Where is Diane Shima Rwigara? Authorities in Rwanda deny that the opposition political figure who sought to run against newly elected President Paul Kagame is detained, but multiple accounts from witnesses and family members in recent days dispute their claims.
Now the humanitarian organization People Salvation Movement, founded by Rwigara in the wake of her quashed campaign, is asking for answers and calling on Rwandans to take up the cause.
“We are urging the Rwandan Government to release Diane Rwigara, immediately and unconditionally,” said Raymond Kayitare, the organization’s media coordinator, in a statement posted to Facebook Thursday.
“This platform is a place close to Diane’s heart to express her ideas and ideals even if the regime wants to silence her by throwing her to jail,” Kayitare added. “Rwandans should stand up and tell the government that enough is enough and fight for their rights.”
Rwandan police told Reuters media on Wednesday that Rwigara was under investigation for tax evasion and forgery, and her family home in Kigali had been searched. But police spokesman Theos Badege dismissed reports that she was placed under arrest. A brother living in the United States told media that Rwigara and four family members disappeared on Tuesday and remained unavailable by telephone.
Rwigara has said that following the National Electoral Commission’s disputed decision to disqualify her from running for office, her bank accounts were frozen and her family business was closed when authorities “suddenly remembered” an outstanding tax debt of USD$6.7 million.
In the same interview with the Washington Post in early August, the outspoken Kagame critic warned that he would be “crowned as an undisputed king of Rwanda” and continue to rule by repression.
The NEC decision to disqualify Rwigara, who was required to collect specific numbers of endorsement signatures from Rwandan citizens, also led to allegations that some of those signatures were forged. Rwigara has denied that was the case and said the charges are consistent with the pressure applied when she decided to run for office.
To view the complete People Salvation Movement statement see this link.
Image: People Salvation Movement