Speaking at the ongoing two-day national conference on political space in Rwanda, Urezweneza Sylvian said some controversial decisions take by different instances of government weigh heavily on the decision by refugees to refuse to come home.
Citing the suspension of the tabloids UMUSESO and UMUVUGIZI in April, Urezweneza said refugees feel the government is not tolerant to criticism. The suspension has since been lifted by the Media High Council on allegations of defaming President Kagame, among many other charges.
“We always ask ourselves that if a journalist can be arrested and a newspaper closed for publishing critical information, what can happen to me a mere common citizen,” said Urezweneza.
He said the message seen from outside Rwanda is that many of the laws – such as the Genocide ideology law, are promulgated to target government critics.
“…Some of the people who are refugees left Rwanda when they were children, but it appears as if whoever is out there is a Genocide criminal,” said Urezweneza, who introduced himself as married to a Zambian woman.
He said government needs to work on ensuring that its policies are not misinterpreted from the outside by taking a consultative approach to decision-making.
Zambia is home to thousands of Rwandan refugees – whom Rwandan officials have unsuccessfully been urging to return home.
The fears expressed by Urezweneza were also raised by several other delegates who had come in from other countries including Canada.
Government officials at the conference said the fears are baseless.