Rwanda: The murderous excesses of the Kagame police!

By Erasme Rugemintwaza

This is not the first time to hear that the Kagame police have deliberately killed an ordinary citizen and it can be said with no hesitation that this is not the last time this Rwandan police killings have occurred. It has become a common practice. The murder of IRAKUNDUKA Elysée, a young boy of 19, raised the indignation of the entire population who are fed up with the atrocities of the police in this Sector of Nzige, District of Rwamagana, in the East of the country. How can we understand that a simple refusal to comply with the injunctions on Covid-19 prevention measures can turn into an execution scene? A simple analysis of a few cases of murders committed by the Rwandan police shows that, behind the deceptive appearances, there is a guideline that the police is just implementing. What is it really ?

The circumstances of the execution

It’s Monday, August 09, 2021, in the evening. The population, as usual, is rushing home to respect the curfew, one of the Rwandan government measures introduced to curb the corona virus pandemic. The curfew was on the day of the murder, still set from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. 6 pm in the land of a thousand hills, in the countryside you barely come back from the fields and other small daily activities; but we must hurry to respect the Government’s measures, and above all not to encounter a whole panoply of paramilitary security organs, the terrible of which is made up of “volunteers”. It was in this crush that the young Elysee IRADUKUNDA alias NDIMBATI was stopped with his comrade and others by the “volunteers”. According to reports, the curfew was already in effect, as it was around 7:00 p.m. Let’s talk briefly about youth called “the volunteers”, who were very active in the campaign for the 2017 presidential elections. Like the Rwandan political parties milicians in early 1990’s, it is an unemployed youth, recruited into the cause of Kagame. Adults who know the Rwandan political parties milicians in early 1990’s have goosebumps when they see the behavior of the volunteers, who act like robots because above all they expect some favors, exactly like the Interahamwe! One day we expect them to drift away.

And I remember the words, a little wise, of a certain high-ranked soldier of the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) who said one day in the youth congress that “an idle youth, without a good education, is like a bomb without fusion; you just have to ignite the fusion to ignite the country ”. We may also conduct  a detailed analysis in a special article on this paramilitary brigade of Kagame. While Elysee IRADUKUNDA was discussing with a volunteer, the police burst in and his comrade managed to slip aside to witness a macabre scene where his friend was going to be hit, then shot at close range by the police commander! It is him who will transmit the obituary message to the relatives and friends of his companion. That day he had loaned his bike for transportation and to earn some money to meet basic needs. Transporting by bicycle is a painful job reserved for the lowest class of society, it is the means of survival of the Hutu youth, unemployed and abandoned to their fate by the state. These thousands of young “Bodaboda” (bicycle carriers) are young Hutu people who have dropped out of school for lack of school fees and state assistance, granted only to Tutsis. Among the tens of thousands of “Bodaboda”, there is no Tutsi, because the Genocide Survivors Assistance Fund gives them everything. To Tutsi who have not studied, we give money for business! And now, where these young Hutu are struggling to find a soap, the Kagame police pursue them, abuse them, massacre them! Elysee IRADUKUNDA would have asked the police to give him a peaceful death, the bullet, instead of killing him with blows!

People are outraged and demand justice!

The people of the place of execution of Elysee IRADUKUNDA as well as his parents who came running, found the body of the victim lying on the ground with the bullets in the back, a sign which shows that the young man was executed while trying to flee or simply stuck on the ground as his friend reports. The entire population is outraged by this barbarity, they find that the alibi of the refusal to comply  is baseless not only because the policemen were three but also the appearance of the body testifies that it was quite simply executed.

Relatives and friends blame the police, demand justice against the police commander, who shot the victim apparently after the refusal of his colleague who implored his boss not to commit this crime. The pretext for the fight, as well as the attempted flight have become the sole explanation they always provide for the executions by the police. I remember that one day, when we were joking with the police on a case of a person who was apprehended during the week in memory of the genocide, with a machete while uttering words of hatred against the Tutsi, we got to say the guy is overwhelmed that he should go to jail for re-education. One of the policemen replied that  his fate was already sealed, it was not quickly understood. But a few hours later, it was learned that he was shot because “he was trying to escape.” And to be clear about it when  I asked the policeman why such a smudge, he replied that “a rotten potato must be thrown in the filth”.

The indignation of the population also goes to the place of “Volunteers” who only threaten the population. There are outraged on the attitude of the grassroots authorities in the Nzige sector who have not come, at least once, to offer condolences to the bereaved family. The population wonders even more, what they were doing within 4 days with the body of Elysée IRADUKUNDA, while they knew very well the cause of his death. The body was handed over to the family on August 12, 2021. The Executive Secretary of the NZIGE Sector, not only terrorizes the population who requests his resignation, but also, he has been mentioned in cases of adultery, misconduct which is not, unfortunately, an offence in the RPF regime! The people do not hide their fury and say that the day will come, when they can, with bladed weapons, do justice to themselves because we cannot wait for the population to be executed without any form of trial. In brief, they require that the commander be brought to justice, that the Executive Secretary of the NZIGE sector be sacked and that the volunteer militia be dissolved. The population does not want the presence of police officers, they are asking for military patrol; because the police, say the population, is similar to the Rwandan political parties milicians in early 1990’s.

Opposition in the country continues to condemn the violation of human rights by the national police and the excessive use of force by security agents to enforce measures to curb covid-19.

President Paul Kagame, in response to a person who asked him what he said about the bad behavior of some police officers, he said he himself heard that there are those who have bad behavior but that it is necessary to avoid any generalization on the whole institution. Kagame said “there are those who talk about the crimes committed by the Police, but I believe there is an exaggeration and it would be bad judgment if someone claims that this criminality is backed by the police or that it is a nationwide problem. ” President Paul Kagame reassured that this problem will be resolved, that he will do the monitoring and evaluation himself.

The most serious cases of murders committed by the Rwandan police 

first of all, there is wondered why Kagame is fooling the people by saying that he is going to solve the problem as if this is the first time he has been informed about this shameful misbehavior of his police. Here are two serious cases of murders committed by his police which revolted the international community but to which he turned a blind eye.

There will be no trial”

On July 20, 2007, the human rights champion Human Rights Watch (now HRW), deplores the deaths of detainees in dungeons which continue to accumulate to tarnish the rule of law in Rwanda. HRW says the number of deaths in police custody has risen in Rwanda where police officers have killed at least 20 people in less than a year. Alison Des Forges, HRW adviser, said Rwanda was claiming it was striving for the rule of law. But “Killing detainees is not the way to do it. The Rwanda National Police must ensure an end to these acts, ”she said. In a report titled “There will be no trial,” HRW talks about detainees shot dead by police. What seems shocking is the statement made by the then Commissioner General of Police Andrew RWIGAMBA arguing that in each case the detainees were shot dead during an escape attempt or while seeking to disarm the police officers, presumably while trying to escape. The HRW indicate that in the majority of cases this assertion turns out to be absolutely false.

The Kiziba shooting

Three and a half years ago, no justice has been rendered for the shooting of refugees in Kiziba camp, in Karongi in the west of the country, where Kagame police killed 12 people. What happened on February 22, 2018 was an unheard of horror.

The Rwandan police are accused of the excessive use of force against the Congolese refugees who nevertheless demonstrated peacefully reacting against the reduction of more than 25% of their food ration. And like father like son because the supreme chief of police, Paul Kagame gave a lesson: “To kill a mosquito, you have to use a heavy hammer”.

Recall that Kiziba is a Congolese refugee camp housing more than 17,000 people, it is over 25 years old. The demonstration is due to the reduction of the food ration by 25% due to budget reduction of the UNHCR and the WFP. The food ration has been reduced from 7,600 Rwf to 5,700 Frw, per person and per month. Thus 3 to 4 thousand refugees will leave the Kiziba camp on February 20, 2019 to walk towards the UNHCR office in the town of Karongi. Then following the clash due to the police blockade, the shooting ensued. The Police claim to have warned the refugees, who, despite this warning, “provoked the police and threw projectiles at them,” declared Theos BADEGE spokesperson for the Rwandan police. He continued, “It is important to know that when someone disturbs peace, they do not control the consequences of their actions.” The Kiziba shooting sparked outrage in the international community, but Louise Mushikiwabo accused the refugees at a press conference of mounting a revolt and being “extremely violent and trying to take hostages” . Instead of prosecuting the perpetrators of the shooting, more than 60 refugees were arrested to accuse them of all evils until the “spread of false statements to provoke hostility in international opinion vis-à-vis Rwanda ”. The National Human Rights Commission, organ of Rwandan government made a statement biased against the police and claimed that the police were “attacked as they tried to stop violence” and that the demonstration “had caused injuries and the death of some protesters”. But Lewis MUDGE of HRW, against all odds, did not fail to draw this conclusion, “prosecuting refugees  appears as a cover to relieve the real perpetrators of violence and abuse from responsibility. Rather, the Rwandan authorities should ensure that the investigations are independent and hold the police responsible for the killings they are accountable for”. So ends Kiziba’s comedy!

A very simple question to sum up this article: If Kagame did not prosecute the perpetrators of the murders of more than 20 detainees in 2007 and that the shooting of 12 refugees from Kiziba in 2018 was minimized, by the head of Rwandan diplomacy Louise Mushikiwabo to the extent that they took these refugees as violent barbarians who had to be guarded with guns like buffaloes coming out of the park, while they demanded the ration, will he really stand up to punish the perpetrator of the murder committed against Elysée IRAKUDUNDA alias NDIMBATI, this miserable “Bodaboda” as he promised? Or have the police received instructions to shoot these lower class people, this scum, because they are made up of miserable Hutus? Because if this young Elysée IRADUKUNDA had been a young Tutsi, the police commander would not have dared even raise his hand for a simple slap! Hopefully the autopsy that lasted four days didn’t turn public murder into suicide. Let us also hope that this time, the Rwandan judicial system will catch up and show that it is capable, when the supreme leader  orders that, to render justice. Once a thief, always a thief!