In the evening of the 23rd September 2019, Mr Syldio Dusabumuremyi, national coordinator for FDU-Inkingi political party was stabbed to death in his canteen at Shyogwe health centre while patients were helplessly looking on. We have strong indications that the perpetrators of the crime are believed to be government secret service agents as a part of plan to scare off anyone wanting to join a party that challenges the official script about Rwanda and proposes alternative policies. The murder of Syldio is simply the latest incident in the clampdown on the opposition.
The Rwandan political opposition platform P5 condemns this heinous crime and draws the attention of the international community and particularly donors on the gruesome nature of the murder, i.e. stabbing inside a health centre, which could be construed as a last warning for any political party that threatens to unseat the regime democratically. It also demonstrates the outcome of the impunity the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) regime has enjoyed in the last 25 years for the crimes committed against critics. Prof Filip Reyntjens warned in 2004, that: “while it is understandable that the ‘genocide credit’ and the logic of ‘good guys and bad guys’ should have inspired a particular understanding of a regime born out of the genocide, this complacent attitude has incrementally, step by step, contributed to a situation that may well be irreversible and that contains seeds for massive new violence in the medium or long run”. The future cannot be brighter except for those who choose to share Rwandan government blinders.
We would like to draw the attention of the international community that the cold murder of Sylidio Dusabumuremyi fits well into a pattern of a well-coordinated Machiavellian strategy to crush dissent and particularly any strong party like FDU-Inkingi that wishes to get registered in Rwanda. On July 15, 2019 another leader Mr Eugene Ndereyimana, coordinator for the eastern province disappeared around midday on his way to meet prospective members of FDU-Inkingi as part of an exercise to recruit members; in March 8, 2019, Mr Anselme Mutuyimana, personal assistant to Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, chairperson of FDU-Inkingi, was kidnapped in broad daylight at a public car park by men in police uniform and his body was found dumped in the forest; one year earlier, October 8, 2018 the 1st Vice President Boniface Twagirimana mysteriously vanished from Mpanga maximum security prison and have not been found by the omnipresent Rwandan security services. Two years earlier another party member , Mr Jean Damascene Habarugira was called to meet an intelligence officer ( May 2017) and his body was found dumped in Nyamata mortuary 3 days later; Mrs Iragena Illuminee was kidnapped in March 2016 on her way to work and has never been seen since then. Since September 2017, ten top leaders of FDU-Inkingi are languishing in prison. Party’s Chair, President Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza went to Rwanda in January 2010 in a bid to demonstrate the goodwill of her party to compete peacefully for power in Rwanda, by standing in 2010 presidential elections, was instead arrested on charges of alleged incitement of the population to rise against the government and of minimising genocide.
Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza was sentenced to 15 years but was released on presidential pardon after serving 8 years, albeit on false charges. The African court for human and peoples’ rights overruled the two charges and asked the Rwandan government to pay reparations without success.
Anyone who dares criticise the regime including the survivors of genocide that it claims it saved and vowed to protect have not been spared.
Ms Diane Rwigara and her mum, survivors of genocide were thrown in jail for criticising the government accusing them of inciting insurrection against the “established government”. Both spent one year in prison before they were released. It was clear to everyone that the real reason was the attempt by Diane to stand against Kagame. Many of her supporters are in jail, dead or in exile. She wrote an open letter to President Kagame on the 15th July 2019 in which she put the question to President Kagame: “what to do when the protectors become the persecutors?” She put down a tentative list of 33 survivors of genocide killed since 2003, by people believed to be government agents. Twenty-eight opinion leaders of the Tutsi survivors of genocide forced into exile have written a letter to President Kagame complaining the persecution of Tutsi survivors of genocide.
The historical members of the RPF who disagreed with the regime are either in prison, dead or in exile. South Africa has issued two arrest warrants against two Rwandan citizens alleged to have murdered the former chief spy Colonel Patrick Karegeya; former chief of staff and Ambassador Kayumba Nyamwasa has survived 3 assassination attempts; former military attaché in the UK and former head of the presidential guard are in prison.
What is baffling is that the Rwandan regime remains the darling of aid donors whose funding subsidises Kagame to spend money in reinforcing his killing machine and military adventures in neighbouring countries. Yet the donors have signed MoU linking disbursement of aid to respect of human rights. Donors were able to stop President Kagame supporting the murderous M23 in 2012, by suspending aid, they can stop him killing Rwandans by simply threatening to suspend aid. In the same token they cannot stop repression in Rwanda. They are quite aware that “a society without room for critical voices to speak freely and peacefully is unsustainable”.
The latest murder of Syldio should sound an alarm about the nature of the regime. The holding of the Commonwealth Summit in Rwanda in June 2020 will be an endorsement of the repressive nature of the regime making the Commonwealth core values hot air. It will demonstrate the amorality of the international political system and yet another sign that Rwandan lives don’t matter. It indirectly encourages individuals or groups to take the law in their own hands to defend their rights.
We appeal to the international community and particularly donors and members of the Commonwealth to apply to Rwanda the same rules they apply to other countries that have less cases of “arbitrary or unlawful killings; torture; harassment, arrest, and abuse of political opponents, human rights advocates, and individuals perceived to pose a threat to government control and social order; security forces’ disregard for the rule of law; and restrictions on civil liberties; restrictions on the registration and operation of opposition parties, hence denying citizens the ability to change their government through free and fair elections” prevalent in Rwanda.
Done in Brussels on September 27, 2019
Chair Diplomacy Commission – P5-Platform