On 11 April 2014, singer Kizito Mihigo, one of Rwanda’s best-known musicians, was arrested by police, accused, along with a former soldier and the director of a Christian radio station, of planning ‘terrorist attacks’ with the aim to overthrow the government.
An organist and composer, 33-year-old Kizito Mihigo had previously claimed to have devoted his talent to the promotion of peace, unity and reconciliation among Rwandans. He came to the limelight in 2011 when his genocide commemoration song ‘Amateka’ became famous during the 17th commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi population.
Freedom of Expression
Rwanda is ranked 162nd out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. Tom Paulson of Humanosphere alleged that Kizito Mihigo was arrested and charged with terrorism for having written a song that contends some of the atrocities of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda were commited by the forces of Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame.
Police said they suspected the three men to be working with the FDLR rebels on plans to assassinate government officials and to incite violence.
BBC Great Lakes editor Ally Yusuf Mugenzi stated that Kizito Mihigo used to be close to the government, and that Mihigo’s arrest had come as a surprise to many Rwandans.
According to Associated Press, one of Mihigo’s songs takes a dig at a controversial government program requiring ethnic Hutus — the group that carried out the vast majority of the 1994 killings — to apologize to Tutsis. The program came under fire after it prompted Hutu children born after the genocide to apologize on behalf of their parents’ generation. Some criticized the program as a way to keep ethnic Hutus feeling guilty for the genocide.”