Rwanda: The People Salvation Movement (PSM) and its founder, Diane Rwigara, including its creation, structure, leadership, objectives, activities and documents provided to members; treatment of members and supporters by the authorities (2017-March 2019) [RWA106263.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Overview

According to sources, in May 2017, Diane Rwigara announced her intention to run in the [August 2017 (Rwigara 2 Aug. 2017)] presidential election against President Paul Kagame (US [2018]; Rwigara 2 Aug. 2017; Human Rights Watch 29 Sept. 2017). Sources report that her candidacy was rejected by the Rwandan National Electoral Commission (NEC), which accused her of using forged supporters' signatures, including signatures of deceased people (La Libre Afrique 5 Aug. 2017; Africanews 15 July 2017; Cessou 17 July 2017). According to sources, Rwigara denied these accusations, stating that the NEC is "'not as independent as they say'" (Africanews 15 July 2017) or that the government was behind the accusations (DW 31 July 2017).

Sources report that after her failed attempt to run in the presidential elections, Rwigara launched the PSM in July 2017 (Africanews 15 July 2017; Cessou 17 July 2017; PML Daily 14 July 2017). According to sources, the organization aims to increase Rwandans' awareness about their rights (Africanews 15 July 2017; PML Daily 14 July 2017) and to denounce the "divisive politics" of Kagame's party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) (Africanews 15 July 2017). Further information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Information on the PSM's structure, objectives, activities and documents provided to members could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Treatment by Authorities
2.1 Treatment of Diane Rwigara and Family

Sources report that on 4 September 2017, Diane Rwigara was arrested by the Rwandan police and charged with forgery and tax evasion (Reuters 5 Sept. 2017; DW with Reuters and AFP 4 Sept. 2017). The same sources add that her mother and sister were also arrested for tax evasion (Reuters 5 Sept. 2017; DW with Reuters and AFP 4 Sept. 2017). The BBC reports that the three women were released on 5 September 2017 (BBC 5 Sept. 2017). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to Human Rights Watch, on 23 September 2017, "[a]fter several weeks of intimidation, questioning, and restrictions on their movements," Rwigara and her mother and her sister were arrested; Diane Rwigara was charged with "incitement and forgery" (Human Rights Watch 1 Nov. 2017). Other sources indicate that the arrest occurred on 22 September 2017 (VOA Afrique 3 Oct. 2017; The EastAfrican25 September 2017). According to the French-language service of Voice of America (VOA), VOA Afrique (VOA Afrique n.d.), the three women were accused of [translation] "'incitement to insurrection'" and, in Diane Rwigara's case, of document forgery in relation to her bid for the presidential elections (VOA Afrique 3 Oct. 2017). The EastAfrican, a weekly Kenyan newspaper (The EastAfricann.d.), also indicates that they faced charges of "treason, inciting revolt and revealing 'sensitive information'" (The EastAfrican25 Sept. 2017). Sources report that, according to Diane Rwigara, the three women were subjected to almost daily interrogations (VOA Afrique 3 Oct. 2017; The EastAfrican25 Sept. 2017) during the first three weeks of September 2017 (VOA Afrique 3 Oct. 2017).

On 5 October 2018, sources reported that Diane Rwigara and her mother were released on bail after having been in jail since 2017 (Al Jazeera 5 Oct. 2018; The Guardian5 Oct. 2018; Africanews 5 Oct. 2018). According to the US Congress' Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, in the pre-trial hearings that began on 6 October 2017 in Kigali, "[s]ome of the evidence presented against Rwigara [were] non-violent statements she [had] made criticizing the [Rwandan] government's human rights record" (US [2018]). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. According to sources, at the beginning of the trial, on 7 November 2018, Rwandan prosecutors had requested a 22-year jail sentence for Diane Rwigara (The EastAfrican7 Nov. 2018; The Guardian7 Nov. 2018; AFP 7 Nov. 2018).

On 6 December 2018, sources reported that Rwigara and her mother were acquitted by a Rwandan court of the charges they were facing (Al Jazeera 6 Dec. 2018; The Guardian6 Dec. 2018; Reuters 6 Dec. 2018). The court qualified the charges against Diane Rwigara [and her mother (The Guardian6 Dec. 2018)] as "'baseless'" (Al Jazeera 6 Dec. 2018; The Guardian6 Dec. 2018). On 12 December 2018, sources indicated that the Rwandan government, through prosecutor Jean Bosco Mutangana, stated it would appeal the acquittal (Africanews 12 Dec. 2018; AFP 12 Dec. 2018). On 9 January 2019, sources reported that the Rwandan Ministry of Justice instructed its prosecutors to drop the appeal (AFP 9 Jan. 2019; The EastAfrican9 Jan. 2019).

2.2 Treatment of Members and Supporters

According to CNN, approximately ten of Rwigara's supporters were detained after her arrest in 2017 (CNN 28 Aug. 2018). The source reports that a supporter stated that he was threatened by police to stop supporting Rwigara and that another supporter said that, on the same occasion, he was beaten by a group of police officers (CNN 28 Aug. 2018). Jambonews, an information website on [translation] "current events affecting the Great Lakes region of Africa in general and Rwanda in particular" (Jambonews n.d.), similarly reports that on 29 August 2017, Rwigara stated on her Twitter account that "many of her supporters had been tortured, imprisoned, and many had disappeared" (Jambonews 12 Dec. 2018). Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Africanews. 12 December 2018. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban. "Rwanda Prosecutor to Appeal Acquittal of Govt Critic, Diane Rwigara ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Africanews. 5 October 2018. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban. "Rwanda Court Grants Bail to Kagame Critic, Diane Rwigara ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Africanews. 15 July 2017. Ismail Akwei. "Disqualified Rwandan Presidential Aspirant Forms Anti-Kagame Movement ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Agence France-Presse (AFP). 9 January 2019. "Rwanda Drops Appeal Against Acquittal of Dissident Rwigara ." [Accessed 22 Mar. 2019]

Agence France-Presse (AFP). 12 December 2018. "Rwanda Appeals Acquittal of Kagame Critic Diane Rwigara ." [Accessed 22 Mar. 2019]

Agence France-Presse (AFP). 7 November 2018. "Prosecutors Seek 22-Year Sentence for Leading Rwandan Dissident for Insurrection ." [Accessed 22 Mar. 2019]

Al Jazeera. 6 December 2018. "Rwandan Court Drops Charges Against Opposition Politician Rwigara ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Al Jazeera. 5 October 2018. "Rwanda Opposition Activist Diane Rwigara Released on Bail ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 5 September 2017. "Arrested Rwandan Politician Diane Rwigara Released ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Cable News Network (CNN). 28 August 2018. Kara Fox and Edward Kiernan. "Diane Rwigara: She Wanted to be President - But Ended Up in Jail ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Cessou, Sabine. 17 July 2017. "Diane Rwigara, une voix critique exclue de la présidentielle rwandaise ." Le Monde diplomatique . [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Deutsche Welle (DW). 31 July 2017. Etienne Gatanazi. "Au Rwanda, les femmes qui font peur à Paul Kagamé ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Deutsche Welle (DW) with Reuters and Agence France-Presse (AFP). 4 September 2017. "Rwanda Police Arrest Presidential Critic Diane Shima Rwigara for Forgery, Tax Evasion ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

The EastAfrican. 9 January 2019. Ivan R. Mugisha. "Rwigara Welcomes Decision to Drop Appeal, Vows to Continue With Her Rights Crusade ." [Accessed 22 Mar. 2019]

The EastAfrican. 7 November 2018. Edmund Kagire. "Rwanda Prosecutors Seek 22-Year Jail Term for Rwigaras ." [Accessed 22 Mar. 2019]

The EastAfrican. 25 September 2017. "Diane Rwigara Arrested Again, Now Faces Treason Charges ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

The EastAfrican. N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

The Guardian. 6 December 2018. Ruth Maclean. "Rwandan Government Critic Acquitted of 'Baseless' Insurrection Charges ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

The Guardian. 7 November 2018. "Rwandan Who Challenged President Faces 22 Years in Jail as Trial Opens ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

The Guardian. 5 October 2018. Jason Burke. "Release of Rwandan Presidential Critic Raises Hopes of Political Tolerance ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Human Rights Watch. 1 November 2017. "Rwanda: Human Rights Watch Submission to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Human Rights Watch. 29 September 2017. "Rwanda: Post-Election Political Crackdown ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Jambonews. 12 December 2018. Ruhumuza Mbonyumutwa and Alfred Antoine Uzabakiliho. "Rwanda - Rwigara Case: An Outlawed State ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Jambonews. N.d. "À propos de Jambonews ." [Accessed 25 Mar. 2019]

La Libre Afrique . 5 August 2017. Hubert Leclercq. "Rwanda: Diane Rwigara, la fille qui défie Kagame ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

PML Daily. 14 July 2017. Jacobs O. Seaman. "Rwigara Now Lauches Political Movement to Challenge Kagame ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Reuters. 6 December 2018. Clement Uwiringiyimana. "Critic of Rwandan President Cleared of Insurrection and Forgery ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Reuters. 5 September 2017. Clement Uwiringiyimana. "Rwanda Police Arrest Critic of President for Forgery, Tax Evasion ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Rwigara, Diana Shima. 2 August 2017. "I Wanted to be Rwanda's First Female President. Then Fake Nude Photos Appeared Online ." The Washington Post. [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

United States (US). [2018]. Congress, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. "Diane Rwigara ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Voice of America (VOA) Afrique. 3 October 2017. "L'opposante Diane Rwigara inculpée pour 'incitation à l'insurrection' au Rwanda ." [Accessed 21 Mar. 2019]

Voice of America (VOA) Afrique . "À propos ." [Accessed 25 Mar. 2019]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources:People Salvation Movement.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; Belgium – Cedoca; ecoi.net; EU – European Asylum Support Office; Factiva; France – Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides ; IGIHE; Institut des mondes africains ; IRIN; People Salvation Movement; The Rwandan; Swiss Refugee Council; Umuseke; UN – ReliefWeb; University of Antwerp – Great Lakes of Africa Centre; US – Department of State.