Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Death of Col. Karegeya: Unending hunt for Rwandan refugees

By FAHAMU Refugee Legal Aid Newsletter
Submitted by Callixte Kavuro,
Chairperson of the Rwandan platform for Dialogue, Truth and Justice (RDTJ).

The Rwandan platform for Dialogue, Truth and Justice (RDTJ) is deeply saddened by and strongly condemns the assassination of Col. Patrick Karegeya, a refugee in South Africa on 1 January 2014 at Michelangelo Towers Hotel in Johannesburg. This senseless and cold assassination attests that Rwanda is descending into an irreversible brutal dictatorship by attempting to silence any dissident voice or political opponent, be it in Rwanda or in exile.

Col. Karegeya (former director of Rwanda’s external military intelligence and a founding member of the RNC (Rwandan National Congress)) was assassinated shortly after sentencing Ms Ingabire Victoire, presidential candidate and chair of FDU-Inkingi to serve 15 years imprisonment for calling for a fair justice for Hutus who were victims of the 1994 genocide, a culture of democracy, dialogue, unity and reconciliation between the main conflicting ethnic groups, namely Hutu and Tutsi. Other leaders of opposition political parties who were thrown in jail for political reasons include Deo Mushahidi (Chair of PDP Imanzi), Advocate Bernard Ntaganda (Founder and Chair of PS-Imberakuri), and former Minister Charles Ntakirutinka (PDR-Ubuyanja). The real opposition supporters are harassed, intimidated, tortured, or killed. Due to systematic discrimination and oppression, Rwanda is still producing refugees and this has led to the rejection of UNHCR recommended implementation of the June 2013 cessation clause by several countries.

The assassinations, attempted assassinations, abductions, and disappearances of refugees (who oppose and speak about brutalities of the Kigali regime or are potential witnesses of those brutalities) justify the reason why Rwandan refugees dread to return home. In South Africa, Rwandan refugees live under constant intimidation and fear of being hit by a death squad. For example, Lt. Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa was shot and wounded. He survived two attempted assassinations in Johannesburg on 18 and 20 June 2010. On 22 August 2012, Mr Frank Ntwari also survived an attempted assassination in Johannesburg.

In other parts of the world, a possible genocide was committed against Hutu in Democratic Republic of Congo when hunted by the Rwandan army, according to the UN Mapping Report (2010). Notwithstanding this, those who are victims of the Kigali regime sponsored terror and who lost their lives in the recent past include the following instances: Col. Theoneste Lizinde, Businessman Augustin Bagirimfura, Seth Sendashonga (former Minister of Home Affairs), Pasteur Musabe (former CEO of Rwanda African Continental Bank), Regina Uwamaliya (the sister of Col. Theoneste Bagosora); Col. Laurent Bangaya; Juvenal Uwilingiyimana (former Commerce Minister), Journalist Charles Ingabire, and Theogene Turatsinze. Whereas Deo Mushahidi was kidnapped in Burundi, journalist Dominique Makeli survived his abduction in Uganda.

In 2011, Rwandan refugees in Uganda submitted a petition to Mr Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that denounced and criticised a biased UNHCR recommendation to revoke Rwandan refugee status. This petition provided detailed information concerning Rwandan refugees who were assassinated, abducted, kidnapped or forced to disappear by the Rwandan intelligence operatives in Uganda. Due to threatening refugees, the representatives of the Kigali regime in foreign countries have, since 2000, been warned to stop their evil actions. In or around 2000, the South African authority warned the former Rwandan High Commissioner to South Africa, Col. Dr. Joseph Karemera for causing insecurity, fear and terror among Rwandan refugees living in South Africa. In 2011, Mr Ernest Rwamucyo, the Rwandan High Commissioner to Britain was warned by British M15 to stop murderous actions in the United Kingdom. On 23 October 2013, a Swedish District Court has sentenced Emmanuel Habiyambere to eight months for spying on Rwandan regime critics in Sweden.

The RDTJ appeals to the countries in which these heinous crimes took place to investigate them and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The culture of impunity is central to this unending hunting down of Rwandan refugees. It calls for the South African government, SADC, AU and UN to support a process of a suggested dialogue requested by President Kikwete and, recently, called by the FDLR as well as opposition parties so as to restore durable peace in Rwanda. A highly inclusive dialogue and a genuine reconciliation can put an end to the assassination of refugees, dissidents, critics, and political opponents and, thus, create a climate that can give life to freedom, individual autonomy, sustainable peace and development in Rwanda in particular and Great Lakes region in general.


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