Rwanda: Repression and intimidation against citizens have intensified.

Kigali, March 14, 2012.

On March 7, 2013, Ms. Fatuma Mukarwego, 56 years old, was arrested and put in jail on grounds that she refused to let the authorities destroy her subsistence crops without any compensation.

Following outcries from the population of Kayonza District who were protesting against their local authorities who were destroying their crops by uprooting and cutting them under the pretext of clearing the way for agricultural terraces, on March 4, 2013, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock dispatched a delegation to inquire about the situation. Upon their arrival, the delegation regretted such shameful acts and reassured the population saying that nobody will destroy their crops anymore. Ms. Fatuma Mukarwego, was also among the people who met with this ministerial delegation, an act that got her in trouble because local authorities held her responsible for inciting local populations to rebel against their authorities by not letting them to destroy their crops.

On March 7, 2013, the Head of Kayonza District, Mr Mugabo John, held a public meeting in which he summoned Fatuma Mukarwego and ordered her to sit down in front of the population. He said that he was going to send her in jail because she harbors genocide ideology and is opposed to government programs. At the end of the meeting, the woman was put in a vehicle belonging to the mayor of the District and was sent to jail at the police station of Kabarondo. Her family tried to alert the Ministry of Local Governance but nothing was done to help this innocent victim. Such a scenario clearly shows that those who are meant to speak for the Rwandan people are the ones who are oppressing them.

The party FDU-Inkingi vehemently denounces such shameful acts aimed at intimidating and oppressing the population. We seize this opportunity to remind the RPF regime that Article 29 of the Rwandan Constitution stipulates that the private property is inviolable. There is no reason for a citizen to be brutalized on grounds that he/she refused to let local authorities destroy his/her subsistence crops without any compensation or reparation. Ms. Fatuma Mukarwego must be freed immediately without any condition because she has not committed any crime. She only did what any good citizen is supposed to do. Standing up for citizen’s rights should not be construed as harboring genocide ideology.

Boniface Twagirimana
Interim Vice President