Global gathering for change in Rwanda

Press release

On March 20, 2021 at 2 p.m. GMT, Rwandans and friends of Rwanda will gather in several European, African, American and Australian cities to express their aspiration of finally taking charge of their destiny. This is in response to Yvonne Idamange Iryamugwiza’s outcry launched on February 15, 2021 in Rwanda to start a popular, peaceful and reconciling revolution. Yvonne Idamange, a young mother of 4 children, survivor of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi, succeeded in making many Rwandans aware that they can find within themselves the strength to claim their rights and has since been imprisoned for having dared to speak out for all Rwandans.

Rwandans and friends of Rwanda will urge the international community to support the Rwandan people in the exercise of their fundamental rights and freedom. Several thousand participants are expected to take part, physically and/or online in the global protest in support of Yvonne Idamange.

For 27 years, reports on the alarming human rights violations in Rwanda have been published one after another, without any significant measure undertaken by the international community to intervene against the injustice that prevails in Rwanda. Instead, Paul Kagame continues to enjoy political, economic, financial, and technical assistance from the international community. The restrictions of fundamental rights and freedoms exercised by the regime of Paul Kagame are characterized by arbitrary imprisonments, torture, enforced disappearances and assassinations of citizens.

The most recent developments that attest to the ongoing serious human rights violations in Rwanda are:

  • The outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Rwanda of 25 January 2021 at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva;
  • The young Rwandan poet, Innocent Bahati, missing since February 7, 2021;
  • European Parliament resolution on Rwanda, the case of Paul Rusesabagina (2021/2543(RSP)) of 11 February 2021 which denounces the Rwandan authorities’ restrictions of fundamental rights and freedoms and arbitrary use of pre-trial detention for repressing dissent without providing Mr. Rusesabagina with the minimum guarantees for a fair trial or allowing him regular contact with his family;
  • The letter from 42 NGOs of March 8, 2021, published on the Commonwealth Day calling to the Commonwealth leaders to support an independent investigation into the death in custody of Kizito Mihigo;
  • The report of the NGO Freedom House “Out of sight, not out of reach” of February 4, 2021 that demonstrates how Rwanda under the regime of Paul Kagame is one of the main actors of cross-border repression in the company of dictatorships such as Iran, China, Russia or Uzbekistan. Rwanda being the only African country pointed out within the NGO Freedom house report;

And yet despite this disastrous human rights record, widely documented, the Rwandan regime continues to benefit from international support, as evidenced by the visit to Rwanda by Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, on March 8, 2021, Emmanuel Macron’s forthcoming visit to Rwanda, or the upcoming Commonwealth summit in Rwanda.

The support which the regime in Rwandan continues to enjoy is simply incomprehensible. Therefor a global protest will be held in Brussels, Paris, Lyon, Geneva, The Hague, Vancouver, Berlin, Johannesburg, Brisbane, Lusaka, Stockholm, New York, Oslo, and many other cities, to take a stance against injustice in Rwanda.

In different cities around the globe, Rwandans and friends of Rwanda will gather simultaneously, at 2 p.m. GMT and urge the financial and technical partners of Rwanda, among other to:

  • Demand the immediate and unconditional release of Yvonne Idamange and all other political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Rwanda;
  • Cancel the Commonwealth summit scheduled for coming June in Kigali and to move it to another country;
  • Make any future financial aid to Rwanda conditional and bound to respect for and enhancement of human rights;
  • Undertake political and economic sanctions against the perpetrators of the serious human rights violations that continue to be committed in Rwanda. The sanctions must consist of travel bans applying to individuals, freezing of funds applying to both individuals and entities. In addition, persons and entities must be prohibited from making funds available to those listed to the human rights violations, either directly or indirectly;
  • Urge the Rwandan authorities to respect the fundamental rights and the right of freedom of expression of Rwandans and not seek to restrict those rights and freedoms;
  • Investigate independently and transparently the unlawful and/or arbitrary arrests and detentions, killings, and enforced disappearances of human rights defenders, political opponents, and journalists including the kidnapping of Paul Rusesabagina on August 27, 2020 in Dubai;
  • Ensure that the measures are undertaken to halt the practices of convictions on the grounds of information extracted under torture or duress in Rwanda;
  • Investigate independently and transparently the unlawful and/or arbitrary arrests and detentions, killings, and enforced disappearances of human rights defenders, political opponents, and journalists including the kidnapping of Paul Rusesabagina on August 27, 2020 in Dubai

End the detentions and harassment of members of the media and civil society for their reporting; Rwanda has a Global Freedom Score of 22/1001 and is classified as ‘not free’. The government has arrested, detained, and prosecuted critics and government opponents in politically motivated trials in Rwanda, and repeatedly threatened others outside the country, with some having been physically attacked and even killed.

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