Connect with us

After spending one year in a Rwandan prison waiting for the country’s high court to decide on her case, Diane Rwigara feared the worst.

The 37-year-old told Sky News: “I will just have to accept it and go to prison because I guess that is the price that you pay for freedom.”

The former financial accountant faced a 22-year spell in jail for “inciting insurrection” and “forgery” after she tried to run in last year’s presidential election against Rwanda’s long-time president Paul Kagame.

Her mother, Adeline, also faced a 22-year term after sending messages that were critical of the government on Whatsapp to her sister and a couple of her friends.

But in a surprise judgment, the court found that both members of the Rwigara family were innocent.

“All charges… have been dropped. The court finds that the prosecution charges were baseless,” said one member of the three-judge panel.

The activist ran for president in 2017
Image:
The activist ran for president in 2017

While the decision will come as a great relief to both women, it will not erase what the pair have been through.

Ms Rwigara’s difficulties began when she declared her candidacy in Rwanda’s 2017 presidential contest.

Her 44-year old campaign manager, Thadeyo Muyenzi, went missing and has still not been found.

Then, nude photos – purportedly of Ms Rwigara – were published and shared on social media.

Finally, the country’s election board banned her from participating after they accused her of forging people’s signatures in support of her bid. Kagame won a third term in office with 98% of the vote.

Paul Kagame is credited with creating stability in Rwanda - but has grown increasingly authoritarian
Image:
Paul Kagame is credited with creating stability in Rwanda – but has grown increasingly authoritarian

Undeterred, the budding politician launched her own political party called the People Salvation Movement, but the police raided the family home – detained the accountant and her mother for the following 12 months.

Speaking to Sky News hours before the verdict was announced, Ms Rwigara said she was targeted by the state because she is prepared to challenge Kagame and his ruling clique.

She added: “This is what happens when you dare to have a different political opinion – a different view from those in the government.

“This is what happens if you don’t disappear like my campaign manager or get thrown into prison or lose your life. So yes, you do pay a price for speaking out in this country.”

Diane Rwigara was found innocent today
Image:
Diane Rwigara was found innocent by a Rwandan court

Paul Kagame, the country’s towering, beanpole-like president, has been widely praised for his role in providing stability and economic growth after Rwanda’s catastrophic genocide in 1994.

However, human rights groups and others have tired of his increasingly autocratic style.

Criticism of the government is rarely tolerated and in 2015, he engineered a constitutional amendment which means he can hold the presidency until 2034.

Amnesty International welcomed the court’s verdict on Diane and Adeline Rwigara but called on the Rwandan government to do more to protect freedom of expression and political debate: “[They] should never have faced charges for expressing their views.

“We call on the Rwandan authorities to build on this judgment and work towards developing greater tolerance and acceptance of alternative and critical views.”

Ms Rwigara, who is described as “fearless” by those close to her, is not about to apologise for attempting to hold Rwanda’s leaders to account. Nor is she likely to stop trying.

“I speak the truth, that the system is built on a lie,” she said. “They simply do not want to be exposed.

“The lie is that everything is well in Rwanda and I just talk about [the reality] which is the high level of unemployment, the high level of poverty, the disappearances, the killings, all that, and they are not ready for that to be exposed.”

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest News

Unhatched birds can warn other eggs in nest of danger by vibrating | Science & Tech News

Published

on

Unhatched baby seabirds can warn each other of impending danger by vibrating within their shells, scientists have discovered.

A study of yellow-legged gull embryos, found they reacted to warning calls from a parent and even passed on the message to siblings who had not heard the call.

The researchers collected gull eggs and divided them into groups of three.

A week before hatching, two of the three eggs in each nest were temporarily removed and exposed to a recording of a predator alarm call.

The noise was delivered four times a day at random intervals for three minutes at a time until hatching.

The third egg from each group remained in the nest in silence.

All three eggs were then reunited and left to hatch.

It was found the embryos responded to the external alarm calls by vibrating more.

This information appeared to be passed on to the third egg which had not been directly exposed to the sounds and it then mimicked the vibrations.

Experts from the Animal Ecology Group at the University of Vigo in Spain discovered all the chicks underwent genetic changes that delayed hatch time.

There was also evidence of increased production of stress hormones which is known to make birds more aware of their surroundings after hatching.

The findings were published in the journal, Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Source link

Continue Reading

Latest News

Bali arrests: Shackled Australians facing jail over ‘cocaine use’ | World News

Published

on

Two Australian men have been paraded in front of the media a week after being arrested in Bali on suspicion of cocaine use and possession.

Indonesian police are preparing to charge the pair and are currently searching for a third suspect after a series of drug raids in the village of Canggu, a popular nightclub area on the island of Bali.

The two men, who have been named as William Cabantong, 35, and David Van Iersel, 38, were led out in front of the media in hand and foot shackles, alongside local drug suspects.

Police acted on a tip-off, and said they found 1.12g of cocaine in the pockets of one of the men, as well as drug equipment including a set of broken scales.

The men bought 2g of cocaine for three million rupiahs (£172), according to police.

The pair have undergone days of interrogation and tests while in prison. Police say a blood test revealed that both Mr Cabantong and Mr Van Iersel were cocaine users.

Denpasar police chief Ruddi Setiawan told reporters: “We advise tourists, locals, and foreigners to come here for a holiday, don’t come to have a drugs party or to use drugs.

“We will take firm action if any foreigners resist. We will not be lenient.”

The men are expected to be charged under Indonesian law 112, legislation which covers drug possession. The punishment carries a possible jail term of between four and 12 years, as well as a fine of 800 million rupiah (£45,000).

The men hid their faces as they stood with others arrested on drug charges
Image:
The men hid their faces as they stood with others arrested on drug charges

It is understood that both Mr Cabantong and Mr Van Iersel worked as nightclub promoters whilst they lived in Australia before they travelled to Bali.

Indonesia is known for its strong penalties against those who commit drug offences. In 2017, Indonesian President Joko Widodo told police officers to shoot drug traffickers.

He said: “Be firm, especially to foreign drug dealers who enter the country and resist arrest. Shoot them because we indeed are in a narcotics emergency position now.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Latest News

Drug-resistant malaria strains spread through south east Asia | World News

Published

on

Strains of drug-resistant malaria are becoming more dominant in Vietnam, Laos and northern Thailand after spreading rapidly from Cambodia.

Malaria is caused by parasites which are carried by mosquitoes and spread through their blood-sucking bites.

And scientists have discovered a growing number of cases where the parasite has mutated making it resistant to drugs.

“We discovered (it) had spread aggressively, replacing local malaria parasites, and had become the dominant strain in Vietnam, Laos and northeastern Thailand,” said Roberto Amato, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

Malaria can be successfully treated with medicines if it is caught early enough, but resistance to anti-malarial drugs is growing in many parts of the world, especially in south east Asia.

The first-line treatment for malaria in many parts of Asia in the last decade has been a combination of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine, also known as DHA-PPQ.

Researchers found in previous work that a strain of malaria had evolved and spread across Cambodia between 2007 and 2013 that was resistant to both drugs.

This latest research, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, found it has crossed borders and tightened its grip.

“The speed at which these resistant malaria parasites have spread in south east Asia is very worrying,” said Olivo Miotto, who co-led the work.

“Other drugs may be effective at the moment but the situation is extremely fragile and this study highlights that urgent action is needed.”

Almost 220 million people were infected with malaria in 2017, according to World Health Organisation estimates, and the disease killed 400,000 of them.

The vast majority of cases and deaths are among babies and children in sub-Saharan Africa.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending