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Alba Iulia
Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Rwandan gospel singer and critic of President Kagame dies in police cell

General News Rwandan gospel singer and critic of President Kagame dies in police cell

One of Rwanda’s most famous musicians, Kizito Mihigo was found dead on Monday, 17 February. Kizito Mihigo, a popular gospel singer and genocide survivor who helped compose Rwanda’s national anthem, was found dead Monday in a police cell in the capital, Kigali.

He was arrested last week for allegedly trying to cross the border illegally into Burundi and was accused of trying to bribe the police and seeking to join “terrorist groups” there.

Rwandan police, in a statement quoted by semi-official Rwandan media, said the 38-year-old musician “used bedsheets to strangle himself to death.”

But on social media, many opponents of the Rwandan government voiced skepticism about the official version, saying the musician was killed by the police.

Human-rights activists are calling for a full investigation. There are growing concerns about human-rights abuses in Rwanda as it prepares to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in June, which is expected to be attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and dozens of other world leaders.

Mr. Mihigo had been a cultural icon in Rwanda – a hugely popular celebrity and peace activist who often sang the national anthem at state functions. But he ran into trouble with the authorities in 2014 when he released a song that questioned the official version of the country’s 1994 genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 Rwandans died.

The song called for Rwandans to remember all the victims, including those who were “slaughtered in revenge” – an implicit reference to the victims of Mr. Kagame’s army, which killed thousands of people in the mid-1990s as he seized control of the country after the genocide.

The song was immediately banned, and Mr. Mihigo was arrested a few days later. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for treason and conspiring to “murder or harm” Rwandan government leaders. He was released from prison in 2018 when Mr. Kagame gave clemency to more than 2,000 prisoners.
A police statement Monday said Mr. Mihigo had been in a police cell for three days when he was found dead.

“Kizito Mihigo’s death in custody raises serious questions that need a prompt and thorough investigation by the authorities,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement Monday.
“Too often, sensitive cases in Rwanda result in mysterious deaths or disappearances,” he said. “The investigation should examine the possibility that Mihigo could have been ill-treated or killed in custody.”

Amnesty International said it was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the news of Mr. Mihigo’s death. The Rwandan authorities “must immediately launch an independent, impartial and thorough investigation to determine the cause of death – including whether it was natural or accidental, or a case of suicide or homicide,” Amnesty said in a statement Monday evening.

Filip Reyntjens, a Belgian scholar and leading expert on Rwanda, said the diplomatic community in Kigali “must request an independent inquiry and post-mortem” into Mr. Mihigo’s death.

The Commonwealth summit is scheduled to be held in Kigali on June 26-27, with all 53 Commonwealth countries expected to be represented. Democracy and the rule of law are among the summit’s official themes.
Mr. Trudeau has often met with Mr. Kagame, most recently on Feb. 8 at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, where they “exchanged views on priorities for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting,” according to a statement from Mr. Trudeau’s office.

Last September, a senior official of a Rwandan opposition party, the FDU-Inkingi party, was stabbed to death by unidentified attackers. At least six of the party’s members have died or disappeared without a trace over the past three years, while nine others have been jailed on terrorism allegations. Amnesty International said the killings and disappearances are alarming and suspicious.

Source The Globe and Mail

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Politicians are evil and I keep telling you guys….all over the world…corrupt and dirty just like US Politics…before the USA used to lecture Africans about corruption it turns out its the most corrupt country in the world…remember what happened to JFK

  2. Rwanda is another dangerous country. Infact East African countries in general. Once a prominent opponent disappears that’s the end. Here in Zambia they should not even try that or else there will be trouble

  3. Sad sad sad sad. YouTube him, he is/was good!!!
    Imagine if Malembe Malembe dying at infamous Woodland Police Station, what would PF Defense Minister GBM say on such?

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  4. Rwandanese men are very cute in general, and they know how to treat women. how i wish we had such in Zambia. manje its just the likes of abena kaizer, malembemalemba, GBM awe sure. tefintu

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