Idamange Iryamugwiza, a popular Rwandan activist who recently described Rwanda as “a country of sheep without a shepherd” and heavily criticized government’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been arrested.
Rwanda National Police said Idamage, 42, has “exhibited behavior that mixes politics, criminality and madness on different media platforms.”
Police said this “conduct invited the attention and close scrutiny of law enforcement.”
She was picked this Monday evening at around 4:00pm.
Idamange has been using social media platforms to criticize Rwanda government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She accused authorities of high handedness and distributing “rotten bitter flour” to the vulnerable struggling with the lockdown imposed to prevent further spread of the virus.
“If the Cabinet Council decides that Rwandans should stay home ignoring that there are Rwandans who do not have what to eat, ignoring that ¾ of Rwandans get what to eat because they have gone out to work, that citizen you are taking care of facing coronavirus will die of hunger. What is the importance of that?” she asked.
“You say that you assist us, you assist citizens when you urge them to stay home, what do you give them? The rotten bitter flour? Let me tell you that they cannot even make bread from that flour. Instead, they boil porridge from it because it has been impossible for them to eat bread from it. Do you really think that you are assisting that citizen or it’s the punishment?” she added.
“Or you give them a kg of beans, a kg they are going to struggle cooking, having to buy charcoal of RWF 2000 to cook 1 kg, are you really helping this citizen or you just send them to stay home? Whether they survive or die, you don’t care. Dear Managers, these food items you’re giving to Rwandans, this maize flour, these beans, is there any one of you who can take it home and feed the family with it?”
Police said she faced charges of “serious crimes including inciting public disorder, resisting lawful arrest and aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer.”
Idamange’s criticism of government has attracted unprecedented media attention considering government routinely suppressed civil liberties.
Many said she was tackling burning issues affecting the common Rwandan.
Idamange said she was surprised to hear “Minister Shaka saying that, ‘I’d rather die of hunger than dying of coronavirus’. But Minister, when do you expect hunger to kill you, truly speaking? You’re the minister, your monthly salary is always on your account, whether you work or not, whether you urge the citizens to stay home or not, you salary is there. When will hunger kill you? You’re only hurting citizens by saying that you’d rather die of hunger than dying of coronavirus.”
Idamange is a resident of Gasabo District in Kimironko Sector, Kigali city.
She was born in Kamonyi District, in the southern province, in Rugarika Sector commonly known as Kigezi.
Idamange said she not afraid to talk about issues of National interests “because I told you that I have no fear. I am not afraid of guns, because I said I have a gun here (lifting a bible).”
She also criticized education system in Rwanda, saying, “many people suffer deep down in their hearts because the sector of education died long ago, not today.”
She observed: “It died the day someone woke up and decided, if it’s from their dreams or thoughts that now I cancel the French language, now pupils will be educated in English. That was a very strong threat in Education. It is not because we were not willing to know English because we know that it is likely to become the first international language. Not, but, a language is not cancelled one day. It’s a process.”
She emphasized: “The education sector is dying, and the reason for this is that the children of leaders do not study here, those who would speak for others do what I have mentioned above and send their children to study abroad. When they graduate, they enroll them in good schools with international systems and this education sector was not concerning them because their children were not being trained in it.”