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Rwanda: Music Icon, Rapper and Government Critic Joshua Tuyishime aka Jay Polly, 33, Dies in Detention

Joshua Tuyishime aka Jay Polly's Umusaraba wa Joshua

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We are the captives of who we are and where we come from;  that we do not dare to speak up is not that ours brains are empty.  In life, a wise man watches out; the fact is that currently our hearts are full of pain and  worries". These are some of the lyrics that have allegedly landed the Rwandan renowned rapper Joshua Tuyishime aka Jay Polly, into a lengthy detention by Rwandan Police  since April 2021. On September 1, 2021, only a few hours after a court hearing in which his request for release while awaiting trial was denied, he was dead.  On social media and other circles, it is alleged that the music icon was killed for criticizing the Rwandan government for widespread repression against critics, being responsible for rampant poverty, ethnic discimination, and other human rights abuses and being connected to military leaders plotting a coup, including Gen Fred IbingiraRwanda Defence Force Chief of Staff  of the Reserve Force and  Retired Lt Gen  Charles Muhire.

Tuyishime Joshua, 33 years old, is a Rwandan renown rapper who perfoms under the stage name  of Jay Polly. He was among the few musicians who have dared to rap about the problems faced by the common people, especially the youth, in Rwanda. He has covertly accused the Rwandan government, led by General Paul Kagame, of widespread repression, stiffling of critics, and human rights abuses.   "Although we do not talk, it does not mean we are not  deeply suffering; But, as it is advised, a wise man and woman knows better how to keep control of their tongue,"  Jay Polly often rapped. In April 2021, he was arrested and accused of participating in a unauthorized party, breaking COVID-19 government restrictions.  

On Wednesday, September 1, 2021,  following a hearing,  aRwandan court set the trial date to December 2, 2021. Tuyishime Joshua  had requested to be released from prison on the grounds that his 30-day pre-trial detention period had expired;  he  was denied bail.

Hours following the court hearing, he was  transported to a local hospital, unconscious and in critical condition. He was later pronounced dead. The Rwandan Investigation Bureau (RIB) issued a statement alledging that he died after consumming a mix of alchool products used in haircare, water, sugar, and other products.  According to the RIB statement, other detainees who allegedly the deadly mix  with him were not impacted, at all.

Jay Polly's Death: A Reminder of Similar Deaths of  Music Stars and Government Critics.

Jay Polly's sudden death, after the court hearing and denial of bail,  has raised several questions.  Several observers and social media comments have alleged that  the Rwandan Investigation Bureau (RIB), may have assassinated the music star by poisoning. They refer to a similar case of another music star, Kizito Mihigo who died while in detention  (see AfroAmerica Network: wandan Music Star Kizito Mihigo Dies In a High Security Detention)

 Kizito Mihigo, a Rwandan renowned gospel and soul musician was  jailed in 2014 after he composed and sang  lyrics criticising the Rwandan government of using ethnic discrimination when recognizing Rwandans killed during the 1990-1994 civil war.   Some of the controversial lyrics included the following:

"There is no such a thing as “good death”. Be it by genocide or war. Slaughtered in revenge killings. Perished in a accident or died from illness. The dead loved ones, wherever they are, are praying for us. There is no worst thing than death. Even though Genocide made me an orphan. But it cannot make me lose empathy for others. They also suffered from crimes, not qualified as genocide. Those brothers and sisters are, too, humans. I pray for them. Those brothers and sisters are, too, humans. I remember them,” 

 Kizito Mihigo was condemned to 10 years on February 27, 2015. He was later released following clemency and then rearrested, accused of trying to flee the country. On February 17, 2020, The Rwandan Government sent out a press release, anouncing the death of Kizito Mihigo during his  detention. The cause of death, according to Rwandan authorities, was suicide. However, independent observers, family members and social media alleged that Kiziti Mihigo was killed by Rwandan security operatives, during his interogation and torture. The graphic pictures of his body and wounds, appeared to confirm the story of assassination and torture.

 

Jay Polly's Arrest in April 2021: Was is Part of a Major Crackdown on Government Critics and Military Coup Plotters?

After the death of Jay Polly, the attention has now shifted to another Rapper, former University Professor Aimable Karasira  also in prison and whose request for bail has been denied (see Rwanda: Former University Lecturer, Rapper, and Government Critic, Aimable Karasira In a High Security Detention). 

There is also a worry that Jay Polly was suspected of being part of a major conspiracy. In fact, when he was arrested in April 2021, other high ranking military officers were also targeted.  AfroAmerica Network sources had then learned that  arrests targeted military officers, trying to coordinate their plot activities to overthrow Paul Kagame's government  or flee the country.  The military officers arrested at the same time as Jay Polly in April 2021,  under the COVID-19 lockdown provisions include Gen Fred IbingiraRwanda Defence Force Chief of Staff  of the Reserve Force,  Retired Lt Gen  Charles Muhire, and other mid-ranking officers.

General Fred Ibingira was arrested on April 7, 2021 in Butare, Southern Rwanda, after an alleged secret meeting with a few military officers. Lt Gen Charles Muhire, allegedly under the cover of having a small party, held a secret meeting with military officers on April 24, 2021 at Pegase Resort Inn in Rebero, Kicukiro District in Kigali. When the DMI and Rwandan Police Special Operations unit learned of the secret meeting, they quickly arrested him along with a few other military officers. 

The Rwandan police spokesperson, contacted by media, including AfroAmerica Network correspondents in Kigali,  about the arrests, then tried to minimize the cases, simply saying that the generals were arrested due to "involvment in acts of indiscipline" and that the military generals were not be charged of any crime.  The spokesperson did not mention other military officers arrested along with the two (see Update on Rwanda: As Rwandan Dictator Paul Kagame's Health Declines, More Top Military Leaders Suspected of Planning a Coup Jailed or Under Close Watch)


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