Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch

Welcome to
Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

RWANDA: The Chatteau, the lives of Rwandan prisoners in Rwanda

Le Château: the lives of prisoners in Rwanda tells the story of life in Rwanda’s prisons in the ten years which followed the 1994 genocide.  In 2004, around 85,500 people were detained in Rwanda.  Most are accused of participation in the genocide, which claimed more than 500,000 lives.  Many have spent more than ten years in prison without being tried.
In Rwanda, every aspect of prison life is defined by overcrowding.  The standard width of a prisoner’s living space is 40 centimetres.  The prisoners call this their “château”, their castle.  Many prisoners sleep outside, exposed to the sun and the rain.  Family visits last just three minutes.
Yet prisoners have succeeded in imposing order on chaos.  The prisons are effectively run by the prisoners themselves, through a highly efficient hierarchical system which mirrors the society outside.
This book presents a vivid portrait of humanity pushed to the extreme:  an intense and disturbing picture of suffering, ruthlessness, creativity, humour and resilience.  It confronts the reader with a morally complex world, full of contradictions, where the absence of justice makes it almost impossible to differentiate between the guilty and the innocent

“In turn captivating, horrifying, thought-provoking and deeply moving, this account of life inside Rwandan prisons shows how human beings can and do survive in the most extreme conditions.  Listen to the prisoners speak and you will hear tales that transcend the limits of time and place.”

Alison Des Forges, historian and writer on Rwanda

Scope of this book
Why Rwanda’s prisons are unique
Recent events in Rwanda


Chapter I
Forty centimetres:  space
“Hell on earth”: the early years (1994-1999)
Improvements in prison conditions since 1999
The state of prisons in 2004
Health care
Trading space
A life of luxury
Chapter Ii
The prisoners’ government:  organisation
The structure
The capita général
Getting rich inside
The prison administration
Chapter Iii
Tomatoes, blackboards and guitars:  work and leisure
Chapter Iv
Chapter v
“Living as sisters – a survival strategy”:  women in prison
Conditions and organisation of the women’s blocks
Relations between the women
Babies in prison
Relations between women and men
Chapter vI
Real minors and false minors:  children in prison
Absolute minors
Genocide minors
Minors’ living conditions
Activities for minors
Sexual abuse
Chapter viI
Families in prison
Chapter viiI
Waiting to die:  the elderly in prison

 Lists and more lists
Ill-treatment in detention
The survival of the elderly in the central prisons
Activities for the elderly
The vulnerable among the vulnerable
The memory of the family
The response of the government
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