Arrest of Kizito Mihigo is another deplorable action to oppress reconciliation acts.
The Global Campaign for Rwandans’ Human Rights condemns the arrest of Kizito Mihigo, Jean Paul Dukuzumuremyi and Cassien Ntamuhanga.
According to the Rwandan Police they were arrested respectively on 11th, 13th and 14th April 2014
Kizito Mihigo is a renowned young peace and reconciliation activist as well as a musician. His work through his charity ‘’KIZITO MIHIGO PEACE FOUNDATION’’ has transformed lives of people in Rwanda, particularly prisoners and victims of genocide.
Kizito has also became popular as results composing songs that vehicle messages of peace, love and reconciliation. Kizito songs and work under his foundation has been powerfully driven by his strong Christian values and believes.
Kizito has recently composed and release a song in Kinyarwanda called ‘’ Igisobanuro cy’urupfu’’ meaning ‘‘the meaning of death’’ in English. In this song he call on remembering those who were killed during the Genocide in Rwanda and others who were killed in other circumstances other than genocide.
The video of that song became popular and got more than 30,000 viewers in 4 days. No other Rwandan music video has gain such popularity in short time. His song has afterword been criticised by the genocide survivors advocate group that is linked to the government. The group accused Kizito for promoting for promoting a double genocide theory and by mentioning other killings and offending genocide survivors during the genocide memorial period.
Kizito was forced to take out that song online and issue an apology to genocide survivors who might have been offended by his song. Kizito also promised to release a new song about the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Rwandan genocide.
These harassments that Kizito experienced are deplorable but they are not surprising considering that it is still a taboo in Rwanda to mention or to official remember people who were killed in Rwanda on non-genocidal assassination acts. Meaning those killed by the current government army. By mentioning remembering those deaths and calling on giving respect all deaths; Kizito committed an act of bravely considering the current government stands on commemorating people who were killed.
Nevertheless one of Kizito fans that had saved the video of his removed popular songs, re-uploaded it on line on 6th April 2014. The new video also immediately broke the records of the previous one in relation to number of viewers in short period.
Prior to the Police announcement of arrest of Kizito Mihigo and Cassien Ntamuhanga, we were investigating on their whereabouts as they had been missing respectively from the 7th April 2014 according to their families and close friends.
Despite that the Police repeatedly denied knowledge of their whereabouts, we believe that they had been illegally arrested and taken in unknown detentions for interrogations and released briefly so that they can be re-arrested and charged officially.
Considering declarations that the accused made on 15th April 2014 when paraded before the media without any legal representative and considering that they were missing few days before their official arrest date, we have reasons to believe that Kizito Mihigo and his co-accused through physical and/or psychological torture have been coerced to accept all terrorist related activities they alleged to have done.
We call on Rwandan government to immediately release without any condition Kizito and his co-accused.
We call on Rwandan government to support and learn from reconciliation efforts that Kizito and his foundation have undertaken in order to construct a reconcile and peaceful society.
We call on Rwandan government to understand that banned Kizito’s song popularity demonstrate the Rwandan people’ desperation of acquiring a reconcile country in which each person pain, fear and concerns are considered and dealt with in equal and inclusive society.
The Global Campaign for Rwandans’ Human Rights
Secretariat – London