Leeds & West Yorkshire

Sons' plea to Rwanda's president over pregnant mother held in prison

Violette Uwamahoro
Image caption Violet Uwamahoro's sons have written to Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame, asking for her release

The young sons of a mother held in prison in Rwanda have written to the country's president asking for her to be released.

Violet Uwamahoro from Leeds was arrested on Valentine's Day after travelling for a family funeral.

The youth worker, who is five months pregnant, is charged with sharing state secrets and organising armed groups.

Her husband Faustin Rukundo said his wife is being victimised because of his role as a political activist.

He is involved with the Rwandan National Congress opposition group.

Image caption The boys said they really miss their mother, and have sent her cards for Mother's Day

Mrs Uwamahoro's children, Samuel, aged eight, and David, 10, have written to Prime Minister Theresa May, and Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, in a bid to help their mother.

They have also sent her Mother's Day cards, telling her how much they miss her.

Speaking at the family home in Leeds, her husband, who is a lab technician, said: "I believe she was taken because of me - a punishment aimed at me."

He said his wife had no political past, and is not political now, and is innocent. She denies the charges against her.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Paul Kagame has been criticised in some quarters for using anti-genocide legislation to clamp down on opponents.

Mr Rukundo is calling for the British Government to intervene as he fears the trial will not be a fair one.

A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We are providing assistance to a British woman and her family following her arrest in Rwanda. Our staff in Kigali are in touch with local authorities."

Paul Kagame, who has run Rwanda since his rebel army ended the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people in 1994, has been criticised by some for trampling on freedoms and building up the army to assert his authority.

He has also been accused of using anti-genocide legislation to clamp down on opponents.

Human Rights Watch said it has documented a pattern of incommunicado detention in Rwanda in recent years, often of individuals suspected of links with government opponents.

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