Youtuber Yvonne Idamange
Youtuber Yvonne Idamange
Image: IDAMANGE/YOUTUBE

The High Court in Rwanda has sentenced a woman to 15 years in prison after finding her guilty of criticising the way the 1994 genocide is commemorated, calling for a protest and spreading a rumour that the president had died.

Yvonne Idamange denied the charges.

She was arrested in February after posting YouTube videos in which she was strongly critical of the government.

Her lengthy monologues infuriated the Rwandan authorities who do not take criticism lightly.

The 42-year-old accused the government of monetising the 1994 genocide and said the remains of the victims should not be on display at memorials.

The mother of four children also denounced the response to the coronavirus pandemic and highlighted the impact that lockdowns had had on the poor.

Human Rights Watch said Ms Idamange's trial - behind closed doors - was designed to intimidate anyone thinking of expressing critical, sensitive, or controversial views.

The group said the 15-year prison sentence was part of a broader crackdown on free speech in Rwanda.

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