Newswire : Rwanda jails women’s rights activist after presidential bid

Rwanda election
 Rwandan election rivals Diane Rwigara and Pres. Paul Kagame

Oct. 2, 2017 (GIN) – Diane Shima Rwigara, who took on Rwandan President Paul Kagame in recent national polls, has been arrested and sits in jail, charged with “offenses against state security and forgery.”

“These charges are false; and nobody in Rwanda believes the validity of these charges,” said Rwigara’s brother, Aristide Rwigara, who lives in the United States, speaking with Voice of America.

“It’s punishment to my sister because she was running for president,” he declared. “You don’t do that in Rwanda. You don’t exercise your constitutional rights.”

A police spokesman said Rwigara and her mother and sister face charges of tax evasion. Diane Rwigara additionally is accused of using fake documents while she was gathering signatures for (her) presidential candidacy. He said Rwigara had failed to respond to three summonses.

President Kagame’s party has faced criticism from human rights groups for harassing opponents and using intimidation to stifle dissent. After announcing her candidacy, nude photos of Rwigara appeared online, which she denounced as fake. Later, she was disqualified from appearing on the ballot due to an alleged lack of signatures.

Kagame later won that election with 98 percent of the vote to secure a third term.

During a recent talk at the Council on Foreign Relations, the President defended his human rights record. “You know, me as the leader of my own people, to be accused of violating their rights is just an absurd insult. But my answer is simple — is to do my best to serve my people the best way they can be served.”

Journalist and author Anjan Sundaram commented: “Initially, when Kagame took power in 1994, just after Rwanda’s genocide, a lot of observers were willing to make allowances for Kagame’s authoritarian style of leadership believing that it was justified in the aftermath of a genocide.” “And there may have been truth to that.”

“Twenty-four years since the genocide, however, observers are seeing fewer and fewer justifications for such authoritarian leadership.”

Under recent constitutional reforms, Kagame is eligible to run for two additional five-year terms as president after his current seven-year term ends.

U. N. chief cites ‘chapters of inaction’ as Rwanda marks 23rd memorial year

Rwanda poster

Apr. 3, 2017 (GIN) – The poison of intolerance still exists around the world, laments U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “Even today, minorities and other groups suffer attacks and exploitation based on who they are.”

Guterres sent his message recalling “tragic chapters of hatred, inaction and indifference” on the occasion of the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda.

“Preventing genocide and other monstrous crimes is a shared responsibility and a core duty of the United Nations,” he said. “The world must always be alert to the warning signs of genocide and act quickly and early against the threat.”

Halfway around the world, Rwandan President Paul Kagame was delivering a powerful and inspirational speech as Rwandans in the country and abroad began activities to recall the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and the killing of moderate Hutus.

The President consoled survivors, saying they still have a family in the nation that they belong to even if they lost their families during the Genocide. He reassured all Rwandans that no one will ever again be targeted because of who they are.

The Head of State delivered the message at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi, from where week-long activities to remember the Genocide kicked off.

“To remember is a must,” he said. “When you look back in history, as this was about to happen, when it was happening and afterwards, there are those who had a role in pitting people against each other. Countries, international organizations, individuals…

“But there are others who did what they could, or had to do.

“At the forefront (to defend Rwanda) were some Africans,” he said. “Also the African Union. Not too long ago, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African Union Commission Chairperson, stood up and said Rwandans shouldn’t continue to be targeted.”