The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Alumna jailed after attempting presidential run in Rwanda

%0ASacramento+State+alumna+Diane+Rwigara+announced+her+plans+to+run+for+president+of+Rwanda+in+May.+Shortly+after+her+announcement%2C+supposed+nude+photos+of+Rwigara+were+released+in+what+her+supporters+say+was+a+smear+campaign.+Rwigara+was+jailed+on+charges+of+tax+evasion%2C+forgery+and+insurrection+after+her+petition+to+appear+on+the+ballot+was+thrown+out.

Sacramento State alumna Diane Rwigara announced her plans to run for president of Rwanda in May. Shortly after her announcement, supposed nude photos of Rwigara were released in what her supporters say was a smear campaign. Rwigara was jailed on charges of tax evasion, forgery and insurrection after her petition to appear on the ballot was thrown out.

Sacramento State alumna Diane Rwigara announced her plans to run for president of Rwanda in May. Shortly after her announcement, supposed nude photos of Rwigara were released in what her supporters say was a smear campaign. Rwigara was jailed on charges of tax evasion, forgery and insurrection after her petition to appear on the ballot was thrown out.

Courtesy of Aristide Rwigara

Courtesy of Aristide Rwigara

Sacramento State alumna Diane Rwigara announced her plans to run for president of Rwanda in May. Shortly after her announcement, supposed nude photos of Rwigara were released in what her supporters say was a smear campaign. Rwigara was jailed on charges of tax evasion, forgery and insurrection after her petition to appear on the ballot was thrown out.

Claire Morgan

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Sacramento State alumna Diane Shima Rwigara was arrested in Rwanda on charges of tax evasion, forgery and inciting “insurrection” after she attempted to run against Paul Kagame in the presidential election earlier this year.

Rwigara attended Sac State from 2002 to 2004 and obtained her degree in business administration with a focus in finance, according to the Sac State registrar’s office. She was also a member of the African Students Association.

Rwigara, her mother and her sister were arrested together on charges of tax evasion on Sept. 23, according to a press release made by the Rwanda National Police.

The decision to arrest was in addition to the behavior of the suspects during preliminary investigations, particularly their consistent refusal to cooperate with the police and publicly revealing information that is, by law, supposed to be confidential,” the release said.

Rwigara’s brother, Aristide Rwigara, said that he believes the charges have been fabricated to punish her for challenging Kagame, who has been the president of Rwanda for 17 years.  

Kagame came to power as the leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front after the Rwandan genocide. After being president for five years, Kagame amended the Rwandan constitution to remove term limits. He won the Aug. 4 election with 99 percent of the votes.

“All of these charges are made up and are totally false, and my family is being punished because Diane challenged the regime,” Aristide said.

Rwigara’s family has a history of standing up to the Rwandan government. Her father was a prominent Rwandan businessman who did not allow the government to interfere with his private businesses, according to Aristide. He died in 2015 in a car crash.

In May, Rwigara announced her plans to run for president. Her campaign was unique, Aristide said, because she is the only Rwandan politician who has openly challenged Kagame.

“She wanted to promote free speech since there is no free speech in Rwanda,” Aristide said. “She also wanted to promote the right for people to exist politically — to be able to express themselves — to participate in their own government and be full citizens instead of prisoners of the state.”

Kagame, and Rwanda as a whole, have had multiple human rights violations alleged against it. Most recently, worldwide nonprofit organization Human Rights Watch released a report detailing torture methods used by the Rwandan military during interrogations, which include beatings, asphyxiation, electric shock treatment and mock executions.

Shortly after her announcement of intent to run for president, supposed nude photos of Rwigara spread through social media and the popular messaging app, WhatsApp. Aristide claims the photos are doctored and were made to diminish her impact as a candidate.

In order to be eligible to run for president, Rwigara needed a certain amount of signatures from constituents. According to Aristide, she had more than twice the amount of necessary signatures but was disqualified from the election after being accused of forging the signatures of deceased people.

According to a press release from the Rwanda National Police, officers searched the Rwigara home on Aug. 29 as part of two investigations into allegations of tax evasion and forgery.

Aristide, who lives in the United States, heard from witnesses who say the investigation turned violent when his mother, two sisters and two brothers were shackled while waiting for police to finish their investigation.

“Reports that (the Rwigara family) were arrested are untrue and misleading,” said Assistant Commissioner Theos Badegein the press release. “Police (are) investigating two cases; one is related to forgery, and another is on tax evasion. The search was in that line.”

Aristide also said that the police confiscated all family members’ phones, computers, cash and personal identification.

“If they really were conducting a tax evasion investigation, they would never go about it in such a brutal, violent way and arrest everyone in the family,” Aristide said. “This was retaliation for my sister to dare run for the presidency and to speak out and expose them to the world.”

On Sept. 4, Rwanda National Police tweeted that they had applied a warrant to be brought by force to the Criminal Investigation Department. They tweeted 13 hours later that the family had been escorted home by the police.

A press release made by Aristide and Raymond Kayitare on Rwigara’s official Facebook page claimed that the action was “a staged (and) forced entry” and was “a total deceitful way used to cover up an illegal detention that the family had been subject to.”

Rwigara and her family’s trial started on Oct. 6.

According to Aristide, Rwigara and her family were not given adequate time to strategize with her lawyer. A tweet from Rwigara said the family’s lawyer requested that the hearing be adjourned in order to have more time to prepare for the trial.

 

CORRECTION: In the previous version, we wrote that “Rwigara’s family has a history of criticizing the Rwandan government,” when in fact, it has only been standing up to the Rwandan government.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Alumna jailed after attempting presidential run in Rwanda

    Featured

    Sac State student caught attempting to steal copy of final exam

  • Alumna jailed after attempting presidential run in Rwanda

    Club Sports

    Cycling club gives students ‘important balance’ on and off bikes

  • Alumna jailed after attempting presidential run in Rwanda

    Featured

    Students reflect on connection between esports, college

  • Alumna jailed after attempting presidential run in Rwanda

    Featured

    #SacStateSays: What is the worst crime you’ve seen committed on campus?

  • Alumna jailed after attempting presidential run in Rwanda

    Featured

    MAP: The most dangerous spots on campus

  • Alumna jailed after attempting presidential run in Rwanda

    Featured

    #SacStateSays: Is Sacramento State a commuter campus?

  • Alumna jailed after attempting presidential run in Rwanda

    Featured

    OPINION: Congress fails students with tax reform

  • Alumna jailed after attempting presidential run in Rwanda

    Editorials

    EDITORIAL: Don’t tread on Sac State commuters

  • Alumna jailed after attempting presidential run in Rwanda

    Culture

    Scenic spots for graduation photos

  • Alumna jailed after attempting presidential run in Rwanda

    Featured

    Mechanical engineering majors developing parking tracker, set to be available for fall 2018