Rwandans in Sweden protest Kabuye’s arrest

The Rwandan community in Sweden yesterday added their voice in condemning the arrest in Germany of State Protocol Director, Rose Kabuye.
A section of Rwandans who turned up for the protests in Sweden.(Christopher Holmbäck)
A section of Rwandans who turned up for the protests in Sweden.(Christopher Holmbäck)

The Rwandan community in Sweden yesterday added their voice in condemning the arrest in Germany of State Protocol Director, Rose Kabuye.

During the demonstrations that were staged at both the German and Frech embassies, the protesters called for Kabuye’s immediate unconditional release, saying that in the arrest, Rwanda’s sovereignty was attacked.

This is part of the demonstrations that have been going on countrywide and in other countries following Kabuye’s arrest in the German city of Frankfurt upon her arrival in preparation of President Paul Kagame’s visit.

“This arrest is a serious invasion on the sovereignty of our country…she held diplomatic immunity and her arrest was very unfortunate,” said Norman Gatarayiha, the chairman of the Rwandan Association in Sweden.

He added that even the charges on which the arrest was based are speculations which are not legally binding.

Kabuye’s arrest was triggered by the contentious indictments against her and eight other officers formally of the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) which is responsible for stopping the 1994 Tutsi Genocide, a 100-day mayhem that left over one million people dead.

“We are calling for her unconditional immediate release,” said Gatarayiha by telephone from the Swedish Capital Stockholm.

According to Gabriel Gabiro, a Rwandan living in the Nordic country, the march started from the German Embassy to Sweden where protesters holding placards and banners demonstrating the injustice surrounding the arrest camped for over an hour before walking an estimated half a kilometre to the French embassy to express their anger.

“Both embassies were given memos protesting the arrest and they told us that they would be sending these memos to their respective ministers of Foreign Affairs,” said Gabiro adding that the protest which attracted hundreds also attracted Swedish sympathisers.

Throughout the protest, according to Gabiro, police accompanied the demonstrators “and the process has been peaceful but people were visibly angry.”

Rwanda’s ambassador to Sweden said that the demonstrations were organised by Rwandans living in that country as a civil society but added that the embassy was informed.

“They were condemning this unfortunate act by Germany and the unfairness surrounding it has been clearly explained by our government,” said Ambassador Jacqueline Mukangira, who on top of Sweden represents Rwanda in other Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland and Norway.

She said that the embassy had presented the communiqué that was issued by the Government of Rwanda protesting the arrest to all the countries into which the mission represents Rwanda.

“We also gave them the Note Verbale from the African Union Secretariat and we have been briefing several diplomats accredited to Sweden,” said Mukangira. 

She called upon African countries to act in solidarity by condemning the arrest “because this is not only an attack on Rwanda by these countries but to the entire continent because it will inevitably happen to any other country.”

Similar demonstrations are expected to take place in the coming days, according to Mukangira.

She added that Rwandans living in Denmark will protest from Copenhagen, the Danish capital today while on Thursday and on November 26, demonstrations are slated to take place in Norway and Finland respectively.

Demonstrations which started on November 10, a day after Kabuye’s arrests have been going on both in Rwanda and in other countries that include the United States and in the UK and have all called for the release of Kabuye, whom they say is a hero who helped stop the Genocide.

A countrywide demonstration is expected to take place today, the same time Kabuye is expected to be transferred to France from where she opted to be taken to defend herself. The other option according to a German court was challenging the charges from Germany.

Germany, whose ambassador to Rwanda was asked leave Kigali until the matter is resolved, has been accused of double standards especially by arresting Kabuye who had diplomatic immunity and in the same week releasing two Genocide fugitives on Interpol Red Notice.

Callixte Mbarushimana and Onesphore Rwabukombe were released by a German court despite pleas from the Rwandan judiciary to have them extradited to bring them to account for the atrocities they committed in the 1994 Tutsi Genocide.

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