Déogratias Mushayikdi has been imprisoned for 9 years, with his situation nearly forgotten.
This political opponent had always fought for peace and democracy in a nonviolent manner in Rwanda. As a Tutsi, he lost his family during the 1994 genocide. He had been the representative in Switzerland of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the armed rebellion in which Paul Kagame – current president of the Republic – was one of the leaders. At the end of the war, Déogratias joined the Secretary General of the Rwandan Patriotic Front in Rwanda. Upon discovering that extra-judicial killings were committed with impunity by the Rwandan Patriotic Front, he decided to leave his post. He then began a career as a journalist and critiqued the authoritative abuses of the Rwandan Patriotic Front.
After being threatened, he went into exile in Belgium in 2000 where he mobilized Hutus and Tutsis in order to peacefully create political change in Rwanda. In 2009, he met with representatives from the African continent and tried to bring together the Rwandan diaspora.
His exile ended in March 2010: he was arrested in Tanzania with an expired visa on a fake Burundian passport. He was taken to Rwanda, where he was sentenced to life in prison by the High Court of Justice. He was quickly tried without testimony, recognized as guilty of “false declaration for obtaining a Burundian passport, spreading rumors, inciting civil disobedience, and recruiting an army for attacking the administration in power.” He appealed, but the Supreme Court upheld the sentence.
Since then he has been imprisoned. Without family in Rwanda, he doesn’t receive many visits. The international community has forgotten him and does not advocate for his release since he was sentenced and detained in Rwanda. Though the opposition candidate, Victoire Ingabire, was freed at the end of 2018 with 2,140 other detainees, Déogratias remains hopelessly imprisoned. However, he has never been violent and has always worked for a Rwandan nation united in peace.
To write to Déogratias :
ACAT-France – Rwanda
Action Déogratias Mushayidi
7, rue Georges Lardennois
We will forward your messages.