By Patience Kirabo
Dismas Tuyishimire, 26, is the latest Rwandan to be dumped at Cyanika Border – which happened on August 16. The incident followed a period of illegal incarceration in the Ndorwa Prison of western Uganda, following an unlawful arrest.
Tuyishimire was a contracted architect working with one Enock Byamukama in Uganda where he had travelled with all his papers in order. The Rwandan contractor entered Uganda through Cyanika border in June 2018 to Kisoro, to work on a house-construction project.
While commencing on the work, he says, he was approached by unknown men who asked him where he came from after they had heard him speaking Kinyarwanda. Tuyishimire says he answered all their questions and the men left. A few minutes later the ununiformed men came back in a police car and forcefully took him to Kisoro Police Station, in handcuffs. Hours later he found himself in prison.
His abductors told him they were arresting him for “illegal stay” in Uganda, though he insisted to them that was not right, and he showed his papers. In behavior that has become the norm since the Museveni regime chose its policy of anti-Rwanda hostility, the men who did not bother identifying themselves just grabbed his papers, and his ID and confiscated them.
In prison, Tuyishimire says he met many Rwandans who had been there some for more than two years. “We were treated in an awful manner and continuously harassed for no other reason than being Banyarwanda”, each fellow Rwandan he talked to told him.
In September, after three months in prison, Tuyishimire, and other Rwandan detainees were herded in what he calls a “kangaroo court” where they were charged with “illegal entry and stay in Uganda”. “We were not able to show our travel documents and identity cards because they were taken from us on the first day of arrest”, said Tuyishimire.
They were not allowed to defend themselves but rather were told to pay 1.5 million if they wanted to be released. That is part of the blackmail and extortion schemes by which the Museveni security agencies rob Rwandans, under the cover of “illegal entry” accusations, many Rwandans formerly victimized by Uganda regime security operatives have told this website.
“Ugandan military intelligence, CMI, operatives and others have taken advantage of the powers Museveni has given them over innocent Rwandans to run robbery and extortion schemes targeting Rwandan nationals that they choose to,” according to several sources.
Tuyishimire disclosed that 1.5 million Ugandan shillings is “a fine that you are asked to pay if you are a Rwandan prisoner.” Failure to pay means one will be imprisoned until that amount is coughed up, or one “pays it” through quasi slave labor. Tuyishimire says he was sentenced to one-year imprisonment on the concocted accusations of illegal entry because he had no way to pay the amount as he couldn’t access his accounts.
He goes on to narrate that he and fellow Rwandan detainees were beaten day and night, whether sick or weak, male or female. “The sadistic Ugandan prison guards don’t care!” He says he personally counted three Rwandans that died due to the awful abuses they we were subjected to. “We would only eat once in two days for instance, food that most times had long gone bad,” Tuyishimire continues.
In prison, many of the detainees were Rwandans. Some had been taken off buses, others abducted from their residencies in Uganda. Tuyishimire narrates that the situation worsened in February when the rumors of the “border closure” were out. It made our living conditions worse because the torture increased, beatings for no obvious reason. He talked of hard labor that included carrying heavy logs of trees, cutting bushes and digging for days.
Women and children would work for hours without a drop of water and when one showed signs of weakening beatings were the norm.
At the end of Tuyishimire’s one-year sentence, he asked to be returned his documents and ID, but nothing was returned. “My ID had been thrown away!” he disclosed. He was dumped at Cyanika Border last week Friday 16, 2019. That was after one year and three months in prison. He says he has left behind sixty Rwandans in Ndorwa Prison. “The condition of most of them is appalling!”
Very many Rwandans still languish in different Uganda detention and torture places as well as notorious prisons. They are victims like Joseline Umuhire, Christopher Muhire Bategejo, Gilbert Niyitegeka, and David Matayo Kilangama whose families haven’t heard of them for a long time.
Their suffering is replicated by more than a thousand others in the neighboring country’s inhuman prisons.