By: Jennifer Fierberg, MSW
Rwanda’s political opposition is once again under attack. On January 3, 2012 reports out of Kigali stated that another grenade attack occured in a local market. With Grenades, unjustified arrests of opposition leaders, attempted assignations in other countries the oppositional parties to the ruling regime in Rwanda face an uphill battle in striving for peace and reconciliation.
On , 02 January 2012, The political party FDU-INKINGI published the following press release regarding the arrest of one of their key leaders:
Last night, a platoon of Gisenyi based marine unit attacked the residence of Mr. Gratien NSABIYAREMYE, member of the interim Executive Committee of FDU-INKINGI in charge of youth and resident of Rubavu District (Nyamyumba sector, Rubona cell, Kabiza village). The military personnel invited him to follow them to unknown location but he declined because they failed to display an arrest warrant or any other legal document allowing them to carry out night arrest. The house remained under military siege the rest of the night. Early morning he was forcibly abducted.
We don’t know whether this kidnapping is related or not to a motorbike accident that occurred yesterday in his direct neighborhood. Because that time, to residents insisting to impound themselves the motorbike, he advised them to get in touch with local security staff.
FDU-INKINGI has engaged Gisenyi senior police authorities and the national police spokesperson with no help. Eye witnesses reported that Mr. Gratien NSABIYAREMYE was severely beaten by a military officer named Captain RUTABURINGOGA.
FDU-INKINGI is seriously concerned by this unrelenting persecution of our leaders and members. We are ashamed by this behavior of members of the army involved in brutal kidnapping of innocent citizens. We call upon the government to ensure that Gratien NSABIYAREMYE is safe and to investigate this case.
Interim Vice President
In a later statement by the FDU-INKINGI they had the following statement of events the night Mr. Nsabiyaremye was arrested:
“Early in the morning before sunrise, about fifty men in uniform, probably the same people who were there that night, surrounded the home of Nsabiyaremye, and long shots beat the latter to his family before arrest him and take him to a place that remains up to now unknown. From reliable sources, we learn that the soldiers who carried out the kidnapping of Nsabiyaremye, acting on the orders of Captain Rutaburingoga, which was seen at the place of arrest, and took part in much of hype before Nsabiyaremye of the board.”
In response to the horrific terrorist grenade attacks, the Rwanda National Congress just published the following statement:
RWANDA NATIONAL CONGRESS CONDEMNS GRENADE ATTACKS IN KIGALI, RWANDA
Once again grenade attacks in Kigali on 3rd January 2012 have left 20 innocent Rwandans wounded and an unspecified number dead. The Rwanda National Congress condemns the perpetrators of this cowardly act. Many innocent Rwandan lives have been lost or wounded from these repeated grenade attacks since last year. None of these have been investigated and perpetrators brought to justice. Either the government is implicated in these periodic grenade attacks, so as to find pretext to crack down on the political opposition at a time of dwindling internal and foreign support, or the regime has lost the ability to protect its citizens. Either way this continuing loss of life is a matter of grave concern and Rwandans must unite, mobilise and organise to end it as soon as possible through peaceful and democratic means. We also call upon the international community to demand from Kigali a full and expeditious investigation to bring to justice the perpetrators of this and previous grenade attacks.
On behalf of the leadership and members of the Rwanda National Congress, we express our with sincere and heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the wounded and deceased Rwandans. In this time of grief and sorrow, we pray that the victims’ families will sermon the strength to remain united and strong in the hope that these dangerous times will come to pass. These grenade attacks, like other state-inspired and organised crimes against innocent citizens, are acts of terror whose main aim is to instill fear, and prolong dictatorship. Rwandans must reject to be intimidated into fear and inaction.
Rwandans shall win!
Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa
Rwanda National Congress
In light of the grenade attacks it begs the question, Where is President Paul Kagame? When a country is under attack or has faced an attack of this magnitude why has the president not made a statement to his people? President Paul Kagame is currently in the UAE on official business but surely he could have taken time to send a message of hope to his people, condolences to the families of the victims or even a written statement of some kind to the country he serves and that elected him at more than 93%. Yet, as usual President Kagame remains silent in the face of these acts on Rwandan soil.
Many other groups have come out in condemnation but the leader of the country remains silent in the face of violence. Yet, President Paul Kagame is quick to jump to any public opportunity to defend himself and any reports of a negative nature about his country as he did in the National Dialogue last month or the press conference also in November of 2011 in Uganda.
Yet, as many outsiders who study Rwanda know that Kagame is Rwanda and Rwanda is Kagame. Nothing happens politically or militarily without his direct approval.
Most troubling, or telling, is the yet to be confirmed reports that that Alfred Nsengumuremyi, a leader in the opposition party PS- Imberakuri- has been killed by the today’s grenade attacks in Kigali.
Could the constant attacks and repression of the oppositional parties be a way of proving President Kagame’s point that it is all preemptive in order to avoid a “Rwanda Spring?” As an anonymous blogger stated, “When you rule by terror, once in a while you got to kill a few people to deliver your point.”