By Jackson Mutabazi
An agent of Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) yesterday, Friday 29 March 2019 abducted 13 Rwandans. That happened on the Ugandan side of the border with Rwanda, at Mirama Hills.
News reaching our desk is that Rwandan citizen Hakizimana Jean Marie Vianney, 18 of Nyagatare District was in the Sofia area of Mirama – Ugandan side – together some other Rwandans when a CMI agent whose identity they only learnt as Lt. Elly accosted them.
According to our eyewitness sources, the Rwandans were only minding their business and doing nothing wrong when the CMI man shouted, “ebi nebinyarwanda!” (these bastard Rwandans!), and put them under arrest.
Shortly afterwards, according to Hakizimana, a pickup vehicle came up. It was carrying three other Rwandans, “which means CMI was hunting down Rwandans”. Lt. Elly ordered Hakizimana and the other nine others arrested with him, to climb into the vehicle.
Lt. Elly did not ask them any questions, did not see them do anything wrong or committing any crime. He arrested them for no other reason but because they were Rwandans.
Hakizimana, whose story of the ordeal we were able to hear, narrated that when the vehicle reached a place called Pantagon, on the way to Ntungamo, he and another young man called Mbazumutima Claude leaped off the pickup.
They knew that to be a Rwandan and to be abducted by CMI is something next to death. Only two of them were able to escape the clutches of CMI.
The other 11 were taken away, to unknown places. Of the Rwandans abducted, two of them – Nteyi Aman and Gatanga Sowedi – have been resident in in Kitwe Town Council, Ntungamo District. Gatanga is a cell chairman in the area.
They had been returning from prayers at the Mosque when CMI abducted them in its dragnet of Rwandans.
At the beginning of this month, the Government of Rwanda strongly warned its citizens against crossing into Uganda, citing illegal arrests, harassment, torture of its citizens who in all cases are never allowed consular visits.
Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Sezibera disclosed that up to one thousand Rwandans are languishing in Ugandan prisons or in un-gazetted places of detention, but are never brought to trial.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has in different settings been speaking out about the unlawful treatment of Rwandan nationals in Uganda. At the recently concluded Africa CEO Forum the President said, “They have been arresting Rwandans and keep piling them in their prisons,” he said.
“But why don’t they try them, openly? If you are arresting people, why don’t you make the process open? It only means Uganda does not want Rwandans. That is what such acts show; that they don’t want Rwandans to go to Uganda.”
Earlier in the Rwandan leadership retreat, the President had remarked that the difference is that if you are Rwandan but are saying bad things about Rwanda; if you declare hatred for the government of Rwanda, then you were very welcome in Uganda.
EAC Common market laws in their articles on free trade, and free movement of people specify that no citizen of one member state will be arrested just for entering another member state. The same applies for people of a member state residing in another.