July 31, 2020

Rwandan Exiles File Case in Belgian Court Against Anti-genocide Campaigners

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CLOCKWISE: Nadia Kabalira, Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, Oliver Nduhungirehe and Tom Ndahiro

The executive secretary of Rwanda’s anti-genocide commission and a former minister are among a group of 19 individuals facing prosecution in Belgium in case filed by Rwandan exiles.

The exiles, under the umbrella platform JAMBO asbl, which the government of Rwanda and campaigners accuse of negating the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, want the 19 people prosecuted for defamation and spreading hate against them.

Since its founding several years ago, JAMBO asbl is subject of a virulent media and diplomatic campaign emanating from Rwanda. Government media and its supporters call JAMBO as “NGO by offspring of genocide perpetrators”.

In a statement this Friday circulated on social media, JAMBO says a court case filed on January 29 last year, has been admitted and criminal summons are due to be issued against 19 people.

Among those on the charge sheet include Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, executive secretary of national commission for the fight against genocide (CNLG), former foreign affairs ministry state minister for EAC affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe, and genocide academic Tom Ndahiro. Others on the list include non-Rwandans based in Europe.

At this point, it remains to be seen how this case will proceed, since its the first of its kind by exiled Rwandans. However, there have been previous court cases in Europe, some successfully prosecuted, where individuals have been prosecuted in cases filed by anti-genocide campaigners.

The JAMBO group is made up of Rwandans who were teenagers or still babies when the 1994 genocide took place. However, among its members, includes names the authorities in Rwanda say, are carriers of the genocide negationist flame adapted from their parents.

Faces behind Jambo ASBL – Clockwise: Placide Kayumba, Natacha Abingeneye, Ruhumuza Mbonyumutwa, Liliane Bahufite

For example, Placide Kayumba, founder and former leader of JAMBO, is the son of Dominique Ntawukuriryayo, former Sous-Préfet of Gisagara in Southern Province during the Genocide.

In 2010, Ntawukuriryayo was sentenced to 25 years by the former International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) over Genocide. The court ruled that he led the killings at Kabuye hill where more than 30,000 Tutsi were massacred.

For Kayumba particularly, there have been reports in Rwanda that as a teeneger between 1992 and early 1994, he tormented Tutsi schoolmates.

There are three other JAMBO members regularly cited in Rwandan media like Natacha Abingeneye whose father was top ruling party leader before the genocide, Ruhumuza Mbonyumutwa, the grandson of Rwanda’s first President Dominique Mbonyumutwa, as well as Liliane Bahufite.

In their defence, the JAMBO members, through online publications and social media, have vehemently denied the accusation of harbouring genocide ideology. Instead, say, they are being targeted for their continued political activities and views against the government of President Paul Kagame.

The JAMBO statement announcing the court case says the case against the accused suspects is partly derived from years of their social media posts.

The statement issued Friday announcing the court case in Belgium

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