Rwanda: Opposition Leader Diane Rwigara, Publicly Rearrested After Being Returned Home

Diane Rwigara and relatives rearrested after being returned home

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Diane Shima Rwigara, a leading critic of Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame has been rearrested along with her relatives, including her mother and her sister Anne Rwigara, a few hours after being returned home in the middle of the night by Rwandan security operatives.

Sources within the Rwandan National Police (RNP) told AfroAmerica Network that Diane Rwigara, who was arrested on August 30, 2017 along with her mother, sister Anne, a and brother had been in detention in a safe house, in the Nyarutarama neighborhood of the capital Kigali, until the night of Sep 3, 2017.

Following national and international media outcry (see AfroAmerica Network here ), the Rwandan police denied having arrested Diane Rwigara and her relatives and even defended the harassement of journalists by Government security services, including the Republican Guard, an elite force that protects the Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame and his family. On Friday Sep 1, 2017, the Republican Guard attacked journalists camped near the residence of Diane Rwigara's family in Kiyovu, Kigali, to report on the story on the arrest.

The journalists, that included an AfroAmerica Network correspondent, were chased by the Republican Guard and threatened of more violent actions against them if they attempted to return to the neighborhood. According to the sources within RNP, the objective was to make sure that Diane Rwigara's family will be returned in the middle of a night, without the presence of witnesses, especially journalists and then publicly rearrested.

After the journalists were expelled, The Rwandan police Spokesperson Theos Badege made a statement in which he said that Republican Guard “officers became suspicious of the movements of the individuals, approached and identified themselves, leading to a verbal confrontation.” He added that the incident was “clearly a case of mistaken identity and miscommunication... There should not have been misunderstanding as both the officers and the journalists were legally carrying out their respective duties... There was no reason to claim harassment. The RNP recognises the right of media to gather news, while respecting the law. In this case, no law was violated.”

However, following incident with the Republican Guard, journalists were not allowed to return to the neighborhood, until this morning's arrests. The arrest happened on September 4, 2017 at 5:00 AM local time. Mostly government run media journalists and a few independent journalists, including an AfroAmerica Network correspondent, were alerted of the impeding rearrest and allowed back into the neighborhood to witness and report on the arrest.

According to the sources with Rwandan National Police, the family had been returned to the compound in the middle of the night from the safe house in Nyarutarama. The morning arrest was staged to counteract the media coverage of the previous arrest and the inconsistent denials by the Rwandan police.

After the rearrest, the Rwandan National Police, through its spokesperson Theos Badege, was quick to say that : "This arrest confirms that all along we have been telling the truth. We had been waiting for this arrest to show that we follow the law."

Theos Badege and the RNP appeared even less convincing.