BBC Journalist: I Talked to Kizito Mihigo Before Arrest


visit web geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>Venuste Nshimiyimana told remedy geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>Chimpreports cost geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>on Friday night that “for some days I was in contact with Kizito Mihigo as BBC was planning for the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the genocide.”

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The latest revelation come at a time of a heated debate sparked off by a Chimpreports investigative story about leaked messages pinning Mihigo and others in subversive activities.

While Nshimiyimana denies having had any “non- professional discussions” with Mihigo and Rwanda National Congress (RNC) official Callixte Nsabimana alias Sankara, the journalist admits he received Mihigo’s contact from the opposition official.

“I have never had any non- professional discussions, neither with Kizito nor with Callixte Nsabimana, who gave me his number. I know Nsabimana when he was a journalist in Rwanda. Until now, I did not know that he is a member of any political party,” said Nshimiyimana.

However, Nshimiyimana does not explain why of all people in Rwanda including Mihigo’s associates, he choose to seek the musician’s contact from Nsabimana.

He added: “Nsabimana has never asked me to invite Kizito in London, but it was I who told him that I wanted to invite him in our programmes as well as others in the context of our coverage of the commemoration. I felt it was fair to have Kizito in London, a city where he had never performed before. I was also considering inviting other luminaries of the Rwandan music. This is why I told him that I would inform the Ambassador of Rwanda about his trip, for any possible assistance.”

According to a leaked conversation between Mihigo and Nsabimana, the musician intended to leave Kigali and relocate to London where he would release more songs backing a “declaration” of war against the government of Rwanda.

On March 11, Nsabimana assured Mihigo he would be warmly welcomed to stay in London.

“I was speaking to Venuste Nshimiyimana, a journalist from BBC London who is a friend,” said Nsabimana.

“I was telling him about your song and the bad reaction people have had. Why don’t you let him get you an invitation from BBC so you can get a UK visa? You can go there instead of Belgium.”

At the time, Mihigo had just released a controversial song titled “Igisobanuro cyurupfu (the meaning of death.)”

In the song, Mihigo talks about a possible double genocide and insinuates there are people who retaliated for those killed in genocide.

“Brother, I am in,” the singer told Nsabimana.

Nshimiyimana (above) was in touch with Mihigo before the arrest

The RNC official also showed Mihigo the message he had received from journalist Nshimiyimana.

It read: “Reka nkwereke msg anyohereje. “Umubaze azaze anyure kuri BBC TV and radio. Bamukorera PR atigeze abona mbere (Let me show you the message he has sent. “Ask him to come and be on BBC TV and Radio. They will give him the kind of PR he has never seen.”

Asked by Nsabimana whether he would be available for the TV interview on April 7, Mihigo answered: “With pleasure.”

Mihigo further asked when war would be launched against Rwanda. Nsabimana said it would be as soon as April, compelling the musician to plead for more time to leave the country.

“That’s too soon. I am looking for a way to leave first. Because that is where I will be able to release the two other songs I have prepared and whatever happens, I have to do it during the Commemoration period.”

He further told Nsabimana: “My brother, just wait until I leave this land and you will see. They will talk about me and I will reply in a way that will transform people.”

Rwandan authorities did not wait for Mihigo to appear on BBC.

He was arrested and incarcerated.

‘I am sorry’

While speaking to the media on April 15, Mihigo and his co-accused admitted planning to carry out terror attacks, assassinate political leaders and mobilize the public to revolt against the government.

Mihigo, who pleaded to be pardoned, said he had been promised the post of the ‘Minister of Culture,’ once the government is overthrown.

“I was put in charge of mobilizing and recruiting Rwandans, especially the youth, to revolt against the government, which today I realise is a grave mistake I made,” Mihigo said.

Journalist speaks out

Speaking to Chimpreports, Nshimiyimana said Mihigo was on the list of Rwandan personalities that the BBC wanted to interview to assess the reconstruction of Rwanda, in many areas including economics, justice and reconciliation.

He added: “Let me take this opportunity to stress that Callixte Nsabimana never informed me of any plan he might have discussed with Kizito. All things considered, it is the duty and obligation as an international journalist to have contact information (phones, emails, etc…) and talk to news makers, policy makers, public figures, as well as people from all walks of life without any distinction of their political, religious affiliation, economic background or social status. It is in this line that I searched for Kizito’s contact and exchanged with him.”

The journalist said Mihigo has spent nearly three years campaigning for reconciliation.

“It is in this purely professional way that I searched for his number and I got in touch with him. I asked him if he was willing to be our guest in French and Kinyarwanda. He accepted the proposal. Indeed, he was the guest of the program Imvo n’Imvano . I have also asked him if he planned to be in Europe around April 7 so that we can invite him in our London studios. He replied that he was not planning to travel during the international week of commemoration. I then asked if he could come during the current 100 days of the mourning period. He replied that it was a good idea.

It is in this context that we spoke, and even when there were reports of his alleged disappearance, we talked. He called me to say that he will keep me informed of his arrival in Europe.

Our last conversation goes back on Palm Sunday (April 13). He called me and explained that he did not have specific dates, and I told him he could take his time, given that the commemoration period lasts three months and it does not matter if he can’t be around in April.

I then asked him to notify me in time in order to inform the Rwandan High commissioner to London since I had already also discussed with him the possibility of inviting the national ballet for the summer festivals.”

Face trial

Mihigo, Cassien Ntamuhanga, Jean Paul Dukuzumuremyi and Agnes Niyibizi, who were recently arrested separately in connection with subversive activities admitted to the crimes and confirmed working for the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and the FDLR genocidal forces which have been operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since 1994

The RNP announced that they had foiled plans by Dukuzumuremyi, to carry out grenade attacks in Kigali and Kigali City Tower in particular.

Dukuzumuremyi was found in possession of six grenades at the time of his arrest, which RNP suspects were to be used to carry out the attacks.

He admitted to being in charge of conducting terror attacks while Ntamuhanga admitted to having been the coordinator of all the subversive acts.

Police spokesperson ACP Damas Gatare, confirmed that the suspects’ case files had been forwarded to prosecution.

Assistant Commissioner of Police, Theos Badege, Commissioner for Criminal Investigations Department said Dukuzumuremyi Jean Paul had been promised Rwf 3 million upon completion of the terror plans and had already been paid an advance fee of Rwf 300, 000.

ACP Badege said they will be charged under articles 461, 462, 463 and 499 of the Rwandan penal code.


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