Six detained in Rwanda for spreading rumors to provoke an ‘uprising’

The owner of a YouTube channel and members of an opposition party are among those arrested.

Rwandan authorities arrested six people, including a journalist and members of an opposition party accused of publishing rumors allegedly intended to start an uprising, the investigation office said.

Theoneste Nsengimana, who runs Umubavu TV, an online YouTube channel that often broadcasts content critical of the government, was among those arrested, Rwandan Bureau of Investigation spokesman Thierry Murangira said on Thursday.

“They are accused of publishing rumors intended to provoke an uprising or unrest among the population,” he said.

“They have something in common, they are an organized group with the intention of spreading rumors that seek to provoke an uprising or unrest among the population through different social media platforms.”

Nsengimana’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Tuesday, Nsengimana had posted on her YouTube channel a video of a woman urging people to celebrate “Ingabire day” on Thursday to honor opposition figures who have been imprisoned, kidnapped and murdered.

Critics have said that the Rwandan authorities have cracked down on critical YouTube channels, including one owned by former university professor Aimable Karasira, who was arrested in June and charged with denying the 1994 genocide. He denied the accusation.


Others arrested include members and supporters of opposition leader Victoire Ingabire.

“DALFA-Umurinzi members arrested again: We ask RIB to guarantee respect for their rights. They have not yet informed us of the reasons for his arrest, ”Ingabire posted on Twitter.

“I take this as intimidation,” he told the AFP news agency. “I don’t know what the rumors are about getting them arrested.”

Ingabire returned from exile in 2010 to compete against incumbent President Paul Kagame, but was arrested and imprisoned for eight years on terrorism charges, a period that was later extended to 15 years. She was released by presidential pardon in 2018.

Critics have accused the Kagame government of human rights abuses, although it has counted on the support of Western donors to restore stability in the years after the genocide and boost economic growth.

In March, Human Rights Watch voiced its alarm at Kigali’s crackdown on people who use YouTube or blogs to talk about controversial issues in Rwanda.

HRW said then that at least eight people who reported or commented on current affairs, particularly the effect of strict anti-COVID measures that have hit the poor hard, have been threatened, arrested or prosecuted in the last year.

Kagame has denied the abuse allegations.

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