Rwandan refugee journalists fear for colleague Jean Bosco Gasasira
KPFA Weekend News, 02.11.2012
KPFA Weekend News Anchor: On Thursday Lyn Muyizere, the husband of imprisoned Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, stood in the snow outside Dutch Parliament in the Hague with more of his wife's supporters. All wore pink shells the color of Rwandan prison garb over winter sweaters and overcoats, in the first of what they said will be weekly protests for Ingabire and all Rwandan political prisoners. Many of them, including Rwandan journalists, have been convicted of the same speech crimes that she is accused of - disagreeing with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his regime, and, disagreeing with the Constitutionally codified history of the Rwanda Genocide.
Yesterday, Rwandan journalists with political refugee status in Europe and North America reported that one of their own has gone missing in Sweden. KPFA's Ann Garrison has the story.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: On Friday, four members of Rwandan Journalists in Exile, a group with political refugee status in Europe and North America, sent a letter to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters without Borders, and Swedish authorities, expressing concern for their colleague Jean Bosco Gasasira, whom they say has been missing for a month. Gasasira has
not published anything since January 11th. None of his colleagues have seen or heard from him since January 13th, and one reports that his cell phone seems to have been disconnected. Until his seeming disappearance,Gasasira had continued to publish his criticism of Rwandan President Paul Kagame's regime from exile in Sweden, on his website Umuvugizi. His newspaper of the same name was banned in Rwanda in 2010, shortly after its acting editor Jean Leonard Rugembage, was gunned down in front of his home in Rwanda's capital Kigali. Rugembage had just published an investigation alleging that President Kagame ordered the June 2010 assassination attempt on his former General, Kayumba Nyamwasa, who was then living in exile in South Africa.
KPFA spoke to McDowell Kalisa, a Rwandan journalist also in exile in Sweden, who said that they don't know where Gasasira is, but that, if a crime has been committed against him, Rwandan President Paul Kagame will be Suspect #1.
McDowell Kalisa: For me or for anybody, the first suspect is the Rwandan government.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: McDowell Kalisa and others also report that the second most senior official at the Rwandan Embassy in Stockholm was given 48 hours to leave Sweden, in what they imagine might be a related development. In May 2011, Scotland Yard accused Kagame of sending assassins to kill Rwandan citizens in London, and the BBC reported that a Rwandan suspected of being part of the plot was prevented from entering Britain.
Reporters without Borders ranks Rwanda, a longstanding ally and military partner of the U.S., 156th, 21 countries away from the worst of 179 countries, in their 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index.