On Monday, police detectives in Kigali, Rwanda interrogated Didas Gasana, editor of the weekly African language newspaper Umuseso for eight hours. Gasana now fears extrajudicial abduction or a prison sentence of up to 25 years.
"Things are getting tougher here," Gasana said after his ordeal. "My heart quakes, but no one sees, and we can't sacrifice the values of liberty and free speech at the altar of state intimidation. "
Thirteen days earlier, Rwandan authorities shut down both Umuseso and Umuvugizi, Rwanda's two independent African language newspapers for the next six months.
Since 70 percent of Rwandans speak only Kinyarwanda, the African language shared by all Rwandans, and since only 3 percent have internet access,most Rwandans will not have access to anything but state-run media until after the presidential election with polls scheduled for August 9.
Rwanda's "High Media Council" accuses Gasana of constantly insulting Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and thus provoking possible insubordination within the army and panic among the population. They also charged that his publication is frightening potential investors that Rwanda is not secure, though many Rwandans have reported increasing tension and instability throughout the past year, and, the BBC, Reuters, Agence France Press, Global Research, the Black Star News, and many other publications, including Digital Journal, have reported the recent string of grenade attacks in Rwanda's capital Kigali.
Police say they are only investigating Gasana and that they will hand their final dossier over to the prosecutions department, which will decide whether or not to indict him.
The Rwanda government has banned Umuseso and Umuvugizi newspapers for 6 months, as the presidential election polls approach on August 9th. Both publish in Kinyarwanda, the African language spoken by all Rwandans, whose educated elites also speak French and/or English.
Jean Bosco Gasasira, the Editor of Umuvugizi, the other suspended newspaper, is also wanted by Rwandan Police, but he has gone into hiding. In 2007, Gasasira was treated in intensive care after being attacked and beaten with iron bars.
Gasana was preparing a lawsuit challenging the suspension of Umuseso when brought in for state interrogation, following months of state interrogation of opposition party leaders and presidential candidates in the run-up to Rwanda's presidential election.
On April 21, Rwanda arrested Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza and charged her with associating with terrorists and violating "genocide ideology" statutes, which define a speech crime unique to Rwanda. Law Professor Peter Erlinder, Lead
Presidential candidate Victoire Ingabiré Umuhoza, in court, at a bail hearing, six hours after being arrested in Kigali, Rwanda.
Defense Counsel for the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, has since joined Ingabiré's legal defense team. Ingabiré's arrest generated a flurry of press and human rights protest from Africa to Europe, the Americas, and Australia, and she and her FDU-Inkingi Party thanked the international community when released on bail the day after her arrest, on Friday,
Democratic Green Party of Rwanda leader Frank Habineza feared arrest upon his return to Kigali, also on Monday, after giving a speech on Afrikaday in Holland, but he returned to his family without intervention and, like Ingabiré, thanked the international community's attention for their vigilant readiness to protest his arrest.
Rwandan Police arrested Bernard Ntaganda, founder and presidential candidate of Rwanda's Parti Social-Imberakuri, on the morning of June 24th, 2010, after calling for a protest of the opposition's exclusion from the election, saying "Silence is acceptance."
Bernard Ntaganda, the presidential candidate of the Parti Social-Imberakuri, the only party legally registered to field a candidate, also expects to be arrested and has asked for the same attention from the international community.
On Friday, 04.23.2010, Rwanda expelled Human Rights Watch researcher Carina Tertsakian, frightening many Rwandans about what might be next.
Speaking to KMEC Radio-Mendocino on April 19th, Gasana said, "I would like the Americans to know that the taxes they are paying are used to sustain one of the most brutal dictatorships in Africa. I want them to ask President Obama and the Congress why their taxes are sustaining the Rwandan dictatorship in the form of aid. What they are doing is a betrayal of the Rwandese."
To listen to the KMEC Radio report, click here.