Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Rwandan refugees in Zambia reject Kigali passports

By MICHAEL CHAWE in Lusaka | Monday, November 18  2013 at  19:24
Sample passports. Rwanda refugees in Zambia have rejected Kigali passports. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 
Hundreds of Rwandan refugees leaving in Zambia have turned down the offer by their government to grant them passports for purposes of repatriation.
The protesters, who are estimated to be about 4,000, were clad in black clothes and marched in Lusaka’s upmarket Rhodespark area carrying placards denouncing the Rwandan government.
“…we’re unwilling to give names of our relations both inside and outside Rwanda as required by the passport application form, thereby putting them under the watchful eye of the Rwandan state security,'' read part of the petition handed over to the Zambian authorities.
This was when the Zambian government called for a meeting between the refugees and visiting Rwandan delegation responsible for the issuance of national passports.
Last week, the United Nations refugee agency in Zambia announced that the visit of the delegation was prompted by the concerns raised by members of the Rwandan community, whose refugee status in Zambia has ceased, and who wished to obtain further information about procedures on the acquisition of the Rwandan national passport.
Some placards read: “Rwandan passport is slow poison”.
“When we take Rwandan passports, we put ourselves under Rwandan Government control. This will mean that we no longer fear persecution from the Rwanda state,'' said the petition.
It added that: ''We acknowledge that fundamental and durable changes have taken effect in Rwanda regarding true reconciliation, freedom of association and expression, democracy and justice for all, thereby making it no longer necessary to be refugees outside Rwanda.”
In the past, the Rwandese government has accused Zambia of harbouring genocide suspects, allegations the government denies.