Rwandan Police Arrest Six for 'Publishing Rumors' to Cause ‘Uprising’

Rwandan authorities announced Thursday the arrest of six people for “publishing rumors” allegedly designed to spark a political “uprising,” Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

Rwandan police detained six individuals on October 13 including Nsengimana Theoneste, the operator of a YouTube channel called Umubavu TV. The YouTuber has previously urged Rwandans to “denounce human rights abuses allegedly instigated by the government against citizens” through his channel, according to AFP. In addition to Theoneste, police arrested five members of an unregistered opposition party in Rwanda known as Dalfa Umurunzi, which loosely translates to the “Development and Liberty for All” party.

Thierry Murangira, a spokesman for the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), confirmed the group’s arrest on October 14.

“They are accused of publication of rumors intended to cause uprising or unrest among the population,” he said.

“They have commonality, they are an organized group with the intention to spread rumors intended to cause uprising or unrest among the population using different social media platforms,” he alleged.

RIB issued a statement on October 13 in which it encouraged Rwandans to “be wary of social media commentators seeking to ‘undermine national security’ and the government,” according to AFP.

“Anyone arrested will be prosecuted in accordance with the law,” the bureau cautioned.

Dalfa Umurunzi’s founder and leader, Victoire Ingabire, claimed on Thursday that seven people — not six as stated by RIB — were arrested in this week’s raid.

She told AFP on October 14 the total number of detainees includes Theoneste, five Dalfa Umurunzi party members, plus Igabire’s “assistant.”

Another Rwandan YouTuber critical of the country’s government was sentenced to 15 years in prison on September 30 on charges of “inciting violence” through her video channel.

A court in Kigali, Rwanda, convicted Yvonne Idamage, 42, of six charges including “inciting violence and insurrection, denigration of genocide memorials, [and] spreading rumors and assault,” Africa News reported on October 1.

The court found Idamage guilty of having accused Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his government of installing a “dictatorship.” The YouTuber used her channel to accuse Kagame of “instrumentalizing” Rwanda’s 1994 genocide “without sufficiently helping the survivors… [and] of having turned the genocide memorials into tourist attractions,” according to Africa News.

The Kigali court, which also found Idamage guilty of hitting and injuring a police officer during her arrest, fined the woman $2,000 in addition to her stiff prison sentence.

Gabrielle Reyes