from PHYLLIS BIRORI in Kigali, Rwanda
KIGALI, (CAJ News) – AT least eight people, including one missing since February, have been threatened, arrested or prosecuted as Rwanda maintains a crackdown on commentators and bloggers.
The one missing is a singer-cum-poet, who posted his work on YouTube.
Poet Innocent Bahati (31) has never been heard off since February 7.
He was reported to the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), two days after he was last seen in Nyanza, in the southern province of Nyanza.
Lewis Mudge, director for Central Africa at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said Rwanda’s record of intolerance and violent retaliation against criticism raises serious concerns for the safety of the new generation of bloggers and commentators.
“The Commonwealth should not turn a blind eye to the repression of fundamental democratic guarantees and should pressure the Rwandan authorities to implement the reforms essential to protect freedom of expression.”
Rwanda is preparing to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in June.
Other bloggers detained or arrested include Yvonne Idamange, an Internet commentator, Agnès Uwimana Nkusi, editor-in-chief of an online news site, and bloggers Valentin Muhirwa and David Byiringiro.
Commentators like Yvonne Idamange and Aimable Karasira have also suffered threats for their comments on the 1994 genocide.
– CAJ News