"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

2.11.2010

intimidation in Rwanda

Human Rights Watch lets Rwanda have it:
In the past week, members of the FDU-Inkingi and the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda - new opposition parties critical of government policies - have suffered serious incidents of intimidation by individuals and institutions close to the government and the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). One member of the FDU-Inkingi was beaten by a mob in front of a local government office. The attack appeared to have been well coordinated, suggesting it had been planned in advance.

"The Rwandan government already tightly controls political space," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "These incidents will further undermine democracy by discouraging any meaningful opposition in the elections."

The Rwandan government and the RPF have strongly resisted any political opposition or broader challenge of their policies by civil society. On several occasions, the government has used accusations of participation in the genocide, or "genocide ideology," as a way of targeting and discrediting its critics. The current RPF-dominated government has been in power in Rwanda since the end of the 1994 genocide.
And, really, what more is there to say than that? The lack of political freedom in Rwanda is unsustainable. Everyone - including the RPF leadership - knows it. It's simply impossible for a minority of a minority to maintain its grip on power when the vast majority of Rwandans don't support it and the international community has clued in to what the RPF has been up to in the DRC for the last few years. The best thing the RPF could do at this juncture is to allow a truly fair election on August 9 that is free of intimidation, violence, and manipulation. I am not hopeful on this count.

This week marks a year since the death of longtime HRW scholar-activist Alison des Forges in a plane crash in Buffalo, New York. There is no doubt that she would have given the RPF hell over the limits on political freedom they maintain in the country. Kudos to Human Rights Watch for doing her proud.

1 Comments:

Blogger Elizabeth Allen said...

Here's a deft take on the Munyakazi controversy. It also shows some of Des Forges's advocacy in a somewhat questionable light.

http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/doubt

Friday, February 12, 2010 10:39:00 PM

 

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