By Ben Barugahare
During the current year, there are reports of a series of arrests of people suspected of attempted subversion against the government. The charges are serious and point to serious criminal sanctions against the accused. The recent arrests of the followers of the Dalfa-Umurinzi party with the journalist of Umubavu-tv Theoneste Nsengimana whose pretrial detention hearing attracted a crowd of people who attended, among whom were perceived many intelligence agents. This observation suggests the excesses of a totalitarian regime whose diplomatic relations with other countries are in a deplorable state and which is afraid of everything, suspecting everyone and in despair, carries out the often baseless persecutions.
Théoneste Nsengimana, journalist from Umubavu TV and eight members of the opposition party Dalfa Umurinzi created by Ms. Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza were arrested for publishing rumors on October 13, 2021. The journalist was arrested in Kigali while the others were arrested at the same time in Kigali and in the provinces. The announcement was made by the Rwandan Bureau of Investigation (RIB). Journalist Théoneste Nsengimana was arrested in April 2020 and released a few weeks later. According to the testimonies of Dalfa Umurinzi officials, 7 party members and a personal friend of Ms. Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza were arrested. Some were arrested on October 13 and 14, 2021, along with journalist Théoneste Nsengimana. They are: Sylvain Sibomana residing in Kigarama / Kicukiro / Ville de Kigali. He was released in March 2021 after an arbitrary 8-year imprisonment for being a member of FDU Inkingi; Alexis Rucubanganya residing in Nyamagana / Remera / Ngoma / representative of the Dalfa Umurinzi party in Eastern Province; Hamad Hagengimana residing in Kimisagara / Nyarugenge / Ville de Kigali; Jean-Claude Ndayishimiye residing in Rwamiko / Gisagara / Southern Province; Joyeuse Uwatuje residing in Nyarurama / Gatenga / Kicukiro / City of Kigali, friend and personal assistant of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza; Alphonse Mutabazi residing in Rubona / Nyamyumba / Rubavu / Province of l ‘West; Marcel Habimana residing in Terimbere / Nyundo / Rubavu / West Province, Secretary General of the party; Emmanuel Masengesho residing in Munanira / Nyamyumba / Rubavu / West Province. rumors, they were preparing the celebration of Ingabire Day on October 14, 2021. While working at his home, Théoneste Nsengimana was called by an acquaintance. He went out to meet him but returned, handcuffed and escorted by the police. His house was immediately searched and all work equipment was taken, including cell phones. On October 28, 2021, at the Kagarama Basic Court in Kicukiro District / City of Kigali, the nine defendants appeared for a hearing on the detention but it was surrendered at the request of the defense represented by Mr. Gashabana. The defense lawyer stressed that the public prosecutor had given them the elements of the prosecution file the day before and that the defense had not had sufficient time to read and analyze the file as well as to consult with the detainees.
Considering the charges brought against the accused by the prosecution, one would think that the latter was anticipating or preventing offenses not yet committed but which were likely to be committed or not.
Political opinions or crimes
According to the statements of the RIB, they are accused of forming or joining a criminal association, spreading rumors, spreading false rumors or harmful propaganda, with the intention of provoking international opinion. hostile to the Rwandan state, incitement to uprising or unrest among the population. According to the law on cybercrime (article 39) law N ° 60/2018 of 08/22/2018, the defendants incur between 3 and 5 years for publication of rumors. According to the penal code or law N ° 68/2018 of 08/30/2018 determining offenses and penalties in general, they incur penalties of between 7 and 10 years for disseminating false information or harmful propaganda with the intention of provoke a hostile international opinion (articles 194), between 10 and 15 years for inciting the uprising or disturbing the population (article 204) and between 7 and 10 years for training or membership in a criminal association.
Recall that journalist Théoneste Nsengimana is co-founder of the Umubavu TV channel, director of Umubavu TV online and Umubavu.com. In his reports, he denounces social injustices linked to bad governance and social inequalities. He is one of the journalists like Cyuma Hassan Dieudonné to have denounced the uncompensated expropriations of working-class neighborhoods in the City of Kigali and the precarious situations during the measures against Covid 19, including confinement. Théoneste Nsengimana was disowned by Rwanda Media Commission (RMC). It is strange that this supposedly protective organization of freedom of opinion and expression, and defending the interests of journalists, is betraying its mission.
Online journalists are particularly targeted by the authorities; they are the object of police and judicial harassment, and they are regularly stigmatized and designated with complete impunity for popular revenge by personalities of the regime who accuse them of publishing articles on human rights violations, in particular summary executions , enforced disappearances or rapes by law enforcement or security services Journalist Cyuma Hassan Dieudonné Niyonsenga, released by the judge in March 2021 after eleven months in detention, is particularly the target of such harassment; because of his reports Agnès Uwimana Nkusi journalist from Umurabyo TV has served a five-year prison sentence. She resumed her work as a journalist and reported on certain aspects of RPF victims in 1994. She continues to suffer harassment and was ordered to give back her card to Rwanda Media commission (RMC).
What are legal instruments used for?
During the three terms of the presidency of Mr. Paul Kagame, the freedoms of expression and opinion are particularly violated and targeted as such. They are, however, guaranteed by international human rights instruments ratified by the Rwandan state and constitutional provisions only for freedom of expression (article 38). On the other hand, the Rwandan constitution of December 2015 remains silent with regard to freedom of opinion. The Rwandan state has also ratified the convention against torture and other inhuman treatment. Torture, abuse and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are banned by the constitutional provisions of article 14 which enshrine physical and mental integrity, but acts of torture are regularly denounced in vain by victims and organizations. defense of human rights. Moreover, the Rwandan government has refused to ratify the convention on enforced disappearances. Recommendations addressed to it by several States including the USA and Great Britain during the Universal Periodic Review of January 25, 2021 asked it to ratify the convention for the protection of all persons against enforced disappearances and to authorize independent investigations into cases of summary executions and enforced disappearances. These recommendations were validated in June 2021 by the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The Rwandan Government has clearly rejected them on the fallacious pretext that it does not subscribe to “the recommendation that it ratify this instrument, knowing that it is still studying the evolution of certain geopolitical factors in the region which could have consequences. implications for the implementation of the convention, and also knowing that he is still in the process of ensuring that all the necessary constitutional provisions are in place. ”Particularly under the third term of Mr. Paul Kagame, the human rights violations of man have been accentuated even if the image that the Kigali regime and its supporters want to convey is that of economic development. But what development without respect for fundamental freedoms and that of the right to life and human dignity? Acts of assassination, torture and enforced disappearance of opponents and people claiming their rights or the rights of others? ‘have not ceased since the seizure of power by the Rwandan Patriotic Front.
As illustrations thereon, the cases of enforced disappearances or assassinations of Kagwa Rwisereka André of the Green Democratic Party (July 2010) and of several members of the FDU Inkingi including Ms. Illuminée Iragena (March 2016) and Boniface Twagirimana vice-president of the FDU- Inkingi October 2018) who was detained at Mpanga Prison speak out. Summary executions in police stations have also been denounced. The cases of Kizito Mihigo (February 2020), lawyer Donat Mutunzi (April 2018), the President’s ex-personal doctor, Dr Emmanuel Gasakure (February 2015) and many more speak for themselves. No known independent investigation has been carried out to prosecute the perpetrators of these killings and enforced disappearances.
Harassed for their opinions
Since October 25, 2021, on social networks, testimonies and interviews of Hakuzimana Abdul Rashid have been circulating on YouTube and his summons by the Rwandan Bureau of Investigations (RIB). Summoned for October 27, he presented on October 28 and was arrested. The reasons given for his arrest are denial of the Tutsi genocide committed in 1994 and divisionism in his comments made in his online interviews on YouTube channels. He is detained at the Kicukiro station in Kigali City. He emphasizes that he is in politics and that he was born to a mixed family (Hutu and Tutsi parents) and that his father was taken away by soldiers from the RPF and that he never returned. He does not know the place where he was murdered and buried. In his comments on his YouTube channel and that of other YouTube channels, he does not recognize the double genocide but maintains that many members of the Hutu ethnic group were killed by the RPF as has also recognized Paul Kagame, President of the Republic. He criticizes inequalities and discrimination in Rwandan society. He also proposes to review the way in which the commemorations of the Tutsi genocide are made in order to allow the Hutus who have lost their relatives to find them and to bury them with dignity or to commemorate them.
Following the arrests of DALFA-Umurinzi members, Ms. Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza expressed concern for members arrested just for the organization of Ingabire Day commemorated regularly in support of unjustly imprisoned Rwandan politicians. In the past two weeks, she has been summoned twice to the offices of the RIB for an all-out interview on the question of arresting members of her party and on respecting and opening up the democratic space. The topic of debate on the opening of the political space and on impunity is one of the sensitive subjects in Rwanda and it is evoked recently on the YouTube channels. Mr. Rachid Abdou Hakuzimana often returns in his debates on these questions and the massacres committed by the RPF. The massacres of the Hutu and the qualification of these massacres are taboo in Rwanda. Those who dare to advance the crimes committed by the RPF are qualified as negationist or revisionist by the RPF regime and in public debates and on social networks. Many people who have raised this subject have been in the regime’s sights as it is a Rwandan social issue that requires open debate for true national reconciliation. Ms. Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza was so when she raised this subject; she was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Aimable Karasira is on trial for having said out loud that he knows that the massacres of his father, mother and sister were committed by the RPF even though it is an ethnic Tutsi family. Gilbert Shyaka is missing for having dared to write to the President of the Republic and asked to resolve this issue. Kizito Mihigo paid with his life for having composed and sung by evoking “the massacres of the Hutu which was not qualified as genocide” in the song “explanation of death”; in all his songs he campaigned for real reconciliation.
Internationally, those who evoke these massacres or try to investigate them are harassed in the media to impose absolute silence on these serious violations of humanitarian rights in Rwanda and which have continued in neighboring countries. Canadian journalist Judi Rever, the BBC or former ICTR prosecutor Carla Del Ponte suffered the wrath of the Kigali regime through the media and international politics. Dr Denis Mukwege, Nobel Peace Prize winner 2018, has been threatened by the Rwandan regime for having mentioned the establishment of a tribunal to try the mass crimes committed in the DRC listed by the United Nations Mapping report.
Yet Mr. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic and President of the RPF who is singled out, admitted that the Hutus were massacred. Even though he claimed that they were not massacred for their ethnicity. However, he did not specify the cause of the massacre so this fact is a reality in the Rwandan tragedy. Criticism on social issues including inequalities, discrimination and poverty are also not tolerated because they affect governance and the image of the country as a whole.
We now learn that Rwandan officials are negotiating with Youtube so that it can block blogs that broadcast messages bordering on genocide ideology and divisionism but in reality they target those who criticize their dictatorship and human rights violations. man they commit on a daily basis. The media world is threatened and if nothing is done all the media operating inside the country and which does not please the Rwandan regime will have to close after their owners have been imprisoned if they do not manage to flee the country. We call on the international community and all international structures working within the framework of press freedom to exert pressure on the regime because any idea that does not rhyme with the regime’s policy is directly incriminated and brutally repressed.