a “terrorist” group, the FDLR.

The FDLR, an armed group operating in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is mainly composed of Rwandan Hutu. It contains remnants of the Interahamwe and former Rwandan soldiers responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide, as well as fighters not involved in the genocide, including many too young to have participated in the genocide.

Ingabire attended “Inter-Rwandan Dialogue” meetings with pro-FDLR participants while in exile in the Netherlands, but says these meetings included participants from various political and ethnic backgrounds, including representatives of the RPF, the ruling party in Rwanda.

In police interrogations over recent weeks, Ingabire has reportedly been accused of meeting with FDLR officials in DRC and intending to create her own militia group. She has consistently denied such allegations.

“The government must demonstrate that Ingabire herself committed recognizably criminal acts and that this is not a case of guilt by association,” said Erwin van der Borght.

Amnesty International urged the Rwandan Government to ensure that Ingabire is tried promptly and in accordance with international fair trial standards.

Amnesty International strongly condemned harassment and intimidation of opposition groups, including the Green Party and the Ideal Social Party, in February 2010.

A member of Ingabire’s party, Joseph Ntawangundi, was severely beaten in a government building on 3 February 2010, as he accompanied Ingabire to collect documents needed for the party’s registration.

Ntawangundi was arrested in February 2010 following revelations that he had been convicted of genocide in absentia by a community tribunal set-up to try cases from the 1994 genocide.

Ntawangundi initially claimed to have been outside Rwanda during the genocide working for an international trade union body, but the organization confirmed this was untrue. Ntawangundi later confessed to participation in the genocide and in March 2010 was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

A November 2009 UN panel of experts report on DRC found that diaspora members of FDU-Inkingi had been in phone contact with FDLR military leaders, but did not specify the nature of this contact or suggest Ingabire had herself maintained such contact.

Recent months have seen a number of government measures against critics and opponents including restrictions on freedom of expression.

On 23 April, Rwandan immigration rejected a work visa re-application by the Rwanda-based researcher for the international human rights group, Human Rights Watch.

On 13 April, the High Media Council (HMC) suspended two Kinyarwanda newspapers known for being critical of the government, Umuseso and Umuvugizi, until after the elections. The HMC alleged that Umuseso had insulted the President and caused trouble in the army that could lead to insubordination.

The 2003 presidential elections and the 2008 legislative elections in Rwanda were marred by intimidation and political opposition activities were severely restricted.

– If you want to receive per email, articles published on Rwandinfo in English, click here.
– If you want to receive Rwandinfo articles in English through your RSS Reader, click here.

May 1, 2010   No Comments

Widows of two assassinated Hutu Presidents sue Tutsi President Paul Kagame in Oklahoma Court

Paul Kagame - killed Hutu Presidents Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira and sparked Rwandan Genocide

Paul Kagame - killed Hutu Presidents Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira and sparked Rwandan Genocide

Rwandan president sued in Oklahoma in killings
Lawyer says leader’s state ties make lawsuit feasible

A long-standing controversy surrounding the president of an African country resurfaced this week in an unlikely place — federal court in Oklahoma City.

The widows of two assassinated African presidents filed a wrongful-death civil lawsuit Thursday against Rwandan President Paul Kagame and nine others.

The widows are seeking $350 million.

Kagame spoke Friday at a commencement ceremony at Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City.

“This is definitely not a publicity stunt,” said one of the widows’ attorneys, Kurt Kerns of Wichita, Kan. “He convinces people that he was the savior of Rwanda, and the genocide and the reality is exactly the opposite.”

Read Full Document – Complaints against Paul Kagame

The widows allege that in 1994 Kagame, leader of the Tutsi rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, ordered the missile attack that killed their Hutu husbands.

Juvenal Habyarimana, the president of Rwanda, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, president of Burundi, were on a jet hit by surface-to-air missiles April 6, 1994.

Everyone aboard died. The deaths sparked the massacre of more than 500,000 Tutsis and Hutus, an event known as the Rwandan Genocide. The slaughter ended after 100 days when Kagame’s group seized control of the country.

Kagame has in the past denied he is to blame for the missile attack. “I am not responsible for Habyarimana’s death and I don’t care,” he told the BBC in 2006. “I wasn’t responsible for his security. … I was fighting that government.”

The widows’ attorneys contend the federal court in Oklahoma City has jurisdiction over their complaints because of the “ongoing, substantial contacts between Oklahoma and” Kagame and his government.

Kagame first visited Oklahoma Christian University in 2006. The university and the Rwandan government have a scholarship program that brings Rwanda’s top high school students to Oklahoma to study.

“President Kagame is at Oklahoma Christian as the head of Rwanda to honor the 10 outstanding Rwandan Presidential Scholars who are graduating,” a university spokesman said Friday. “We do not want to distract from their remarkable accomplishments by getting involved in the politics of Rwanda and surrounding countries. We cannot comment on pending lawsuits.”

University President Mike O’Neal in 2005 compared Kagame to George Washington. On Friday, O’Neal said, “President Kagame has received worldwide recognition for his leadership and peace building, reconciliation, development, good government, promotion of human rights and women’s empowerment.”

The widows’ attorneys contend Kagame can be sued in the United States under a 220-year-old law known as the Alien Tort Claims Act. They said a judgment against him could be collected from any assets he has in the United States.

In their lawsuit, the attorneys argued: “There is no independent functioning judiciary in Rwanda and any suit against defendants there would have been and would still be futile and would result in serious reprisals.”

Earlier inquiries

Who is responsible for the assassinations has been long debated. After an investigation, a prominent French judge in 2006 concluded Kagame ordered the attack on the jet. The French judiciary looked into the downing of the jet because the flight crew was French.

Rwanda cut off diplomatic relations with France for three years after the investigation.

An inquiry by a Rwandan panel concluded this year that Hutu soldiers shot down the plane because extremist Hutu politicians and military leaders were upset over Habyarimana’s talks with the Tutsis.

Source: NOLAN CLAY – newsok.com
Related story:
Rwanda President Paul Kagame sued in Oklahoma City federal court for killing Presidents Habyarimana and Ntaryamira

– If you want to receive per email, articles published on Rwandinfo in English, click here.
– If you want to receive Rwandinfo articles in English through your RSS Reader, click here.

May 1, 2010   7 Comments

Rwanda President Paul Kagame sued in Oklahoma City federal court for killing Presidents Habyarimana and Ntaryamira

Paul Kagame - killed Hutu Presidents Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira and sparked Rwandan Genocide

Paul Kagame - killed Hutu Presidents Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira, sparked Rwandan Genocide

A Lawton attorney on Thursday filed a $350 million wrongful-death civil lawsuit against the president of Rwanda, who gave a commencement speech today at Oklahoma Christian University.

The attorney, John Zelbst, filed the lawsuit in Oklahoma City federal court against President Paul Kagame and other Rwandan officials.

Zelbst and two other attorneys are representing the widows of two assassinated African presidents. The widows allege Kagame, then leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, ordered the presidents’ deaths in 1994.They also allege his army’s actions brought about the mass civilian massacre known as the Rwandan Genocide.

Juvenal Habyarimana, the president of Rwanda, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, president of Burundi, were on a jet that was hit by surface-to-air missiles on April 6, 1994. Everyone aboard, including the French flight crew, died.

A French judge in 2006 blamed Kagame for the deaths but said Kagame is immune from prosecution because he is president. The Kagame government has in the past denied the accusation.

The widows do not live in the United States. They argue a federal court in Oklahoma City has jurisdiction over their claims because of Kagame’s substantial contacts with Oklahoma Christian University.

“There is no independent functioning judiciary in Rwanda and any suit against defendants there would have been and would still be futile and would result in serious reprisals,” the attorneys stated in the lawsuit.
A university spokesman said, “President Kagame is at Oklahoma Christian as the head of Rwanda to honor the 10 outstanding Rwandan Presidential Scholars who are graduating today.

“We do not want to distract from their remarkable accomplishments by getting involved in the politics of Rwanda and surrounding countries. We cannot comment on pending lawsuits.”

Source: NOLAN CLAY – newsok.com

– If you want to receive per email, articles published on Rwandinfo in English, click here.
– If you want to receive Rwandinfo articles in English through your RSS Reader, click here.

May 1, 2010   5 Comments

FDLR reactions to recent events in Rwanda and to various statements made by Rwandan officials

by Callixte Mbarushimana – Executive Secretary of the FDLR

Following the political, security, social and economic situation facing Rwanda, the wave of repression, intimidation, arrest and silencing of political opponents by the fascist regime of the RPF and bellicose statements made by officials in Kigali, the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) wish to make this statement:

On the alleged FDLR members arrested by the authorities of Rwanda.

The FDLR declare that the three individuals that the authorities in Kigali have described as members of our organization have been approached and corrupted by the RPF regime, and then deserted the ranks of the FDLR since October 2007 for Habiyaremye and since May 2008 for Nditurende and Karuta.
Since then they have been serving the RPF regime in its macabre projects.

On the alleged collaboration between the UDF (FDU) and the FDLR.

The FDLR categorically reject the false statements of the fascist regime of the RPF that the UDF (FDU) of Ms. Victoire Ingabire would collaborate with the FDLR.

The reality is that there’s no sort of collaboration between the two organizations. Such unsubstantiated claims made by the Kigali regime are intended to sow fear, terror, confusion and tensions within organizations that are fighting against this regime so that they lower their guard and abandon the struggle that they are waging against injustice, inequality, exploitation of human beings orchestrated by Kigali.

The FDLR invite all women and all men who, in their daily struggle, fight for peace, truth, national reconciliation, the instauration of harmonious and truly republican and democratic institutions in Rwanda, not to let down their guard and not to fall into the trap that the enemy puts on their path by all sorts of subterfuge.

On arbitrary arrest and persecution of opponents by the RPF regime.

The FDLR condemn in the strongest terms the ongoing persecution of Rwandan political opponents within Rwanda by the RPF regime and the conscientious objectors in both Rwanda and outside of Rwanda. They condemn particularly arrest, imprisonment and humiliation of political opponents that the RPF regime accuses of all evils.

The FDLR urge the Rwandan authorities to immediately release all political prisoners languishing in Rwandan deadly prisons and to truly open the political space to all Rwandans eager of peace, freedom and justice who are willing to participate in development of their motherland through the expression of the popular will.

The FDLR remind the RPF regime that it is an inalienable right of any Rwandan to speak freely on all issues concerning the past, the present and the future of his/her country and that nobody has the right to stop him/her from exercising that right.

On the hawkish statements of Ms. Mushikiwabo.

The FDLR condemn unequivocally and call on all women and all men who love peace and justice to condemn the recent statements made by the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Louise Mushikiwabo, that Rwanda is ready to go again in the DRC to fight the FDLR.

These irresponsible and hawkish statements made by a senior official of the Rwandan authorities show unequivocally that it is Rwanda that is the source and the vector of insecurity in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

The FDLR urge Rwanda to stop once and for all its bellicose behavior and accept a negotiated peaceful solution to political problems of Rwanda by agreeing unconditionally to sit on a negotiating table with the FDLR rather than using permanently the threat of war.

The FDLR are willing to provide assistance in finding the truth about the Rwandan tragedy and the crisis that is ravaging the African Great Lakes Region in order to insure equal justice for all.

The FDLR remain committed to peace and support all initiatives aimed at finding peacefully a definitive solution to the political problem of Rwanda which is the basis of the entire African Great Lakes region crisis.

Done in Paris on April 28, 2010

Callixte Mbarushimana
Executive Secretary of the FDLR
(Se)
Related articles:
Rwanda: Three ‘FDLR Ingabire accomplices’ arrested
Rwanda: Two ex-FDLR militants arraigned in Gasabo court, admit complicity with Victoire Ingabire

– If you want to receive per email, articles published on Rwandinfo in English, click here.
– If you want to receive Rwandinfo articles in English through your RSS Reader, click here.

May 1, 2010   No Comments

President of Rwanda Paul Kagame stars at Tribeca Film Festival

President Paul Kagame, with Deborah Scranton, the director of the documentary film on Rwanda, “Earth Made of Glass” at its premiere during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

President Paul Kagame, with Deborah Scranton, director of the documentary film on Rwanda, “Earth Made of Glass” at its premiere during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

President Paul Kagame, with Deborah Scranton, the director of the documentary film on Rwanda, “Earth Made of Glass” at its premiere during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

President Paul Kagame attended the premiere of a documentary film on Rwanda “Earth Made of Glass” at the Tribeca Film Festival on 26 April in New York.

The film, made by Deborah Scranton, was shot in Rwanda between 2008 and 2009.

It depicts the role of France in the Rwandan Genocide and features interviews with President Kagame, who speaks about the pursuit of the truth of Rwanda’s history and a better future for his country.

The film also features Jean Pierre Sagahutu, a Genocide survivor who seeks the truth of his father’s killing during the Genocide and the future of his family.

Here is how Global Information Network reports the event:

Special to the NNPA from the GIN.
(GIN) – Rwandan President Paul Kagame took his turn on the red carpet in New York City this week and received a standing ovation for his role in “Earth Made of Glass” – a new documentary that indicts France as “having a hand in all this mess,” referring to the genocide.

The 88-minute film portrays Kagame in a heroic light. The tall thin leader of the war-torn Central Africa nation is a survivor of the genocide that took more than three quarters of a million lives.

While gathering up the accolades, including a flattering editorial in the Wall Street Journal, his government is in the throes of a political crisis. Two top military officers were dismissed and the opposition and independent media faced arrest or exile.

Victoire Ingabire, a presidential aspirant, was arrested over comments she made at a genocide memorial in which she said Hutu victims of the genocide must also not be forgotten.

Opposition figures say they believe Kagame is preying on fears of another genocide to crush the opposition. He won 95 per cent of the vote in 2003 elections that were seen as flawed. They point to the “genocide ideology” law that is meant to keep people from fanning ethnic hatred but which critics say has been used to stifle dissent.

Finally, two local newspapers were banned for allegedly insulting Kagame, inciting the police and army to insubordination and creating fear among the public, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

The watchdog group called the move a “thinly disguised attempt at censorship.”

NNPA, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, serves nearly 200 Black newspapers. Read more stories from the Black press at www.BlackPressUSA.com.
GIN, the Global Information Network, a not-for-profit news and world media operation, is the largest distributor of Developing World news services, including the award-winning Inter Press Service, in the U.S. Visit www.globalinfo.org and http://gin-ips.blogspot.com/.

– If you want to receive per email, articles published on Rwandinfo in English, click here.
– If you want to receive Rwandinfo articles in English through your RSS Reader, click here.

May 1, 2010   No Comments