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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rwanda opposition leader arrested on genocide denial charges
Matt Glenn at 8:28 AM ET

[JURIST] Rwandan authorities arrested opposition presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza [campaign website] Wednesday, accusing her of denying the 1994 Rwandan genocide [HRW backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and collaborating with terrorists. Authorities cited Ingabire's call for the prosecution [AFP report] of those who killed Hutus during the genocide, in which over 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, were slain, as evidence of her denial of the genocide. Prosecutors also alleged that Ingabire has collaborated with Hutu rebels in the Democratic Republic of Rwanda, which borders Rwanda. The arrest comes at a time when current Tutsi President Paul Kagame [official website] has received criticism [press release] from Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] for his treatment of opposition parties. The United Democratic Forces (FDU) [official website], the party chaired by Ingabire, released a statement Wednesday condemning the arrest [press release]:


Such a barbaric and unlawful act against a peace loving mother who braved the system to show that there is another way to bring about lasting peace and development in Rwanda is not only a challenge to the conscience and dignity of the Rwandan people but also to the international community, in particular foreign governments who are sponsoring the government.

The UDF urged "governments and peace loving people and organisations to support us in getting our chair immediately and unconditionally released."

Rwanda continues to try those involved in the 1994 genocide. In March, an aid to Ingabire who had been convicted in absentia, pleaded guilty to genocide charges [JURIST report] in exchange for a reduced prison sentence of 17 years. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive] was established for the prosecution of high-level officials responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law during the Rwandan genocide. Last month, the Appeals Chamber of the ICTR affirmed the genocide conviction [JURIST report] of popular Rwandan singer-songwriter Simon Bikindi [Trial Watch profile]. The court also reversed the conviction for counts of genocide, murder, and extermination against Rwandan district attorney Simeon Nchamihigo. Earlier in March, the widow of assassinated Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, Agathe Habyarimana, was arrested [JURIST report] in France on suspicions of complicity in genocide and was later released on bail. In January, the Rwandan government released a report [JURIST report] concluding that the assassination of then-president Juvenal Habyarimana, which sparked the genocide, was the work of Hutu extremists.





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