Rwanda: Opposition leader charged with collaborating with terrorist group

On 22 April, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, leader of the opposition party United Democratic Forces (FDU-Inkingi), was conditionally released from detention and charged with “genocide ideology”; “minimising the genocide”;  “divisionism”; and “collaboration with a terrorist group”, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

Ms Ingabire, an ethnic Hutu, was said to be propagating genocide ideology after she called for action to be taken against those responsible for killing Hutus during the 1994 conflict. In police interrogations over recent weeks, Ingabire has reportedly been accused of meeting with FDLR officials in DRC and intending to create her own militia group.  She has consistently denied such allegations.

A US international lawyer advising Victoire Umhoza, Peter Erlinder, who is also president of an association of defense lawyers at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, was subsequently arrested on 28 May and charged with genocide denial.

Ms Ingabire, who plans to challenge President Paul Kagame in August’s election, has previously said she had been harassed since returning from exile  of 16 years in The Netherlands this January. Furthermore, Correspondents say the travel restrictions imposed on her could have a severe impact on her campaign.

Amnesty International urged the Rwandan Government to ensure that opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, receives a swift, fair trial on charges including genocide ideology and collaboration with a “terrorist” group, and is not punished for the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression.

“We have documented a number of incidents of intimidation and harassment of opposition groups in Rwanda in recent months,” said Erwin van der Borght, Africa programme director at Amnesty International. “Now with the arrest of a potential presidential candidate a few months ahead of the election, we call on the government to demonstrate that this is not another such case.”

(h/t ICJ)

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