Letter to the Senate Subcommittee On Africa and Global Health Policy Expressing Concerns of Human Rights

The Honorable Lindsey Graham
290 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Tim Kaine
231 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Graham and Ranking Member Kaine:

The narrative known worldwide is that Rwanda has been achieving remarkable economic and social progress over the past couple of decades. However, the reality on the ground tells a different story. The economic facts of Rwanda described at length in a recently published report entitled Rwanda Vision 2020 Development Programme Scrutiny, presents a comprehensive analysis of the country’s development program objectives.

As a concerned citizen of the United States of America and a Pastor with a keen interest in all matters relating to Rwanda and the Great Lakes region of Africa, I am writing to express my concern over the deterioration of human rights in Rwanda. Recently, the Rwandan government has intensified its policy of openly harassing human rights activists globally and any dissenting voices emanating from and outside of Rwanda. Most notably, the assassination of the late gospel singer and reconciliation activist Kizito Mihigo. Recently, Mr. Theophile Ntirutwa came close to death after being targeted by a killing squad who instead mistakenly murdered Reverend Theoneste Bapfakurera. This murder took place on the outskirts of Kigali in Rwamagana, on May 11, 2020.

On September 6, 2017, Mr. Ntirutwa Theophile, the leader of the United Democratic Forces (FDU) in Kigali, went missing. He was held incommunicado for seventeen days until his family found him on September 23, at the notorious Remera police station. The regime often uses bogus charges against anyone who opposes it and consequently imprisoned Ntirutwa and several other FDU members. He served 30 months in a maximum-security prison, and then he was released on January 25, 2020, after the court found him innocent. After his release, Ntirutwa joined a newly formed political party, DALFA Umurinzi, founded by the former president of the FDU, Ms. Ingabire Victoire. On Monday, May 11, 2020, a pro-government killing squad attacked the compound where Ntirutwa lives and conducts business. Ntirutwa narrowly survived the assassination. Unfortunately, Reverend Theoneste Bapfakurera was stabbed to death.

According to reliable information from a human rights activist based in Kigali, the attack took place around 7:30 PM local time. Ntirutwa, with friends and family members, were surprised by a killing squad armed with traditional weapons and pistols. When the attackers arrived at Ntirutwa’s boutique, they asked, “Who is Theo?” There were two Theos in the same boutique. Reverend Bapfakurera Theoneste, who also goes by the name “Theo,” responded, “I am Theo!” Without any hesitation.

Consequently, the killers stabbed Reverend Bapfakurera to death. Ntirutwa hid under the counter as members of the killing squad stated: “Mission accomplished we can leave now.” Little did they know, they had killed the wrong Theo.

After the killing squad left, Ntirutwa called the police to report the incident. However, the police appeared at the crime scene two hours later. Ntirutwa was treated as a suspect rather than a victim of attempted murder. In the past Rwanda National Police and other security organs have been utilized to harass, assassinate, or made disappear perceived opponents of the present regime. Fortunately, Ntirutwa narrowly survived murder. However, the police arrested his wife— who was not at the crime scene. In addition, Ntirutwa’s sister, and two other survivors were arrested.

When the attack took place, the following people were present: Reverend Bapfakurera Theoneste (Ntirutwa’s landlord), Mr. Ntirutwa Theophile, Mrs. Mushimiyimana Emerithe (Ntirutwa’s wife), Ms. Mukantwari Francine (Ntirutwa’s sister), Mr. Hakizimana Frodward, and Mr. Rudasingwa Jean Bosco. When the police arrested Ntirutwa Theophile and his wife, leaving their two underaged children, ages 5 and 7, unattended.

In addition to the arrest of Mr. Ntirutwa Theophile, his wife, and other survivors, a progovernment hate Youtube TV channel and website based tabloid named my250tv.com claims that Mrs. Ingabire Victiore was the mastermind of the assassination of Reverend Bapfakurera because “he refused to join her political party DALFA Umurinzi!” Furthermore, a reporter named Ellen Kampire said, “I ask myself why Ingabire Victoire is not locked up because in [the] past she was involved in acts of murder. It is not only the assassination in Rwamagana she masterminded. She was the mastermind behind grenades attacks in Kigali! I think she should also be murdered because she masterminded crimes that took the lives of many Rwandans.”

The government of Paul Kagame coordinates media propaganda with investigations through the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), which serves as a government tool to crush all opposition. Mrs. Ingabire Victoire was summoned by RIB for investigation on Monday, May 18, 2020. I am deeply concerned that these charges are politically motivated by the government of Rwanda. Mrs. Ingabire Victoire and additional opposition members may face fabricated charges and possibly assassination in the coming days.

Unfortunately, killing or making members of the opposition party disappear has been a norm by the current regime in Rwanda. For a few years, squads killed Jean Damascene Habarugira, Iragena Illuminee, Anselme Mutuyimana and Syrdio Dusabumuremyi. Furthermore, Eugene Ndereyimana disappeared and Boniface Twagirimana mysteriously disappeared while he was in prison.

As a concerned Citizen of the United States, a Pastor and human rights activist I am requesting the US Senate Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health to use its leverage under section 116 of Section 503 of the Foreign Assistance Act to urge the regime of General Paul Kagame to cease its human rights abuse and become tolerant to members of the opposition and dissenting voices in Rwanda and abroad.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely, Rev. Dr. Innocent N Justice
Resident of the State of North Carolina
(980) 689-1839

CC

The Honorable David Perdue
455 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Rob Portman
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Ron Johnson 328
Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Ted Cruz
127A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Christopher Coons
218 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Cory Booker
717 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Chris Murphy
136 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

https://www.africanrescueministries.org

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