RWANDA:"Africa Action Denounces Arrest of Rwandan Opposition Leader, Calls for U.S. Condemnation."

Published on by KANYARWANDA

By Africa Action (Washington, DC)
22 April 2010

PRESS RELEASE

Africa Action, an organization that has stood in principled solidarity with the struggle for human rights, democracy and economic justice in Africa since 1953, strongly condemns the arrest of Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire.

The arrest of Ms. Ingabire follows a series of intimidation and harassment of opposition leaders. On February 3rd, Ms. Ingabire and her aid Joseph Ntawangundi were assaulted while collecting documents necessary for the party’s registration. During the attack Ms. Ingabire’s passport was stolen and Mr. Ntawangundi was severely beaten.

Today Ms. Ingabire is currently imprisoned on charges of “genocide ideology, divisionism and cooperating with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.”

Africa Action calls U.S. government to condemn the human rights violation and that the Rwandan Government to take immediate steps to respect the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly of opposition parties. The arrest appears to be a continuation of a troubling but predictable trend in several African countries where strong ties with the U.S. military are coinciding with the elimination of democratic processes and the arrests of political opposition leaders.

Gerald LeMelle, Executive Director of Africa Action said today, “This is a perfect illustration of when a key U.S. military satellite country in Africa, such as Rwanda, openly mocks the U.S. government’s stated interests in human rights and democracy. Sadly, the U.S. silence on this speaks volumes.”

Africa Action notes that while Rwanda has demonstrated leadership in social development and economic recovery in the region, militarily, they have been tied to the violence and destabilization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and politically, there has been a rapid decline of constructive engagement with civil society and political opposition parties over the past few months. These developments are indications that the U.S. Government must reconsider its relationship with President Kagame, and demand that human rights and democratic principles of accountability are a priority for the Rwandan Government.

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