By Alex Muhumuza
Within the past one week Ugandan security agencies, Police and Immigration, have victimized a total of 42 Rwandans – six of them children – that happened to be travelling to Uganda, and others that already had been in the country – incarcerated in different illegal detention centres.
The Ugandan authorities apprehended some twelve Rwandan passengers that were travelling on a Jaguar company bus en-route to Kampala, and took seven of them to the cells of Kisoro Police Station while five were transported to unknown locations.
On February 5, 2019 authorities did this without bringing charges against the Rwandan travellers, some of them teenagers that, according to our sources, were going to visit parents. The authorities arrested these people knowing they had been cleared at the borders to continue on their way. They would deport and dump them at the Cyanika border, Rwandan side.
That alone is a fact that indicates their arrests, abductions and torture in cells was simply because they were Rwandan, said our sources on the ground.
The following day on February 6, when Uganda security agents dumped those victims at Cyanika, they later dumped five other Rwandan nationals at the same border post. Two of these were women with babies – Yankurije Florentine, 33 who spent one night in the jail with her child Kabalisa Jackson of 5 months, and Tuyisenge Beatrice, 30, of Rubavu District who was locked up for one night with her 1-year old infant, Irampumuriza Isaac.
According to our sources, these people said they were charged with “illegal entry”, though according to the EAC Common Market laws, all citizens of the bloc should have equal protection to travel in any of the member countries without hindrance of harassment.
However a pattern has become very clear over the past two years or so that where Rwandan citizens are concerned, Kampala is not prepared to follow any laws – whether EAC laws, international laws, or its own laws.
Next on the victim pile-up of Kampala’s illegal mistreatment of Rwandan nationals, Uganda authorities dumped 11 Rwandans at the Gatuna Border: 5 adults and 6 children. These people had been in custody in Mubende.
Upon further verification whether Uganda had indeed jailed 6 children together with their parents, for two months, it was confirmed by our sources that indeed it had happened.
Ugandan media websites or social media accounts aligned to the Kampala regime often tell their readers that “the security agencies are arresting Rwandan spies”.
Yet when one asks how it is possible for instance to claim a man of 62, like Bihibindi Simon – one of the people dumped at Gatuna – who can hardly read is “a spy”, or how children 1 year old too can be locked up, it becomes clear the only aim is to harass Rwandans merely for their nationality.
Some have latched on the “opportunities” presented by their government’s policy of victimization of Rwandans. They are “exploiting the opportunity” by extorting bribes. Some of the victims have testified that when they arrest them, they demand bribes “to let them free”.
Someone that saw her life might become more terrible after three days in detention, and decided to pay the bribe was Dusabirema Pauline of Rwanda’s Ngororero District. She had been locked up at Kisoro. She says she paid up the equivalent of Frw 120,000, upon which they released her from her cells (and deported her).
Another person that paid up was Niyonteze Jean de Dieu who, lucky for him, must have found “one of the hungriest policemen in Uganda”. The man accepted the equivalent of Frw 7500 to release him.
Of the more sad victims of the Kampala harassment policy against Rwandan nationals, some can be found in the group that was dumped at on 9th February 2019 at Cyanika Border.
Among this group of six people were Nduwayezu Emmanuel, 62, and Maniriho Aimable, 58. Nduwayezu was an old man that was arrested in Kisoro in August 2017 while, he says, he was on his way to visit his sister in Bunyoro. They arrested him in Kisoro but took him for detention in Kabale. The same thing happened to Maniriho.
This story is consistent with accounts of bribery whereby failure to pay can mean the being transferred any of the detention centres.
It is beyond belief! People who get to hear these stories tend to exclaim. “How do you imprison 60 year olds, or nursing mothers together with their babies? What inhumanity has overtaken Ugandan rulers!”
The unceasing harassment of Rwandan nationals however is taking a more ominous turn. Virunga Post reported an incident that happened a couple of days ago in Rubanda, western Uganda whereby two Kalashnikov-wielding operatives accosted three Rwandan traders in their Fuso truck. After taking their papers, the two men ordered the Rwandans to follow them (in their truck).
The Rwandans clearly saw that this was a life and death matter and jumped out of their truck and dashed for the bushes. They say they walked the whole night in the dangerous bushes until they entered Rwanda at the Cyanika Border. They said they have been importing wood from Uganda since 2017.
When they ran for their lives, they left their truck behind.
They are now appealing for help to get their vehicle back.