Call for an end to the harassment and intimidation of Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA orchestrated by the Rwandan authorities
On July 20, 2020, Tom NDAHIRO, political strategist and member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the party in power in Rwanda for the 26 years, accused, via social networks, Mr. Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA of being an enemy of the people, for freely expressing his personal opinions and beliefs, and called for his dismissal from the University of Rwanda.
A few hours later, on the same date of July 20, 2020, Edouard BAMPORIKI, Rwanda’s Secretary of State for Youth and Culture, also a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, relayed the same accusations against Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA via social networks and also called for his dismissal from the University of Rwanda.
A week later, on July 27, 2020, despite the fact that educational institutions across the country have been closed since March 2020 as part of the measures to reduce the expansion of the COVID19 pandemic in Rwanda, Dr Ignace GATARE, Principal of the College of Sciences and Technology at the University of Rwanda and member of the National Executive Committee of the ruling RPF party, sent one of the teachers, Mr. Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA, a request for explanations, citing among other grievances the fact of having,
- expressed on his YouTube channel, dated July 3, 2020, during the lockdown, that the government does not value the country’s national independence day (July 1st);
- said, on July 20 (according to Dr GATARE’s letter), to not to want to marry a Rwandan woman;
- said, as of July 22, 2020, to be against the government of Rwanda and to have insulted government officials.
Contrary to labor laws and regulations in Rwanda, the Principal summoned Mr. Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA to respond to the letter within two days under penalty of disciplinary action against him.
Not only do these accusations have nothing to do with the work of Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA at the University, but in addition, these words of Dr. Ignace GATARE clearly resonate as an echo of the gratuitous accusations of his colleagues in the party namely: Tom NDAHIRO and Edouard BAMPORIKI.
Who is Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA whom the country’s authorities are targeting in this way?
Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA is a survivor of the genocide against the Tutsis. Aimable has often shared publicly that some of his family members were killed by soldiers of the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) army during the genocide period.
Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA was born in Butare, in the south of the country, long before his parents moved to Kigali. He did his primary studies at the EPA, a public school in Kigali, and his secondary studies at the Petit Séminaire Saint Vincent of Ndera, one of the suburbs of the capital.
After the genocide and the death of his relatives, Aimable KARASIRA worked hard, without the support he should have received as a genocide survivor, to complete his studies, while taking care of his little brother whom, still at to this day, suffers psychological trauma after the tragic deaths of their other family members during the genocide. Aimable completed his studies at the Lycée de Kigali before doing a master’s degree in computer science at the University of Rwanda from 1998 to 2003. He began his professional career in 2004 as a software developer at the National University and later at the Rwandan Social Security Fund.
In 2008, Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA joined the University of Rwanda as a faculty member and he still works there to this day.
In his leisure time, Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA has created, from August 2019 a program broadcast periodically on YouTube, ‘Ukuri Mbona’ (The Truth as I see it), in which he freely expresses his opinions on life, Rwandan society and current affairs. His program in in no way related to his teaching profession; it is done in his capacity as a private citizen.
In a country where bloggers are regularly persecuted and imprisoned, Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA has become an idol to tens of thousands of Rwandans around the world and his shows regularly break viewership records.
It is in retaliation for comments made in the programs broadcast by Mr. Aimable KARASIRA on YouTube, that the Government and the Party in power, through their fervent officers and most notorious pundits, Tom NDAHIRO and Edouard BAMPORIKI, have called for dismissal of Aimable KARASIRA from the University of Rwanda, a way of depriving him of income and intimidating him so that he stops speaking out on taboo subjects related to the governance of the country.
Subsequently, the letter signed by one of the leaders of the National University, Dr Ignace Gatare, clearly implements the requests for unfair dismissal of Tom NDAHIRO and Edouard BAMPORIKI. Informed of the existence of this letter from Dr. Ignace Gatare, several independent media outlets in the country invited Aimable KARASIRA to come and speak on the matter, which had the effect of increasing the anger of the pro-government backers. In his remarks, Mr. Aimable KARASIRA shared that he is afraid for his life.
This blatant and umpteenth case of violation of the rights of those who speak out freely about the life of the country, which is just the last one of an alarmingly increasing number of cases, has caused consternation in the public in Rwanda and abroad.
It should be remembered that these two gentlemen, Edouard BAMPORIKI and Tom NDAHIRO, frequently attack those whom they deem to be too critical of power, especially if they become very popular. The singer and messenger of peace and reconciliation, Kizito Mihigo has often borne the brunt of it, and his name is still the subject of virulent attacks from them and from other cadres of the ruling party, and this, even after 5 months since his assassination in the Kigali jails.
ALL of us who firmly believe that freedom of expression and employment are inalienable rights for all human beings,
ALL of us who condemn the repeated human rights violations and attacks on the lives of so many innocent people, targeted simply for speaking out about their country,
- That the Government of Rwanda and the ruling RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) political party in Rwanda, cease this campaign of intimidation against Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA, a campaign led by Tom NDAHIRO and Edouard BAMPORIKI;
- that the University of Rwanda, through Dr Ignace GATARE, ceases harassing one of its faculty members on the basis of accusations that have nothing to do with his work at the University;
- that the University of Rwanda upholds its obligation to ensure respect for the rights of Mr. Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA as a teacher whose academic background is moreover above reproach, and protect him against harassment and abuse by pollical hacks.
JOIN the Rwandan Civil Society Consultative Framework (Cadre de Concertation de la Société Civile Rwandaise – CCSCR) and all the friends of Aimable Uzaramba KARASIRA to protect him against intimidation, harassment and abusive dismissal.