Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rwanda: Former Top Kagame Aides Allege State of Terror

By Norman S. Miwambo
Black Star News
January 15, 2011

Rwanda Supremo: Gen. Kagame right, shown with former army chief Nyamwasa in happier days. Former aides claim Kagame presides over widespread terror.

[Global: Africa]

Paul Kagame, once praised as Rwanda's savior is now being denounced by former allies and comrades in arms as someone who presides over a murderous regime.

Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former army chief, Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa, Col. Patrick Karegyeya, Dr. Gerald Gahima, all learned that Rwanda's Military Court at Kanombe, near Kigali, on January 14, handed them prison terms ranging from 20 to 24 years. They had been charged with subversive activities, including--terrorism, creation of a criminal organization, treason, defamation of the President, incitement of ethnic division, and desertion from the army.

Rwanda authorities told The Black Star they will seek exradition of the men convicted in absentia.

Gen. Kayumba, who survived a widely reported assassination attempt in South Africa, and Dr. Rudasingwa a former Kagame adviser were each sentenced to 24 years imprisonment. Kayumba was dismissed "with disgrace" from the Rwanda Defence Forces. Col. Karegeya and Dr. Gahima each face 20 years behind bars.

“We reiterate once again that we are innocent of the crimes that we have been accused of,” said Dr. Gahima, who provided a statement to The Black Star News, adding that: “We have not committed any actions that contravene the laws of our country or aim to cause insecurity. Neither have we advocated change of government by unlawful means or incited ethnic division as the government alleges.”

Dr. Gahima also scorns the judges who heard the case--contending they did not have jurisdiction to admit and try a case against a military officer of the rank of Lieutenant General. The court sought to exercise jurisdiction over civilians without a legitimate basis, he says.

“The court convicted us in spite of the fact that the Government did not produce any evidence,” reads Dr. Gahima's statement in parts, adding that: “Other than our writings and press interviews that are protected by constitutional guarantee of free speech, to establish the alleged crimes.”

Washington-based Dr. Gahima, a former chief of staff to Rwanda’s Ministry of Justice and the country’s Attorney General since mid-90s, explained that: “We are not criminals; we are patriots who advocate for an end to dictatorship and advancement of freedom.”

The statement signed by Dr. Gahima, on behalf of his colleagues, further reads: “Our views on the situation of human rights and the state of democratic governance in Rwanda are widely shared by many in and outside Rwanda as well as the most reputable international human rights organizations.”

“The objective of this case is to suppress political opposition," he wrote, adding: “To deprive Rwandan citizens of the right of political participation, to consolidate authoritarian rule and to suppress the truth about the deplorable human rights situation and state of governance in Rwanda.”

“Many courageous men and women whose only crime is to advocate peaceful democratic reform have been subjected to all kinds of persecution, including torture, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment and extra-judicial killings,” he added.

He also cited what he said was the illegal incarceration of Lt General Charles Muhire and Lt Col. Rugigana Ngabo a brother to Gen. Kayumba, who is in an underground prison and was said to have been badly beaten and not allowed to see visitors.

He said President Kagame's critics such as former President Pasteur Bizimungu remains under house arrest and has been denied permission to seek medical treatment abroad.

“Charles Ntakirutinka, Bernard Ntaganda, Victoire Ingabire, and Deo Mushyayidi, a journalist alleged to have been kidnapped from Burundi by Rwandan agents," he continued, referring to those detained, including Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, a top opposition leader.

Separately, Dr. Rudasingwa, a former Rwandan ambassador to the U.S. and Director of cabinet until April 2005, when he fled the country, told The Black Star, by telephone in the United States: “The sentence just handed down against us in absentia by Kagame’s court tells more about the regime than about the alleged crimes against us. The gist of what we are saying is that these are politically-motivated sentences."

Dr. Rudasingwa also said that he and his colleagues do not intend to challenge the verdict: “We simply ignore it, because we didn’t get summonses, we didn’t go there, maybe if we were there, probably we would be dead because as you know two of us, General Kayumba and Patrick Karegyeya; there have been repeated assassination attempts.”

“The question of talking about these very serious human rights, especially, the idea of a head of state or regime, killing innocent

citizens,” Dr. Rudasingwa alleged, adding that: “Kagame is responsible for so many deaths of innocent people. This is not us, just claiming it.”

In a telephone interview, commenting on the issues, Col. Jill Rutaremara, a Rwanda Army spokesperson said: “Yes, the military court sentenced them and now we are waiting for their extradition.”

“We are going to use diplomatic means to have them extradited and serve their sentences here,” Col. Rutaremara said.

When asked about the evidence used to convict the former Kagame aides, Col. Rutaremara said: “According to the laws of the land, the evidence could either have been what they were writing in the press or what they were talking in public.”

The spokesperson also explained that, Gen. Nyamwasa and Dr. Rudasingwa were found guilty of allegedly forming of a terrorist group, threatening national security, undermining public order, promoting ethnic divisions and insulting the person of the President of Rwanda, contrary to Articles of the Penal Code of 1977 Presidential Decree.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

Related Materials:

Four exiled Rwandan opponents slam jail sentences

Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza in Rwanda: the year One of the struggle for democracy and dignity


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