A politician from Rwanda’s opposition party, who narrowly escaped an assassination plot, has criticized the UK’s proposal to send asylum seekers back to Kigali.
Frank Ntwali, leader of the RNC, an exiled Rwandan organization, stated that the nation is not secure and expressed confusion over Rishi Sunak’s continued support for this policy.
The prime minister’s call for the House of Lords to approve the Rwanda deportation bill has been met with criticism. This bill will enable flights to depart for the central African state, and is considered a crucial move in the Conservative party’s effort to regain popularity as they currently trail behind Labour in the polls.
In 2012, Ntwali was repeatedly stabbed near OR Tambo international airport in Johannesburg. He was approached by individuals driving a vehicle resembling a police car. Following the incident, they departed without stealing his wallet.
During that period, Ntwali was scheduled to give testimony in a court in South Africa regarding the case of multiple men who were charged with attempting to kill his brother-in-law, Kayumba Nyamwasa. Nyamwasa is a political adversary of Rwandan president, Paul Kagame. Ultimately, four men were found guilty of the attempted assassination of Nyamwasa.
According to human rights advocates, Ntwali and Nyamwasa are among a group of Rwandan dissidents who have faced attacks in South Africa. Seif Bamporiki, the coordinator for RNC in South Africa, was fatally shot in Cape Town in 2021, while Patrick Karegeya, the former chief of Rwandan intelligence, was discovered dead in a Johannesburg hotel room on January 1, 2014.
Ntwali expressed concern over the UK government’s actions to send asylum seekers to a potentially dangerous country, contradicting its own institutions. He urged for this practice to be halted.
As a current practicing lawyer in South Africa, Ntwali departed from his home nation over twenty years ago as a law student sponsored by the government. However, during the creation of the post-civil war constitution in the early 2000s, he voiced his disapproval of the partially appointed upper house having more power than the elected chamber of deputies.
According to him, Kagame’s government branded him an “enemy of the state” and compelled him to flee the nation.
Ntwali stated that if the deportation plan is implemented, the UK should be accountable for the well-being of any asylum seekers sent back to Rwanda. He also believes that the UK would bear responsibility in case of any fatalities.
According to the speaker, despite knowing the identity of Rwanda, the British government still chooses to hand over these individuals to a nation that permits rendition. If any negative outcomes arise, it is the British government who will be responsible for the direct involvement in the demise, imprisonment, or disappearance of these individuals.
The RNC was established by ex-members of the Rwandan Patriotic Front led by Kagame, who gained control in 1994 following a period of genocide and internal conflict. Kagame has labeled it as a terrorist organization.
In 2012, Ntwali was stabbed and this incident was mentioned in a report by Human Rights Watch about Rwandan political dissidents who have experienced violence outside of their country. The organization stated that they have either recorded or received credible information that suggests the victims were specifically targeted due to their opposition towards the Rwandan government, the RPF, or President Paul Kagame.
Previously disclosed by the Guardian, dissidents from Rwanda who reside in the UK have been warned by police of possible assassination attempts by agents from the African nation.
Jonathan Musonera, another political opponent of Kagame, lives in Greater London with his family under close protection after receiving a Metropolitan police warning of an assassination attempt. He said Sunak’s claim that Rwanda was safe was “unbelievable”.
According to Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, a political figure in opposition, she was imprisoned for eight years in Rwanda following a trial that human rights organizations deemed unfair. In her recent statement, she stated that individuals who voice dissenting views against the Rwandan government face retaliation.
In 2018, 12 refugees from Congo were shot by Rwandan police while protesting a reduction in food rations. Additionally, 65 demonstrators were detained and accused of spreading false information or harmful propaganda in an effort to damage the reputation of the Rwandan government on an international level.
“I have personally witnessed the mysterious killings, disappearances, and arrests of dissenting voices, activists, independent journalists, and YouTubers who refuse to conform to the government’s stance,” stated the author on the Progressive Britain website.
The Rwandan authorities have been requested to provide a statement.