By Patience Kirabo
Formerly a resident of Kampala, Moses Ishimwe Rutare – one of the many Rwandans that suffered unspeakable torture at the hands of Ugandan security organs – cannot thank the Rwandan government enough for giving him a new lease of life.
Besides getting rehabilitated health-wise, Ishimwe says the authorities have helped him start a new life altogether, through equipping him with skills, motivation and an education which have helped him re-build his life from scratch. “Never in my life did I ever think I’ll ever go back to school.
“But here I am, more than a year after a horrible life-changing experience from Uganda, and I am a business owner through a handicraft shop,” an emotional Ishimwe narrates in a phone interview. He continues that he set up his new business after a training opportunity from the government, “to help him re-build his life.”
“Not only did they help me gain knowledge and skills, but they also provided me with a roof over my head so that I don’t have to worry about where I am going to sleep the next day,” he adds.
Prior to his ordeal, of illegal arrest, detention and torture at the hands of Ugandan Military Intelligence (CMI), Ishimwe was a businessman who was into events management and planning in Kampala. His terrible experiences began when he stepped out of a Christmas Eve church service to attend to a phone call on December 24, 2018.
He was held incommunicado in CMI dungeons at Mbuya Military Barracks for two months with very little food or water, while suffering serious beatings and torture on alleged accusations of “espionage”. His only crime was being Rwandan, though he was born and raised in Uganda.
“In Mbuya I was clobbered with electric cables and tortured by security agents who were forcing me to admit to trumped-up claims,” he said. Ishimwe’s first appearance in public shocked everyone. He was severely malnourished and could barely stand on his feet. The 33-year-old had wasted away and looked like a 50-year-old homeless man. He looked disoriented as though he did not know where he was.
For him to be released, his family had to pay a bribe of Ushs 2 million. That is how corrupt and crooked authorities in Kampala are, everyone says. And that was the only way he could make it out alive.
However, he was kept in Luzira prison for three more months, only to hear that he was charged with “loitering”. Ishimwe left behind his event management business worth Ushs 93.5 million and returned with nothing. The two months of torture, illegal detention and abuse in Mbuya resulted in psychological trauma for Ishimwe.
One outcome of his traumatic experiences was that it was very difficult for him to adjust to family – requiring special care, counseling, and medical attention.
Fortunately for him, that has been provided for by Rwandan government authorities. They’ve ensured rehabilitation, and reintegration into family and society.