Arrested on the 6th of April

There are not that many things Rwandans of the diaspora agree upon nowadays, but April 6th is a cursed day for all, hutu, tutsi, twa alike. April 6th 1994 is the day the late president Habyarimana of Rwanda and the late president Ntaryamira of Burundi were assassinated. From that day on, most Rwandans’ lives haven’t been the same again.


As a tacit consensus, Rwandans who lost members of their family by the hand of Kagame’s RPF organize protest gatherings each year on April 6th to keep alive the memory of their lost ones and to protest against Paul Kagame’s genocidal regime, which to this day, enjoys international political and financial support while it quiety murders Rwandans all over the world and foments wars in neighbouring countries.


I went to such a gathering today, a public protest in front of the imposing Palais de Justice buiding in Brussels.



The place was full of cops. They informed us that we had to leave the premises because the Brussels Commune authorities which had authorized the protest two months in advance had suddenly decided to retrieve the authorization and declared the gathering illegal.


I have plenty of respect for men -and women- in uniform, but sometimes I pity them. Those cops didn’t realize they had been asked to prevent people from mourning their own. Most victims of RPF didn’t get a proper burial. Most of their families never got a chance to mourn them properly. In Rwanda, to this day, Hutu people are denied the right to mourn openly their family members killed during the 1990-1994 war.


They must have been Interahamwe militiamen, they don’t deserve a burial. Or maybe you wish to join them? ” is the answer one usually gets from the Rwandan authorities.


All those gatherings, protest marches and church services are for the Rwandan diaspora just a way to somehow catch up with our duty to our lost ones. To prevent a man from doing that is such a horrible task I would never want to be the one who has to do it.


As we weren’t leaving the premises fast enough to the cops’ taste, they started arresting us. The cops were surprised that we complied and didn’t oppose any resistance. How could they understand? They had probably been told that we were a bunch of machete-wielding savages who would eat them up at the first chance we got. 


They were putting plastic handcuffs on us. Someone started singing the Rwandan anthem. Everybody joined in. I saw an elderly lady already in handcuffs. They were escorting her to a police van. A very big cop asked me where I was going. I ignored him and joined in the song. He cuffed me with my hands in the back. I swear I have never had any masochistic yearnings, but I just didn’t feel any anger towards the cops. I couldn’t blame them. They didn’t know. They didn’t realize what a despicable act they were engaging in by just “following the orders”.

They handcuffed everybody. Men, women, children.


All that time, I couldn’t help but ask myself: why? Why would anyone in their right mind handcuff and lock up a grandmother who was only trying to mourn publicly her lost relatives? Exactly what danger were they trying to protect the Brussels population from? Well, maybe they thought the lady would cry so hard that the passers-by would die from sadness.


We spent around an hour in the police vans behind the Palais de Justice. Then they put us in detention, and released us after 5PM.


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