Déogratias Mushayidi, has been imprisoned for 9 years, victim of oblivion. At a time when Dictator Paul Kagame pardoned more than 2,000 detainees, ACAT calls on the Rwandan authorities to make a humanitarian gesture and to release this nonviolent activist.
Déogratias Mushayidi has always campaigned in a non-violent manner in favor of peace and democracy in Rwanda. A Tutsi by ethnicity, he lost his family during the 1994 genocide, where more than 800,000 Tutsis were massacred. Mr. Mushayidi was then the representative in Switzerland of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the armed rebellion of which Paul Kagamé – now president of the Republic – was one of the main political leaders. At the end of the war, Mr. Mushayidi joined the general secretariat of the RPF in Rwanda. Noting extra-judicial executions committed with impunity by the RPF, he decided after 6 months to leave his post. He then began a career as a journalist in Rwanda and openly criticised the authoritarian abuses of the RPF.
Under the climate of threats, he went into exile in Belgium in 2000 and obtained refugee status. In Europe, he mobilised to bring together Hutus and Tutsis for peaceful political change in Rwanda. In November 2008, he founded in Belgium, the People’s Defense Pact (PDP) party, of which he became president.
The following year, he joined the African continent and tried to bring together the Rwandan diaspora. His trip stopped in March 2010 when he was arrested in Tanzania with an expired visa on a false Burundian passport. He was transferred successively to Burundi and then to Rwanda.
Déogratias Mushayidi forgotten in the Rwandan Prisons
Mr. Mushayidi was sentenced six months later, on September 17, 2010, to life imprisonment by the High Court of Justice after being found guilty, during an expeditious trial without prosecution, of “false statement for the ‘obtaining a Burundian passport, spreading rumors inciting civil disobedience and recruiting an army to attack the government in power’. He is appealing this political trial. In February 2012, the Supreme Court confirmed his sentence.
Since then, Mr. Mushayidi has behaved in an exemplary manner in prison. Without family in Rwanda (his wife and two children live in Canada), he receives few visitors. The international community and civil society have forgotten him and no longer plead his case since his detention was made official in Rwanda. While the opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire was released on September 15, 2018 (along with 2,140 other detainees), Mr. Mushayidi remains desperately imprisoned. However, he was never violent and always advocated for a Rwandan nation united in peace. Together, let us demand the release of Déogratias Mushayidi!
ACAT is a Christian human rights NGO created in 1974. Association law 1901, it is recognized for public utility and popular education.
ACAT aims to combat cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment worldwide, torture, judicial or extrajudicial executions, disappearances, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
It assists the victims of all these crimes, in particular by becoming a civil party before the criminal courts and it contributes to their protection in particular by all actions in favor of the right of asylum and vigilance with regard to removals which prove to be dangerous.