Hutu have suffered for years from arbitrary detention and abuses by authorities for various reasons and now, increasingly, Tutsi survivors of genocide are subject to the same ill-treatment. On Saturday morning December 11, 1999, a young Tutsi woman genocide survivor was at home feeding her baby when she received a telephone call from someone asking directions to her house. The person purported to have a letter for her. Shortly after a young man, subsequently identified by the nickname Kazungu, arrived in a car with darkened windows and Ugandan license plates. Dressed casually in a jogging suit, he carried a two-way radio, a usual accouterment of one of the RPA elite. He asked her to accompany him to the national radio station to clear up some questions. She refused at first but eventually agreed to go with him after he threatened to have police come and take her by force.
Upon arrival at Radio Rwanda, Kazungu sought to intimidate the young woman into confessing that she had brought a news release falsely reporting the death of a local pastor to be broadcast on the radio. When she denied knowing anything of the affair, he threatened to beat her, to publicly humiliate her on television, and to have her arrested. She persisted in her refusal. Kazungu left the premises after having instructed two national policemen guarding the entry to keep her there. When family and friends arrived to try to free her, Kazungu threatened them as well and reportedly asked the national policemen to rough them up.
After several hours, Kazungu took the young woman to a police station where at Kazungu's insistence the officer in charge began the procedure for arresting her. Kazungu declared the arrest was necessary because the pastor whose death had been wrongly reported had complained to the station and was planning to sue it. When the young woman was able to have the pastor come to the police station to deny the whole affair, she was released, but she had to return several times after for hearings conducted by the police.
This abduction was tied to a conflict over property between two factions of a church to which the young woman belongs. The group opposed to hers had paid or persuaded Kazungu, a current or former RPA soldier now employed by Radio Rwanda, to abduct and intimidate her in hopes of winning some advantage in this dispute. In this case, the young woman escaped at little cost beyond a day of fear and distress. But she told Human Rights Watch researchers that she found the incident eerily similar to when people came to take her away during the genocide. The case illustrates the extent to which ordinary Rwandans, whether Tutsi or Hutu, are vulnerable to abusive treatment by soldiers or those who have ties with soldiers. The young woman has submitted a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission of Rwanda concerning this case.67
Many cases of abuses by soldiers or civilian administrators result from disputes over property. One man who lived outside the capital came to Kigali in March 1999 seeking to reclaim several houses which had been occupied by others without payment since 1994. One of the houses was inhabited by an RPA officer. As soon as he began proceedings to reclaim his property, the man was picked up and taken to the DMI where he was kept for three months. During that time he was interrogated about his property holdings, among other things. In a similar case two women came to Kigali in October 1999 to reclaim houses owned by the family in the section of Nyakabanda. A local official who lived in one of their houses accused them of genocide and they were arrested and held for nearly three months. Shortly after their arrest, the husband of one of the women was sought out and arrested in Gisenyi on a complaint from Kigali. The women were released near the end of 1999 and have succeeded in regaining possession of their houses, but the man of the family remains in prison in Gisenyi.68
The Arusha Accords, a peace agreement which forms part of the fundamental law of Rwanda, declared that persons who had fled Rwanda ten or more years ago or their descendants would not have their former property restored to them but would be granted land elsewhere by the government. Yet those who returned from abroad following the RPF victory in 1994 have displaced others from lands which they claim were theirs some four decades ago. Despite promises by the government to enforce this provision of the Arusha accords, many repatriates, particularly those who have connections in the government or the military, refuse to return the land and houses which they occupy and some have even appropriated more property in recent months. In the commune of Kidaho, a schools inspector used his authority to have four cultivators beaten and detained for several days in the communal lockup in order to force them to cede their lands to him. Subsequently the burgomaster and local police commander required him to return the lands, but only after the current harvestis in. Another schools inspector similarly appropriated the fields of five cultivators in the Maya sector of Nkumba commune. In Kidaho commune, an RPA soldier obliged eight cultivators to cede fields to his mother. A group of twenty-five cultivators in Kidaho commune wrote the prefect of Ruhengeri on February 19, 2000 asking his help in having fields returned to them which had been taken by two women and a man who were grandchildren of a chief in the area under the colonial administration. When faced with a similar situation where a group of local people had been required to sign over their fields to soldiers, the prefect of Ruhengeri promised to create an ad hoc commission to examine the problem.6967 Human Rights Watch field notes, December 11, 1999. 68 Human Rights Watch interviews, Kigali, January 17; Gisenyi, February 1, 2000. 69 Human Rights Watch interview, Kigali, March 20, 2000.