Since Monday March 16, 20120, the city of Kigali has resumed the operation of demolishing houses , without proper compensation, in the capital city’s poor neighbourhoods to give way to rich developers to erect modern housing estates. The owners are forced to demolish their houses under the supervision of local authorities, local police and the notorious DASSO (District administration security service organisation). Local authorities hire demolishers when owners dare resist or find it impossible to destroy a personal property that has taken years to develop. The victims are appealing to anyone who can advocate on their behalf to do so.

The victims reject the process that has been used to destroy their houses and accuse the authorities of “selling them to the rich people”, violating the laws of the land including the Constitution  (article 34) which stipulate that Private property, whether owned individually or collectively, is inviolable. The right to property shall not be encroached upon except in public interest and in accordance with the provisions of the law.  There must be proper compensation.

The victims are quite devastated for the following reasons:
•    The authorities are violating the constitution and other laws of the land by destroying private property without proper compensation;
•    The authorities made an arbitrary evaluation of the properties three years ago, half the market price; prices are not adjusted to the current 
•    Properties are destroyed even before owners have been paid low valued price of 3 years ago; They are only given 90,000 Rwandan francs ($94 US dollars or £80 UK). One of the victims said that he has a 5-bedroom house;
•    Worst of all the properties are destroyed and whole families are thrown out on the street, in this time of heavy rains in Rwanda and when all people must take restrictive measures to protect themselves against the coronavirus pandemic;
•    Children in these homeless families cannot attend school and are at very significant risk of getting ill because of the living conditions. One lady is heard crying out saying that she has 5 children, the husband has abandoned the home and that she returned as a caseload Tutsi refugee (her father fled in 1959) from the Democratic Republic of Congo with no relative in Rwanda. She has no other place to run to except going back to DRC.

We have received increasingly consistent and plausible reports of arrests of people who are alleged accused to have committed an offence by complaining to local journalists saying:
1.    We are made refugees in our own country;
2.    We have good laws which are not implemented properly;
3.    We don’t count only the rich count;
4.    This is greed, sheer robbery, criminal;
5.    We are witnessing terrorism and injustice;
6.    The local media and particularly national radio and TV fear speak out on our behalf;
7.    Our members of parliament don’t represent the interests of their constituents etc…;
8.    The government is in the pocket of the rich;
9.    The government is putting these families at risk of corona virus Covid-19 and should have delayed this operation.

It is quite shocking and contradictory that the government could be sending entire families to roam around while at the same time it is giving directives for people especially the most vulnerable to stay at home.

The victims are likely to be charged under article 194 of the Rwanda penal code i.e.: Spreading false information or harmful propaganda with intent to cause a hostile international opinion against Rwandan Government, art 204: causing uprising or unrest among the population or art 225 on illegal demonstration.

FDU-Inkingi would like to condemn this injustice and total disregard of the rule of law by the Rwandan government. It denounces this inhumanity particularly towards most vulnerable: children, single mothers, widows and the elderly.

FDU-Inkingi would like to express its outrage over the response of President Kagame to the cries of these victims. He said “In fact elsewhere they bring caterpillar machinery, “tinga tinga”; here you are afraid of doing it; you even fear somebody who has committed mistakes. Elsewhere they dip up the house and move the house and the owner inside. They dig up the house and move everything including people inside and they dump them somewhere” (translation from Kinyarwanda).

We call on the Rwandan government to redress the wrongs done to the people who have made homeless unjustly as soon as possible in order to save them from the health hazards to which they have been exposed.

We call on the international community to condemn these human rights violations.

Done in Rouen, March 20,  2020

Commissioner FDU-INKINGI in charge of Information and Communication
[email protected] ; [email protected]