After months of hardship in Rwanda, I am pleased to inform you that I have been granted asylum to stay and live in the UK until 2012 when my case will again be reviewed as per the laws governing asylum seekers in Britain.
It is a great step forward in securing a safe life but another chapter in the fight for press freedom in Rwanda. As I write this, the independent media in Rwanda is off the streets and there are no plans by the government whatsoever to answer some of the questions that members of the independent press are asking. If anything, the government is probably celebrating that at long last, they have managed to rid of critical newspapers; Umuseso, Umucyo and Newsline. In that part of the world, reporters continue to be greeted with beatings, harsh statements, intimidating phone calls as well as deliberate denials to have some of their stories published.
Six months on, I’m yet to get reasons as to why the government illegally closed down my newspaper, The Weekly Post. Accusations have become part and parcel of the daily lives of the remaining critical journalists in Rwanda and the result has been the creation of a study grouping of journalists who have chosen to remain silent or report only that, which pleases the government. It is no longer a matter of professional journalism but the search for daily bread.
I may have been able to sneak out of the fangs of the media monsters in Kigali but there are people who may never get the chance. It is a deliberate game being played by the regime in power and one in which the role of the media in pre-genocide Rwanda is being used to crack down on critical reporting. Those who dare speak their mind objectively are either accused of being anti government or directly trying to preach the hate ideology.
It is a big fight that the international community ought to help us get through. We need to find ways of making it clear to people like Kagame and some of his trusted lieutenants that press freedom is an important ingredient to democracy.
I pledge to continue the fight for press freedom in Rwanda. What Rwandans need is not seeing their sons flee to far away countries but being part of the new order-one in which people's ideas can be freely expressed for the good of all.
I am very hopeful that one day, the truth will triumph over evil and press monsters will realize how important press freedom is to any country. Aluta Continua.
By Eleneus Akanga
Akanga is the Managing Editor of The Weekly Post Kigali, Rwanda
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