A group of Rwandans living in the United Kingdom (UK) has expressed concern over what they describe as digital violence against political opponents and Journalists following a report that revealed the Kigali government is using Israeli Spyware Technology.
Rwanda reportedly eavesdropped on conversations of several targets including exiled Rwandans, journalists, political leaders including top Ugandan officials, according to revelations in the global reporting investigations, the Pegasus Project, published by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
OCCRP, a global investigation non-profit organization, reported in July that Rwanda targeted several Rwandan dissidents including the American daughter of Paul Rusesabagina, the imprisoned Rwandan activist who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, according to a forensic analysis of her mobile phone that found evidence of multiple attacks using NSO Group spyware.
Carine Kanimba, a US-Belgian dual citizen, and others have been leading efforts to free Mr. Rusesabagina from prison following the activist’s abduction and forced return to Kigali last year by the government of the Rwandan.
Following the spying reports, a Rwandan refugee that prefers to be identified by his initials -- Mr. Jok who lives in the UK told this reporter that instead of creating an enabling environment, the Kigali government has instead gone from bad to worse.
“The government of Rwanda has always been unapologetic about hacking into over 3,000 people’s phones including fellow African leaders since 2019 when the matter first came to light. By celebrating this kind of misconduct, President Kagame and his government confirm that our country is, unfortunately, a mafia state engaged in all manner of criminality. Hacking is now added to extrajudicial killings, disappearances, stealing mineral wealth from DR Congo, and sending death squads abroad to murder Kagame’s exiled opponents,” the Rwandan refugee who is affiliated to the opposition Rwanda National Congress (RNC) said.
Asked why he uses his initials, Mr. Jok says he fears he mostly fears for his family members who could be targeted. He noted that spying on exiled Rwandans further complicates the already fragile political situation in Rwanda.
“Of course we would like to see a change in the way the affairs of our country are being handled We want a country that is accommodative of every Rwandan regardless of their political inclination,” he noted.
He added that hundreds of refugees and freedom fighters outside and inside Rwanda will carry on the cause of liberating their motherland.
Once championed in western capitals as a reformer, Mr. Kagame has been criticized for overseeing constitutional changes to prolong his rule and cracking down on opposition voices. Established in the United States on 12 December 2010, the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) which is composed of former high-ranking Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) officers and other Rwandan refugees as one of the political organizations advocating for change in the East African nation.
Some of the prominent founders include Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa, Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, Gerald Gahima, and Col Patrick Karegeya.
Col Karegeya was murdered on 31 December 2013 in South Africa where had been living in exile.
Other members of the RNC are spread across several European countries including the UK, Belgium, and United States of America among others.
Mr. Kagame has on several occasions referred to the RNC and other opposition groups as terrorist organizations.
However, in a statement recently, the RNC spokesperson Dr. Etienne Mutabazi insists their group is founded on democratic principles. “We would like to remind the public that we are an organization founded on democratic, justice, and human rights principles,” Dr. Mutabazi said.