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Rwandan community in Australia call out compatriot for trying to frame government

Rwandans living in Australia have condemned claims by a compatriot who alleges he was threatened in Australia by the Rwandan government because “he refused to be its agent”.

They say that, among others, Noel Zihabamwe's unacceptable actions aim to defame the government of Rwanda.

 

In a statement shared Monday, October 19, Evariste Ngenzi, chairperson of the Rwandan Diaspora of New South Wales, questioned why the Rwandan government would want to recruit the person to work for them in Australia when majority of the Rwandan Diaspora community members in all States fully support their home country in its journey of rebuilding after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

 

Ngenzi told The New Times that he and his fellow Rwandan Diaspora leaders are speaking out because they wanted Australians to understand that Rwanda is one of the most progressive countries in Africa “and that it is a safe and major destination for Australian tourists and business”.

 

Zihabamwe made the allegations in Australian media, including one published October 12, where Zihabamwe is "falsely depicted" as a human rights advocate who fled Rwanda as a refugee and settled in Australia in 2006, and later reported that his safety was threatened.

The Diaspora communities rejected Zihabamwe's claims that his relatives had disappeared in Rwanda because he refused to be an agent.

“More than a year after their alleged disappearance, why was the matter not reported to the concerned authorities in Rwanda?” Ngenzi asked.

“How could some people go missing in one country for more than a year, only to be reported in a newspaper in another country (Australia) thousands of miles away?”

Hidden agenda

Ngenzi said Australian media was being used for “a hidden agenda” by people to “prepare the ground for smooth migration to Australia" of their relatives.

He said: "We know how this happens from past history.”

Ngenzi pointed out that at some point, the so-called ‘missing relatives’ are later found in refugee camps in neighbouring countries claiming that they were escaping persecution from Kigali to "strengthen their case in application for asylum in Australia" and later be reunited with family members there.

The other motive, he explained, is to defame the government of Rwanda "through the so-called opposition living in exile card."

“Australia has often been visited by self-proclaimed opposition politicians of the Rwandan government whose aim is to violently overthrow it,” Ngenzi said. "These included Paul Rusesabagina, who is now in court in Rwanda."

Rusesabagina was arrested last month over terrorist attacks by the Forces de liberation nationale (FLN) militia group he is believed to have created and funded.

Ngenzi said Rusesabagina was in Brisbane in 2018.

Another frequent to Australia is Thomas Nahimana, an excommunicated Catholic priest who claims to be the president of the government of Rwanda operating in exile.

He is said to be a frequent guest of Noel Zihabamwe in Sydney and meeting with several Australian politicians.

Nahimana, "Zihabamwe's close associate," recently claimed that President Paul Kagame was dead.

Ngenzi said: “Most concerning to us is that other Rwandan Diaspora members who do not engage in anti-government activities are branded as spies of the Rwandan government and are allegedly said to be threatening those who perceive themselves as opposition."

"These claims are always without a single piece of evidence, except having such a phrase in fabricated newspaper and television stories. I, and my fellow chairpersons, want the truth to be told and published so that our relatives living in Rwanda are not worried about our safety and that our native country is not wrongly portrayed by people with ulterior motives."

jkaruhanga@newtimesrwanda.com

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