Rwanda Freeing Over 2,000 Prisoners, Including an Opposition Leader
A prominent opposition leader as well as a favorite gospel musician, both imprisoned after angering the government of Rwanda, walked free on Saturday, after officials said which more than 2,000 inmates might be released.
President Paul Kagame as well as his government, which carries a record of suppressing dissent as well as jailing critics, gave no indication what prompted them to free the prisoners, whose detention had drawn international condemnation.
The cabinet as well as the Ministry of Justice simply released terse statements on Friday night which Mr. Kagame had granted clemency to 2,140 people, as well as which the cabinet had approved.
Supporters of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, leader of the opposition F.D.U.-Inkingi political party as well as once a challenger to Mr. Kagame for the presidency, as well as Kizito Mihigo, an activist as well as a well-known singer, musician as well as composer, posted photos of them leaving Nyarugenge Prison within the capital, Kigali, on Saturday, as did a local newspaper, The brand new Times.
which was not clear how many of the people who were released had been imprisoned on political charges.
Ms. Ingabire, who had lived for years in Europe, returned to Rwanda in 2010 as well as announced which she was running against Mr. Kagame. She spoke openly about the 1994 genocide as well as the tensions between the Hutu as well as Tutsi ethnic groups which fueled which — both taboo topics.
She was jailed within a few months of her return as well as forced out of the presidential race. In 2012, she was convicted of conspiring to undermine the government as well as denying the genocide, as well as sentenced to eight years in prison.
In a report on the case, the group Human Rights Watch said her trial had been marred by the use of questionable evidence as well as possible coercion of witnesses.
In 2014, Mr. Mihigo released a song which dealt with the genocide, as well as was questioned about which repeatedly by the police, then arrested. He later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kill Mr. Kagame as well as to various other crimes, though Human Rights Watch said he had been beaten as well as forced to confess.
In 1994, after members of the Hutu majority killed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis, a rebel army led by Mr. Kagame overthrew the government as well as put a stop to the killing. He served as vice president coming from which year until 2000, when he became president.
Mr. Kagame at first won international praise for bringing stability to Rwanda, however he was later seen as increasingly autocratic. He had the Constitution changed by a 2015 referendum to allow him to remain in office until 2034, as well as then won re-election in 2017, officially with 99 percent of the vote; international observers dismissed both elections as shams.