Rwanda-Netherlands Relations: Alfred Gasana – A Killer at Europe’s Door?

Alfred Gasana

In later May 2024, an investigative report titled “Rwanda Classified,” conducted by Forbidden Stories in collaboration with 17 international media outlets and over 50 journalists, shed light on troubling allegations concerning the Rwandan government. This investigation sent shockwaves across the globe, compelling the Rwandan government to take measures to counter its impact.

One of the names mentioned in this investigation was Olivier Nduhungirehe, then the Rwandan ambassador to the Netherlands. In response to this revelation, Rwandan President Paul Kagame promoted Nduhungirehe to the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs, hoping to leverage his influence to discredit the journalists involved in the investigation. This promotion was seen by some as an act of defiance by Kagame against the international community, aiming to protect someone nicknamed “the Rwandan ambassador on social media,” despite hostile reactions from Dutch parliamentarians and investigations by Belgian justice.

To facilitate this promotion, Kagame had to reorganize his cabinet. Vincent Biruta, the dean of Rwandan ministers and a trained doctor, was moved from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Interior, replacing Alfred Gasana, who was then proposed as the ambassador to the Netherlands. It is precisely Alfred Gasana who is the focus of this article.

Born in the Ndiza region, in the central part of Rwanda, in Gitarama Prefecture, Alfred Gasana has held several key positions throughout his career. He was the mayor of Nyakabanda commune in Gitarama Prefecture from 1997 to 2001, a period during which he allegedly played a significant role in the massacres of Hutu civilians during the insurgent war. Between 2001 and 2003, he led the Ndiza region, unifying the communes of Nyakabanda, Nyabikenke, and Buringa. In 2003, Gasana entered Parliament as a deputy of the FPR-Inkotanyi party and chaired the Political Commission.

Gasana’s career is marked by serious accusations. From 2011 to 2021, he was the Director General of Internal Security within the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). During this period, Augustin Habimana, a former representative of Rwanda in Burundi, disappeared in May 2013 while in Kigali. Habimana, who had also headed internal intelligence before being appointed ambassador to Burundi, was reportedly brought back to Rwanda by Alfred Gasana after fleeing to Kenya. Since then, Habimana has been missing.

Another incident involving Alfred Gasana concerns Aphrodice Matuje, who disappeared two years ago after spending three years detained in a military camp in Kami, on the outskirts of Kigali. In a video published on YouTube before his disappearance, Matuje expressed concerns about his safety, stating that his home was surrounded by security agents and that he had refused a request from Alfred Gasana to monitor political opponents. Matuje has not been heard from since.

On June 12, 2024, Alfred Gasana, then Minister of Interior, was proposed as the ambassador of Rwanda to the Netherlands. This nomination raises significant concerns among analysts and human rights observers. Rwandans and critics of Kagame’s regime living in the Netherlands are particularly worried about this appointment, fearing Gasana’s history of violence and intimidation.

The Rwandan intelligence services have been accused of conducting surveillance and intimidation operations in various European countries. Alfred Gasana’s presence in the Netherlands could intensify these activities, creating an atmosphere of fear among Rwandan dissidents.

Gasana’s appointment as ambassador to the Netherlands is perceived as a strategic move by Paul Kagame to extend his influence and strengthen his control over Rwandans abroad. Gasana’s background, marked by allegations of violence and forced disappearances, raises concerns about the safety of political opponents and citizens critical of the Rwandan regime in Europe.

This situation underscores the need for increased vigilance by Dutch and international authorities to ensure the protection of human rights and prevent any form of intimidation or violence.

Many observers are calling for stringent measures to monitor the activities of the Rwandan embassy in the Netherlands and protect Rwandan exiles and dissidents. They urge the Dutch government to scrutinize Alfred Gasana’s past and present actions and to take all necessary steps to prevent any abuse of diplomatic privileges.