Visit cancelled as Rwanda bans Brown

11 Nov

November 12, 2012

By Kristian Silva and Benjamin Millar

FORMER federal Greens leader Bob Brown has been banned from entering Rwanda after the African nation’s government cited ”contradictory messages” in his visa application.

Banned: Bob Brown. Photo: Andrew Meares

Dr Brown received approval on October 30 to travel to the war-torn African nation to support the local Greens party. He was to depart today before the government’s reversal on Sunday.

”This is very unfortunate, not just for the Greens in Rwanda, but for democracy in a country where political opposition is not wanted by the government of President [Paul] Kagame,” Dr Brown said on Sunday.

”I will continue to support the Rwandan Greens and to work for people pursuing democracy under far more difficult circumstances than we experience in Australia.”

Dr Brown said he feared for the safety of members of the Democratic Green Party in Rwanda. Party deputy leader Andre Kagwa Rwisereka was found beheaded in 2010 and his killing remains unsolved.

”The last Greens conference was broken up violently with men wielding sticks and some people’s arms and legs were broken,” Dr Brown said. ”The journalist who reported on, and indicated that the government was involved in the break-up of that Greens conference was shot, so it’s very tough going.”

”This is a test for the Commonwealth, whether President Kagame is going to be taken on.”

Rwandan government critics say the country is an authoritarian state, with any who speak out persecuted and often killed.

In October, Rwanda controversially gained a non-permanent African seat on the United Nations Security Council. This came despite a UN report that claimed a high-ranking Rwandan official was leading a violent militia uprising in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Human Rights Watch said last month’s eight-year jail sentence handed to opposition leader Victoire Ingabire for treason and genocide denial ”illustrates the Rwandan government’s unwillingness to tolerate criticism and to accept the role of opposition parties in a democratic society”.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

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