Media and democratic rights violations in Rwanda

Follows is a media statement from Frank Habineza, Founding President, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda that outlines some serious threats to democracy in Rwanda. I call on our Australian Government to show international leadership by publicly condemning these acts of repression.

Media and democratic rights violations in Rwanda

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, would like to bring to the attention of the public the malicious reports of some media houses in Rwanda.

The party would like to point out that some people believed to be state agents have since, 30th October 2009, subjected our members to all forms of harrassment, intimidation and illegal arrest.

The same tactics are also now being used on the first opposition party, Parti Social Imberakuri (PS Imberakuri), which has confirmed a presidential candidate in the upcoming 2010 Presidential elections. They have started parading people on National Television and giving them free airtime exceeding 10 minutes, condemning a presidential candidate.

It’s sad that the same tactics refered to above are being used on PS Imberakuri and the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda. We request the gorvenment to refrain from these non-democratic means.

After 15 years in power, RPF should create a leveled ground and let other political parties freely work and participate in all national elections.

We strongly do not agree with the actions of RPF led government on the complete suppression of independent media and voice in Rwanda. The harassment has intensified, causing most of independent journalist to either free the country or face false imprisonment, harassment, beating, and so on. Also as a result, most post-genocide newspapers have closed down or are in process of closing down, due to various government policies aimed at suppressing the media and independent voice in
Rwanda.

UMUSESO and UMUVUGIZI Newspapers, are continuously and consistently been harassed and denied their media and press rights by the present government, an act aimed to see them closed down, they have been denied adverts from all public institutions an
act aimed at making them financially bankrupt and have been dragged to court several times.

The latest victim being Mr. Gasasira John Bosco, the Managing Editor of UMUVUGIZI Newspaper, who is presently in court for some charges of defamation. While in most countries, defamation is considered a civil case, the present regime in its efforts to check on people’s freedoms, enforce people’s fear of self-expression, self-censorship, and completely eliminate independent voice in the country; defamation has been legislated a criminal offence, punishable with up to five years in prison.

We strongly protest these actions and also request the judiciary to be independent from the Executive.

We call for a fair judgment and request the international community to observe these issues seriously.

Issued at Kigali, 11/11/2009

Frank HABINEZA
Founding President, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda/
President, African Greens Movement ( AfGM)/
Co-Africa Representative to Global Greens Coordination (GGC)

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