As there was no evidence against Miss Leonille Gasengayire, the assistant treasurer of FDU-Inkingi, the court of first instance of Ruhango has ruled that she would be kept in detention for 30 days’ imprisonment, while the prosecution is looking for evidence to charge her. In its ruling, the court justified the detention on the ground that time was needed to gather evidence to prove her guilt.  Under normal procedures, the prosecution has to have evidence of guilt against the accused otherwise the accused should be released. The sentence is therefore part of a series of measures to harass political opponents and hence deter them from taking any initiative aimed at demanding the exercise of their fundamental human rights that are stipulated in the Rwandan Constitution.

Miss Gasengayire was arrested on August 23, 2016, while she was with her parents in Kivumu-Rutsiro in Western Province, where she was visiting her family  At the time of her arrest she was illegally detained without charges by a local commander. Eventually, the authorities accused her of inciting people to revolt against the government.

This is not the first time that Miss Gahongayire Leonille has been arrested. She was arrested in March 2016 at the Kigali Maximun Prison, known as the “1930″ where she had gone to take food to Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Chair of FDU-Inkingi, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence following a trial widely known to be politically motivated,aimed at preventing her from participating in the 2010 presidential elections and therebyrefusing to register her political party, FDU-Inkingi. Miss Gasengayire was illegally locked up incommunicado in a cell at the police station in Kigali-Remera. After denying any knowledge of her whereabouts, the Police released her after three days of interrogation. Before her release, the police authorities confiscated all documents deemed to prove her illegal arrest and detention.

This sentence is purely and simply arbitrary. A series of events shows that there is no hard evidence of guilt and that the authorities are buying time to concoct some charges. Indeed, after her arrest, the Executive Secretary of Rutsiro held a public meeting in which he urged the people to testify against Ms. Gasengayire, as no evidence of guilt was coming forward.

Collected testimonies contradicted each other. The first witness testified that he found the accused digging in the family farm while the second witness testified that he saw Leonille Gisengayire busy doing crops harvesting.  The prosecution claims that Miss Gasengayire was trying to encourage the people to keep cultivating their fields that the state is preparing to expropriate from owners. Up to date, one of the witnesses continues to cultivate his field without any worry while Miss Gasengayire accused of inciting the population to revolt against the government is still in prison. The question is who then is encouraging this person to cultivate his field?

As a matter of fact, the prosecution failed to do properlyits homework to be informed that Miss Leonille Gasengayire spent only one day at her mother’s home and the rest of her time with her sister in a remote village. Under such circumstances, she could not possibly have been able to cause public disorder in her mother‘s village where she was not staying. Her sister lives far away from her mom.

All these facts show that the indictment of Miss Gasengayire Leonille is baseless and that the aim is rather to continue to harass opponents and force them into silence. It is also clear that the regime is mostly afraid that the people whose lands have been taken away without proper compensation could take courage in claiming their rights. The real issue here is that the regime is trying to divert attention from the real problem by looking for scapegoats.

This is not the first time that people are arrested for exercising their rights. Last yearfor instance, students were arrested solely because of having written to the Prime Minister asking him to intervene in the case of their scholarships.

The political party FDU-Inkingi would like to ask the Rwandan government to order the immediate release of Miss Gasengayire Leonille and to end harassment and intimidation against its members. The FDU-Inkingi would also like to request the government to revise and clarify all articles of the law relating to inciting the population or disturbing public order, since these articles are regularly used indiscriminately to silence opponents and prevent them from claiming their political rights.

FDU-Inkingi calls upon the international community, donor countries of the Rwandan government, international human rights organizations and all peace loving people and champions of democratic values, who have any influence, to put pressure on the Rwandan government so that it may cease intimidation and harassment of members of the opposition and open up the political space.  Furthermore, FDU-Inkingi calls upon the Rwandan government to release all political prisoners, to open up the political space in order to allow the population to fully enjoy civil and political human rights that are granted by the Rwandan Constitution and the international conventions that the Rwandan government has signed.

FDU-Inkingi finally urges to its members not to yield to intimidation and continue to do everything in their power to bring the Rwandan government to the acceptance a pluralistic democratic debate.

Done in Paris, France, on September 14, 2016

Pour les FDU-Inkingi

Dr. Emmanuel Mwiseneza

2nd  Secretary general

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