Reflecting on the Fifth Anniversary of Anselme Mutuyimana’s Assassination: A Call for Justice and Dialogue in Rwanda

Anselme Mutuyimana

On March 8, 2024, Placide Kayumba, the president of the Unified Democratic Forces (FDU-Inkingi), issued a statement from Brussels marking the somber five-year anniversary of the assassination of Anselme Mutuyimana, a young activist and a poignant symbol of the youth persecuted by the state in Rwanda. This statement brings to light the events of March 8, 2019, when the shocking news of Mutuyimana’s murder left the FDU-Inkingi party in dismay. Mutuyimana, who was the assistant to Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, the then-president of FDU-Inkingi, had been traveling from Kigali to visit his family in the Western Province. The last eyewitnesses reported seeing him alive in the company of police officers, shortly before his body was found in the Gishwati forest, suggesting his assassination was a premeditated act involving state actors.

The assassination of Anselme Mutuyimana marked the beginning of a series of targeted killings, enforced disappearances, and relentless harassment of young FDU-Inkingi party members throughout 2019 and beyond, pointing to a systemic pattern of political violence by Rwandan authorities. Despite the gravity of these crimes, the Rwandan government has yet to initiate any investigation into Mutuyimana’s death or seek justice for him and other victims of state violence.

This brutal act against Mutuyimana and the subsequent assaults on Rwandan youth, including prominent figures like Kizito Mihigo, Gérard Niyomugabo, Innocent Bahati, and Diane Rwigara, underscore a disturbing trend of repression by the Rwandan leadership. The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) has shown an intolerance for dissent and a preference for ruling through force rather than engaging in constructive dialogue and addressing the concerns of its citizens, especially the youth who represent the nation’s future.

The enduring legacy of Anselme Mutuyimana’s sacrifice has not dampened the spirit of Rwandan youth but rather ignited a stronger resolve to fight for civil and political rights. The FDU-Inkingi’s statement emphasizes that violence is not a solution and that peace, tolerance, and a commitment to the rule of law are essential for achieving tranquility and peaceful coexistence among Rwandans. On this fifth anniversary of Mutuyimana’s death, the FDU-Inkingi calls for an independent investigation into his assassination and all crimes committed against perceived opponents of the regime.

Moreover, the FDU-Inkingi appeals for an inclusive political dialogue involving all sectors of Rwandan society to collectively determine the country’s future. The statement urges the FPR to halt all forms of violence, open the political space, and allow full and free political participation for all Rwandans who wish to engage.

As we commemorate Anselme Mutuyimana’s life and legacy, it is crucial for the international community, human rights organizations, and all stakeholders to support the call for justice, accountability, and a more inclusive and peaceful Rwanda.