JOHANNESBURG, October 24 – Diane Rwigara, a leading critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame who was arrested on charges including inciting insurrection against the state, has been refused bail, Kenya’s Daily Nation reported on Tuesday.
The Rwandan court on Monday refused to grant Rwigara, who has been in custody since her arrest on September 22.
Her mother and sister were also arrested. All three women were accused of tax evasion and forgery as well as for inciting insurrection.
Rwigara’s mother, Adeline, has also been refused bail but sister Diane was released after charges against her were lifted.
Shortly before her detention, Rwigara accused the government of politically persecuting her for “standing against oppression and speaking my mind”. Rwigara was also blocked from challenging Kagame in August’s presidential election.
During the last few weeks, Rwandan authorities have launched a crackdown on political opponents and other critics.
The East African nation under Kagame’s leadership has been praised by the international community for its economic transformation and ostensibly bringing the divided nation together after the 1994 genocide, which saw at least 800,000 Tutsis, and moderate Hutus, slaughtered by Hutu Interahamwe militias.
However, criticism against his draconian leadership, where little to no political opposition is brooked and critical media is censored, has been mounting.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report “Rwanda Post-Election Political Crackdown” released at the end of September, accused the Rwandan authorities of arresting, forcibly disappearing, and threatening political opponents since the August 2017 presidential elections.
“The Rwandan government’s crackdown shows that it is unwilling to tolerate criticism or accept a role for opposition parties, and it sends a chilling message to those who would dare challenge the status quo,” said Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at HRW.
“With each arrest in Rwanda, fewer and fewer people will dare to speak out against state policy or abuse.”
– African News Agency (ANA)