I am prompted to write you this letter after the gruesome murder of a prison guard named Jean Paul Mwiseneza aka Nyamata who was repeatedly stabbed and then beheaded on June 10, 2019.
Mwiseneza was a friend of mine. He was killed shortly after talking to me about the unrest at the Mageragere penitentiary early last month which left many inmates in critical condition.
Your Excellency, Mwiseneza was a survivor of the Genocide against the Tutsi. He lost all his family during the Genocide except for one sister. Mwiseneza himself was left permanently disfigured with multiple machete wounds.
Unfortunately, he is not the first Genocide survivor to have met an unfortunate end at the hands of security organs. Many survivors have lost their lives at an alarming rate (please see list below).
Non-survivors are dying too. But for the purpose of this letter I will focus on survivors as we are in the 100-day mourning period of the 25th year commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Your Excellency, I choose to write to you directly about this disturbing matter because organizations like CNLG and Ibuka – which are responsible for seeking justice for survivors – are too afraid to stand up to the ruling party. Like other “independent” institutions in this country, they operate based on orders taken from “above”.
Your Excellency, your government rightly seems committed to retaining the searing memory of our loved ones killed during the Genocide. There is no doubt we should do this. But why isn’t the same level of respect shown to the living? Why isn’t the same level of concern and care shown to the survivors of those atrocities? Honoring the deceased, yes. But why not start by preserving the living?
Your Excellency, the international community has appropriately praised Rwanda for abolishing the death penalty. But I am constrained to ask: why are our people being executed without trial? And, as our Head of State, why would you condone such executions in your May 10, 2019 Rubavu speech? Your subordinates emulate you. At Mwiseneza’s funeral, Chief Superintendent Innocent Iyaburunga blamed Mwiseneza for his own death stating “…your security depends on you; you have to know who you are, how to behave, what you say, where you say it…”.
Your Excellency, I presumed “Never Again” meant that no more Rwandan blood ever would be shed unjustly. Or is this a mere slogan intended for the outside world? Because Rwandan lives seem to not matter.
Let me be clear: I strongly disagree with any who would deny or diminish the Genocide against the Tutsi in words or writing. But is there a worse form of denial than taking the very lives of those who survived it?
Your Excellency, I remain very grateful to you and RPF troops for ending the Genocide. But I am left to wonder: does stopping the Genocide grant anyone the right to terrorize the “saved” people? Rwandans experienced enough trauma, anguish and loss during the slaughter of their countrymen and women; the last thing they need is oppression from their liberators. I humbly ask: what to do when those designated to protect are the ones persecuting?
Your Excellency, we rightly accuse the international community to have remained silent during the Genocide. Yet, 25 years later, we are forced to stand aside and watch helpless as our loved ones become victims of cruel, inhumane politics. How long can this last? Anybody supporting this extreme injustice and advising to continue in this direction does not love this country and is pushing for the slow death of our nation.
Your Excellency, commandeered by you the RPF Inkotanyi military wing ended the 1994 Genocide. I now plead with you to use the fullest extent of your authority to cease these ongoing senseless deaths. Please think of the parents, children, siblings and spouses of these murdered men and women. Few days ago, you walked your beautiful daughter Ange down the aisle, daughters of slain Rwandan men will not get that chance on their wedding day.
Shima Diane Rwigara
P.S: I will probably face grave acts of reprisal for writing this letter. But Your Excellency, please try to understand; life in Rwanda is hard -to say the least- when one has to constantly worry about the fate of his/her entourage. As I was composing this letter many people came to mind including my colleague Thadey Muyenzi (himself a genocide survivor) who was abducted by state agents over two years ago. We are still waiting to hear of his whereabouts.