News / Africa

    20 Years After Genocide, Rwanda Prospers but Political Freedom Remains Elusive

    20 Years After Genocide, Rwanda Prospers But Political Freedom Remains Elusivei
    X
    April 09, 2014 7:29 PM
    Rwanda is a country on the move, having rebuilt from the 1994 genocide that divided the nation and left an estimated 800,000 people dead. But as VOA's Gabe Joselow reports, some say the country's recovery has come at the cost of political freedom.
    Gabe Joselow
    Rwanda today is a remarkable story of renewal and rapid economic development.

    Looking around the capital, it is hard to imagine that only 20 years ago, the country was torn apart by one of the worst atrocities of the last century. 
     
    Visitors often remark on Kigali's impeccably clean streets, high-tech efficiency and the ease of doing business. But critics say despite these advances, the government has left little room for the opposition.

    “There isn't really any democracy that one can speak of in Rwanda," said Carina Tertsakian, a Rwanda researcher for Human Rights Watch. "Opposition parties are not able to function. There are currently two opposition party leaders who are in prison serving sentences respectively of 15 years and four years, and other members of those and other parties who have been in and out of prison several times.”

    President Paul Kagame and his Rwandan Patriotic Front are the dominant political forces in Rwanda. There is only one registered opposition party and many political opponents have fled into exile. While the country has progressed economically during Kagame's time in office, opponents say it has come at the cost of political freedom.

    “I do not agree that to be able to develop you've got to sacrifice people's rights," said Theogene Rudasingwa, a member of the opposition Rwanda National Congress who spoke to VOA in Washington. "In fact, all literature and human experience shows that for there to be prosperity for people, for a country to build, you've got to enrich people's rights.”

    In January, one of Rudasingwa's colleagues, Patrick Karegeya, a former spy chief for the government, was found dead in a South Africa hotel room. Rwandan officials who accuse the opposition of planning attacks in Rwanda cheered Karegeya's death but denied any involvement. 

    At a genocide memorial event outside Kigali, Rwandan Defense Minister James Kabarebe had a stern message for those who challenge the government.

    “There are some who tried to [take the country backward] and there are those who have this ideology, they are there, but I know they will die with that ideology,” he said.

    According to Rudasingwa, opposition members in exile live under constant threat.

    “We are concerned, we've made these concerns known to the governments, but besides that, change is a very costly business and freedom doesn't come cheap,” he said.

    A generation removed from the genocide, Rwanda is moving forward.  But opposition figures worry that lingering tension and the crackdown on dissent could mar the country's future.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora