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Police confiscate opposition fortnightly, editor detained for seven hours

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has voiced concern about the Rwandan government's continuing crackdown on the opposition press after police seized issues of the latest edition of the fortnightly "Umuco" and detained its editor, Bonaventure Bizumuremyi, for seven hours on 19 September 2005.

"The authorities seem determined to silence all critical voices by force," the organisation said. "We are all the more alarmed as the censoring of 'Umuco' comes on the heels of the imprisonment of one of its journalists, Jean Léonard Rugambage, and the imprisonment of the magazine "Dialogue"'s former editor, Guy Theunis."

Copies of "Umuco"'s latest issue were seized at the border as they were being brought in from neighbouring Uganda. Like many other Rwandan publications, the paper is printed in Kampala because production costs are cheaper. The authorities said the copies were confiscated for containing "libellous articles" and "undermining state security".

Bizumuremyi nonetheless managed to distribute a limited number of copies of the issue to street vendors in Kigali. Some of the vendors were harassed by police on the morning of 20 September.

In the offending issue, articles by Bizumuremyi labelled President Paul Kagame a "dictator", accused the ruling FPR of forcing government employees and local cooperatives to contribute funds to the party, and criticised the arrests of Rugambage and Theunis.

On 19 September, the police detained and interrogated Bizumuremyi from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. before letting him go. He said he has been receiving telephone threats ever since. The financial loss resulting from the confiscation could threaten the newspaper's survival, he added.

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