PRESS RELEASE Nº 29/J/PK/710 July 16, 2010
OPJDR condemns the assassination of opposition political leaders and independent journalists along with multiple arrests and disappearances in the rank of opposition only few weeks ahead of the Presidential election on August 9, 2010. People of Rwanda have suffered so much in the past and unfortunately the situation is getting worse every passing day.
1. Five death squads in only one month:
On Saturday morning June 19, 2010, Lt. General Kayumba Nyamwasa, once Chief of Staff in Rwanda Military and High Commissioner in India was shot but survived the attack at Athol Mews complex in Melrose Arch, northern Johannesburg, South Africa, where he had sought asylum after fleeing Rwanda in late February 2010.
On June 20, 2010, Denis Semadwinga, a Tutsi from Rutshuru in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and once Chief of Staff of the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) Goma and then to Gen. Laurent Nkunda of National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), was beheaded at his home in Gisenyi - Rwanda. He had continued to be active in the CNDP even after General Laurent Nkunda was arrested and detained by Rwanda military authorities since January 2008. According to CNDP leaders, “score of its officials have been arrested by Rwandan security forces who have privately blamed them for the recent grenade attacks in Kigali in cahoots with Lt. General Kayumba Nyamwasa”.
On June 24, 2010, Jean-Léonard Rugambage, a journalist working for a private newspaper “Umuvugizi” has been shot dead by two men in front of his house in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
Local journalists in Kigali told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that Rugambage had been preparing to join Umuvugizi Editor Jean-Bosco Gasasira in exile after reporting to his friends and colleagues that he was being followed by unidentified people and had received death threats over the phone.
On July 13th 2010, Mr. Andre KAGWA RWISEREKA, the First Vice President and founding member of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda disappeared from his home in Butare, Southern Province, and was found dead on 14th July 2010, with his head almost completely removed from his body.
On July 13th, 2010, a Tanzanian Professor Jwani Mwaikusa, was shot dead by unknown assailants in front of his Salasala residence in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Professor Jwani Mwaikusa, was a Lawyer, and a lead defense counsel for Yusuf Munyakazi, a Rwandan genocide convicted, who was sentenced to a 25-year term last month by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Professor Jwani Mwaikusa strongly opposed the Prosecutor's motion requesting transfer of Yusuf Munyakazi to Rwanda filed on 7 September 2007, saying that Rwandan judiciary lacked competence and impartiality. "It is absurd to transfer a case to a system which should be answering the same charges," he said, apparently referring to the alleged atrocities committed by the ruling party Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) during the 1994 genocide and the indictments issued by French and, more recently, by Spanish judges charging the RPF leadership of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
2. Arrests, kidnappings, tortures and disappearances:
On June 24th, 2010, several members of opposition political parties: Social Party, PS Imberakuri, Unified Democratic Forces - FDU INKINGI, and Democratic Green Party of Rwanda were arrested while preparing to attend a peaceful demonstration. Those arrested include , Maitre Bernard NTAGANDA, President and Founder of PS IMBERAKURI, Theobald MUTARAMBIRWA, Secretary General of PS Imberakuri, Mrs. Alice MUHIRWA, the FDU party’s treasurer, Mr. Sylvain SIBOMANA, the FDU party’s General Secretary, Mr. Theoneste SIBOMANA, Martin NTAVUKA, and the FDU’s lawyer Mr. Theogene MUHAYEYEZU.
Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Chairperson of FDU INKINGI was held at home as she is in an extended house arrest since March 2010. In addition Mr. SIBOMANA RUSANGWA Aimable, Private Secretary for the PS IMBERAKURI party founder and President was reported missing since June 13, 2010 and his whereabouts are still unknown up today.
During their appearances before the Judge on July 7 and 8, all the defendants showed physical signs of tortures and Mrs. Alice Muhirwa, fainted in court room and was rushed to the hospital as she has been profusely bleeding due to the coups she received on lower stomach areas. On July 9, the Judge found two defendants not guilty of any wrongdoing, six where granted bail with interdiction to travel abroad, and Maitre Bernard NTAGANDA was denied bail.
The state of insecurity is felt not only in capital city, Kigali but also across the country. Here are few examples: The following are people recently arrested in Bugarama, Cyangugu whose whereabouts are unkown. They are Jean Damascene Ngarambe, an employee at the Banque Populaire, Anatole Kayisire, a medical assistant in Bugarama, Muzeye, a Branch Manager at Banque Populaire in Bugarama, a certain Reverand, a driver in Nzahaha, Steven Buturu, a motocycle operator in Bugarama, Theoneste Mazimpaka of Bugarama and Jacques, a Teacher in Mushaka.
On June 27, 2010, Mr. Dominiko Makeli, a former Rwanda journalist living in exile in Uganda has been kidnapped by four people from his home in Kampala. They told him that they were bringing him to Rwanda but later dropped him on the highway near Kampala after they realized that a neighbor who has seen their car should report them. They promised to Mr. Makeli that they will come to get him on a later date.
On July 8, 2010, Agnes Uwimana, the editor of the independent newspaper UMURABYO, has been arrested. According to the Police spokesman Eric Kayiranga, Mrs Uwimana is accused of “incitement to civil disobedience, contempt of the head of state, spreading rumors to cause public disorder and denying the genocide of the Tutsis.”
On July 12, 2010, Saidati Mukakibibi, another journalist who works for the above independent newspaper Umurabyo, was arrested for comparing President Paul Kagame with the Nazi German leader Adolf Hitler, accusation reformulated as defamation, inciting public disorder and ethnic “divisionism”.
On July 14, 2010, Rwanda security forces entered Uganda territory and with the complicity of Uganda authorities forcibly repatriated more than 2000 refugees who have been living in Nakivale and Kyaka camps in Southern of Uganda. According to UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), operation was performed with an unprecedented brutality that score of refugees have died and many other seriously injured among them babies and six pregnant women.
To the Government of Rwanda
OPJDR calls on the Rwandan authorities for the constitutional obligations to protect the Rwandan population against these severe and endless human rights abuses.
OPJDR calls on the Government of Rwanda, especially on President Paul Kagame, to open political space in the country by allowing opposition political parties to register and to operate freely;
OPJDR calls on the Government of Rwanda to guarantee freedom of expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly as stated in the Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda.
To the International Community:
OPJDR calls the United Nations, European Union, United States of America, African Union, Commonwealth members and other friends of Rwanda to stand up for the people of Rwanda by publically and officially asking President Paul Kagame to open political space in Rwanda, to respect human rights and to promote freedom of expression and association.
OPJDR asks all donors of Rwanda to freeze all non direct humanitarian assistance until President Paul Kagame complies with the basic standard rules for a democratic country.
OPJDR asks the international community to withdraw its supports to upcoming presidential elections including financial support and on ground observers as no real opposition party has been allowed to participate.
OPDJR highly appreciated the Prime Minister of Spain, Mr. Jose Luiz Zapatero who refused on July 16, 2010 to meet with President Paul Kagame for his questionable human rights and undemocratic records. OPJDR recommends all world leaders to emulate the Primer Minister of Spain as a starting point to put pressure on Kagame’s regime for change.
Honorable Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Excellence Mr. Herman Van Rompuy
President of European Union Council
Rue de la Loi, 175 B-1048 Brussels
Excellency Dr. Bingu Aa Mutharika,
President of the Republic of Malawi
Chairperson of the African Union
African Union Headquarters
P.O. Box 3243
Roosvelt Street - W21K19
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Excellency Mr. Kamalesh Sharma
Secretary General of the Commonwealth
Marlborough House, Pall Mall
London SW1Y 5HX, UK
Excellence Mr. Zhang Yesui
China Ambassador to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations
350 East 35th Street
New York, NY 10016
Excellence Mr. Jean-Maurice Ripert
France Ambassador to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations
245 East 47th Street, 44th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Excellence Mr. Vitaly Churkin
Russian Federation Ambassador to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations
136 East 67th Street
New York, NY 10065
Excellence Sir John Sawers
United Kingdom Ambassador to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom
One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 885 Second Avenue
P.O. Box 5238
New York, NY 10017
Excellence Mrs. Susan E. Rice
US Ambassador to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of the United States to the United Nations
140 East 45th Street
New York, N.Y. 10017
Honorable Ban Ki-Moon
760 United Nations Plaza,
Manhattan, NY 10017
Honorable U.S. Senator John Kerry
Chair of Foreign Relations Committee
218 Russell Bldg; Second Floor
Washington D.C. 20510
Honorable U.S. Senator Russ Feingold
US Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs
506 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-4904