Rwanda Information Portal

Rwanda: Is Green Party becoming an RPF satellite party?

Rwanda News Agency has published an article in which it is alleged that the Green Party is surprisingly flirting with Paul Kagame and the RPF party in order to get registered. Here is what RNA writes in the article titled:
“U-Turn from Green Party amid registration uncertainty”

Frank Habineza - Chair of Democratic Green Party of RwandaFrank Habineza – Chair of Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

Kigali: The Green Party has distanced itself from opposition colleagues and come out in support of the “different achievements made by the RPF led Government” – in a wide ranging declaration as uncertainty looms over its future, RNA reports.

After forming a new team as it tries to recover from the defection of its senior members last month, the group now seems to make concessions to the authorities. In a declaration adopted Monday, the yet-to-be registered party declares “commitment to non violence and strive for a culture of peace and cooperation”.

Observers are now saying the party could be distancing itself from embattled opposition politician Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza – currently facing charges of terrorism and Genocide ideology. The firry head of the yet-to-be registered FDU-Inkingi group is also accused of forming a rebel group to topple an elected government.

The Green Party and FDU-Inkingi, as well as PS Imberakuri of Bernard Ntaganda formed a coalition in February. However, PS Imberakuri which is registered is now broken up into two factions – with one actively operating within the political party forum and that of Mr. Ntaganda furiously preferring to stay out.

Mr. Ntaganda is under fire from different quarters including Genocide survivors groups and Parliament over alleged Genocide ideology and ethnic divisionism. President Kagame has described him and the other opposition figures as “hooligans”.

With no clear future, Mr. Frank Habineza has already met with the Ministry of Local Government to discuss the Green Party registration. This was unthinkable a few months ago as the group sought to confront the authorities head-on. No names are mentioned in the Green Party declaration but the message is open.

Mr. Habineza has been a darling of international media, the global green movement and foreign campaign groups. President Kagame actually branded the party as not for Rwandans because, as he put it, the group was getting more support from the outside than from within Rwanda.

The pressure is enormous and the Green Party is feeling it, asserting in the declaration: “In the process to register the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, we were always pushed on the wall and ended up in reactionary politics; this has coasted us a lot and never gave us chance to tell Rwandans our message of peace and hope.”

It continues: “We re-confirm our commitment on the principle on non-use of confrontational politics, since it only helps to make matters worse other than improve them,” reads the declaration in part.
“We re-confirm our position to not work with people or groups, who may have intentions of taking back the country backwards. The good things the country has achieved have taken a lot of efforts and energy. This should be highly valued.”

This is a clear rebuke of the opposition colleagues as the Green Party positions itself as not in accordance with the inflammatory comments of Ms. Ingabire and Mr. Ntaganda.

“We commit ourselves to condemning any causes of war and conflicts by understanding and respecting the Rwandan culture, eradicating racism, promoting freedom and democracy, and eradication of poverty,” adds the Green Party declaration.

Government has accused the fire-spitting opposition groups and other exiled critics, as well as the rights groups of undermining Rwanda by not recognizing the visible developments in the country. Local Government Minister James Musoni said recently that the Green Party needs to put its house in order to be registered. He also claimed there was chaos in the party.

For his part, President Kagame has even accused the “hooligans” of abusing him, but said he does not “give a damn” – which were very strong comments made during the start of the Tutsi Genocide commemoration week April 07. The Green Party has now taken notice of this as it points out in the declaration.

“In the process to register the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, we were always pushed on the wall and ended up in reactionary politics; this has coasted us a lot and never gave us chance to tell Rwandans our message of peace and hope,” it says in the two-page document.

But also quickly adds: “We believe that there is still a big room for improvement in other areas like democracy and good governance. As an opposition party, we also have an important role to play in the sustainable development of Rwanda.”

In a final note, the Green Party says: “Non-violence is indeed the sustainable solution to Rwandan problems; we encourage all Rwandans to embrace it. It’s our guarantee for a better future and better Rwanda.”

Though the group affirms that it is committed to “consultative politics, diplomacy, cooperation and peaceful competition for political power,” in possible reference to the cooperation agreement with Ingabire and Ntaganda, the Green Party makes it clear in the declaration that this will be “But based on mutual understanding, truth and avoidance of abusive language”.

Rwanda News Agency (ARI-RNA).

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May 14, 2010   1 Comment

Another Rwandan Opposition Party Born

A group of Rwandan exiles living in London, UK have formed a new political party to oppose the governement of President Paul Kagame back home. The new party is called Rwanda People’s Party-IMVURA.

The President of the new party, John V Karuranga in email to 256news.com a shortwhile ago said it will be launched this week.

“We are informing 256news.com that a new political party will be launched this week. You will be communicating to you details soon,” Mr. Karuranga’s message read.

The details include an introduction of 5 pages, 11 pages on Rwanda’s Prospects and Perspectives and 46 pages on the Party Programme.

RPP-IMVURA is the 4th party formed this year to oppose Kagame who seeks another term as President in elections due in August.

Other opposition parties include PSI-Imberakuri, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda and FDU-INKINGI.

None of these opposition parties has been allowed to register so far. Early analysts are wondering: Will RPP-IMVURA manage where others are still stuck?

Source: 256news.com.

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May 14, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda: Several teams arrive to investigate Genocide suspects

Kigali – Four separate teams of investigators and judges are in the country to compile testimonies against several Genocide fugitives and top leaders of FDLR currently living in Europe.

Information acquired from the prosecution indicates that a seven-man team from France arrived in the country to investigate Pascal Simbikangwa for his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

“The team arrived on May 8, and it is made up two judges, three investigators and two court clerks. They will be here for two weeks,” said the Prosecution Spokesman, Augustin Nkusi.

A Norwegian has also been in the country since April 29 investigating Sadi Bugingo over killings in the former Kibungo prefecture.

“Another large team of German investigators are in Kigali and they are working on the case of Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni for war crimes, crimes against humanity and establishing and heading a terrorist group,” said Nkusi.

“A fourth team from the International Criminal Court (ICC) is also investigating France-based Callixte Mbarushimana on similar charges,” the spokesman disclosed.

The three are the top leaders of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Meanwhile three other teams from the United Kingdom, United States, and the Netherlands are expected in the country soon to compile evidence of Genocide fugitives living in their countries.

“On May 15, the Crown Prosecution service will be in Rwanda to investigate a fugitive code-named ‘CM’. The team will be led by James Lewic, Q.C” revealed Nkusi.
He added that another team from the U.S will arrive on 13 May and will be in the country up to June 4, working on other cases.

Nkusi added that the team will be led by Dr. Jeffrey Richter, and among the cases they will be investigating, is that of Michel Twagirayezu, the former President of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda and a former vice-president of the World Council of Churches.

He is accused of having incited and supervised the Genocide and worked closely with the killers in the Presbyterian stronghold of Kirinda, Kibuye, betraying parishioners and fellow-clergy alike.

Twagirayezu is also accused of drawing up lists of Tutsis to be killed and also allegedly killed an entire Tutsi family at a roadblock.

Another person under the U.S Team’s microscope is Fidel Twizere, accused of Genocide in the Kanombe suburb of Kigali City.

Another Dutch team is also expected in the country this week working on the case of Augustin Basebya, a former Member of Parliament, and his wife only identified as Yvonne for their role in the Genocide in Gikondo another Kigali City suburb.

After the Genocide, Basebya worked with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) but his contract was later terminated after coming under suspicion of having participated in the Genocide. He then sought refuge in Netherlands.

[The New Times]

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May 14, 2010   No Comments

Rwanda: children held on Iwawa Island Prison camp are crying out for someone to help


Alerted by The New York Times article (see
Iwawa, the Island of Shame in Rwanda which revealed the shameful existence of the Iwawa island children’s prison camp, named the Rwanda’s Alcatraz, Jennifer Fierberg launches an appeal, urging any NGO’s within Rwanda to seek a way to help these children and young adults.
Here is what she writes in her article titled “Rwanda: Iwawa Island – Prison Camp or Paradise Vacation spot?”:

In a nation rebuilding itself on hope and change it is a crime to not carry an ID.
To be homeless of any age and other normal daily challenge of the Rwandan people can be an illegal action in Rwanda resulting in arrest and imprisonment.
The New York Times reports that “Nearly 900 beggars, homeless people and suspected petty thieves, including dozens of children, have recently been rounded up from the nation’s neatly swept streets and sent —without trial or a court appearance — to this little-known outpost.
They will spend up to three years here being “rehabilitated, learning skills like bricklaying, hairdressing and motorcycle maintenance.”
In a nation rebuilding itself on hope and forgiveness this appears to be a step in the wrong direction.

As the nations election looms near, more stories like this are beginning to surface.

Rwandan teenagers detained in remote Iwawa Island prison camp

Rwandan teenagers detained in remote Iwawa Island prison camp

This “rehabilitation island” is anything but a place for rehabilitation and job skills training.
The men and children on this island will spend up to three years there with no one to fight for their rights or to seek justice in their situations.
The conditions are deplorable and not fit for human inhabitants.
The hundreds of men, teenagers and children are living in make-shift buildings on side to side mattresses.
There are no lights and no Malaria nets…

This island screams injustice from every side.

Iwawa Prison Island

Iwawa Prison Island

While the political leader praise this island as a “rehabilitation facility”, children are crying out for someone to call their parents to tell them where they are.

Iwawa Island is located in the middle of Lake Kivu and there are no means of escape due to it being located miles from land. Many refer to is as Rwanda’s Alcatraz.

All of this begs the question….what is the real reason for this prison camp?
More of these men have been accused of being political dissenters and many have been outspoken for their opposing political views to the current presidential election.
Many of the political opposition party members have been denied registration for the election.
Recently political dignitaries visited the island and were greeted by the Police Commissioner as if they had arrived on an island in Paradise. The children were hidden from view while the other prisoners danced and sang for the dignitaries.
Sadly, in my search for NGO’s seeking to help the injustice of this horrific situation I was not able to locate any.
In the early 1990’s when this island was used for similar purposes NGO’s were denied access then. I fear that is the case again.

I urge any NGO’s within Rwanda to seek a way to help these men and children.

Source: Jennifer Fierberg – ngonewsafrica.org.

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May 14, 2010   4 Comments

Iwawa, the Island of Shame in Rwanda

Young adults and minors, arrested for petty crimes, on Iwawa Island

Young adults and minors, arrested for petty crimes, on Iwawa Island

In an article published by New York Times on April 30 and titled Rwanda Pursues Dissenters and the Homeless, journalist Jeffrey Gettleman depicts the dire conditions in which live hundreds of minors and young adults arrested for petty crimes ranging from being homeless to not having an identification card. They are secretely sent and kept isolated on the island without the knowledge of their parents and relatives and without trial.
While the government claims that the island is a rehabilitation facility, many see it as nothing more than a prison camp where the country’s street kids, whom the government feels have tarnished the appearance of the country, are kept contained.

Here is what New York Times writes:

IWAWA ISLAND, Rwanda — A few months ago, Gasigwa Gakunzi was hanging around a ramshackle house where poor children pay to watch television when the Rwandan police arrested him for loitering. The next thing he knew, he said, he was taken away from his family and carted off to this remote island in the middle of Lake Kivu.

Gasigwa, 14, now spends his days learning patriotic songs and how to march like a soldier. At night, he sleeps in a huge sheet-metal shed with hundreds of men and boys packed mattress to mattress.

“Please call my father,” he whispered. “He has no idea where I am.”

Iwawa Prison Island

Iwawa Prison Island

Nearly 900 beggars, homeless people and suspected petty thieves, including dozens of children, have recently been rounded up from the nation’s neatly swept streets and sent — without trial or a court appearance — to this little-known outpost. They will spend up to three years here being “rehabilitated,” learning skills like bricklaying, hairdressing and motorcycle maintenance.

It is one of the country’s newest self-improvement projects, and it seems a fitting symbol for what many political analysts and human rights groups say Rwanda has become: orderly but repressive.

Under President Paul Kagame, this country, which exploded in ethnic bloodshed 16 years ago, is now one of the safest, cleanest and least corrupt nations on the continent.
The capital, Kigali, is not ringed by sprawling slums, and carjackings — a deadly problem in many African cities — are virtually unheard of here.
The roads are smoothly paved; there is national health insurance; neighborhoods hold monthly cleanups; the computer network is among the best in the region; and the public fountains are full of water, not weeds.
All of this has been accomplished in one of the world’s poorest countries.

No room for dissent

But while the nation continues to be praised as a darling of the foreign aid world and something of a central African utopia, it is increasingly intolerant of political dissent, or sometimes even dialogue, and bubbling with bottled-up tensions. Recent grenade attacks in Kigali and a shake-up in the army showed that even one of the cornerstones of the new Rwandan state — personal security — might be in danger.

Kagame’s strategy for stability is a dangerous, long-term gamble,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “By stymieing a political opposition, an independent press or a critical civil society — in short, by not allowing democratic institutions to form — Kagame is leaving people little to identify with but their ethnic group.”

With less than four months to go before national elections, few of the major opposition parties have been allowed to register. Some opposition supporters have been attacked inside government offices; others have been jailed. Several prominent government officials who recently broke ranks with Kagame defected to other African nations, saying they feared for their lives. The BBC local-language radio service was shut down for a time because the Rwandan government did not like the way it was talking about the genocide of 1994.

That dark period, when death squads from the Hutu majority massacred hundreds of thousands of minority Tutsis, as well as moderate Hutus, remains the touchiest subject of all. In the past three years, Rwandan officials have prosecuted more than 2,000 people, including political rivals, teachers and students, for espousing “genocide ideology” or “divisionism.”

Kagame and his disciplined military quickly restored order after the genocide, and this stability has been the foundation for Rwanda’s remarkable comeback. The foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, says that after all Rwanda has been through, the government has to remain vigilant about ethnic divisions.

“Rwanda will not allow any politician, political party, any individual, to tamper with the reconciliation and unity in Rwanda,” she said in an interview.

Instigators of violence have been prosecuted for divisionism, but so have people trying to discuss the country’s past or its current direction. Critics contend that the government wields Orwellian-sounding laws that are intentionally vague to stifle any inkling of opposition.

Even programs like the one on Iwawa Island, which the government says will give street people a second chance, are not exactly what they seem.

As a boatload of officials recently glided onto shore, one police commissioner gestured to the birds, the trees and the young men with uniformly shaved heads fetching water and said, “Welcome to our Hawaii.”

But on the mainland, people describe it as an Alcatraz.

“We call it the island of no return,” said Esperance Uwizeyimana, a homeless mother of four.

None of the vocational training programs had started by mid-March. Protais Mitali, the youth minister, insisted there were no street children here, just adults. Yet squeezed in with the men were many adolescents like Gasigwa, and employees confided that several dozen boys were incarcerated.

“This isn’t a good place for children,” one employee said in hushed tones because the minister was nearby. “They could get abused.”

Source: Jeffrey Gettleman / New York Times News Service

Watch the video on Rwanda’s Island Prison

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May 14, 2010   6 Comments