(WASHINGTON, DC) - Jean Baptiste Icyitonderwa is one of the four who are still detained by the police and whose head has been seriously injured by the beating according to sources in Kigali. With his colleague Emmanuel Ntakirutimana, they are in a very critical condition.
Kigali – RWANDA
24th February 2014
HIS EXCELLENCY PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF RWANDA We address you this open letter as representatives of the Rwanda Youth For Leadership and Change Initiative (RY4LCI) in partnership with a group of current and former students from different institutions of higher learning in Rwanda. We wrote to the Prime Minister on 17th September 2013 complaining about the learning conditions of Rwandan students not supported by the policies your government has put in place.
Since writing to the Prime Minister office, we have been subjected to numerous bodily threats, many of our colleagues have been kidnapped from their homes and disappeared. Others had to flee the country for their safety. As Your Excellency must remember, we were only complaining about the discrimination we were victims of through the higher learning in Rwanda where the majority of us who are not supported by FARG had seen their bursaries suspended without understandable reasons.
We are being hunted down and terrorized by security services. Students who are caught and had some involvement in that act of writing to the Prime Minister have been sent to military training camps. And the only sin that these young people have committed was to petition your government on 17 September 2013.
In our letter to the Prime Minister we requested from the government to provide bursaries to every student at any university and higher learning institution without any discrimination. Instead of analyzing objectively our demands, security services started hunting down everyone who had signed that petition and the Prime Minister on his part claimed that the letter addressed to him had not been written by those whose names featured on it.
This is the motive of our request: to humbly ask Your Excellency, to exert your discernment and authority for the release of Mr. Jean Baptiste Icyitonderwa and, prevent the hunting down and terrorism against the signatories of the stated letter.
Your Excellency President, in the petition we wrote and handed over a copy to your office we were requesting from your government to give equal rights and opportunity to all students notwithstanding of discriminatory policy called Ubudehe, designed and implemented by the government without profundity as it is used to unjustly treat Rwandans in different sectors especially in health.
Your Excellency President, hinged on violation of our rights, torture, harassment, illegal imprisonment, and some of our delegates; Jean Baptiste Icyitonderwa, Emmanuel Ntakirutimana, Samuel Hitimana and Martin Ntavuka, their rights were seriously violated and the police trumped up charges against them and they were lately handed on to the Gasabo first instance court. They were prosecuted under the charge of planning illegal protests which the court found them not guilty of and ordered their immediate release on 26 September 2013.
After that release the national police started hunting and threatening everyone who had signed the petition and some were reported missing. The harassment did not stop there. On 05th November 2013 the Remera police station summoned the released delegates and Jean Baptiste Icyitonderwa who had come to inquire about the case was directly arrested and detained. It was falsely alleged that the petition letter we wrote was fictitious and he had signed it himself as a political leader in order to protest against the Rwandan government.
Your Excellency President, we Michel Mushimiyimana, Alype Nganji, Jany Flora Irakoze and , other fellow colleagues who don’t want their names publicly revealed for their security reasons and, request you to emancipate our fellow colleague Jean Baptiste Icyitonderwa who is persecuted for his innocence, and demand his unconditional immediate release. We request as well that your government puts into effects our petition’s demands of 17th September 2013. We also request you to sincerely reprimand all government authorities who conspired in the severe beating, illegal imprisonment and torture of many of us further to our freedom of opinion and expression rights which are consecrated by the Rwandan constitution.
Your Excellency President, we would like finally to request from your authority to let Rwandans be free and peaceful in looking for what can make their country sustainably developed. We understand that education is there to develop its youth into responsible adults capable of participating in the building of our nation. We want to be part of the solutions of the problems of our country, but to get there we need first of all the support of the government.
We are strongly convinced that the future of Rwanda is in the hands of its younger generation and how Rwanda’s future leaders are treated now is how its future will be. If the actual government persecutes them, they will also persecute the one they will lead because they should have not known the flavor of freedom and human rights respect as a Rwandan proverb says: ”Nobody gives what he doesn’t have”.
Hence let us work together to build a Rwanda without any tyranny, persecution, inequality, and injustice, let us promote freedom and justice, prevent any discrimination in the Rwandan community and build a decent future for every Rwandan.
Your Excellency President, we thank you and look forward to reading a favorable response to our request!
Have a divine peace!
RY'ALCI and Petitioners of 17th September 2013
Founder of RY4LCI and one of petitioners
The Honorable Prime Minister
The Honorable President of Senate
The Honorable President of Rwanda parliament
The Honorable Minister of Education
The Honorable Minister of Justice
The Honorable Minister of Local Government
The Honorable Ombudsman
The Honorable Madam President of The commissioner of Human Rights in Rwanda
Representatives of all embassies accredited in Rwanda
Representatives of all NGOs
Representatives of International Human Rights Organizations
The sender of the letter can be contacted by writing to
More information on the actions of the group can be found on their website:
So full that detainees are handcuffed on windows
Illegal to complain in Rwanda: 40 students imprisoned
Submitted by Jennifer Fierberg