| WASHINGTON, June 4
WASHINGTON, June 4 The United States expressed
deep concern on Wednesday over the arrest and disappearance of
dozens of Rwandans over the last two months, including people
held up to two months without being charged or allowed to
communicate with their families.
The State Department also cited "credible reports" that
journalists have been threatened in the central African country
and that the government has suspended a call-in news radio
"The United States calls upon the Government of Rwanda to
account for individuals arrested over the past two months and
currently in custody," spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
Harf said in a statement some of those arrested were
detained "incommunicado" without charges, but that Rwandan
authorities recently have begun bringing a number of them before
"We also call upon Rwanda to fully respect freedom of
expression, including for members of the press so that they can
investigate, report, and facilitate discussion on issues of
public concern," Harf said.
Washington's concern followed a May 16 Human Rights Watch
report that said an increasing number of people have been
disappearing or detained in Rwanda since March. It said some
were detained by the Rwanda Defense Force and may be in military
The rights group collected information on 14 people it said
were missing in the northwestern Rubavu district, near the
Congolese border, and said there were several additional cases
in Musanze and the capital, Kigali.
It said some may have been targeted because of suspicion
they were aligned with the rebel group Democratic Forces for the
Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR.
Kigali considers FDLR a terrorist organization that espouses
a genocidal ideology.
Composed in part of former soldiers and Hutu militia who
fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo after massacring
800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during Rwanda's 1994 genocide,
the FDLR has since sought to topple the government of President
Harf said the United States supported Rwanda's efforts to
identify people who want to use violence against its people or
the government but warned against arbitrary arrests and
Human Rights Watch said Rwandan officials told them they
were investigating the cases, but did not provide details.
On Monday, the Rwandan Justice Ministry released an
assessment of Human Rights Watch's activities in the country,
questioning its motives.
"Is it a bona fide, independent human rights watcher or an
embedded undercover political actor?" according to a copy of the
assessment published in the Rwandan newspaper The New Times.
The ministry accused Human Rights Watch of trying to
"sanitize and/or legitimize" the FDLR in its May 16 statement.
It said Rwandan authorities have been dealing with cross-border
criminal incursions into northwestern Rwanda since March.
(Additional reporting by Jenny Clover in Kigali; Editing by