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Posts from — October 2011

FDU-Inkingi is worried about its Secretary General Sylvain Sibomana gone missing in Western Province of Rwanda

Sylvain Sibomana - Secretary General FDU-Inkingi

Sylvain Sibomana – Secretary General FDU-Inkingi

Kigali, 20 October 2011 – FDU-Inkingi announced today that his Interim Secretary General Sylvain SIBOMANA has gone missing.
According to the communique published FDU-Inkingi, Mr. Sylvain Sibomana disappeared around 12:40 today 20th October in Kanama location, Nyundo Sector, Rubavu District (Gisenyi), Western Province. His last contact was done on mobile phone whilst he was assaulted by security personnel for unknown reason before he was taken to unknown destination.

The Rwanda national police spokesperson who was alerted on real time, advised to discuss the matter with the local police station but all attempts to locate him in local police and military detention facilities have so far been fruitless.

Last update:

Friday 21 October 2011 – Mr Sylvain Sibomana, FDU-Inkingi interim Secretary General, arrested in Gisenyi yesterday, has been released. The Rubavu (Gisenyi) police station returned him all his belongings including identity card, digital camera, gsm phone today at 10:00. He is on his way back to Kigali. He told the colleagues that he is safe and sound, and has not been beaten. A police station officer informed him last night that they have been misinformed on his identity and that he was free to go.
FDU-Inkingi.

October 20, 2011   No Comments

Take Action for Rwandan Opposition Politician Victoire Ingabire

by Susan Thomson

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza – Chair of Opposition Party FDU-Inkingi

Earlier this week, the Rwandan High Court ruled that it had full jurisdiction in the case of opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire. This went unremarked by the international and domestic media, save a few reports from actors sympathetic to the obvious involvement of senior Rwandan government officials in Ingabire’s trial. Indeed, almost all of the reporting on Ingabire’s case is coming from officials of her FDU-Inkingi party.

Ingabire, of the United Democratic Front, is on trial in Kigali for fomenting insecurity, denying the 1994 genocide and promoting ethnic divisionism. Rwandan security forces detained her in January 2010, in advance of the August 2010 Presidential elections in which the incumbent, Paul Kagame, was re-elected with 93% of the popular vote. Ingabire’s detention meant that her UDF did not stand in the August elections. She will spend 30 years in prison if found guilty.

The purpose of this post is to ask you to take action, namely write to Paul Kagame, to request a fair trial. We need to bring more attention to the flawed nature of this case to the international community, and writing letters of protest to Kagame with a copy to your local politician is a good place to start. I prepared sample text for you to cut-and-paste below.

The Prosecution claim to have evidence of Ingabire’s ‘terrorist’ activities with Hutu rebel groups based in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ingabire’s defence team, a Brit and a Rwandan, had been unable to assess the veracity and validity of the prosecution’s claims because the 2500-page indictment was issued in Kinyarwanda. This was contrary to the defendant’s right to an interpreter, which was required for defense lawyer Iain Edwards to do his job. The indictment was finally translated, but only a few weeks before her trial began in September 2011, leaving her defence team little time to prepare its counter-arguments.

At the same time, it appears that the rule of law, and the right to presumption of innocence are under threat, with senior members of the Rwandan government, including President Paul Kagame, Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Muskikwabo, and Prosecutor-General Martin Ngoga, publically proclaiming victory in the case before the defence had even mounted its argument in court.

Ingabire faces charges of being linked to rebel activity in eastern Congo and that she has uttered hate speech and denies the genocide. Ingabire has called for government recognition that ethnic Hutu are also survivors of the genocide. Since the 2008 Constitutional revision, it has become illegal to refer to the genocide as anything other than the genocide of Tutsi.

Amnesty International and other international human rights organizations have advocated for the Rwandan government to allow for greater freedom of expression. Opposition politicians, like Ingabire, journalists and human rights advocates cannot criticize the policies or activities of the government without fear of swift and severe repercussion. The case of Victoire Ingabire is emblematic of broader trends of repression and oppression in Rwanda, as noted in Amnesty International’s on-going “Allow Criticism to be Voiced” campaign.

Take Action

You can write a letter to President Paul Kagame, requesting a fair trial for Victoire Ingabire. You can also send a postcard prepared by Amnesty International – USA Section calling on Rwanda to allow criticism of the government to be voiced by opposition politicians. Be sure to send a copy to your local politician:

His Excellency President Paul Kagame
Office of the President
Kigali
Rwanda

[Date, and your location of residence]

Your Excellency,

I am writing to express my concern for judicial irregularities and lack of respect for the rights of Mrs. Victoire Ingabire of the United Democratic Front. The indictment against Mrs. Ingabire is vague and sweeping. Her legal team has been unable to adequately prepare its defense arguments. In addition, Mr. President, members of your government have publicly spoken out about Mrs. Ingabire’s guilt, which is direct government interference in the judicial process. Such actions raise serious questions about the independence of the Rwandan judiciary, and the ability of Mrs. Ingabire to receive a fair trail that respects her human rights.

I urge you to allow Mrs. Ingabire a fair trial, which means letting her defense team to work unencumbered without fear of government interference in the proceedings.

Thank you,

October 20, 2011   2 Comments

Urgent Call to All Rwandans: Let Us Mobilise and Organize

by Theogene Rudasingwa.

An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind,” Ghandi said. Plus: people who are not mobilised and organised to wage peace, cannot even begin to imagine they will fight and win wars.

To all Rwandans who would like to fight and win quick victories against Kagame, I would like to ask three questions:

First: we have gone through two violent revolutions, and we are still without freedom. Where is the guarantee that another round of violence will this time deliver us from evil?

Second: if war was to erupt today, would you stop what you are doing and become a soldier?

Third: would you encourage your most beloved daughter/son/brother/sister/mo ther/father to join the fighting force?

Let us wage peace first, honestly, fully, and together (abahutu, abatutsi, abatwa). If and when Kagame imposes war on the nation, he will find us mobilised and organised, and he will surely lose the war, and we shall win it. For RNC , war is a means of last resort. Now, let us mobilise and organize, NOT AGONISE, as the Pan African Movement would say!

October 20, 2011   No Comments

Rwanda High Court Shows Hostility Towards Defendant Victoire Ingabire

by Boniface Twagirimana

High Court clearly hostile toward political prisoner Ingabire

Kigali, 18 October 2011 – The political trial of Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, chair of FDU-Inkingi opposition party, is now in the evidential stage. Since 13 October 2011, she has been defending herself on the counts of genocide ideology and divisionism. The High Court, clearly hostile and ignoring the non retro-activity of the criminal law and the rules of evidence on acts anterior to the ideology of genocide law, has asked hundreds of questions relating to any challenge to the ruling party’s narrative of the Rwandan genocide. This trial is still drawing much attention from inside and outside the country. The United Kingdom’s Ambassador and other top diplomats from Belgium, the Netherlands have been following the hearings.

The multiple violations of the accused’s rights by this court has made this a real Kangaroo trial:
– right to have adequate latitude to prepare a defense against the charges;
– right to introduce evidence which supports acquittal of the accused;
– right to exclude evidence that is improperly obtained, irrelevant or ex-ante;
– right to question the jurisdiction of the court;
– right to have no interference or undue influence made by governmental figures or by the ruling party; etc, …

The Court does not seem to give any credit to United Nations reports; Amnesty International releases and Human Rights statements and any other documets submitted by the defendant to support her statements or positions of her political organisations, especially when they confirm crimes targetting Hutu populations or crimes against humanity committed by members of the current regime and the army during and after the genocide.
The presiding Judge Alice Rulisa stated that she does not herself trust those reports by international organisations because some people believe they are just a recycle of negative propaganda against the government. That’s what Madame Ingabire has been explaining since Friday until today.

The opposition leader came back to the downing of President Habyarimana’s plane and its catastrophic consequences as a trigger of the Rwandan genocide. “To point the finger at the suspect or to show the catastrophic consequences of his crime is not an act of genocide denial”, said Madame Victoire Ingabire.

She is accused of divisionism because she raised in some of her statements the question of ethnicity in Rwanda. In her defence she quoted a 2008 United States Embassy in Kigali cable “Ethnicity in Rwanda – who governs the country” that leaked recently. The introduction of the “08KIGALI525” cable says: “An analysis of the ethnic breakdown of the current Rwandan government shows Tutsis hold a preponderant percentage of senior positions. Hutus in very senior positions often hold relatively little real authority, and are commonly “twinned” with senior Tutsis who exercise real power. The military and security agencies are controlled by Tutsis, generally English speakers who grew up as refugees with President Kagame in Uganda”.

The international community should voice out its concerns about this sham justice and demand an immediate release of all political prisoners in Rwanda.

FDU-Inkingi
Boniface Twagirimana
Interim Vice President.

October 19, 2011   No Comments

A Revolution is in the making in Rwanda

par Theogene Rudasingwa.

A revolutionary climate does exist in Rwanda today. A revolution is in the making. The big question is: will it be a peaceful one as in Tunisia or Egypt, or will Rwandan history repeat itself with a violent revolution as in 1959 and in 1994? We Rwandans shall determine which way to go.
Kagame’s way, if maintained, will lead to a violent revolution sooner than later. RNC, in partnership with other pro-peace, pro-freedom and pro-democracy forces believe that a peaceful revolution is both necessary and possible. The triggers to a violent revolution to watch in the coming months and years:
1) failure to account for the shooting down of the Habyarimana plane and the Mapping Report
2) the Victoire Ingabire (and othe political prisoners) case and
3) repatriation of Rwandan refugees by force (application of the cessation clause).
The world can afford to ignore these danger signals, but we Rwandans cannot. The clock is ticking, and we cannot afford to behave as if it is business as usual.
It is time to think and act differently, together, to shepherd the revolutionary climate towards a peaceful revolution.

October 19, 2011   3 Comments

Rwanda: Freedom of Press 2011

by Freedom House

17 October 2011 – Media freedom conditions deteriorated in Rwanda ahead of the 2010 presidential election, as authorities increasingly tried to restrict the dissemination of independent views. Article 34 of Rwanda’s constitution stipulates that “freedom of the press and freedom of information are recognized and guaranteed by the state,” but other clauses broadly define circumstances under which these rights can be restricted, and in practice the media remain under the tight control of the government. A 2009 media law established onerous new regulations and licensing procedures, and requires journalists to reveal their sources when the government demands such information in the course of criminal investigations and proceedings. In order to obtain a license to practice, journalists must now present educational qualifications and a police record detailing any prior criminal activity, and media companies must pay high licensing fees. The law also upheld criminal penalties for press offenses, including statements supporting or denying the country’s 1994 genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes. The vague language of the law similarly prohibits the publication of material that “shows contempt for the president” or “endangers public decency.” Deogratias Mushayidi, a publisher and former head of the Rwanda Journalists Association, was arrested in March in neighboring Burundi and handed over to Rwandan authorities. Mushayidi is being tried before a Kigali court on charges of endangering state security, collaboration with terrorist groups, minimizing the genocide, genocide ideology, and divisionism.

Chapter 8 of the Rwandan penal code criminalizes defamation and provides for penalties of up to three years in prison, and journalists are frequently charged and convicted under the measure. In February 2010, a court found three journalists from the independent newspaper Umuseso guilty of defamation in a case relating to a 2009 article that alleged an extramarital relationship between the mayor of the capital city of Kigali and a cabinet minister. Charles Kabonero, the paper’s former editor, was sentenced to one year in prison. Didas Gasana, who had replaced him as editor, and Richard Kayigamba, a reporter, received six months each. In addition, all three were fined one million Rwandan francs ($1,800). Gasana later fled the country.

In 2009, the Media High Council (MHC) drafted freedom of information legislation, but at the end of 2010 it had yet to pass the cabinet and parliament. The MHC, set up under the 2009 media law to license journalists and media outlets, has been criticized for focusing more on policing the media than protecting press freedom. In April 2010, it suspended two of the main independent newspapers, Umuvugizi and Umuseso, for six months. This came four months after the country’s information minister declared that the two papers’ days “were numbered” after publishing articles critical of President Kagame. Umuvugizi has since launched an electronic version of its newspaper, but access to its website has been blocked inside Rwanda. A week before the August presidential elections, the MHC issued a communiqué listing 19 radio stations and 22 newspapers that had been recognized by the government as “fulfilling the publication or broadcasting conditions envisaged by the law of 12 August 2009 that regulates the media.”Up to 30 media outlets were excluded for not fulfilling the publications or broadcasting conditions. Two days later, the MHC ordered the security forces to shut down the outlets that had not been approved, including the leading newspapers Umuseso, Umuvugizi, and Umurabayo, and the radio stations Voice of Africa Rwanda and Voice of America.

The presidential elections of 2010, the defections of senior military officers, and grenade attacks in Kigali all gave the government excuses to clamp down on the media. A journalist was killed for the first time since 1998, and several more fled the country. In June, Jean-Léonard Rugambage, a journalist with Umuvugizi, was shot dead outside his home in Kigali. Prior to his death, Umuvugizi had published an article based on information received by Rugambage alleging the involvement of senior Rwandan officials in the attempted murder of Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former Rwandan general currently in exile in South Africa. Two individuals were arrested for Rugambage’s murder. The authorities allege that they confessed to killing Rugambage as revenge for a murder that Rugambage supposedly committed during the 1994 genocide. During the year, Jean Bosco Gasasira, editor of Umuvugizi, fled to neighboring Uganda, acting on a tip that Rwandan security forces planned to assassinate him. At the end of 2009, Gasasira had been convicted of defamation and invasion of privacy for an article detailing an alleged extramarital affair between the country’s deputy prosecutor and the head of the National Council for Women. Although he was fined $5,720, the prosecution called for a jail term and the closure of the media outlet. In July, another newspaper editor, Agnès Uwimana Nkusi of the Umurabyo newspaper, was arrested in connection with opinion articles her newspaper had published. Two journalists, Saidati Mukakibibi and Patrick Kambale of the same newspaper, were also arrested.

The Rwandan media is dominated by progovernment newspapers and radio stations. The state-owned radio and television outlets and the only English-language daily, the New Times, reach the largest audiences. There were a handful of privately owned periodicals in English, French, and Kinyarwanda that published intermittently, but state media predominated even in the vernacular print sector. No attempts have been made to transform the state radio and television outlets into editorially and financially independent public broadcasters, and both remained subservient to the ruling party. Although there were a dozen private radio stations, their geographic reach was limited, and they avoided any coverage that could be deemed critical of the regime. Government officials regularly appeared as guests in the private media, but opposition supporters were excluded. In July, copies of the first edition of the Newsline, an English-language newspaper produced by journalists in exile, were seized by Rwandan police at the Uganda-Rwanda border. Low pay for journalists, especially in the private media, can lead to corruption, and often journalists withhold damaging stories from publication in exchange for money and gifts. Many qualified journalists have left the profession for jobs that pay more, often in teaching or public relations. The work environment at media outlets is also made difficult by the high cost of training and the lack of modern equipment like computers and digital cameras.

Approximately 8 percent of the population accessed the internet during the year. The government, which was not previously known to filter internet content, blocked the Umuvugizi website in June 2010. Most online news content originating from within Rwanda was produced by state media, while critical bloggers and publishers were generally based abroad.
Source: Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2011 – Rwanda, 17 October 2011, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4e9bec2f28.html [accessed 18 October 2011]

 

October 18, 2011   No Comments

Rwanda/ICTR: Is Major Protais Mpiranya, ex-Commander of Habyarimana’s Presidential Guard, dead or alive?

Arusha, October 17, 2011 (FH) – While the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will start on Wednesday special depositions hearings in the case of genocide-suspect Protais Mpiranya, his publisher asserts that the Rwandan Major is dead.

According to the Francophone publishing company Editions Sources du Nil, Mpiranya passed away on October 5, 2006.

His memoirs, “Rwanda, the lost paradise. Last secrets of former commander of J. Habyarimana’s Presidential Guard”, were released “posthumously” in October 2010, the publisher claims.

Stratagem to escape justice? ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow still thinks that Mpiranya is alive, hiding in Zimbabwe. Addressing the United Nations Security Council on June 6, 2011, he expressed the continued “difficulties experienced” in the tracking of the top level fugitive and urged further cooperation and assistance from the government of Zimbabwe in such regard.

Mpiranya was born in 1960 in Giciye (Gisenyi prefecture). A graduate from the Superior Military School of Kigali, he was trained in Germany and France before becoming commander of Habyarimana’s Presidential Guard Battalion in 1993.

During the 1994 genocide, forces under his command are alleged to have been responsible for the murder of Agathe Uwilingiyimana, former Rwandan Prime Minister, as well as the murder of ten Belgian UNAMIR soldiers. Mpiranya is accused of participating in the planning, preparation and execution of the genocide. He is charged by way of his personal and superior responsibility for the crimes alleged.

The Prosecution is expected to call to the stand around thirty witnesses. All hearings will be held in camera. A Defence lawyer has been assigned to the case: he will be entitled to cross-examine witnesses and lead his own investigations.

The Tribunal has already started conducting similar proceedings in Kabuga’s case. Special depositions should also start soon in the case of former Defence Minister Augustin Bizimana, allegedly hiding in the DRC.

The proceedings aim at safeguarding evidence in case the accused would be arrested.

[Hirondelle News Agency]

October 18, 2011   No Comments

Washington Supports Transfer of ICTR Cases to Rwanda

Paris, October 15, 2011 (FH) – The American ambassador for War Crimes, Stephen Rapp, confirmed in an interview with Hirondelle News Agency that the United States was backing Kigali’s request for cases of genocide-accused before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to be transferred to Rwanda’s judiciary.

A diplomatic cable disclosed in September by Wikileaks revealed that this issue had been under discussion between Kigali and Washington since 2009.

Until 2008, the United States – in line with ICTR judges – was “not convinced that Rwanda respected the independence of Justice”, Stephen Rapp explained.

However, by the end of 2008, the ICTR was unable to reach its stated goal of winding down first instance trials in response to a request by the UN Security Council.

Considering the ICTR too slow and too costly, Washington changed its mind regarding transfers. In a diplomatic cable dated December 1st, 2009, the American Embassy in Kigali mentioned discussions between Stephen Rapp and Rwandan officials on the sidelines of a November meeting in Kigali of prosecutors of international criminal tribunals: “Rapp said that the USG [US Government] supported transferring to Rwanda for trial the cases of most, and perhaps of all trials which had not yet begun or had not yet been apprehended by the ICTR”, read the document.

ICTR’s new deadline for finishing its first instance trials has been reset by the United Nations for December 31, 2011.

According to the same cable, Rapp suggested Rwanda should accept “judges from foreign or international courts” to integrate its tribunals dealing with transferred accused. At the time, Rwanda seemed reluctant.

“One of the advantages we saw is that, if we have situations where defendants want to cite witnesses and those witnesses feel uncomfortable with coming to Kigali, the presence of an international judge [on the competent Rwandan court] would allow these witnesses to be heard by the foreign judge’s jurisdiction. This could facilitate the process”, Stephen Rapp told Hirondelle News Agency.

On June 28, 2011, ICTR judges decided for the first time to transfer a pending case to Rwanda. In a memorandum written to support the transfer of Pastor Jean Uwinkindi, Rwanda announced its intention to modify the law so as to include “judges from foreign or international courts” in its tribunal, thus following Rapp’s suggestions.

Uwinkindi has appealed the decision for him to be transferred. “If the Uwinkindi appeal is denied, I suspect the Rwandan legislation will move on. The Rwandans don’t want the presence of an international judge to be a condition but they can see the advantages of this, and they are prepared to voluntarily take it on”, Stephen Rapp said.

“Other options have been studied”, Rapp added. However, as “there is no other solution, we have to try to make this one work”. He contended that Rwandans were “as good as anybody in the world in terms of being able to deal with the specific issue of what happened on a given hill on this or that day”.

Uwinkindi’s Defence counsels denounced in their appeals brief filed on September 8 a “let’s-wait-and-see-what-happens” policy. His lawyers stressed that no proof had been provided that Rwanda could lead such trials meeting “international standards”.

“Fourty nine witnesses have already told us that they would not come to Kigali if the trial were to take place there. They are scared”, Uwinkindi’s British co-Counsel Iain Edwards told Hirondelle News Agency.

The Appeals court is slated to render its final decision before the end of the year.

[Source: Hirondelle News Agency]

October 17, 2011   1 Comment

Sit in front of Rwanda embassy in Brussels every Tuesday

par Dukundanerwanda Dufatanyurugamba

Criminal Paul Kagame
Join us every tuesday the whole day in front of the embassy of Rwanda in Brussels to combat dictatorship and crimes&genocides of Paul Kagame and his regime.

October 15, 2011   2 Comments

Obama deploys US combat troops in Uganda, Rwanda and neighbouring countries

US President Barack Obama has announced he is deploying 100 “combat-equipped” troops to Uganda to help efforts against rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), who Washington accuse of grievous human rights abuses.

The US troops, subject to the approval of national authorities, could also deploy from Uganda into South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo, Obama said in a message to Congress.

Read details on AlJazeera

October 14, 2011   No Comments