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Musician, journalist arrested in Rwanda

Monday - 4/14/2014, 1:20pm  ET

EDMUND KAGIRE
Associated Press

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) -- Police in Rwanda said Monday they have arrested a journalist and a musician for alleged links to opposition groups.

Kizito Mihigo, a genocide survivor and prominent singer and composer of music on the genocide, and Cassien Ntamuhanga, who until recently was the director of a Christian radio station, were among three people arrested. The third was a former soldier.

The three are accused of working for an opposition political group, the Rwanda National Congress, and the FDLR, an opposition rebel in Congo. The police statement said the three were planning the "violent overthrow of the government."

Mihigo was until recently close to the government and had sung the national anthem in front of President Paul Kagame. His reconciliation programs, which brought together genocide victims and perpetrators, had been embraced by the government.

Mihigo did not play a prominent role in the 20th anniversary commemoration of Rwanda's 1994 genocide, which was observed last week. The Kagame government says more than 1 million people died in the 100-day genocide.

Rwanda has won praise for its advances in economic development and women's rights over the last 20 years, but critics say Kagame rules with an iron fist and tolerates little dissent or criticism.

One of Mihigo's songs takes a dig at a controversial government program requiring ethnic Hutus -- the group that carried out the vast majority of the 1994 killings -- to apologize to Tutsis.

The program came under fire after it prompted Hutu children born after the genocide to apologize on behalf of their parents' generation. Some criticized the program as a way to keep ethnic Hutus feeling guilty for the genocide.

A police spokesman, Damas Gatare, said the police are in possession of evidence, including grenades and witness testimony, that show those arrested were part of an active opposition network.

The journalist, Ntamuhanga, had been missing for a week. Reporters Without Borders reported last week that he had recently been questioned by intelligence officials regarding a fellow journalist who fled Rwanda several years ago and now supports an opposition radio station.

The chairman of the Rwanda Media Commission, Fred Muvunyi, said his group condemns the arrest and the manner in which it was carried out.

"Rwanda Media Commission is extremely concerned by the actions of Rwanda National Police. For the last one week journalists and his family have been worried by the disappearance of Ntamuhanga, and the police, which claimed to be looking for him, knew his whereabouts," Muvunyi said.


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