John Williams Ntwali, one of the few Rwandan journalists who published articles critical of the Kigali government, has died, according to The Chronicles newspaper, of which he was editor. On Wednesday, he was involved in a car accident in the capital of Rwanda.
Ntwali was the only victim of Wednesday’s car accident in the capital Rwanda, Kigali, police spokesman John Bosco Kabera told Reuters. The driver of the second vehicle has been detained and “the accident file is being processed for further transmission to the prosecutor’s office.”
Ntwali has been absent from work since Monday, The Chronicles reported.
Activists for human rights and journalists outside Rwanda point to the repeated arrests, threats and disappearances of critics of President Kagame’s government. Government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo did not respond to requests for comment.
“There are many reasons to question the car accident theory”
Ntwali “joins a sinister list of people who have defied the government and died under suspicious circumstances,” said Lewis Mudge, director of Human Rights Watch in Central Africa. – There are many reasons to question the car accident theory. A prompt, effective investigation is needed, drawing on international expertise, to determine whether he was murdered, he added.
The Rwandan government has previously denied accusations it is killing its critics or committing human rights abuses.
Williams, who has been arrested several times, was an editor at The Chronicles newspaper and ran a YouTube channel called Pax TV – IREME News. He reported on issues including arrests of opposition activists, deaths of government critics and forced evictions of citizens.
Speaking about forced evictions in Rwanda last year, Williams told Al Jazeera: “My focus is on justice, human rights and advocacy…these three elements pose risks in Rwanda.” But I am devoted to them.
– Those who try to speak are imprisoned – harassed, intimidated or imprisoned. Secondly, they are forced to flee their country. Thirdly, some of them disappear into thin air or even die, he added.
The situation of the Rwandan oppositionists
Human Rights Watch reported last year that authorities in Rwanda made threats and prosecuted Rwandan journalists and YouTubers.
In 2014, a former Rwandan intelligence chief turned critic of President Kagame was killed in Johannesburg. In 2021, oppositionist Seif Bamporiki was killed in an alleged robbery in South Africa, and government critic Cassien Ntamuhanga disappeared after being arrested in Mozambiquewhere he sought asylum.
The Rwandan government has denied any involvement in all of these cases.
Main photo source: Cyril Ndegeya/Xinhua News Agency/Forum