In Rwanda there exist different tactics used to silence Bloggers and other YouTube commentators. Some are offered bribes to broadcast information that bolsters the government’s line. But if they don’t agree to do that, threats soon follow. If threats don’t suffice, then arrest is likely. Or worse i.e. assassination. The present lines report a series of violations of human rights recently committed against three Rwandan journalists among many others.
Jean Paul Nkundineza
According to a statement from the family of journalist Jean Paul Nkundineza, who said that he had been missing since Monday around 10:00, they confirmed that he was found on Friday night. One of his brothers said: “We thank God that Jean Paul has already been found, he is now at home with Madame.” On Friday, his unnamed relative told BBC Gahuzamiryango: “We have been missing him since the 13th of this month at around noon and during those hours he was in Kyiv in one of the hotels we believe to be very safe. This relative says that they informed the National Bureau of Investigation, RIB, about their missing person. One of Nkundineza’s colleagues also told the BBC that “we lost him on Monday when he was at work at a hotel in Kyiv”, he did not want to say anything more. Jean Paul Nkundineza is one of the most famous journalists in Rwanda, especially on the YouTube website Jalas Official TV where he broadcasts stories about justice and the welfare of the people.
Nuhu Bihibindi disappeared
Journalists in Rwanda say that their colleague Nuhu Bihibindi has also been missing for more than a week. Nuhu founded and managed the online newspaper Umuyoboro.rw, he also worked for the Islamic Radio of Kigali, Voice of Africa. DW newspaper reports that Nuhu Bihibindi has been missing for “more than a week”. Anonymous journalists who spoke to the BBC said that the disappearance of these journalists, so far, is a story that scares them and they do not talk about it freely.
Gumisiriza John, a Radio Flash FM reporter working in Nyagatare District, was severely beaten by criminals who attacked him on the street at night when he was on his way home from work. This happened on Balija Road towards Police at around 4:00pm on Tuesday, February 28, 2023. A reporter named Kwigira Issa, who works with Gumisiriza, told IGIHE that the criminals who attacked his friend did not steal anything from him but injured his hand and hit him on the head.
He said, “He was not a normal person, the place where he was arrested is a place where they usually listen to people who appear to be thieves because they often rob women and girls of their purses and phones.”The Executive Secretary of Nyagatare Sector, Ingabire Jenny, told IGIHE that they learned about this information and took measures. He said, “The problem was in that area before the two lighting poles had been hit by a car and it got dark, then the District only worked on that area next to the natural forest, so it is possible that people enter and manage with someone who is going up the asphalt road. she added that after noticing that people are being kidnapped again, they are going to put a professional patrol there that will cooperate with other security agencies to solve the problem of people being stolen. The journalist who was injured by the criminals is currently hospitalized in Nyagatare Hospital.
Threat after abduction
On 02/17/2023, journalist Jean Paul Nkundineza was in front of the Gitega sector office sitting in his car and a group of police officers came near him inviting him to see someone who was trying to talk to him and who was in a smoked jeep. When he approached it, they pushed him in and handcuffed him. Shortly after they forced him to blow into the breathalyzer, which he did and they told him that he had reached 87% he was then kidnapped and thrown into a Rwezamenyo trading house where he was subjected to interrogation during which they accused him of disseminating information criticizing the Kigali regime and uttering death threats.
There are many tactics used by the regime of Kigali to arrest, torture or threat a journalist; this one used on Jean Paul Nkundineza whereby they lied to him that he drove a car while drunk whereas he did not drink alcohol would make the traffic police distrustful because it is proof that a person can be apprehended and accused for a crime he did not commit.
Journalist Nuhu Bihibindi was kidnapped on Friday, 10th February 2023 by Rwanda police surveillance team under Crime intelligence, a bloodthirsty police department led by Rwanda’s well known assassin CP Egide Ruzigamanzi. This issue is being talked about a lot in Rwanda but it is not easy to be written by Kigali newspapers. Now we write this journalist Bihibindi Nuhu RIB and the Police have not revealed where he is locked up. What are the real reasons underlying the abduction of this journalist?
First, Nuhu Bihibindi recently spoke on Radio VOA about the death of journalist John Williams Ntwali, saying that he was the one they talked to before he was killed by a car driven by a hitman that was sent by Kigali regime.
Second, security forces recently arrested a Rwandan named Djibril Katabarwa at Hotel Ubumwe Grande.
The young man had spent a lot of money in that hotel, causing concern to the spies working in that hotel, especially because the person who was in that hotel is a Muslim Rwandan who also lives in Kigali.
These concerns were brought to the attention of RIB and the person who rented a room at Ubumwe Hotel was taken to the RIB Cell.
During RIB’s investigation, they found that this man Djibril Katabarwa has a lot of money in his account; they continued the investigation and found a lot of money in Djibril’s family.
RIB found that there was more than four hundred million of money in his account. They asked him where he gets the money from and he said it is the family’s money because we all work and do business.
He explained that they trade so-called Bitcoin electronic money and profit from Mastercard Prepaid Multi Currency.
This led RIB to arrest his older brother Kalisa Omar, who they found to be in possession of more than a billion Rwandans in his account.
In short, many people have been caught working with this organization, including Christians who have been caught working in this way, as we have been writing about.
RIB had the problem of not having a reason to sue these people because no Bank has ever sued these people. They were accused of three crimes, including dealing with terrorist groups, and this crime is being questioned as to how they will connect with the Christians imprisoned for this business.
Journalist Nuhu Bihibindi wrote about these things and what happened next was that the RIB together with the Rwanda National Police immediately kidnapped this journalist.
Furthermore, Bihibindi Nuhu, as a professional journalist, wrote a story refuting RIB’s rumors where he accuses more than 200 Muslims and Christians of robbery after being arrested and kidnapped, some of whom have been in prison for almost a month.
Consequently, Journalist Nuhu Bihibindi wrote about these events and what followed was that the RIB in collaboration with the Rwanda National Police immediately abducted this journalist
Here in Rwanda, people are missing a lot these days, when someone goes missing from a holy place, he asks because he is afraid that he will also be disappeared if he asks. In a country where the president coolly gives speeches gloating about the assassination of political opponents, his 2019 warning to online critics that “they are close to the fire” and that one day “the fire will burn them,” will likely be taken very seriously.
It is not unusual for Rwandan journalists to go missing, or end up dead in mysterious circumstances. Having effectively muzzled traditional media, the Rwandan authorities have turned their attention to the new medium used to broadcast information: YouTube. What will be the future of the Rwandan press?