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Posts from — February 2011

US Professor Brian Endless talks about Kagame regime and importance of Rudasingwa’s testimonials (audio)

From interview conducted by Steve Bynum on WBEZ on Feb 07,2011.

[wpaudio url=”http://rwandinfo.com/audio/20110207-brian-and-rudasingwa-on-truth-about-kagame-regime-wbez.mp3″ text=”Prof. Brian Endless talks about RPF’s regime and importance of Rudasingwa’s testimonials” dl=”0″]

Brian Endless is a senior advisor to the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation and a political science professor at Loyola University-Chicago.
Professor Endless’ teaching and research interests focus on the United Nations and the Great Lakes Region of Africa. This includes a broad range of international peace, security and humanitarian issues, as well as international development. He has specialized in the UN Security Council, in particular actions toward Iraq and other areas in the Middle East. His current focus is primarily on politics and conflict in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes Region of Africa. He teaches classes on International Law, International Organizations, and International Political Economy, among others. Endless is the founder and Executive Director of American Model United Nations International, based in Chicago. In addition, he serves as the Senior Advisor to the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation.

[WBEZ]

February 15, 2011   4 Comments

Rudasingwa talks about deceptive strategies of RPF-Kagame regime since 1994 (audio)

From interview offered by Rudasingwa to WBEZ on Feb 07,2011.

[wpaudio url=”http://rwandinfo.com/audio/20110207-rudasingwa-about-kagame-regime-systematic-deception-wbez.mp3″ text=”Rudasingwa talks about deceptive strategies of RPF – Kagame regime since 1994″ dl=”0″]

Theogene Rudasingwa was Chief of Staff to Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and served as Rwanda’s Ambassador to the U.S. He now lives in exile in the United States. Rudasingwa believes the so called Rwandan “Miracle” is a myth. He brings a rare insiders glimpse into the Kagame regime. Theogene says he left the Kagame regime because of a crisis of conscience.

February 15, 2011   2 Comments

Rudasingwa talks about facing justice and about conditions for reconciliation in Rwanda (audio)

From interview offered by Rudasingwa to WBEZ on Feb 07,2011.

[wpaudio url=”http://rwandinfo.com/audio/20110207-rudasingwa-about-facing-criminal-charges-and-conditions-for-reconciliation-wbez.mp3″ text=”Rudasingwa talks about facing criminal charges and about the conditions for reconciliation in Rwanda ” dl=”0″]

Theogene Rudasingwa was Chief of Staff to Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and served as Rwanda’s Ambassador to the U.S. He now lives in exile in the United States. Rudasingwa believes the so called Rwandan “Miracle” is a myth. He brings a rare insiders glimpse into the Kagame regime. Theogene says he left the Kagame regime because of a crisis of conscience.

[WBEZ]

February 14, 2011   6 Comments

Rudasingwa talks about Dialogue and Reconciliation in Rwanda (audio)

by Steve Bynum
(wbez.org).

From interview offered by Theogene Rudasingwa to WBEZ on Feb 07,2011.
[wpaudio url=”http://rwandinfo.com/audio/20110207-rudasingwa-about-dialogue-and-reconciliation-wbez.mp3″ text=”Rudasingwa talks about Dialogue and Reconciliation in Rwanda” dl=”0″]

Theogene Rudasingwa was Chief of Staff to Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and served as Rwanda’s Ambassador to the U.S. He now lives in exile in the United States. Rudasingwa believes the so called Rwandan “Miracle” is a myth. He brings a rare insiders glimpse into the Kagame regime. Theogene says he left the Kagame regime because of a crisis of conscience.

February 13, 2011   3 Comments

Will Dutch Minister Ben Knapen dare to plead for Opposition leader Victoire Ingabire?

by Anneke Verbraeken

Please let Victoire out and me in, mr Kagame!

The hospitality of Rwanda has its limits. I cannot follow my secretary of state, Ben Knapen, who is visiting Congo and Rwanda next week. The regime doesn’t want me: my visa was denied. Kagame who always speaks proudly of his country, the economic growth, democracy and freedom, doesn’t want me. Officially no reason was given, but everybody knows I’m not welcome because I’m a journalist who writes not so jubilant about the regime. But most of all, access was denied, because I’m a friend of Victoire Ingabire.

The visit of our secretary of state could be important for Ingabire, who is in custody since October 14th. The Dutch government should ask for her release, because she remains in custody illegally since December 25th. That was the date the prosecutor should have asked for a prolonging of bail. That never happened. There were other irregularities during her time in prison so a fair trial is already out of the question.

The accusations which led to her arrest, are the accusations used for everybody who dares to criticize the regime. Former manager of hotel Rwanda,  Paul Rusesebagina, leader of the socialist party Bernard Ntaganda, former Kagame-comrades Kayumba, Karegeya, Gahima en Rudasingwa, they all are accused of the same more or less: divisionism, genocide ideology, threat of state security, aid to or forming of a terrorist organization.

Because the accusations are false, witnesses and evidence have to be manipulated. Alice and Sylvain, housemates of Victoire and secretary and treasurer of FDU-Inkingi, were pressured into giving false statements. They were also threatened if they didn’t stop with their activities for the party. The lawyers of Victoire are now in the possession of her dossier. They are studying closely the 2086 pages!

Victoires dossier doesn’t include the documents found during the house search in Zevenhuizen. In this small Dutch village live the family of Victoire: husband and three children. The house search took place because Rwanda had asked for it. Timing was curious: just a week before, the ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to end budget support, because the lack of political space and press freedom. So there was a situation in which one ministry condemned the regime and another ministry obediently followed the orders of the same regime.

According to the secretary of state, Teeven, there are no obstacles to send the material, found during the house search, to Rwanda. But chances are, that those documents will be manipulated. If the Dutch government decide tot send the material to Kigali, I advise the government to make copies!

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Eurac, the organization for EU NGO’s in the Great Lake Region, also acknowledge that a fair trial is practically not possible.

It is all a bit ironic, because the Dutch government donates a lot to improve the judicial system in Rwanda. But you can improve whatever you like, if the president tells his people one day before a bail hearing that ‘this woman should remain in prison’, you can’t say Rwanda has an independent judicial system.

Let’s hope Ben Knapen, our secretary of state, is courageous enough to give a clear signal. A comparison with the Dutch-Iranian woman hanged in Teheran is a comparison easy made. But contrary to Zahra Bahrami, Ingabire doesn’t have the Dutch nationality. Therefore, our ministry of Foreign Affairs considers her case an internal Rwandan affair.

But it’s not a case of nationality. In Rwanda you have a regime that consistently oppresses the opposition. In Rwanda is no freedom of press. In Rwanda, civil society cannot develop. In Rwanda the judicial system is used for political means. In Rwanda you have a regime that enriches itself, just like Tunisia and Egypt, at the cost of the Rwandan population.

Therefore, it’s high time, the Dutch government, this time by its spokesman Ben Knapen, makes a clear statement. Knapen should insist in the release of all the political prisoners. Knapen should tell the president to release all journalists who perish in prison. Knapen should argue Ingabire doesn’t belong in jail.

And Knapen should make a statement the whole world can hear. The days of silent diplomacy are over.

[Buitenpost de Wereld]

February 13, 2011   1 Comment

Rwanda: Call for end of forced sterilization of the poor by genocidaire RPF-Kagame regime

Many Rwandans have expressed great concerns in relation to the policy of the RPF-Kagame regime to sterilise nearly one million men in Rwanda. In its article Kagame’s final solution : Vasectomy, African Survivors International urges the international community to stand up against the Rwandan sterilization programme which he qualifies as The most hideous crime ignored by the world community.

“This current method is aimed to carry out a mass genocide against the Rwandan people”, he writes.

“We call for immediate end to the ongoing genocide against the Hutu majority in Rwanda. In fact there is abundant evidence that Paul Kagame is doing whatever he can to exterminate the hated Hutu majority. We can not understand how the American Human Rights organizations remain silent about the most hidous criminal our planet has ever known.We invite all worldwide religions including  catholics, Orthodox, Muslims, Protestants, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty international to denounce Kagame’s criminal purposes…”

February 13, 2011   4 Comments

Exiled Rwandan journalist Godwin Agaba escapes assassination attempt in Uganda

by Jennifer Fierberg.

Godwin Agaba is a Rwandan journalist in exile currently residing in a neighboring country in fear of his own safety tonight. Mr. Agaba has been in exile since March of 2010 in fear of death and legal persecution. Mr. Agaba, a formerly jailed reporter for the newspaper Umuvugizi and website 256 News, faced re-arrest in 2010 in reprisal for his critical reporting. He reports that his news site was hacked and taken down in November 2010 and that he lives in constant fear of his life.

On Tuesday 9th February, Godwin Agaba faced a horrifying attempt on his life at his home. His account of what happened is stated in his own words below:

Godwin Agaba is quoted as saying to this writer, “Last night, (Tuesday 9th Feb. 2011), I narrowly escaped being assassinated in my residence by unknown gunmen.  They shot  and killed one dog at the gate around 3:30 am before fleeing on motorbikes.

Fortunately, I and other members staying in the building remained unharmed physically but one of the two guard dogs was killed.

The police have registered a case against the unknown assailants and started an investigation in this regard.  It may be pertinent to mention here that my landlord told me in the morning that this has never happened of the many years they have stayed here.”

There are the reports saying the Uganda police are holding two Rwandan spy suspects in their custody and one was found with the photos of other Rwandan exiled journalists.”

This writer has been informed that the local police are reporting that they have arrested two Rwandan suspected spies.  One claims that he is working with East African TV.

Action to protect this brave journalist is imperative and needed immediately. Mr. Agaba has been supported in the past by the Committee to Protect Journalists and while calls, emails and faxes have been made the urgency to protect this journalist is imperative. Those of us who work to expose the continued injustices in Rwanda and neighboring countries urge CPJ and HRW to act on behalf of this man in an urgent fashion to assure his safety.

[The Africa Global Village]

February 12, 2011   2 Comments

Rwanda: Four year prison sentence for Opposition Leader Bernard Ntaganda

The four-year prison sentence for Bernard Ntaganda, founding president of the PS-Imberakuri opposition party, strikes a blow to freedom of expression and democracy in Rwanda, Human Rights Watch said today.

On February 11, 2011, the High Court in Kigali found Ntaganda guilty of endangering national security, “divisionism” – inciting ethnic divisions – and attempting to organize demonstrations without official authorization. The court sentenced him to two years each for the first two charges and fined him 100,000 Rwandan francs (approximately US$175) for the third. The charges relate to his public statements criticizing government policies. Human Rights Watch is not aware that he advocated violence in any of these statements. Ntaganda was not present when the judgment was read in court.

Three members of the FDU-Inkingi, another opposition party – Sylvain Sibomana, Alice Muhirwa, and Martin Ntavuka – were also fined 100,000 Rwandan francs each for attempting to organize demonstrations without official authorization. Another PS-Imberakuri member, Jean-Baptiste Icyitonderwa, was acquitted of the same charge.

The verdict comes just one week after two journalists, Agnès Nkusi Uwimana and Saidaiti Mukakibibi, were sentenced to 17 and 7 years respectively in connection with articles in the independent newspaper, Umurabyo, that were viewed as critical of the government and of President Paul Kagame.On February 4, the High Court in Kigali ruled that by publishing these criticisms, the journalists had incited the public to rise up against the state. It found both women guilty of endangering public order. Uwimana, the newspaper’s editor, was also found guilty of “minimizing the genocide,” which accounted for 10 years of her sentence, “divisionism,” and defamation.  Both were arrested in July 2010 and have been in detention ever since.

“These are blatantly political trials,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director of Human Rights Watch. “Ntaganda, his colleagues, and the two journalists – as well as many other men and women across Rwanda – are paying a heavy price for daring to express their opinions.”

Ntaganda, an outspoken critic of the government, was arrested on June 24, six weeks before the August 9 presidential elections. Neither his party nor the FDU-Inkingi nor another opposition party, the Democratic Green Party, were able to participate in the elections, which Kagame, the incumbent, won with 93 percent of the vote.

The PS-Imberakuri was the only one of these three parties that succeeded in registering as a political party. In March 2010, members of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), together with dissident members of the PS-Imberakuri, engineered a takeover of the PS-Imberakuri and replaced Ntaganda with a new and compliant leadership.

Ntaganda and party members faithful to him were subsequently subjected to other forms of intimidation and harassment. These included threats to themselves and their families, causing several party members to go into hiding or exile; administrative restrictions designed to paralyze their political activities; and a statement by members of the Senate’s Political Affairs Commission in April that accusations of “genocide ideology” and “divisionism” against Ntaganda were well-founded.

The intimidation culminated in the arrest of Ntaganda in the early morning of June 24, just hours before a public demonstration planned by his party in Kigali. Several other members of the PS-Imberakuri and FDU-Inkingi were arrested later that day as they attempted to proceed with the demonstration. Further arrests of members of both parties took place in the following days.

Some of those arrested were released in July, after several days of ill-treatment in police custody; they were beaten, held in harsh conditions, and threatened with death in connection with their party activities. Some were handcuffed to each other for several days without interruption, including when using the toilet, eating, and sleeping.

Others remain in detention. On August 11, two PS-Imberakuri members, Sylver Mwizerwa and Donatien Mukeshimana, were sentenced to prison terms of three years and two years respectively for “rebellion” and destruction of property, allegedly for breaking into the PS-Imberakuri office after the landlord had reclaimed it.

“These prosecutions demonstrate that the Rwandan government won’t stand for any criticism or opposition – despite its numerous public commitments to free speech and political pluralism,” Bekele said. “These charges are wholly inappropriate, and the justice system is being used as a tool to stifle dissent and intimidate the public.”

Human Rights Watch called on the government of Rwanda to take the following steps:

  • Allow opposition parties, journalists, and others to express their views, including criticizing government policies, without fear for their safety;
  • Take measures to restore and respect the independence of the judiciary;
  • Accelerate the revision of the “genocide ideology” law, announced by the justice minister in 2010, to include a more precise definition of the crime, in order to prevent misuse of this charge for political or other purposes;
  • Review the 2009 media law, which imposes burdensome restrictions on journalists, and decriminalize defamation.

Background

The trials of Ntaganda and the Umurabyo journalists are a part of a longstanding pattern of government repression against opponents and critics in Rwanda. The repression intensified during the pre-election period in 2010, with the suspension of the two independent newspapers Umuseso and Umuvugizi; the murders of an Umuvugizi journalist, Jean-Léonard Rugambage, and the Green Party vice president, André Kagwa Rwisereka; and persistent threats against others opposed to the government or seen as sympathetic to the opposition. Contrary to some observers’ expectations, the repression has not eased following the elections.

Accusations of “genocide ideology” and “divisionism” have often been used by the government to silence criticism. Other charges incurring heavy prison sentences, such as endangering national security and inciting public disorder, have also been levelled against opponents and critics.

Victoire Ingabire, president of the FDU-Inkingi, was arrested on October 14 and remains in prison awaiting trial. Her application for bail has been rejected several times. She was first arrested in April, accused of collaboration with armed groups, “genocide ideology” and “divisionism,” and released on bail with travel restrictions.  The current charges against her, yet to be confirmed by the prosecution, are believed to include forming an armed group and endangering state security. Members of her party have suffered repeated intimidation and threats.

In January, four former senior government and army officials turned outspoken critics – Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, Patrick Karegeya, Gerald Gahima and Théogène Rudasingwa – were tried in absentia by a military court in Kigali and found guilty of endangering state security, destabilizing public order, “divisionism,” defamation, and forming a criminal enterprise. Karegeya and Gahima were each sentenced to 20 years; Nyamwasa and Rudasingwa each to 24 years, with an additional charge of army desertion.

Although the government has publicly accused the four men of forming an armed group and of being behind a spate of grenade attacks in Rwanda in 2010, the trial did not deal with these allegations. It focused instead on public statements and documents published by the defendants in which they criticized the government and Kagame. On June 19, an assassination attempt was made in Johannesburg against Nyamwasa, who lives in exile in South Africa.

Less prominent individuals who are not politicians have also been severely punished for criticizing state policies. For example Abbé Emile Nsengiyumva, a priest in Rwamagana, eastern Rwanda, was arrested following a Christmas sermon in December in which he had opposed certain government policies, including plans to destroy thatched houses (known as nyakatsi) in favor of more durable housing and proposals to introduce family planning restrictions. In January he appeared before a court on accusations of endangering state security; he remains in preventive detention awaiting trial.

[Humana Rights Watch]

February 12, 2011   4 Comments

Rwanda: Amnesty International Calls for Release of Opposition Leader Bernard Ntaganda of PS Imberakuri

The international human rights watchdog has called for the unconditional release of Rwandan opposition leader Bernard Ntaganda jailed on Friday on politically motivated charges.

Bernard Ntaganda, president of the Ideal Social Party (PS-Imberakuri) party, was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment after being found guilty of breaching state security, of “divisionism” for holding public speeches criticizing government policies ahead of last year’s elections, and attempting to plan an “unauthorized” demonstration.

Ntaganda had been arrested at dawn on 24 June 2010 – the first day that presidential candidates could register for the elections – and remanded in pre-trial detention.

Restrictions on freedom of association and expression prevented new opposition parties from contesting the August 2010 presidential elections.

Ntaganda’s prosecution for threatening state security and “divisionism” was based solely on his speeches criticizing government policies.

The prosecution had requested a 10 year jail sentence for these two charges and contended that “painting a negative image of state authority” could cause the population to rebel and create unrest.

“The ruling once again criminalizes peaceful dissent”, said Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director, Erwin van der Borght.

“The growing trend in Rwanda to convict individuals of threatening national security for criticizing government policies is deeply concerning and in violation of Rwanda’s obligations under international human rights law”.

Last week, two Rwandan journalists, Agnes Uwimana and Saidati Mukakibibi, were found guilty of threatening state security for opinion pieces critical of government policies published before last year’s elections.  They were sentenced to 17 and 7 years respectively.

Vague and sweeping laws on “divisionism” and “genocide ideology” were introduced in Rwanda in the decade after the 1994 genocide.

Up to 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the genocide, mostly ethnic Tutsi, but also Hutu who opposed the organized killing.

The laws prohibit hate speech, but are broadly drafted so that they criminalize expression that does not amount to hate speech, including legitimate criticism of the government.

The Rwandan government expressed a commitment in April 2010 to review the “genocide ideology” law, but it is unclear whether the “divisionism” law will also be revised.

Alice Muhirwa, Martin Ntavuka and Sylvain Sibomana of the United Democratic Forces-Inkingi (FDU-Inkingi) were found guilty of conspiring to participate in demonstrations on 24 June 2010 without authorization.  They were fined 100,000 Rwandan francs.

The prosecution had requested a two month jail sentence.

Theobald Mutarambirwa of PS-Imberakuri and Theoneste Sibomana of FDU-Inkingi, also charged with conspiring to participate in demonstrations without authorization, will be tried separately.

The opposition politicians were arrested on 24 June 2010.

Some of the FDU-Inkingi members were arrested near the Ministry of Justice in the capital, Kigali, where they had gathered to request the registration of their party.

Some of the PS-Imberakuri members were arrested outside the US Embassy, where they had gone to enlist help following Ntaganda’s arrest.

Although the opposition members were convicted of conspiracy to participate in demonstrations without authorization, Amnesty International has found no evidence that they either resorted to, or intended to resort to, violence.

The government failed to put forward any legitimate justification for banning the demonstration.

Ntaganda had requested authorization to hold the demonstration.

The prosecution said the authorities had attempted to notify Bernard Ntaganda that the demonstration was banned, the day before it was due to take place.

But the defence said the demonstrators were unaware of the move.

Those arrested were later released on bail, after spending days in police detention and reportedly being subjected to ill-treatment such as being beaten and handcuffed to each other, even when they went to the toilet.

“Instead of jailing individuals for planning a demonstration, the government should have taken steps to allow for peaceful protest before the elections,” said Erwin van der Borght.

Restrictions on freedom of association prevented new opposition parties from contesting the elections, which President Kagame won with 93 per cent of the vote.

PS-Imberakuri had secured registration, but was subsequently infiltrated by dissident members, who decided not to field a candidate.

Ntaganda was called before the Rwandan Senate in late 2009 to respond to “genocide ideology” accusations.  In April 2010, the Senate’s political commission said they felt such accusations were well-founded.

For further information please contact the Amnesty International press office on +44 7778 472 126.

February 12, 2011   1 Comment

Rwanda’s High Court sentences Opposition Leader Bernard Ntaganda of the PS-Imberakuri to four years in prison

Rwanda jails opposition leader, fines 3 others

Kigali – Rwanda’s High Court has sentenced an opposition leader to four years in prison.

Bernard Ntaganda of the PS-Imberakuri was sentenced Friday for endangering national security, attempting to organize unauthorized protests and inciting ethnic divisions.

Three members of another opposition party, FDU-Inkingi, were fined.

Human Rights Watch says the sentences are a blow to freedom of expression and democracy, and that Ntaganda has criticized the government but not called for violence.

The sentences come a week after two female journalists were jailed for publicly criticizing the government in an article.

Rwanda’s National Public Prosecuting Authority issued a statement welcoming Friday’s sentences.

[AP]

February 12, 2011   1 Comment