Rwanda: Death of Rwandan Epitome of National Reconciliation Kizito Mihigo Should Be a Wakeup Call to Aid Donors to Review their Stand Towards President Kagame
When all peace loving Rwandans mourn the death in police custody of Mihigo Kizito, gospel singer, songwriter, organist, composer of sacred music, genocide survivor, and peace and reconciliation activist, founder of ‘’Kizito Mihigo Peace Foundation’’, the Rwanda opposition political platform calls on the international community and particularly donors to rein on President Kagame to end this senseless killings of innocent citizens who do not toe the government line.
The late Kizito Mihigo was an epitome of national reconciliation and his killing has demonstrated that the famous reconciliation policy of the government of Rwanda is a farce. Mihigo fell foul of the ruling RPF in 2013 after composing songs that questioned the government’s tight control of the legacy of the 1994 tragedy and policies. His two songs stand out: urupfu (death) and umujinya mwiza (good anger). In the former, he said that there is no good death, be it due to genocide or any other crime or the tool used to kill and that even though he is survivor of Tutsi genocide, he feels empathy for those who lost their loved ones due to other various forms of crimes. This defers from government policy which does not allow a remembrance of all victims of crimes committed by the RPF. In the second song, he called on survivors of genocide to desist from destructive anger and transform it into positive anger that propels them to self-rehabilitation, fight ignorance and poverty. The government wants to instil fear among survivors of genocide that more genocides are being planned by Hutus. He also indirectly differed with the government programme of “ndi umunyarwanda”: For Kizito a person must be considered as a human being first and then Rwandan.
The death of people or their disappearance from police custody to be found dead later is common in Rwanda. In 2019, a former Director of Finance in the Kagame’s office Mr Kalisa Mupende was found dead in a military jail. He had served a ten-year sentence in jail and was arrested when he was travelling to Uganda through the normal border post of Katuna. He had no travel restrictions but was accused of trying to flee. In 2018 a lawyer Donat Mutunzi, known to give legal aid to poor people whose land was grabbed by the ruling party stalwarts was arrested by the Rwanda Investigation Bureau in April 2018. He was picked on his way home on the 13th of April 2018 and the family tried to trace him at all stations and failed. The Police called the family on the 23rd of April 2018 informing it that he had committed suicide the previous night in these same police station. In 2015, Kagame’s personal doctor, Emmanuel Gasakure, was shot dead in custody by police. The police had no qualm of conscience to say that he was shot by a police guard while he was trying to grab a gun from a policeman.
Mr Boniface Twagirimana Boniface, former Vice President of FDU-Inkingi, mysteriously disappeared from the Rwandan maximum prison in October 2018, and the Police pretended that he had evaded prison while reliable information say that he was taken away by security men. The personal assistant to former President of FDU-Inkingi, Anselme Mutuyimana, was picked by police in uniform at 3:30 in the afternoon and his body was found dumped in the forest the following day. Another member of FDU-Inkingi, Jean Damascene Habarugira, was called to go to meet an intelligence officer in Ngoma barracks in eastern Rwanda on a Friday. Three days later, his mutilated body was found in mortuary of Nyamata hospital. Police has shot prisoners, alleging that they jumped out the pickup trying to run away. Yet the prisoners are in handcuffs and legs tied in chains when they are being transported.
Under the circumstances, there is no reason to believe that Kizito could have really committed suicide. For all these reasons, the result of the investigations that are carried out by the suspect i.e. Rwandan Police and Rwandan Investigation Bureau cannot be credible.
What the death of Kizito Mihigo has demonstrated is that the regime is on the brink and is prepared to eliminate anyone. In this regard we have strong fears for the genuine opposition and opinion leaders, inside prison or outside, are at risk of significant harm unless aid donors rein on Kagame to stop it.
The Rwandan opposition political platform calls on the international community to use its influence on the Rwandan government, to accept an international commission of enquiry to examine the circumstances of the death of Kizito Mihigo and other cases of extrajudicial executions.
President Kagame should also be very strongly warned against physical elimination of his political opponents Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Mr Bernard Ntaganda, Mr Barafinda Segikubo Fred, Miss Diane Rwigara, political prisoners Dr Niyitegeka, Mr Deo Mushayidi, 6 members of DALFA party in jail on trumped up charges and prisoners of conscience including General Frank Rusagara and colonel Tom Byabagamba.
The Rwandan opposition political platform believes that the long-term peace and development of Rwanda can only come through from a system of governance agreed upon through a highly inclusive dialogue between the RPF regime and the opposition, and not through repression inside and outside of Rwanda.
Done in Brussels on February 18, 2020
Chair Diplomacy Commission – P5-Platform
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