Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Aristide Rwigara on his family's continued persecution

Aristide Rwigara has once again reached out to me to share the following verbatim statement. I have not verified the claims within. I am posting it as the persecution resembles that experienced by regime insiders at the dusk of the Habyarimana regime -- let's not forgot the importance of intra-ethnic elite in-fighting in Rwanda's recent and distant past. The demolishing of the Rwigara family hotel also seems to mark an intensification of the RPF's usual approach to dealing with loyalists turned critics; it now uses the rhetoric of respecting rule of law to justify its treatment of former allies.


Despite the fact that our family holds the permits that were required to build our hotel, the city of Kigali destroyed our building on September 12, 2015. Our family had attempted to meet with the city’s decision makers to resolve the situation, but we were turned down. We tried to prevent the destruction through judiciary processes as well, but we were forbidden from filing a case and exercising our legal rights.

In addition to demolishing our hotel, they have also dispossessed us of all the land our father left us.

Given that the city of Kigali is unmoved by the stark victimization of our family, and seems at ease inhabiting the role of bully in the public’s consciousness, our family wants to use this forum to ask publicly the following question: what crime have we committed that we should be punished so mercilessly and with such ruthless determination?

Our father was assassinated in a gruesome manner, and his children are now being made to endure the same persecutions he experienced for many years prior to his death. What has our family done to be targeted so relentlessly?

Our father had absolutely no link with any opposition party, and neither do we. So why are we treated like enemies?

Who are these people who do not mind entering the annals of Rwanda as oppressors of a widow and her orphans? And who are the veritable originators of these orders, using the city of Kigali to annihilate us?

We are asking for the perpetrators to come out as men and state the reasons for maintaining the Rwigaras in perpetual grief.

We are also asking the public, wherever you are, to please take notice of these gross violations of human rights and intervene in whatever capacity you can. Our family is a civilian unit, with absolutely no political involvement whatsoever, and our persecution cannot be explained away as repression of a political threat. So we are asking you readers to relay this question which was undoubtedly in my father’s mind as they were savagely murdering him: WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS ?

Aristide Rwigara September 12, 2015

Sunday, September 6, 2015

On Leopold Munyakazi and his ICE Detention

I have been working on the asylum case of Leopold Munyakazi. He was picked up by American Immigration and Customs officials on Friday afternoon, September 4, as the holiday long weekend was about to begin. I share here a statement from the investigative journalist Keith Harmon Snow. I agree with the general thrust of his argument. I think if Munyakazi is returned to Rwanda, it is likely he will be tortured. The trend of political opponents being tortured has been documented over the years by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, among other human rights NGOs, and there is no reason to believe Professor Munyakazi won't experience the same. Contra Snow's headline that Munyakazi will face 'certain death' on his return to Rwanda, I think torture is more likely. I also have no knowledge of the raid, meaning I do not agree with Snow's assertion that the raid on Munyakazi was 'gestapo-like.' My own stance is, and always has been, to base my analysis on substantiated evidencerather than speculation. That said, there is much to be learn from Snow's interpretation of what I believe is a politicized smear campaign against Leopold Munyakazi. You can read Snow's post here.