Many journalists have been convicted of the same speech crimes that presidential contender Victoire Ingabire is accused of: disagreeing with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his regime, also known as “divisionism,” and disagreeing with the constitutionally codified history of the Rwanda Genocide, known as “genocide ideology.”
In January this year, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza returned to her native Rwanda to run against incumbent Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Many observers believe that she would have been the leading candidate had she been able to officially enter the race.
Violence, repression and human rights abuse continues to increase as 2010 elections approach in the East African neighbor nations of Rwanda and Burundi, whose ethnicity, politics and conflicts are closely intertwined. This week Burundi ordered Human Rights Watch’s researcher out of the country by June 5, after she published her report on political violence, “We’ll Tie You Up and Shoot You.”
On Monday, April 26, police detectives in Kigali, Rwanda, interrogated Didas Gasana, editor of the weekly African language newspaper Umuseso for eight hours. Gasana now fears extrajudicial abduction or a prison sentence of up to 25 years.
Today, 62 percent of the people packed into Rwanda’s prisons have been charged or convicted of genocide-related crimes and some of the country’s most admired leaders are being accused of the “genocide ideology” thought crime. Most prominent are Victoire Ingabire, Kagame’s strongest competitor for the presidency, and Paul Rusesabagina, the hero portrayed in the film “Hotel Rwanda,” who is charged with “Double Genocide Theory.”