Fears for missing Rwandan activist - rights group

2016-09-29 23:00

Nairobi - A Rwandan opposition activist missing for six months may have been "forcibly disappeared" and could have died in custody, a human rights group said on Thursday.

Illuminee Iragena was last seen on the evening of March 26 when she left her house on the outskirts of the capital Kigali, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement.

"The Rwandan government should step up efforts to find out what happened to Illuminee Iragena," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at HRW.

"If she is in detention, the authorities should reveal her whereabouts and either promptly charge and try her, or release her. If she has died, they should make public the circumstances of her death."

Rwanda, which is renowned for its stability and growth but criticised for lack of freedoms, is due to hold elections next year. HRW said there are increasing signs of repression with "several disappearances, politically motivated arrests, and unlawful detentions".

Iragena is a member of the opposition FDU-Inkingi party whose leader Victoire Ingabire is serving a 15 year prison sentence for crimes including "divisionism", an offence of stoking the ethnic tensions that led to the 1994 genocide.

Ingabire was arrested while campaigning against President Paul Kagame ahead of the last elections in 2010.

Kagame, who has been in charge since 1994, is expected to run for re-election next year after the country's constitution was changed.

Another FDU activist, Theophile Ntirutwa, was allegedly detained by soldiers last month and held, blindfolded, for two days and questioned about his links to opposition leaders.

Read more on:    rwanda  |  east africa

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