Abuses of Human Rights in Rwanda – January to July 2010

by Human Rights Watch

Monday, August 2nd, Human Rights Watch published a list of attacks on freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly in the run-up to presidential elections in Rwanda. The list which is not exhaustive covers the period from January to July 2010.

The document presents a chronology of incidents of violations of the right to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly in Rwanda, and related events, in the period leading up to presidential elections on August 9, 2010. It should be read in conjunction with the Human Rights Watch documents listed at the end of the chronology, which provide additional information on some of these cases.

The chronology focuses primarily on selected incidents affecting members of opposition parties, journalists and non-governmental organizations. It is not intended as an exhaustive list of cases. Human Rights Watch has documented additional incidents which are not included in this chronology.

Chronology of main incidents and related events

January 16
Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, president of the FDU-Inkingi opposition party, returns to Rwanda after 16 years in exile.

January to April
Victoire Ingabire is summoned by the police on numerous occasions and interrogated in relation to alleged collaboration with armed groups, in particular the Forces démocratiques pour la libération du Rwanda (FDLR). (The FDLR is an armed group active in the Democratic Republic of Congo, composed in part of individuals who carried out the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.) She is also questioned in relation to her public statements criticizing the government, leading to accusations of genocide ideology and incitement to ethnic divisions. These accusations relate, in part, to statements she made at the genocide memorial in Kigali, in which she called for massacres of Hutus to be acknowledged – in addition to the genocide – and for justice to be done for these crimes.

January to May
Local authorities repeatedly deny the Democratic Green Party (another opposition party) and the FDU-Inkingi permission to hold their congress meetings, one of the conditions for registering as a political party. Both parties are unable to register.

February 3
FDU-Inkingi member, Joseph Ntawangundi, is beaten outside the local government office in Kinyinya, Kigali.

February 4
Frank Habineza, president of the Democratic Green Party, is threatened by an unknown man at a Kigali restaurant.

February 6
Ntawangundi is arrested on accusation of participation in the genocide.

February 21
Meeting of the PS-Imberakuri opposition party is disrupted violently by members of a dissident faction.

February 22
Court finds three journalists of the independent newspaper Umuseso (Editor Didas Gasana, former editor Charles Kabonero and journalist Richard Kayigamba) guilty of defamation in relation to an article published in their newspaper, in a case which began in 2009. Kabonero is sentenced to one year’s imprisonment, Gasana and Kayigamba to six months each. All three are fined one million Rwandan francs (approximately US$ 1,755).

February 28
Former Rwandan general Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa goes into exile in South Africa and begins speaking out against the government and President Paul Kagame.

March 3
Deogratias Mushayidi, former journalist and exiled opponent of the government, is arrested in Burundi.

March 5
Burundian police hand over Mushayidi to the Rwandan authorities.

March 10
Immigration authorities cancel the work visa of Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher on Rwanda, Carina Tertsakian.

March 17-24
FDU-Inkingi member Joseph Ntawangundi appears before a gacaca court (community-based court set up to try genocide cases). After initially pleading not guilty, he changes his plea and confesses to participating in the genocide. He is sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment.

March 17
A dissident faction of the PS-Imberakuri names Christine Mukabunani as the new president of the party, in a bid to oust founder and president Bernard Ntaganda.

March 19
Mushayidi is brought before a court and accused, among other things, of endangering state security, collaboration with terrorist groups, minimizing the genocide, genocide ideology and divisionism.

March 23
Ingabire is stopped by the police at Kigali airport and prevented from travelling abroad.

April 5
In a Senate hearing, members of the Senate Political Commission claim that accusations of genocide ideology against Bernard Ntaganda are well-founded. The Senate had summoned Ntaganda on two occasions in late 2009 to answer accusations of genocide ideology, in relation to his public statements criticizing government policies.

April 13
The Media High Council suspends the two independent newspapers Umuseso and Umuvugizi for six months.

April 21
Umuvugizi editor Jean-Bosco Gasasira flees Rwanda after receiving repeated threats.

April 21
Ingabire is arrested on charges of genocide ideology, divisionism, and collaboration with terrorist groups, including the FDLR.

April 22
Ingabire is released on bail, but not allowed to leave Kigali.

April 23
Appeal court finds Gasasira guilty of defamation in relation to articles published in his newspaper, in a case which began in 2009. He is sentenced to a large fine and damages.

April 23
Carina Tertsakian’s second work visa application is rejected, the day before her legal stay in Rwanda is due to expire. She has to leave the country on April 24.

May 24
Umuseso editor Didas Gasana flees Rwanda after receiving repeated threats.

May 28
Peter Erlinder, Victoire Ingabire’s American defense lawyer, is arrested on charges of denying and minimizing the genocide, and malicious spread of rumors that could threaten national security.

June 7
Erlinder is denied bail.

June 17
Erlinder is released on bail on medical grounds.

June 19
Attempted murder of Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa in South Africa.

June 24
Bernard Ntaganda is arrested.

June 24
Several PS-Imberakuri members are arrested outside the US embassy and several FDU-Inkingi members arrested outside the Ministry of Justice in Kigali.

June 24
Umuvugizi journalist Jean-Léonard Rugambage is shot dead outside his home in Kigali in the evening. That morning, the online edition of Umuvugizi had published an article, based in part on information received by Rugambage, alleging the involvement of senior Rwandan officials in the attempted murder of Kayumba Nyamwasa in South Africa.

June 25
Police release some PS-Imberakuri and FDU-Inkingi members, but three FDU-Inkingi members and six PS-Imberakuri members, including Ntaganda, remain in detention. Several PS-Imberakuri and FDU-Inkingi members report being beaten by the police.

June 27
An additional PS-Imberakuri member is arrested.

June 27
Didace Nduguyangu and Antoine Karemera are arrested in connection with the murder of Rugambage. The authorities later announce that the two men confessed to planning to kill Rugambage to avenge a murder which he allegedly committed during the genocide.

July 2
Deadline for submission of presidential candidacies to the National Electoral Commission (NEC). The PS-Imberakuri, Democratic Green Party and FDU-Inkingi are unable to submit candidates.

July 6
Bernard Ntaganda is brought before a court and accused of several offences, including organizing demonstrations without official permission, endangering national security and inciting ethnic divisions – the latter two in relation to his public statements criticizing government policies.

July 8
Arrest of Agnès Nkusi Uwimana, editor of the newspaper Umurabyo, in connection with articles published in her newspaper.

July 9-13
The remaining FDU-Inkingi and PS-Imberakuri members are released, with the exception of Ntaganda.

July 10-12
Saidati Mukakibibi and Patrick Kambale, journalists with Umurabyo, are arrested. Kambale is released. Mukakibibi remains in detention.

July 13
André Kagwa Rwisereka, vice-president of the Democratic Green Party, is reported missing. His car is found near the southern town of Butare.

July 14
Rwisereka’s mutilated body is found on the outskirts of Butare.

July 16
Police arrest Thomas Ntivugurizwa, allegedly the last person to see Rwisereka, on suspicion of his murder.

July 20
Official start of presidential election campaigns. The candidates are incumbent president Paul Kagame (Rwandan Patriotic Front), Prosper Higiro (Parti Libéral), Jean-Damascène Ntawukuriryayo (Parti Social Démocrate) and Alivera Mukabaramba (Parti du Progrès et de la Concorde).

July 21
Thomas Ntivugurizwa is released.

July 21
Five PS-Imberakuri members are arrested in the party’s offices.

July 24
Two FDU-Inkingi members are arrested outside Victoire Ingabire’s house.

July 27
Mushayidi’s trial begins in Kigali.

July 28
Copies of the first edition of The Newsline, an English-language newspaper produced by Umuseso journalists from exile, are seized at the Uganda-Rwanda border. Rwandan police arrest the driver and conductor of the bus transporting the newspapers. The driver is released a few hours later. The conductor is detained for two days; he is released on July 30, but reportedly re-arrested the following day.

July 29
Three PS-Imberakuri members are released.

August 9
Presidential elections.

For further information, please see the following Human Rights Watch documents, all available at http://www.hrw.org/africa/rwanda

“Rwanda: Allow Independent Autopsy of Opposition Politician” (July 21, 2010 news release), http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/07/20/rwanda-allow-independent-autopsy-opposition-politician

Human Rights Watch’s submission on Rwanda for the Universal Periodic Review (July 5, 2010), http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/07/05/universal-periodic-review-rwanda

“Rwanda: Stop Attacks on Journalists, Opponents” (June 26, 2010 news release), http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/06/26/rwanda-stop-attacks-journalists-opponents

“Rwanda: Allow Human Rights Watch to Work” (April 23, 2010 news release), http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/04/23/rwanda-allow-human-rights-watch-work

“Rwanda: End Attacks on Opposition Parties” (February 10, 2010 news release), http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/02/10/rwanda-end-attacks-opposition-parties

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2 responses to “Abuses of Human Rights in Rwanda – January to July 2010

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