By: Jennifer Fierberg, MSW
Political oppression in not a new phenomenon in Rwanda and has been a part of the cultural fabric for decades. Unfortunately, this oppression has risen to another frightening level with news today out of Kigali, Rwanda of the disappearance of Sylvian Sibomana, the Secretary General of the FDU-Inkingi party. The FDU-Inkingi published a press release today (below) stating how the incident occurred. Sources close to Mr. Sibomana say he is a very outspoken opponent of the RPF and a supporter of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. He was present at many of her hearings and was sure of them achieving victory in the case against her.
This reporter spoke to the last known person to have had contact with Mr. Sibomana just before his questionable disappearance. The anonymous source stated that they had “talked via text message for quite some time” and “became concerned when the last message… was not delivered and is still trying to be delivered until now, which confirms that he has not been on it (skype) since. The message was sent 2:44 pm EST. Skype is still searching the network….to deliver the message.”
In one his last text messages to this anonymous source, Mr. Sibomana had sent the link, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61587.htm, to the U.S. Department of State on Rwanda. The link is the page of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in Rwanda from 2005-2006. The intention of this link was not clear to the source because the call cut off soon after it was sent. The anonymous source wondered if this was an obscure message regarding his safety and the safety of his party but was not able to ask him. The last pending SMS message between the source and the missing party member is still in “pending” mode as of Thursday evening in the U.S. The source expressed much concern for the safety of Mr. Sibomana and is shocked and worried by this news.
The FDU-INKINGI and the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) have common political platforms and recently some of the FDU have joined forces with the RNC to further their cause for a peaceful transition in Rwanda. Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa , Interim Coordinator of the RNC, says of the tragic developments today, “Rwanda is one of the most dangerous places on planet earth where citizens, especially national political opposition leaders disappear, are jailed, forced into exile or assassinated. The potential for these widespread incidents to trigger violence cannot be underestimated. We are calling upon nationwide peaceful resistance to these continued actions.”
The international community needs to awaken to the realities of what is happing in Rwanda under the leadership of the brutal dictator, President Paul Kagame. An investigation must be conducted by an objective and multinational team into the continued pattern of oppression towards political opposition leaders and journalist disappearances in Rwanda before another person is found beheaded.
Continuing to ignore these horrific displays of oppression will only lead to further tragedy in Rwanda.
Below is the Press Release by the FDU –Inkingi that was published on Thursday October 20, 2011:
Rwanda: Sylvain SIBOMANA, FDU-Inkingi Secretary General gone missing in Rwanda
OCTOBER 20, 2011
Kigali, 20 October 2011
Mr. Sylvain Sibomana, FDU-Inkingi interim party secretary general disappeared around 12:40 today in Kanama location, Nyundo Sector, Rubavu District (Gisenyi), Western Province. His last contact was done on mobile phone whilst he was assaulted by security personnel for unknown reason before he was taken to unknown destination.
The Rwanda national police spokesperson who was alerted on real time, advised to discuss the matter with the local police station. All our attempts to locate him in local police and military detention facilities are fruitless.
This happens when the court has just postponed, on the request of the defence, to next Monday the trial of our leader Madame Victoire Ingabire due to intensive court harassments and threats to the defendent and her lawyers by the presiding judge Alice Rulisa.