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.
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.
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.