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Who was Anselme Mutuyimana, a political opponent assassinated in Rwanda?

Who was Anselme Mutuyimana, a political opponent assassinated in Rwanda?

On Saturday 09 March at midday, Victoire Ingabire, president of the Inkingi United Democratic Forces (UDF-Inkingi), announced on her social media accounts the murder of her right-hand man Anselme Mutuyimana. His body was found in Gishwati forest on March 09, he would have been killed in the night of 08 to 09 March. In this article, Jambonews gives an insight into the personality of the thirty-year-old, who wanted to contribute to the improvement of the Rwandan society and the latest news about the circumstances of his death.

Anselme Mutuyimana was born in the Nyabirasi sector, in the Rutsiro district of Rwanda’s Western province. He was 21 years old when he joined the UDF-Inkingi party in 2010. A student at the time, he was struck by the daily misery of the population and the deterioration of the conditions and quality of the education system in Rwanda. He wanted to participate and help improving things and decided then to enter in politics. Voir l’image sur Twitter

A dynamic and man of conviction

Anselme Mutuyimana

Two years after joining the opposition party, Anselme (24) was arrested on 15 September 2012 at his home in Rutsiro by the police and charged for belonging to an illegal political organization[1]. He was regarded as the leader of the UDF-Inkingi branch in his district. Anselme was later sentenced to a 6-year prison, one of the longest prison sentences handed down to a UDF-Inkingi member in Rwanda. According to Victoire Ingabire, “They [the authorities of the RPF regime, editor’s note] knew that Anselme was a person with great ideas, a person of convictions, a person who would not let himself be manipulated. He was very dynamic and had mobilized the youth in a very short period of time. While a student, he had been able to mobilize his former classmates from primary school, secondary school and university. They [his comrades] had understood the importance of founding a democratic movement in Rwanda that ensures that citizens can live freely.”[2]  In prison, Anselme endured a lot of mental and physical pressure, ranging from attempts at corruption, various deprivations, threats against his family and torture. To all this he replied to those who inflicted upon him, “My soul is not for sale, go look elsewhere;” testify the members of his party. Anselme spent 6 years in prison and was released in 2018 shortly before Victoire Ingabire was released. While in prison he lost his mother, who died short before his release. When Victoire Ingabire was released from prison, Anselme went to live in Kigali in the house where part of the UDF-Inkingi cadres reside and work.

He was there to help Mrs Ingabire in her activities, as a large part of the party’s cadres in Rwanda remain in prison. Anselme Mutuyimana was Victoire Ingabire’s right-hand man;  he was tasked with making contacts with the press, diplomats and the coordination with other party members.

A visit to his father…

On Friday, March 08, 2019, Anselme left Kigali to visit his elderly father and family in the western province.  His last contact with Victoire Ingabire was at 3 PM (same day). He wanted to know if Ingabire’s monthly appointment at the RIB (Rwanda Investigation Bureau) had gone well.

On Saturday, March 09, at 10:30 AM., a member of the UDF-Inkingi called Victoire Ingabire to inform her that Anselme Mutuyimana’s lifeless body had been found in the Gishwati forest. The bad news was confirmed by Anselme Mutuyimana’s older brother, who was at the scene where the body was found.

Burial stopped by RIB

Anselme Mutuyimana’s body was transported to the hospital in Gisenyi where an autopsy was performed. The body was then handed over to his family, as he was to be buried on Sunday, March 10, 2019.

On Sunday, Victoire Ingabire and other party members were on their way to the funeral when they received a call from Anselme’s older brother informing them that the RIB requested the cancellation of planned funeral ceremony, as they [RIB] were going to transport the body to Kigali for further examination.

Nevertheless, Ingabire and other party members continued the trip and went on to comfort the family of the deceased.  While at the mourning place, they waited a long time for the RIB staff to come pick up the body. It’s only late in the evening that the RIB showed up.

On Monday, March 11, the RIB returned Anselme ‘s body to the family and ordered that he would be buried the same day. As the RIB took everyone by surprise, many people including Victoire Ingabire were unable to attend the funeral due to the very short notice.

Atypical mourning

Family, friends and acquaintances had come in great number to support the family of Anselme Mutuyimana as it is customary in the Rwandan tradition. Those present informed Victoire Ingabire about the presence of policemen in civilian clothes at ceremony, some caring firearms. The presence of those armed men casted an unwholesome atmosphere and had a distorting effect on mourning ceremony. “People were not well, they were afraid;” Ingabire said.

Despite all inconveniences , People were happy to see Ingabire arrive and as she gave a short speech to reassure them and give them hope: “Animosity will be overcome by kindness.” She declared.

At this ceremony, those who had seen Anselme Mutuyimana as last, told what they had witnessed. On Friday, March 08, 2019 Anselme Mutuyimana arrived at Mahoko station in Rutsiro district around 4 PM. He got off the bus and took a motorcycle taxi but instantly a red car without license plates arrived and prevented them to leave. Two men in civilian clothes then got out of the red car and tried to force Anselme into the car. He refused, as he fought back and later he tried to run away from the station. People at the station surrounded the place and began to ask the two men why they wanted to attack this man. The crowd of people caused some kind of disorder; that’s when the two men in police uniforms who had stayed in the same red car arrived. They told the crowd that  they were police officers and that they wanted to take Anselme for questioning.  When Anselme noticed that it was the police who wanted to take him in, he agreed to follow them. That was the last moment Anselme was seen alive.

The latest news

On 12 March 2019, RIB spokesman Mbabazi Modeste told the pro-government online media Igihe[3]: “After Anselme Mutuyimana’s murder, the judicial police opened an investigation and so far one suspect has been arrested.” In the same article, the RIB asks potential witnesses to come forward.

Human Right Watch[4] recalled that “Mutuyimana’s death is the latest in a long line of murders, disappearances, politically motivated arrests, and unlawful detentions in Rwanda, especially of suspected government opponents, including those from the FDU-Inkingi. “. HRW recalled the disappearances of Illuminée Iragena and Boniface Twagirimana, two other members of the UDF-Inkingi, and to express fears about their chances of still being alive: “Both Iragena and Twagirimana are feared dead. »

The Rwandan opposition, through a co-signed communique by Victoire Ingabire, President of the UDF-INkingi, Diane Shima Rwigara, founder of the PSM Itabaza movement, and Bernard Ntaganda, President of the PS Imberakuri, condemned the murder of Anselme Mutuyimana and called for national and international investigations to be opened.

Dr. Frank Habineza(MP), president of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR) also condemned ‘in the strongest terms possible the murder of Anselme Mututimana’ and called for a “Speedy Justice on the Murder. Victoire Ingabire, speaking about the death of his right-hand man, gave the following message: “We must accept the death of Anselme Mutuyimana, there is no struggle without martyrs, Anselme’s murder will not discourage us. People must understand that the struggle for a democratic state, where Rwandans will have freedom in their own country, cannot be stopped.”

Anselme Mutuyimana marked those who came in contact with him by “his youth, his conversation, a person gifted with a talent to tell the daily life of the population with an unequalled ease and simplicity“.

May his soul rest in peace.

[1] http://www.fdu-rwanda.com/fr/kinyarwanda-abayoboke-ba-fdu-inkingi-bakomeje-guhigwa-bukware-hirya-no-hino/

[2] https://youtu.be/gwIh6F5bg6A

[3] http://igihe.com/amakuru/u-rwanda/article/rib-yataye-muri-yombi-umwe-mu-bakekwaho-kwica-mutuyimana-anselme

[4] https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/03/12/another-mysterious-opposition-death-rwanda

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