by Sixbert Musangamfumara
On Monday, March 26, 2013, within and outside the premises of the Supreme Court of Rwanda, Rwandan police assaulted opposition members walking to the appeal hearing of political prisoner Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, chair of the main opposition coalition, FDU-Inkingi. She was its presidential candidate in August 2010 and has been imprisoned since Oct. 14 of that year.
Ingabire is appealing to have the judgment against her overturned. The prosecutors are appealing for a harsher sentence, more than eight years. They accuse Ingabire of “genocide ideology” for asking that all the victims, not only Tutsi but also Hutu, be remembered at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
Seventeen people have been arrested, beaten and taken to different police stations and “safe houses” manned by military intelligence.
The party interim secretary general, Mr. Sylvain Sibomana, was badly beaten by Rwandan police officers, both inside and outside of the Supreme Court premises. In police custody at the Kicukiro police station, he was thrown against the wall several times, hogtied to a chair and kicked. Our colleague who briefly saw him in the station noted that his head and body are both severely bruised and that he had a broken tooth. They also said that his head and lip are both swollen, and that he can neither walk nor stand normally. We don’t know whether there is a reason to fear a fractured skull, cracked ribs or worse.
A few Kigali based diplomats visited the police station but were told that he was not there. This afternoon, British barrister Iain Edwards, one of two attorneys representing political prisoner Victoire Ingabire, went to the police station and stayed for hours, but he was not allowed to speak to Mr. Sylvain Sibomana.
Mr. Sibomana urgently needs independent medical care.
Sixbert Musangamfumara is the external relations commissioner for the Rwandan FDU-Inkingi Coalition of Parties, based in Finland. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the website at http://www.fdu-rwanda.com/.