CHICAGO – Nov. 17, 2021 – Over the last 15 years, when human rights dissidents and journalists were detained, disappeared or found dead, Hotel Rwanda humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina spoke up and notified the International community about these human rights abuses. After surviving the Rwandan Genocide, Rusesabagina believed that he needed to be the voice for the voiceless. As he often said, “I did not survive the horror of the Genocide to be silent when others are being harmed.” Now Paul is in jail in Rwanda because he speaks out, and the Rwandan government is persecuting journalists who talk about his case.
Today, stories are coming out of Rwanda about the most recent wave of arrests of journalists, some sources indicate that part of their alleged crimes are reporting on Rusesabagina’s plight. Since Rusesabagina’s voice has been caged, #FreeRusesabagina is asking the international community, on Rusesabagina’s behalf, to stand up for the journalists who are being wrongly harassed and detained throughout Rwanda.
#FreeRusesabagina applauds Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists for calling attention to the plight of the journalists and hope that other NGO’s and governments will stand up for their rights. Journalism is not a crime.
According to AlJazeera, (Six arrested in Rwanda for spreading rumours to cause ‘uprising’ (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/10/14/six-arrested-in…)) the crackdown on YouTube creators “has had a chilling effect in Rwanda, where independent media has been quashed and other forms of free expression are strictly monitored by the government.”
They went on to say, “Critics have accused President Paul Kagame’s government of human rights abuses although it has had support from Western donors for restoring stability in the years after the genocide, and boosting economic growth.”
Human Rights Watch has been tracking the assault by the Rwandan government on journalists. According to their report, “Rwanda: Crackdown on Opposition, Media Intensifies (https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/10/19/rwanda-crackdown-oppo…)” Rwandan authorities have arrested nine people linked to an opposition party and a journalist in the last week, as they intensify their crackdown on opponents and critics, Human Rights Watch said. The crackdown appears connected to an event, “Ingabire Day,” organized by the unregistered opposition party Dalfa-Umurinzi, that had been scheduled for October 14, 2021, to discuss among other things political repression in Rwanda.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has taken up the cause of one of the journalists, Théoneste Nsengimana: Rwandan journalist Théoneste Nsengimana detained since October 13 (https://cpj.org/2021/11/rwandan-journalist-theoneste-nsengimana-detained-since-october-13/).
Their report said, “By detaining journalist Théoneste Nsengimana, the Rwandan government is exposing its intolerance for commentary that critically covers issues of public interest and airs dissenting voices,” said CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo. “Authorities should immediately release Nsengimana, drop all the charges filed against him, and cease harassing journalists for their work.”