Rwanda-Netherlands: Should We Hide Our Children?

Alfred Gasana

On June 12, 2024, Alfred Gasana was proposed as the Rwandan ambassador to the Netherlands, a nomination that has raised significant concerns among human rights observers. Critics of the Kagame regime living in the Netherlands are particularly worried, given Gasana’s criminal past marked by acts of violence and intimidation.

On June 18, 2024, the Foreign Affairs, Cooperation, and Security Committee held a hearing with Alfred Gasana to review his record. The Committee’s reports were then submitted to the Rwandan Senate plenary session.

On June 20, 2024, the Rwandan Senate plenary approved Alfred Gasana as the Rwandan ambassador to the Netherlands. The senators validated his nomination after examining the Foreign Affairs, Cooperation, and Security Committee’s report, which emphasized that his record showed he had the necessary experience to fulfill his duties.

Born in the Ndiza region of central Rwanda, in the Gitarama prefecture, Alfred Gasana has held several key positions throughout his career. He served as mayor of Nyakabanda commune in Gitarama prefecture from 1997 to 2001, during which he allegedly played a significant role in the massacres of Hutu civilians during the so-called “insurgency” 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 for the RPF-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, numerous people were killed or went missing, including Augustin Habimana, the former Rwandan representative to Burundi, who 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 in detention at a military camp in Kami, on the outskirts of Kigali. In a video posted on YouTube before his disappearance, Matuje expressed concerns for 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 seen since.

It is particularly concerning to note that Alfred Gasana does not hesitate to target children. Aphrodice Matuje, in his interviews with the newspaper Umurabyo and in a video sent before his disappearance, recounted how he had been detained with his young children under five in a police basement in Remera, known as the Metropolitan, for over a month. It is worth noting that it was in this same Metropolitan police station that singer Kizito Mihigo was killed in 2020.

The most tragic case involves two children who were killed in the village of Kavune, Ninzi cell, Kagano sector in Nyamasheke district. Their bodies were found on the shores of Lake Kivu at 11 a.m. on January 6, 2020. These children were Murasa Valentin, 9, a third-year student at Saint Nicolas Primary School in Nyamasheke, and his younger brother Iganze Ntwali Shalom, 6, a first-year student at the same school.

The parents of these children are Dusenge Jeannette and Nzeyimana Zacharie. Zacharie had been abducted in 2019 and detained at Kami for nearly three years before being released in 2021. Nzeyimana Zacharie, who worked independently and owned a pharmacy in Rusizi, Kamembe town, was arrested in broad daylight by the police, who claimed they wanted to question him. Since then, he had not been seen until his release in 2021, without ever being brought to justice, after being informed that he had received a presidential pardon.

Dusenge Jeannette was a leader in Nyamasheke district. She had sought to know her husband’s fate, even meeting General James Kabarebe, who told her: “Go home and don’t wait for him anymore.”

The murders of these children were intended to pressure their father, Nzeyimana Zacharie, to cooperate with the intelligence services led by Alfred Gasana. Information provided by Aphrodice Matuje indicates that the case of residents detained at Kami from Nyamasheke and Rusizi districts was under Alfred Gasana’s responsibility.

A parent living in the Netherlands, originally from Rwanda, expressed his concerns about Alfred Gasana’s arrival in the Netherlands to our newspaper. He said: “How can a man who gives orders to kill children not be frightening?” He continued: “Where are we going to hide our children now?” He concluded by saying: “We will ask the Dutch authorities not to allow Alfred Gasana to become an ambassador here because he is terrifying.”

The concerns of Rwandan parents living in the Netherlands are understandable, given the serious accusations against Alfred Gasana. This man’s involvement in acts of violence and intimidation, including against children, raises serious questions about the safety and well-being of Rwandan citizens abroad.