Miss Gasengayire Léonille, Assistant Treasurer – of FDU-Inkingi was arrested at 6:30 in the morning of August 23, 2016 from the family home in Kivumu, Rutsiro and detained at the local police station without an arrest warrant. An arrest warrant was finally handed over eight (8) hours later under article 463 of the penal code relating to inciting the people against the government. As of mid-morning of today 24th August 2016, she had not been informed of the substantive issues that constitute the charge. In addition, despite several attempts, the Police has refused to her lawyer to meet her until 15h30 when the first questioning took place. Meanwhile Ms Leonille became sick and was taken to Health Centre for treatment.
We would like to recall that the infamous article 463 is vaguely framed to allow the arrest and detention of the critics of the government. It has been used against several members of the FDU-Inkingi Political party and other critics of government including among others:
Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, President of FDU-Inkingi ;
Mr. Sylvain Sibomana, Secretary General of FDU-Inkingi for wearing a tea shirt with inscriptions “Democracy and justice” and “free Ingabire”;
The 1st Vice President of FDU-Inkingi Mr Boniface Twagirimana ;
The President of PS Imberakuri, Mr. Bernard Ntaganda in June 2010 ;
20 students in September 2013, for taking a petition to the Prime Minister to protest against the reduction of state loans to students enrolled in public universities;
7 women from a religious group for writing a letter to the President warning him that there is looming catastrophe if he did reform his style of government; President Kagame is quoted complaining at a public, why God had bypassed him and talked to these low ranking women ;
Ms Mukakibibi was convicted together with the Umurabyo editor, Agnes Uwimana-Nkusi, for just having criticised agriculture policy and the gacaca court system ;
Brigadier General Frank Rusagara for saying that Rwanda is a “police state” ;
Colonel Byabagamba for allegedly saying that killing of opponents should stop ;
We have little doubt that the arrest of Leonille Gasengayire is part of the government strategy to weaken FDU-Inkingi political leadership and intimidate its grassroots support in Rwanda. However, everyone has to take seriously the words of FDU-Inkingi leader and hero of the Rwandan movement for democratic change and the rule of law, Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, that “the movement for democratic change is now irreversible”. Management of this change is the concern of FDU-Inkingi in order to ensure that the change is peaceful. However, actions like this of arresting the innocent youth like Leonille Gasengayire, irrespective of age and gender could one day constitute the last straw on the camel’s back.
We call on the international community to remember the rationale of the Universal declaration on Human Rights sixty eight years ago namely that “it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law”.
If the idea of international community is real and not a slogan, it should act on the Rwandan government to end its violent repression against its citizens. The key question to the international community is “when will it be enough to act against repression in Rwanda if not now?”
Leonille Gasengayire should not be in detention but rather her jailers.
Done in London August 24, 2016
Commissioner for External Relations and Spokesperson