14 OCTOBER: International Day for the Liberation of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience, for the Rule of Law and Democracy in Rwanda

On the occasion of the international day for the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, for the rule of law and democracy in Rwanda, we are several organizations from civil society, committed to the defence of human rights, who wish to bring the following to the attention of the media and the whole world.

In recent years, the human rights situation in Rwanda, and in particular that of opponents, has continued to deteriorate. The totalitarian regime of the RPF, has accentuated its illegal practices, to persecute, to throw in prison, to push into exile and, worse still, to torture, to make disappear or to assassinate the people who try to denounce its present and past crimes. Let us cite a few cases from the past two years alone.

In 2021, the poet Innocent BAHATI, who had published poems and critical texts on Youtube, was reported missing. Youtuber Yvonne IDAMANGE was thrown in prison for expressing critical opinions about power. She has just been sentenced to 15 years in prison. Youtuber Aimable KARASIRA, critical singer and former professor at the University of Rwanda, has been in prison since June. Dr Christopher KAYUMBA, who launched an opposition party last March, has also been jailed in Kigali since 9th September. In May 2021, Cassien NTAMUHANGA, a journalist and founder of a Rwandan opposition movement, was the victim of enforced disappearance while seeking asylum in Mozambique.

In 2020, singer Kizito MIHIGO, because of his opinions and his fight for justice, was assassinated on 17th February 2020, while in the hands of the authorities at the police station in Kigali. Kizito MIHIGO was posthumously awarded the Vaclav Havel Prize from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe as well as the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Prize for Democracy and Peace. On 14th May 2020, Théophile NTIRUTWA, member of the opposition party DALFA UMURINZI, narrowly escaped assassination. He has since been thrown in prison. On 6th June 2020, Venant ABAYISENGA, another member of the DALFA UMURINZI party, was kidnapped near his residence and has since been reported missing. The RPF regime is also rife beyond Rwanda’s borders, resorting to terrorist acts such as kidnapping. The best known case is that of Paul RUSESABAGINA. The latter is known internationally for having saved more than 1,200 people during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. His story inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, of which he is the hero. On 28th August 2020, RUSESABAGINA was kidnapped in Dubai. Since then, he has been tortured and then imprisoned in Kigali. He has just been sentenced to 25 years in prison after an unfair trial.

These new prisoners add to the already considerable number of other political prisoners and prisoners of conscience who have languished in the regime’s jails for many years. The best known are, for example, Déogratias MUSHAYIDI, in prison for more than 10 years, Dr Théoneste NIYITEGEKA, Dr Christophe MPOZAYO, Dr Joseph NKUSI, Professor Léopold MUNYAKAZI, journalists like Phocas NDAYIZERA. To this list, there are also many cases of forced disappearance such as that of Boniface TWAGIRIMANA, disappeared since 10th August 2018 when he was in the hands of the penitential authorities in an ultra-secure prison, also the case of Gérard NIYOMUGABO, arrested and reported missing on 4th April 2014. Many journalists and Youtubers are regularly reported missing. Their family members are also systematically persecuted.

On the occasion of this day, we ask anyone who is passionate about the defence of human rights, to continue to press for an end to political assassinations in Rwanda; so that all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, who are still very numerous in the official and unofficial prisons of the RPF regime, be released. We pay particular attention to the cases of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience who are little or not known to the media but who are nonetheless victims of the totalitarian system and whose fights remain noble and dignified.

To all of you, citizens of the countries which grant aid, resulting from your taxes, to the regime in place in Kigali, we ask to intervene with your governments so that they condition the aid in Rwanda to opening up the political space, respecting human rights and democratic principles.

This year 2021, October 14 will be punctuated by various events aimed at raising awareness and mobilizing different audiences about the human rights situation in Rwanda. Thus, outside Rwanda online conferences, communications and media campaigns on social networks will be organized. Inside the country, the Rwandans who, because of the terror, cannot take visible action without exposing themselves to the wrath of the regime, will observe on 14th of October at 12 noon, a moment of silence for a particular thought and a prayer, for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and for all the other victims of the injustices of the totalitarian regime of the RPF in Rwanda and elsewhere.


* The international day for the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, for the rule of law and democracy in Rwanda, annually celebrated on 14th October, is also commonly known as “Ingabire Day” in reference to Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza who, like Mandela, was a political prisoner and a prisoner of conscience for 8 years, due to her fight for respect for human rights and democracy


*Collectif Ingabire Day : Fondation Victoire Pour la Paix | Amahoriwacu Campaign | Jambo asbl | RifDP Canada | RifDP Belgium| RifDP Netherlands | Friends of Victoire | Communauté Rwandaise de Lyon | AJDHD