The death of an assistant to Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire last weekend has sent a chill through those who still dare to challenge the status quo in Rwanda. Investigations by authorities into the death of Anselme Mutuyimana, who had only been released from prison six months ago, should be independent and transparent.
According to a statement from Ingabire’s party, the unregistered FDU-Inkingi, Mutuyimana’s body was found in a forest in northwestern Rwanda showing signs of strangulation. The Rwanda Investigation Bureau told Reuters that it has opened an investigation.
Mutuyimana’s death is the latest in a long line of murders, disappearances, politically motivated arrests, and unlawful detentions in Rwanda, especially of suspected government opponents, including those from the FDU-Inkingi.
Mutuyimana was first arrested in 2012 and accused of holding an illegal meeting in a bar. In January 2014, he was convicted of inciting insurrection, alongside the FDU-Inkingi’s Secretary-General, Sylvain Sibomana. Mutuyimana was released in August 2018, while Sibomana continues to serve his sentence.
Ingabire was sentenced to 15 years for inciting insurrection, after she tried to contest the 2010 presidential elections. She served six years before her release in September 2018, when President Paul Kagame pardoned more than 2,000 prisoners.
And the list continues.
In October 2018, the deputy leader of the FDU-Inkingi, Boniface Twagirimana, “disappeared” from his prison cell in Mpanga, southern Rwanda. He had been charged alongside several other party members with state security offenses, as part of a larger crackdown on free speech after elections in 2017.
And in March 2016, political activist and FDU-Inkingi member Illuminée Iragena went missing, most likely forcibly disappeared in unacknowledged government detention.
Both Iragena and Twagirimana are feared dead.
The reality seems to be that opposing the government in Rwanda remains a dangerous undertaking.