By: Jennifer Fierberg
“The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people.”
On October 25, 2013, former Rwandan Presidential bodyguard and RDF soldier, Lt. Joel Mutabazi, was abducted from a UNHCR safe house in Uganda where he was in hiding from the Rwandan government. He was under the protection of the UNHCR. The main task of the UNHCR is to protect vulnerable citizens from the governments that are trying to kill them. The UNHCR failed Lt. Joel Mutabazi. Six days after he disappeared from his home in Uganda the Rwandan police announced he was in their custody but the charges against him had changed. Prior to his arrest he was wanted for theft; upon announcement of his detainment his charges had changed to terrorism.
In the Rwandan government-controlled newspaper, The New Times, published an article stating that, “Mutabazi was arrested by Ugandan security agents along the Masaka-Mutukula road en route to South Africa where he is known to have close links with Rwandan fugitives there. They include Kayumba Nyamwasa, Patrick Karegeya and Jean Paul Turayishimiye–the latter an RNC member based in the US–who have also been linked to the FDLR militia in eastern DR Congo.”
These allegations are false and just part of the ongoing attack on any political dissent voices toward the Government of Rwanda. Any grenade attack in Kigali, Rwanda that has occurred is reported immediately in their local paper and media. Shortly after these reports they always report that a “suspect is in custody.” Lt. Mutabazi has never been in custody in Rwanda for grenade attacks so how has he become one now?
The government of Rwanda has a long and consistent history of diabolizing and harassing any dissident voices inside and outside the country. This fact is easily verifiable with a simple internet search of political prisoners inside Rwanda jails or of those who fled into exile upon learning they were suddenly an enemy of the state. When a political dissident or opposition group cannot be tied to criminal acts, which they never do, the Rwandan government will state that the group charged, “has links to the FLDR’ in the jungles of DRC. This is their ‘go to’ charge for any political or journalistic dissident voice along with “genocidaires” or “genocide denier.”
President Kagame has made it very clear that he will not ‘negotiate with terrorists’ when he was asked by President Kikwete of Tanzania to solve the issue of the FDLR by opening peace negotiations. President Kagame has refused any negotiations despite the fact that some members of the FDLR have returned to Rwanda, apologized, and now hold top government positions – under Paul Kagame! These ‘former’ members of the FDLR join the ranks of other top government officials – and President Kagame – in pocketing millions of dollars every year from an elaborate operation smuggling minerals from the DRC. Without the farce of the ‘danger’ presented by the FDLR, President Kagame could not justify his defensive forces presently residing in the DRC.
The Rwandan government has attempted to keep a firm hold on social media and journalists who report on the present political situation since they came to power in 1994. Government officials pressure journalists to portray any political opposition as a terrorist group. Since the start of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) in 2010, by four former top officials from the ruling regime in Rwanda, the government of Rwanda has fought hard in the media and national dialogue to portray this political opposition group as a terrorist group. All four of these men have been prosecuted and sentenced in Rwanda after the start of the RNC even though they had been in exile for many years. General Nyamwasa survived an attempted assassination attempt on his life in 2010. In their very revealing testimony, The Rwanda Briefing, published shortly after President Kagame was “elected” in 2010 by 93% of the popular vote, the leaders of the RNC exposed Kagame to the world for who he is.
The Rwanda National Congress emphatically states that they are a peaceful group that has no ties to any military group nor do they plan to use force to remove President Kagame from his position as head of state.
This writer spoke with Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa regarding the issue of contacting opposition and armed groups and he had the following to say, “We shall actively seek to talk to them, to seek a peaceful solution to the Rwandan and Great Lakes problem. We have been talking to the political opposition, and we shall talk to the armed opposition as well. We have made this public, and Kigali as well as the international community knows. We are building an alliance for peace, and we have asked Kagame’s regime to accept dialogue. Kagame has dealt with FDRL for a long time, for his own selfish motives to sustain his dictatorial power in Rwanda, and to justify belligerent actions in DRC. He has no monopoly in talking to Rwandans. It is the right of Rwandans to talk to each other.”
General Kayumba Nyamwasa stated to this reporter that, “We do not only seek to talk to our friends. I believe it is a cardinal principle, enshrined in the RNC objectives to ally with friends, but also dialogue with former and current adversaries. If Americans talked to the Sunni in Iraq, currently to the Taliban in Afgahnistan, then why should we not speak to FDLR? However, the article in TNT is a falsehood. The allegations against Mutabazi were fabricated. For Example, if he is guilty of what they are accusing of, why didn’t they go through normal extradition channels instead of abduction? Anybody opposed to Kagame is accused of terrorism, grenade throwing- Ingabire, Mushaidi, Kayumba, karegeya, Rudasingwa, Gahima, FDLR, Mutabazi etc. Remember Mutabazi protected Kagame (throughout the war) and his family for 19 years, where is the humanity and recognition of service on part of Kagame? Mutabazi joined the struggle as a child soldier, and later sacrificed his youthful years to protect Kagame’s family. Where is the appreciation for selfless service?”
General Kayumba further stated about the case against Mutibazi that, “Mutabazi was held incommunicado for 1year and half before he escaped. Why didn’t they charge him at that time? Did he rob a Rwandan bank while in exile? Kagame is hunting RDF ‘deserters’ who are escaping from war in DRC and those escaping mistreatment in Rwanda. Why doesn’t he in the same vain, arrest his son who deserted from Westpoint where a lot of Rwandan money was paid to mantain him in a prestigious college he had been admitted through back door?”
In a press statement, the RNC had the following press release regarding Lt. Mutabazi and the RNC:
Rwanda National Congress condemns abductions, by the Rwandan government, of refugees who sought protection in foreign countries.
Today, Rwandan Police happily announced that it abducted Lt. Joel Mutabazi who had a refugee status in Uganda.
This shameful act that Rwandan Government celebrates as success violates International Refugee Laws.
Rwanda National Congress, rejects claims by the Rwandan Police that Lt Mutabazi, and RNC are involved in terror activities in Rwanda. It has become a regular practice by the Rwandan government, to label opponents as criminals. These claims intend solely to defame the opposition.
RNC takes this opportunity to put all Rwandans, and refugees in general, on alert about Rwanda government illegal operations targeting lawful refugees and asylees.
The truth shall prevail
Jean Paul Turayishimye
During the process of writing this article to rebut the false allegation of the Government of Rwanda, Dr. Rudasingwa stated on the radio Monday night that two members of the RNC are missing in Uganda and have not been seen since last week.
The dance between the Rwandan government and refugees who flee for their safety continue. The UNHCR is letting down vulnerable people and seems not be able to assure their safety against this repressive regime.
Human Rights Watch is calling on the Rwandan government to answer for the unlawful arrest of Lt. Mutabazi. Time will only tell if Rwanda will provide the details of their illegal actions in Uganda and who was involved.