Beatrice Munyenyezi, 40, of Manchester, New Hampshire was indicted last week on two counts of lying to obtain her U.S. citizenship. According to a report from the Associated Press, Ms. Munyenyezi left Rwanda in 1994 after the genocide that killed over 800,000 people. She entered the U.S. as a refugee in 1998 and became a permanent resident one year later. In 2003, she was sworn-in as a U.S. citizen. In all her applications, Ms. Munyenyezi denied any involvement in the genocide.
Now federal authorities have arrested her and issued an indictment. According to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office:
The Indictment alleges that MUNYENYEZI obtained her U.S. citizenship unlawfully after making material misrepresentations on a number of occasions before and after she came to the United States from the country of Rwanda. In particular, the Indictment alleges that MUNYENYEZI participated, committed, ordered, oversaw, conspired to, aided and abetted, assisted in and directed persecution, kidnapping, rape and murder during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. It is alleged that MUNYENYEZI misrepresented these facts in order to obtain immigration and naturalization benefits.
If the blogosphere is to be believed, Ms. Munyenyezi’s guilt is far from certain, and the U.S. government along with corrupt U.S. government agents are complicit in an international effort to frame her and other Hutus, while ignoring atrocities committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (the Tutsi rebel group who put an end to the genocide). While I can accept that Rwandan government leaders do not have clean hands, the effort to re-write history sounds pretty dubious to me. At the time of the genocide, I was an intern in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration at the U.S. State Department. We were closely following events in Rwanda, and I don’t remember there being many questions about who was murdering whom. That said, the U.S. government bears the burden of proving that Ms. Munyenyezi lied on her applications, and it will have to submit evidence of her involvement in the persecution.
Ms. Munyenyezi is not the only person in her family accused of human rights violations. A United Nations tribunal has also charged her husband and her mother with involvement in the mass murder. If convicted in the U.S., Ms. Munyenyezi faces up to 10 years imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine, along with revocation of her U.S. citizenship.