Blinken raised ‘serious concerns’ about human rights with Rwandan president during meeting

Speaking at a press conference with his Rwandan counterpart on Thursday, Blinken said he raised “serious concerns” about human rights during his previous meeting with Kagame, including the case of the Rwandan citizen and permanent resident. American Paul Rusesabagina.

“We believe that people in all countries should be able to express their opinions without fear of intimidation, imprisonment, violence or any other form of repression,” Blinken said during a press conference with the Rwandan minister. of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta.

“[We] underscored our concerns about the lack of fair trial guarantees provided to him,” Blinken added, referring to the Rusesabagina case.

“We continue to urge the government to address concerns about the legal protections afforded to it in this case and to establish safeguards to prevent similar outcomes in the future,” Blinken added later, responding to a question. ‘a journalist.

Rusesabagina, who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda”, was convicted of terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a court in Kigali in September 2021. The US State Department previously said he was wrongfully detained, according to a July statement.

Anaïse Kanimba, one of Rusesabagina’s daughters, told CNN following Blinken’s meetings with Rwandan government officials: “We are confident that if the United States’ relationship with Rwanda is strong enough to merit a financial cooperation and trust, then it is strong enough to push for our father’s release on humanitarian grounds.”

In a conversation before Blinken’s visit to Kigali, Kanimba told CNN the family was very concerned about Rusesabagina’s health. She said he would have had a stroke three or four months ago and without proper treatment he could have another one.

“He is a 68-year-old man who has been in prison for two years now in difficult conditions. He is also a cancer survivor,” she said.

“So anything can happen to him and they don’t have proper medical care for him, they’re not willing to give it to him there, and that’s why we want the Secretary of State to fully defend our father. then he can go home and receive proper medical care,” Kanimba said.

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Rwandan Foreign Minister Biruta said Rusesabagina’s judicial process followed Rwandan and international laws.

“We will ask our partners to respect the sovereignty of Rwanda as well as the laws and institutions of Rwanda,” Biruta said.

Blinken also said he had raised with Kagame the issue of “credible reports” regarding alleged Rwandan support for the M23 rebel group and allegations that Rwandan forces were being sent to neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

“My message to both [DRC] President Tshisekedi and President Kagame have been the same. Any support or cooperation with an armed group in eastern DRC endangers local communities and regional stability. And each country in the region must respect the territorial integrity of the others,” Blinken said at the press conference.

Rwanda has previously denied allegations by the Congolese government that it supports the M23 and sent soldiers across the border, according to previous CNN reports. The M23 also denied receiving Rwandan support.

Blinken added that Tshisekedi and Kagame have agreed to engage in direct talks and that the two leaders are ready to resume talks with the armed groups.

Later Thursday, Blinken participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the Kigali Genocide Memorial to commemorate the victims of the 1994 genocide.