The Rwandan government is dissatisfied with how the country has been portrayed in relation to its eligibility to accommodate political asylum from the United Kingdom.
The east African country was set to welcome asylum seekers on Tuesday until a stunning 11th-hour judgement by the European Court of Human Rights halted the plan.
Rwandan officials are now accusing human rights activists, claiming that the country's history of human rights violations is a thing of the past.
"Those who try to prevent us from helping with this problem, which is inflicting unimaginable pain, without giving their own bold solutions, are effectively saying they're okay with the status quo," Yolande Makolo, Paul Kagame's government spokesperson, stated.
"Much of what we're hearing in the media about Rwanda is really insulting," she remarked. "We do not consider living in Rwanda to be a punishment." Rwanda has undergone significant change in the last 28 years. It is a secure nation. Our economy is on the rise. With more women in parliament than any other country, we lead the globe in gender empowerment. People should come to Rwanda and experience it for themselves before they talk about it. "
Rwanda has changed dramatically since the genocide that lasted 100 days in 1994. Kigali, the country's capital and the site of next week's Commonwealth heads of government summit, is the country's economic hub. Its streets are now bustling with motorbike taxis and littered with glitzy new hotels and posh wine bars with European vintages.
However, human rights activists have argued that the depiction of Rwanda as a safe country is less straightforward and considerably more meticulously handled by the government.
To handle inquiries from international media, the Rwandan government engaged political strategist Harry Burns, who oversaw the British Labour Party's election campaign in 2017 and is currently the managing director of the PR firm Chelgate Consulting.
In the past few days, international journalists have been granted access to the Gashora transit center, which is meant to process asylum seekers who have been evacuated from Libya.
The journalists were tightly supervised by Rwandan government officials as they toured the enormous facilities in a rural, dusty village some 90 minutes south-east of Kigali.
International journalists claim that asylum seekers were hand-picked for interviews ahead of time, and unsurprisingly, they spoke glowingly of the conditions and questioned why anyone would not want to stay.
Reporters were also invited to the Hope shelter in Kigali, where people deported from the United Kingdom would be housed. They were once again followed by two government officials. The hostel's deputy manager, Phiona Uwera, said she is looking forward to welcoming all the asylum seekers. However, she noted that claims that their human rights would be violated "personally angered" her.
"It's quite disappointing to hear the criticism since we've worked extremely hard to make sure this facility is ready," she said as she gave reporters a tour of the three-star hotel.
She boasted about the "excellent quality" of linen, the complex's two prayer rooms, and the three buffet-style meals available each day, which include a full English breakfast in the canteen, which overlooks lush gardens and rolling green hills.
Uwera encouraged international journalists to tell human rights activists in the UK and other European countries that Rwanda is a safe country.
Migrants in Rwanda have also lauded the country's virtues and care of internationally displaced persons. Last week, a Yemeni couple who own and operate a coffee business in Kigali were featured in a national newspaper as an example of migrant success.