Response to recent ABC story by Andrew Greene

Response to recent ABC story by Andrew Greene

On October 12, 2020, The Sydney Morning Herald published an article by Anna Patty and Leon Hartwell advancing false and baseless accusations by Noel Zihabamwe, who claims he is threatened because he “refused to be an agent of influence for the government of Rwanda.” Five days later, on October 17, 2020, the same contents of the story were re-published by ABC News in an article by Andrew Greene in what appears to be based on rhetoric that seeks to discredit the Government of Rwanda.

Noel Zihabamwe is a self-proclaimed subversive element based in Sydney, who has been working hard to encourage insurrection against the leadership in Rwanda. He joined the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), a terrorist group which runs propaganda campaigns against Rwanda and is responsible for several deadly terror attacks in Kigali and in Northern Rwanda.

Noel Zihabamwe’s claims about his missing brothers are baseless. While the investigation remains open, neither Zihabamwe nor his family reported these men as missing to the authorities in Rwanda or cooperated in verifying this claim.

In fact, Zihabamwe has many relatives in Rwanda who have no issues with their safety. He has used “the human rights activist” cover to raise funds for hostile groups including RNC .

Noel Zihabamwe alleged his safety was threatened during a community meeting in Sydney in late 2017. No threats were ever directed to any Rwandan citizen by any High Commission authority. The event that took place was attended by hundreds of Australian-Rwandans and Friends of Rwanda. There is no record of Noel Zihabamwe attending. It is disappointing that journalists of ABC News and The Sydney Morning Herald did not seek to source these claims by speaking to other attendees at this open event.

ABC further alleges that “Rwandan parents in Perth are sending their children to a youth military training camp where they dress in army uniforms.” Itorero has been in the history of Rwanda for decades. It is a cultural-centred programme designed to empower the youth to play an active role in the development of their communities, while gaining the experience, knowledge and life skills necessary for employment and fulfilment of their citizenship.

Characterising it as a military activity plays into the stereotypes that western media frequently resort to when reporting on Africa.

Noel Zihabamwe continues to use his Human Rights Activist cover to host leading anti-Rwanda propagandists whose aim is to destabilise the country. Father Thomas Nahimana, an expelled Catholic priest who claims to be the President of the Government of Rwanda operating in exile, has been a frequent guest to Zihabamwe in Sydney. All this is part of wider anti-government campaign of Rwandan antagonists, including some genocide deniers who are sought for the crimes of genocide in Rwanda.

It is concerning that other Rwandan Community members in the diaspora are branded as agents of the government of Rwanda and are accused of threatening those who perceive themselves as opposition. These are fabricated accusations intended to discredit a government that has made massive development strides in Rwanda over the last 26 years.

Rwanda remains committed to the safety and wellbeing of its citizens in the journey to sustainable development. We continue to work tirelessly for the betterment of Rwandan citizens at home and abroad, with the support of the overwhelming majority of all Rwandans.