A 42-year-old Rwandan mother of four has been sentenced to 15 years in jail after hitting out at President Paul Kagame.on her YouTube channel.
On Thursday, a prominent YouTube commentator and genocide survivor to serve 15 years in prison for “inciting violence” after she hit out at President Paul Kagame on her channel after being found guilty by Kigali High Court.
Yvonne Idamange is one of a number of people who have fallen foul of the authorities after turning to the video-sharing platform to publish content critical of the Kagame government, raising concern among international rights groups.
The 42-year-old mother of four, who was not in court for the verdict, was convicted of six charges of inciting violence and public uprising, denigrating genocide artefacts, spreading rumours and violent assault, among other charges, sentenced to 15 years behind bars and fined the equivalent of $2,000 — less than the 30 years and $6,000 sought by the prosecution.
According to the police, Idamange, who survived the 1994 genocide, was arrested in February for “exhibiting behaviour that mixes politics, criminality, and madness.
The accusations were based on comments on her popular YouTube channel “Idamange” in which she accused Kagame and his government of dictatorship, and of exploiting the genocide without giving enough welfare to the survivors.
Her YouTube channel boasts 18,900 subscribers and an average of 100,000 views per video.
Idamange had accused the court of bias and boycotted proceedings in June after her request for the trial to be broadcast online was rejected by the court.
Kagame who is the Rwanda president has often come under fire for rights abuses and a crackdown on freedom of speech, critics and the opposition.
In March, Human Rights Watch voiced alarm over Kigali’s crackdown on people using YouTube or blogs to speak out about sometimes controversial issues in Rwanda.
HRW said then that at least eight people reporting or commenting on current affairs — notably the impact of strict anti-Covid-19 measures which have hit the poor hard — have been threatened, arrested, or prosecuted in the past year.